You’ll see curiously few bench presses and not a single treadmill anywhere.
Your neighborhood Y, this ain’t. “It’s not like going to the gym where you walk in, plug in your iPod, do your stuff, and leave. Or maybe a friend might meet you there or whatever, but for the most part you’re isolated in a sea of other people who are also isolated,” said CrossFit 405 owner Aaron O’Neil, his clientele grunting through a brutal 39-minute workout behind him. “The mark of every CrossFit affiliate is a strong sense of community.”
Surveying the gym full of people in loose-fitting sports apparel, it’s easy to understand how they grow so close. They range from mid-20s to grandparents, all partnered up, grinding out the same workout, sweating and shouting encouragement.
The intensity and focus is on par with a football camp. Duos quickly switch from box jumps to kettlebell swings to modified pull-ups where they fling their legs straight out and up so that their toes peek over the bar from which they’re hanging.
As with any CrossFit workout, the emphasis is on executing movements that build functional strength and topnotch conditioning as fast as possible.
(CrossFitters measure personal time records like runners, always trying to improve a workout by going faster.)
It’s a stark contrast to traditional weightlifting (which tends to isolate and exercise specific muscle groups) and specialized training (like longdistance running or cycling), and produces the sort of “ready for anything”level of fitness you need to complete one of those muddy obstacle courses that are so popular right now. On this particular Saturday, the tailored workout leaves much of 405’s clientele lying down spread-eagle on the padded gym floor long after they’ve finished.
The rise of CrossFit
Greg Glassman — a former gymnast — started posting workouts and repeatable movements at CrossFit.com (now referred to as “HQ” or simply “Dotcom” by clients) and certifying coaches in 2000, recognizing a mere 13 affiliate gyms in 2005, all in the U.S. More than 4,000 gyms have since sprouted up worldwide, including 10 currently in the Oklahoma City area.
CrossFit OKC opened at 807 N.
Hudson in late 2006, but membership has exploded within the last year.
“We’ve seen our clientele grow from 45 to about 200 people,” O’Neil said.
Once an Air Force rugby player, Brice Collier co-owns Koda CrossFit with a former golf pro, Jared Muse, at 6015 N. Harvey. They reported enrolling 50 percent more clients than what they expected when they opened shop Dec. 15, 2011. The pair credits their success to the sense of community also cited by O’Neil.
“Everyone wants to look better naked,” Muse said. “But clients stay at Koda for the camaraderie and the fun.”
If it all sounds a bit intimidating — well, it is. Most affiliates have entry-level classes to help teach the basic movements to beginners of all fitness levels.
“It’s a friendly, welcoming practice setting where people learn together,” O’Neil said.