CrossFit program offers challenging, fun workout
Published 10:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2014
On one side of the cinderblock-walled room, Amy Haygood squealed with delight over accomplishing a sought-after workout goal. On the other, several people stretched, stone-faced, as they pondered the grueling workout ahead while a few joked before jumping into the day’s regimen.
Gymnastics rings and climbing ropes hang from the ceiling, while stories of handstands and box jumps float between them. This converted storage room, tucked into a corner of the Purks YMCA, is home to CrossFit Vicksburg, an unconventional workout program designed for total body fitness.
CrossFit utilizes a number of different motions and exercises to work nearly every muscle in the body and provide functional strength and endurance. The YMCA’s CrossFit Vicksburg class is the only nationally certified CrossFit program in the city.
“It’s a circuit-type program. We focus on Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, mobility and plyometrics,” said Kelsey Artman, a CrossFit Vicksburg instructor. “It’s a misconception that it’s insane. It’s high-intensity, but that’s relative to every person. The workouts can be scaled up or down if they need to.”
The CrossFit program is based around the “Workout of the Day,” which changes daily. On this day, it’s a simple but grueling 30-minute routine — laps around the track interrupted by a dozen sets of between 10 and 30 burpees, an exercise that involves dropping into push-up position and then getting back up.
Often, the workouts are more exotic — and just as difficult mentally as physically.
“The toughest one, for me, was the handstand,” said Deowarski McDonald, the principal at Vicksburg High School and one of the 36 people enrolled in the CrossFit Vicksburg program. “You don’t think it’s that difficult, but you’re not used to being upside down. I had to unpsych myself out to get in that position. It wasn’t the most physically challenging, but it was mentally challenging.”
For Haygood, a stumbling block came in trying to execute a double jump on the jump rope. When she finally did it, she giddily wrote it on a board of class achievements and high-fived everyone in the room.
Jenny Jabour had a similar reaction when she made a successful standing jump onto a 2-foot high wooden box. Her skinned shins bore testament to previous attempts.
“That’s what CrossFit is — mentally challenging yourself and progressing each week,” the 34-year-old U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employee said.
While CrossFit is about challenging yourself on an individual level, its practitioners also said the social component is what makes it truly enjoyable. Classmates always push each other to complete the workouts, they said, and will often pair up to get it done.
“If you’re struggling with an exercise, and everybody else is done, we’ll finish it together and get it done as a team. The team approach sells me,” McDonald said.
Artman added that having everyone do the same workout helps with building camaraderie. The YMCA offers 14 classes spread across six days each week, and most in the program become regulars at certain times.
“Most everyone picks a class and sticks with it. That’s your family,” Artman said. “It’s camaraderie, knowing the person next to you is doing the same workout.”
And, just like a team, there are a variety of people involved in CrossFit. This day’s 5:30 p.m. class includes several people who have been in the program for months, as well as some obvious beginners. That cross section of people is another part of what makes CrossFit so special, Jabour said.
“It’s awesome. It’s almost like having a personal trainer every workout, but it’s multiple trainers because everybody is helping you,” she said.