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Getting Ultra Fit in Marin

Getting Ultra Fit in Marin

What’s the new exercise philosophy that has you running, jumping and squatting until you’re just about ready to drop? What could inspire you to eat like a caveman and do hundreds of pull-ups and squats?  And, at the same time, everyone can benefit; from casual fitness buffs such as new moms or retirees to elite athletes and military unit personnel preparing for combat. The Bay Area’s newest exercise phenomenon is known as CrossFit.

New mom and former competitive gymnast Stephanie Sharp works with clients at Ross Valley CrossFit, one of several CrossFit gyms that have appeared all over Marin. A class of women are doing back squats.  The move involves barbells and the sort of weight you wouldn’t expect an average 30 year old woman to lift. Off to the side, another client launches into her jump rope double-unders.  With this routine, the rope will pass two times on each jump.

CrossFit Workout

courtesy the Marin IJ

Just down the street, TJs Gym owner TJ Belcher won’t take the clients’ money unless they feel like they have achieved the success they are looking for. “We prefer people to come, see and feel the results as they measure their progress before they pay.”

What exactly is CrossFit?

According to the CrossFit website, it’s the main conditioning and strength program for several police academies, military special ops units, martial arts champions and many other worldwide elite and professional athletes.

The CrossFit program creates a fitness level that is broad, multi-dimensional and all-inclusive. Not specializing is our specialty. Many sports, combat, survival and life, in general, reward this sort of fitness.  Overall, the specialist will find himself being punished.

CrossFit, as we know it in Marin, is a workout that combines weight training (lifting), extreme anaerobic exercises such as sprints, rowing and jumping rope, with flexibility. Disciplines such as martial arts, gymnastics and military training contribute to the workout regimen which includes 10 ‘fitness domains’: respiratory and cardiovascular, stamina, endurance, flexibility, strength, power, agility, balance, speed, coordination and accuracy.

A typical session includes a warm-up, a segment for developing skills and a workout of high-intensity lasting about 10 to 20 minutes. Gyms; or ‘affiliates’ prepare a Workout of the Day (WOD) which is then posted at the gym and put on the website.

The most pivotal aspect of CrossFit may be its focus on community.

One devoted CrossFit practitioner says it’s really addictive.  “You’re taking a class and you’re thinking, ‘oh my God’!  But you immediately want to do it again when you’re finished.  It can be considered almost like a cult.”

CrossFit is also now a social phenomenon; notes Belcher, who also emphasizes that it’s the sense of community that drives his gym. “Today there was one guy who was celebrating his birthday.  He put it on the website and 35 people watched him workout. They came and cheered him on. Their friends came along and cheered him on as well”

There is amazing support and camaraderie at the gym. Each person goes through the same workout and the encouragement you get from others keeps you coming back.  Your workout habits are easily changed with this kind of support.

It can definitely be daunting.  However, CrossFit is no different from the fears you have in other areas of your life. Once you try it out, you feel no fear any longer.

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