Intense, crazy, downright dangerous — these are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe CrossFit, a fitness program that is leaving the underground world of DIY at-home “boxes” (i.e., home gyms designed for CrossFit workouts) and entering the mainstream world of “regular” gyms and clubs. The method has gained a tremendous following since its beginnings in the mid-1990s in Santa Cruz, mainly because of its emphasis on functional movements that involve the whole body.
“CrossFit isn’t about size — it’s about strength,” says Mike Siclari, personal trainder director and CrossFit coach at Bladium. “It works to be constantly varied, constantly changing. We don’t do a lot of any one thing, to shock and surprise your metabolic system.”
Harold Lueders, certified personal trainer and CrossFit certified trainer at Mariner Square, agrees. “CrossFit is about choosing an active lifestyle. While the workouts can seem intimidating, everything can be scaled back, such as doing pushups at the wall, rather than on the floor.”
Bladium was the first club to bring CrossFit to Alameda, with the program starting there in early 2011; Mariner Square was close behind, opening its “box” in mid-2011. Both clubs have certified CrossFit trainers on staff who are also certified personal trainers, and both clubs emphasize safety for their members. Siclari encourages his members to not do more than three CrossFit workouts a week, especially in the beginning.
“CrossFit has to be done properly, and members have to be trained properly,” Siclari said. “We roll out and stretch, and members love it.”
Lueders notes that while many think of CrossFit as a young person’s method, older people have benefited as well. Steve Southrey, co-founder of the CrossFit Mariner Square box, says that CrossFit is making the biggest strides in women ages 40–50. Membership in the program has been climbing steadily at both clubs since CrossFit was added.
Both facilities are connecting to their CrossFit members through Facebook social networking, using the site to promote team spirit and a feeling of friendly competition. Both post the Workout of the Day (WOD), which varies but tends to include some form of cardio (sprints or jump rope, for example), as well as strength training (such as pull-ups, presses or cleans).
“Members post their workout and times,” Southrey said. “It helps motivate your teammates. Even if we are competing with someone, we root for each other and cheer each other on.”
Bladium also offers CrossFit for kids, as well as bootcamp-style classes to ready people who are too intimidated to go straight into CrossFit workouts. The gym has an outdoor area dedicated to CrossFit, in addition to its indoor box. Mariner Square is planning on opening its own outdoor facility in the near future, possibly adding a sprinting track. At this time, at both clubs, CrossFit membership is separately priced from the base club membership.
For more information on CrossFit (including how to sign up for a demonstration class):