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Get Fit With CrossFit

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Ring in 2013 with this unique strengthening and conditioning workout.

By Meng Qi, Photos courtesy of Wes Kimball and CrossFit Austin

Wes KimballWhat do an MMA fighter, a 60-year-old grandmother and a new mom have in common? They can all benefit from CrossFit, an increasingly popular workout that can be scaled for anybody, regardless of where they are with their fitness goals. A combination of strength, conditioning and community building, CrossFit seems to have an almost devout following among a growing group of people.

“The three biggest things about CrossFit are conditioning, strength and athleticism, where people have to coordinate their body to these different movements,” Wes Kimball says.

Kimball, along with business partner Boone Putney, is the founder of CrossFit Austin, a gym that specializes in CrossFit training. Having first gotten involved with a CrossFit gym in Chicago, Kimball eventually decided to start a gym in Austin “because it seemed like a perfect fit for a city as active as Austin is.”

Like many CrossFit gyms, CrossFit Austin offers both one-on-one personal training and group classes, which are especially good for cultivating the sense of community support the workout is known for.

“Our group classes will be anywhere from 10 to 12 people with a coach,” Kimball says. “It’s really almost like a team workout. When you come in, our coaches have a complete warm- up on the board for you that they take you through. We usually go through some kind of skill progression where we’re pushing people on different athletic skills. And then we go in to some workout where it may be a strengthening workout or a more conditioning-based workout.”

Group ClassThese workouts can consist of a broad range of exercises, like squats, push-ups, weight lifting and various high-speed cardio workouts. Sometimes these are put together in combinations that form an almost secret code.

“CrossFit is such a unique program in its entirety,” says Sadie Flynn, director of marketing at AW Media.

Flynn was first introduced to CrossFit by her “Men’s-Health-junkie of a husband” in 2011, and has been hooked since. She is a member of CrossFit Central, another gym in Austin. She trains with Zachary Thiel, one of the gym’s co-founders.

“They have their own secret language filled with acronyms like WOD (workout of the day), AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) and others that are sometimes ridiculous and indecipherable,” she adds.

Some examples of these would be the SDLHP, which is a sumo dead lift high pull, and HSPU, which is a handstand push-up.

It may be surprising to some that these acronyms alone (not to mention the workouts that they refer to) don’t scare away every newbie. It seems the workout relies on cultivating a strong sense of community support to keep participants motivated.

“It’s a cool thing that happens organically,” Kimball says of the community atmosphere at CrossFit Austin. “We have this thing here: Don’t workout with strangers. So we make a concerted effort for everyone to get to know each other and to work together in that environment. Everybody shares in the suffering, if you will. But then, everyone shares in the successes that come from that.”

“The encouragement that accompanies the CrossFit program is something amazing,” Flynn adds. “It’s perpetual, no matter if you work directly with a coach or feel positively challenged by your classmates. That, to me, is addicting.”

To learn more about CrossFit Austin, visit crossfitaustin.com.

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