Gyms prepare for busy season as CrossFit leads fitness trends

Annette Smith pulled herself up toward a standing position with the rings during a CrossFit class Monday at the Wilson Family Y and then leaned back for another set.


“Got to beat the rush,” she joked. “This place will be a madhouse for the next two months.”

The beginning of the new year often brings with it resolutions to get in shape or lose weight or both, and gyms know this will be their busiest time of the year. This year, one of the biggest changes that will greet new members at the Family Y will be CrossFit, a kind of get back to basics exercise class. Inside the special gym the Y created at the Wilson branch, the room is dominated by monkey bars and bars with rings and giant tires along the wall. It looks like an outsized elementary school playground and that’s just what Wellness Director Earl Ivory was aiming for.

“I want it to look like a grown person’s playground,” he said, to “take ‘em back to those playful days.”

CrossFit is a national program that is sweeping the country and it features basic exercises such as pullups (the ring pullup Smith was doing are a variation), flipping giant tires and free weights among the more than 100 exercises that could be part of a class, Ivory said,

“It’s a way of using your own body weight and strength to work out,” said Millie Huff, the community relations director for the Family Y of Greater Augusta.

It is part of a growing movement of body weight training that Georgia State University Regents’ Professor Walter Thompson found was one of the top 20 fitness trends for 2014 in his annual survey of fitness professionals. It was just behind the top trend of high-intensity interval training, where short bursts at maximum effort are followed by short periods of rest, said Thompson, associate dean for graduate studies and research in the College of Education at GSU.

“The research indicates it is a substantial workout and it is effective,” he said. But it is for people who are already fit and are looking for a different workout, Thompson said.

“It’s not for the person who is going to jump into an exercise program in January or February because of a New Year’s resolution to get more fit,” he said. That is why he is predicting that it might be replaced toward the end of the year by moderate-intensity interval training, where activity is kept at 75-80 percent effort.

“I’m just speculating because of the number of people who are getting injured with this high-intensity interval training, it would be replaced by moderate-intensity,” Thompson said.

That is what many people will like about CrossFit is it is variable, Huff said.

“It can be adapted to any fitness level,” she said.

“Anybody can do CrossFit,” Ivory said.

That’s what Smith, 31, wanted to hear. Over about three years, she has lost 140 pounds and now has a very specific New Year’s resolution in mind – one pullup.

“Once I get that, I’m going to do five,” Smith said.



The new CrossFit program is one of a number of changes coming to the Family Y of Greater Augusta facilities. To encourage people to join in, the Y is offering its Resolution Solution of 50 percent off the cost to join.



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