MS. REBECCA SHEIR
All right. So we're about halfway through the show about commitment and one thing that can be really hard to commit to is working out. And the workout we'll hear about next is in a word, a beast. It's called Crossfit and with dozens of Crossfit gyms popping up around the region, Emily Friedman decided to get the firsthand skinny on this fast and furious fitness program.
MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN
As a new recruit at Crossfit D.C., it's time to gear up for my first burpee.
MR. TOM BROES
Let's get you moving, let's go. Let's do it.
All right, all right.
Reach your hands down to the floor, jump your legs back. Chest down, all right, come up. Jump your feet forward. Jump and clap overhead. There you go. All right, walk yourself into. The first one's hard all right. And down, good.
Tom Broes (sp?) the Crossfit trainer is helping me count as we do as many burpees as we can in one minute.
All right, so pace yourself. That one didn't count, but it's okay.
Why didn't it count?
You didn't do the pushup.
It only takes three minutes to get a sense of what we're talking about now.
Broes describes Crossfit as constantly varied high-intensity functional movement. The idea is that you're building strength by doing movements you might actually do in real life. Broes started teaching in DuPont Circle seven years ago and at that time, there were only 12 studios like his in the world. Now, there are 4,000.
Three, two, one. Rotate onto your jump ropes.
MR. DANIEL SAMEROFF
I have seen huge results.
This is Daniel Sameroff (sp?) . He's been doing Crossfit workout for about six years and though he was always athletic, he says this is a whole new level of fitness.
I swam my whole life. I swam D-1 in college, but I am in much better shape than I was as a collegiate athlete.
Three, two, one, switch. You're back on the wall though.
We rotate to the next exercise with just a moment of rest.
You know, it's not about like, I can feel the burn in my bicep. It's like I have to keep pushing through the mental barrier and keep working every bit of my body.
No matter if it's your first class like me or your 500th, you're supposed to be feeling the same level of intensity. Dan, the swimmer, for example, might use 100 pound weight to the feel the burn while I might use a 10 pound weight. But the point is we both feel the burn. And in order to do this regularly, you're also going to burn through a lot of cash. Crossfit gym memberships cost between $150 and $200 a month, which is double, maybe triple, the cost of a traditional gym.
And spider lunge, 10 scorpions.
But why? Why push yourself so hard and pay so much to do it? That's what I asked Leslie Nolen, who, as president of the Radial Group, studies trends in health and fitness.
MS. LESLIE NOLEN
If you consider the fact that demographically the population within the United States is aging, you've got more and more people that are in their late 30s and their 40s, even in their early 50s who are really interested in understanding have I have done everything I can do, have I pushed myself to the point where I've really maximized my own abilities and my own physical talents.
That's why Crossfit, Nolen says, is so appealing. Ben Venaires (sp?) started Crossfit classes three years ago and came home raving to his fiancée, Mary-Katherine Starr. Starr is a yoga teacher and says Crossfit is yoga's perfect counterbalance.
MS. MARY-KATHERINE STARR
It gives me a strength aspect that I don't get in the same way from yoga.
Unlike most gyms, Starr says, no one is casually pedaling a bike and reading the latest "US Weekly." Pushing this hard in a workout gets results, Ben says, and a strong following.
MR. BEN VENAIRES
I think it will stay because it works. It's like yoga has been enduring for thousands of years because it works.
Unless something crazier comes along, then I don't think it's going anywhere.
Tom, you're killing me.
The group is finishing up the work and almost everyone has a look on their face like they just survived a near-death experience.
MS. KATIE CHASE
My shoulders are on fire.
How are you feeling?
MS. ERIN CARDIN
A little bit nauseous, but fantastic because I finished it and it was hard, but I did it.
This is Katie Chase and Erin Cardin. As we cool down, I ask Katie and Erin to explain why they come to Crossfit. They say it makes them stronger and leaner, but mostly it's the community. Tom Broes, the trainer, agrees and says Crossfit does breed a certain fierce dedication.
We don't have that many ambivalent Crossfitters. I don't think such a thing really exists.
Crossfit the company has grown nearly 40 percent per year since 2005 and around the company certifies roughly 300 Crossfit trainers each weekend. It's a trend building with an intensity not unlike what would you see in any Crossfit gym.
I'm Emily Friedman.
Do you have a particularly intense devotion to a workout routine? If so, we want to hear your story. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website, metroconnection.org and click the email link.
Up next, committing to a near forgotten island with a little help from some friends.
MR. DANIEL CONNER
With the thriving Bluegrass community here in D.C., we see it as a way to lure folks out to the Anacostia River and Kingman Island and show them what a gem it is.
It's coming your way on "Metro Connection," on WAMU 88.5.
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