CSRA CrossFit offers community, creativity in a workout

CSRA CrossFit is not for the faint of heart.

The 2,000-square-foot gym is not air-conditioned, and its posted workouts include exercises such as 225-pound deadlifts and handstand push-ups.

The CrossFit method uses timed high-intensity workouts to achieve all-around fitness, according to co-owner Drew Vermeulen.

He owns the gym with Lance Downing and Michael Strahler, and they say what sets their gym apart isn’t just that it’s challenging. The workouts are timed and done in a group setting, creating a community with a competitive edge to push everyone to be their best.

“It becomes a competition, and people get really close,” Vermeulen said. “Shared suffering is a good thing.”

CSRA CrossFit opened in March on Belair Frontage Road, but the three trainers have been teaching the CrossFit method out of their homes for years. They all ran out of room as demand increased and decided in November 2011 to start looking for a bare-bones facility to join forces and hold classes.

“We just wanted an empty box with a rubber floor,” Vermeulen said.

None of the men have owned a business before, but they said so far it’s worked out fine. The gym has around 70 members and that number is steadily growing. Trevor Elkins and Vermeulen’s wife Christen also work as trainers.

“We’re all rookies, but it was pretty simple, really,” Downing said. “We just put all our equipment together and made an LLC.”

Right now, the gym accepts clients 16 and older. Later this summer, they plan to add CrossFit Kids to the menu.

The workouts are best done in a group, and members can post their times on the wall.

“Doing it in your garage will only get you so far,” Vermeulen said.

Strahler has been doing CrossFit for nearly five years after being introduced to the program by a college friend. He stuck with it, he said, because it’s never the same thing twice.

“I’ve never gotten bored with it,” he said.

Class size ranges from five to 12 people, and there are usually six sessions daily.

“This is our favorite thing to do,” Vermeulen said. “Doing it in a bigger group like this just multiplies it.”

“No one comes in here and puts their headphones in,” Strahler said. “It’s friendly.”

MICHAEL STRAHLER

HOMETOWN: Pittsburgh, Pa.

EDUCATION: studied at North Carolina State University

FAMILY: single

HOBBIES: anything outdoors

 

LANCE DOWNING

HOMETOWN: Morton, Miss.

EDUCATION: studied chemistry at Millsaps College

FAMILY: single

HOBBIES: mountain biking, being outdoors

 

DREW VERMEULEN

HOMETOWN: Port Byron, Ill.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, Bradley University

FAMILY: wife, Christen

HOBBIES: camping, hiking

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