By MEG H. PARTINGTON
12:35 PM AKST, January 25, 2013
Exercisers across the Tri-State area are logging loads of WODs in an effort to enhance their fitness levels.
WOD stands for Workout of the Day, an acronym well-known by those who participate in CrossFit.
CrossFit is a fitness regimen featuring constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity, according to CrossFit.com. It was developed by Greg Glassman, a California fitness trainer who put his celebrity/athlete clients through efficient, high-intensity workouts from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, according to his biography at www.crossfitvirtuosity.com.
While working with police officers, Glassman started pairing lifting movements with sprints when he realized that bodybuilding and endurance programs lacked something. He opened his first CrossFit gym in 1995 in Santa Cruz, Calif., and launched CrossFit.com in 2001, featuring Workout of the Day, exercise and demo videos, and a discussion forum, according to his biography.
"It's fitness of the future," said Chrissy Kimbrell, who owns CrossFit 25404 in Martinsburg, W.Va., with her husband, Curt. "We've seen what it's done for us and everyone else."
The Kimbrells were introduced to the program when their niece and two nephews took CrossFit classes in the Inwood, W.Va., area to enhance their sports performance. In January 2012, having reached plateaus in their gym workouts, the Kimbrells logged on to CrossFit website and started watching videos on YouTube to shake up their routines.
They have been squatting, lifting, rowing and running their way to fitness ever since. The pair, both 41, took a two-day certification course in April 2012 in Alexandria, Va., and since opening their gym in October 2012, have been sharing their knowledge with exercisers ages 10 to 65.
Among their students is their daughter, Paris, 10, a soccer player who recently squatted with 75 pounds on her back during a CrossFit class. She has been doing the workouts for two months, four or five days a week.
Adult classes that last up to an hour are offered Monday through Saturday at CrossFit 25404, and 30-minute workouts for youths 10 and older are taught Monday through Thursday and on Saturday.
The Kimbrells plan out the coming week's WODs on Sundays, then write them each day on the giant whiteboard that is mounted on one of the walls of the approximately 1,100-square-foot gym sporting interior walls painted bright green, blue and gray.
One day's workout focused on deadlifting form, during which participants completed two sets of five deadlifts, two sets of three and three sets of one, increasing the weight each time. When that was done, they each did five deadlifts, went outside to run 200 meters on the neighborhood street in front of the facility, then repeated that pattern two more times.
Rock 'n' roll music pumped throughout the gym, and the exercisers clapped and whooped as their classmates pumped iron and ran. That support is key to the success of CrossFit, Chrissy said.
"You do this as a group," she said. "It's a great motivator."
Many movements are incorporated into CrossFit workouts. Among them are:
Fitness staples such as pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and lunges are common components in a CrossFit workout, as are running, rowing and jumping. Kettlebells often are utilized, as are gymnastics rings and climbing ropes.
And expect to do squats, lots of them.
"Squats are the foundation of CrossFit," Chrissy said. "CrossFit teaches functional movement. Squatting is a lifelong thing."
Participants don't need to be Olympic athletes by any stretch, since all workouts can be scaled to meet a person's physical limitations, Chrissy said.
For example, Dakari Williams, a physical therapy assistant and massage therapist who owns CrossFit Hagerstown at 22 N. Mulberry St., said his gym takes a holistic approach, incorporating stretching and strength training into workouts. He also caters to those who are recovering from injuries.
Fans of CrossFit
Rachel Hally's path to CrossFit started with a rough experience at camp — boot camp, that is.
About two years ago, she tried such a class and almost couldn't finish.
"I realized how out of shape I was, but I loved it," said Hally, 37, of Shepherdstown, W.Va.
She started regularly taking a boot camp class at Morgan's Grove Park in Shepherdstown, the instructors for which opened CrossFit 304 in Charles Town, W.Va., in 2012.
"I just fell in love with the way they ran their program and it was never the same workout twice," Hally said.
Hally has two children, ages 4 and 15, and works full time from home as a librarian for a database company. It was hard for her to consistently exercise, squeezing it in around her family and work schedules.
When she found CrossFit, "It just completely flipped that priority around for me," she said, so now she plans things around the classes, which she tries to take four to five times a week.
"I love that it's a group setting and that men and women are working out together," Hally said.
She said she's not a great runner, but has built her endurance without having to pound the pavement four days a week.
"I'm much stronger," Hally said, adding that she has lost 15 pounds and has seen a shift in the way her weight is distributed. "I definitely feel smaller and more fit."
Lee Daugherty, 42, who owns Lee Daugherty Fitness Training LLC in Boonsboro and runs Boonsboro Boot Camp, has been exercising for more than 20 years, and has taken strength and endurance training to extremes.
"I never truly felt fit," even when taking his fitness routine to extremes, Daugherty said.
That all changed when he started incorporating CrossFit principles into his workouts in 2003.
Daugherty, who became a certified CrossFit trainer in 2009, said he's been happier about how he looks and feels since he started blending endurance and strength activities.
"It is challenging and it can be uncomfortable," Daugherty acknowledged, but the regimen's ability to burn calories and fat while increasing lean muscle can benefit those who want to lose weight and those who want to gain it.
Daugherty said a male client, in his late 30s, commented after deadlifting during a workout that he hadn't done that move since high school but loved how strong it made him feel. That sense of power and strength is beneficial to men and women, and can carry over into their everyday lives, he said.
One of CrossFit's mottos is "strong is the new skinny," Daugherty said. "It's not all about the weight on the scale."
Participants need to feed the muscles that get torched during intense CrossFit workouts.
"You need to fuel, fuel, fuel," Chrissy said.
"Nutrition really is 80 percent of the battle," Curt said.
Daugherty said the CrossFit program advocates the Paleo Diet.
According to ThePaleoDiet.com, the diet advocates eating foods from the groups hunter-gatherers would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era — about 2.6 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. Those include fresh meats — preferably grass-produced or free-ranging beef, pork, lamb, poultry and game — fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and healthful oils such as olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseed.
The Kimbrells don't push diets that call for extremes of any sort but instead encourage people to make lifestyle changes such as ceasing soda consumption. For quite a while, they have been "eating clean," limiting their intake of processed foods, and focusing on eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates.
"We are not nutrition experts, but we know what works for us," Chrissy said.
Daugherty recommends keeping a nutrition journal and works with his clients on tweaking things like protein or carbohydrate intake as necessary.
Just like some experts advocate counting to 10 when you feel like you're going to lose your temper, Daugherty said, "this journal allows you to count to 10 before you put food or a drink in your mouth," which helps control impulsive eating.
If you go ...
Among the sites offering CrossFit classes in the Tri-State area:
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