Crossfit, or When a Normal Gym Just Won’t Do

After last week’s post on outdoor yoga, it seemed natural to follow up such a gentle and harmonizing practice enjoyed by millions with something a bit stronger, like running with a sandbag over your head while a former Army drill sergeant yells at you. But we couldn’t find one for this week, so we went with crossfit gyms instead.

We here at the Tampa Sports Fitness have a love of high intensity workouts, something picked up during high school from the Navy SEAL-like exercises endured for wrestling. Anyone who wrestled in a Hillsborough County high school in the last 30 years did so with the intent of trying to break the Brandon High School wrestling team’s unbeaten streak, which was a bit like joining the Greek army during the siege of Troy. That streak has since ended and any cause for punishing workouts that call to mind the workout montages of a fight movie should have passed on with it, but it remains all the same.

Those with the discipline to do so probably took up marathon running, started a workout regime taken from a fitness magazine, or maybe joined those runners at Four Green Fields for the Tuesday night run and Guinness club. But for others craving something a little more offbeat, crossfit gyms offer some of the most physically challenging workouts known to the amateur athlete.

Crossfit describes a strength and conditioning program that is constantly varied, high intensity, and with the stated goal of improving fitness. Workouts combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, weightlifting, and carrying odd objects, which can mean anything like barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, and medicine balls.

So basically, if you’ve ever seen the training montage from a Rocky movie and thought “hey, that looks like fun,” crossfit might be for you. A recent Friday night at a cross fit gym started with a 200 meter run, push-ups, burpees, and pull-ups as the warm up.

Crossfit gyms have become the workout rage of the moment; witness the Reebok commercials featuring the workouts and the DVD extras of any action movie where the actors had to do their own stunts.

These gyms have been cropping up in the Tampa Bay area, but a personal favorite (only because it was the first one we’ve been to) is the Crossfit Sparta gym on the corner of Nebraska Avenue and Bearss Avenue. The gym gets the nod for being the big-name crossfit gym in the immediate area for offering crossfit programs, daily home workouts on their website, and martial arts classes, something which admittedly went a long way with the Tampa Sports Fitness staff.

But don’t let the air of high-impact workouts be intimidating: the work is hard but anyone who wants to try can and should do it. The most rewarding thing about these kinds of workouts is finding out what you can do and coming back for more. Friday night at Sparta included three sets of sprinting and kicking exercises while being timed by the instructor, each individual trying to beat the best time. The drill resulted in heavy breathing but also produced cheers of encouragement and the participants pushing themselves more.

So, has anyone out there experienced good results from Sparta or another area crossfit gym?

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