HEALTH & FITNESS
It’s cross training for life
An exercise regimen called CrossFit works for people at any fitness level
Amid the auto parts distributors and construction suppliers of industrial Waikamilo lays a different kind of warehouse business -- a fitness business where some of Honolulu's fittest people train.
Don't expect the glitz and glamour of the Honolulu Club nor the cutting edge fitness technology of 24 Hour Fitness. You won't find the bodybuilders of Gold's Gym there; in fact, there aren't even any mirrors for you to pose in front of. There's no air conditioning and no pretty locker rooms.
There is, however, a high level of fitness that is achieved at this facility. And it's not achieved with the latest exercise machines. Walk in and expect to see a whole lot of open space, pull up bars, Olympic rings, hanging ropes, dumbbells, Kettlebells, dump truck tires, plyometric boxes, medicine balls, Olympic bars and a ton of rubber coated Olympic plates.
This facility is Oahu's only official affiliate site for the global fitness phenomenon known as CrossFit. Military personnel, firefighters, law enforcement officers, athletes and martial artists all swear by it. They confirm that it delivers extraordinary levels of fitness that enable them to perform their respective duties with extreme proficiency.
"I know I may not be able to complete an Ironman triathlon in a skimpy Speedo at this moment" says CrossFit Oahu co-owner Craig Cates, of the U.S. Navy. "But in my full gear, strap 120 pounds on my back, have me climb a few walls, kick down a few doors and do battle, I know I'll be OK. I'm not so sure an Ironman triathlete could do that."
CrossFit founders and followers alike believe that traditional means of exercise or weekend sports do not address a balanced fitness approach needed for the demanding functions of life. A triathlete may be highly trained for endurance, but poorly trained for speed, power or agility. A bodybuilder may have a stunning physique on stage, but find himself out of breath when climbing a flight of stairs. An avid walker may have great cardiovascular conditioning, but no strength to load her suitcase into the overhead compartment in an airplane while traveling.
People look for different ways to get fit. Many work out at a gym, some play tennis, some swim, others engage in martial arts. The options are endless.
Says CrossFit Oahu co-owner Bryant Powers, "The difference of fitness from person to person is in degree, not kind. We measure fitness the same for every human being, from a baby to grandma, we specialize in not specializing."
CrossFit is not a specialty program, but a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence in each of 10 fitness domains: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.
"It's the definition of fitness that CrossFit really is" Powers says. "It's a fact: a fit person will do better at any known or unknown randomized physical task compared to an unfit person. Basically we're going to train you to get better and not suck at life."
Sound intimidating? Not to worry. CrossFit is for absolutely everyone, Powers maintains.
"Fitness is defined the same way for everyone," he says, "The workouts are designed exactly the same for everyone; it's just the degree of intensity that can be scaled differently for each individual. We've got Navy Seals working out right next to our retirees."
So what do these workout look like? Well, they're not as bad as the torn, bloody calluses on my hands make them out to be. I did the workout after Powers told me that reporters write horrible stories because they never actually do the workout.
So off I went. Powers warmed me up and assessed me with the basic CrossFit movements. I continued on with random movements as we waited for the group session to start.
The workout scheme was addressed by Powers: It was 10 pull-ups, 20 push-ups, 30 bodyweight squats for each two-minute round. If you finish in less than two minutes, you use the remaining time to rest before the immediate start of the next two minutes. The assignment was for a whopping 10 rounds. I was toast at round 5 and could only finish a fraction of the remaining 5 rounds, but give me a couple weeks and I'll step it up.
Do the math. In this workout you're attempting 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats, all within 20 minutes. And that's what CrossFit is all about, taking on all the domains of fitness, challenging yourself and continuing to get better at life.
You compete only against yourself.