CrossFit workout program gains in popularity in DuluthCrossFit, a wildly popular workout program on the West Coast and in large metropolitan areas, has arrived in Duluth.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
CrossFit, a wildly popular workout program on the West Coast and in large metropolitan areas, has arrived in Duluth.
In a matter of months, three CrossFit affiliates – PMA CrossFit Twin Ports, CrossFit Duluth and IST CrossFit — have sprung up in Duluth and Hermantown, offering CrossFit’s short but intense workouts. Another, CrossFit Aerial, will open this week.
“It’s so physically demanding, I don’t think I need to do anything else,” said 29-year-old Katie Moench after a workout at PMA CrossFit Twin Ports last week. “It makes you feel that you’ve accomplished something.”
Some wonder why it took so long to get here.
“I would have expected someone would have introduced it here two years ago because CrossFit has been around since 2000,” said Joe Warpeha, who teaches exercise physiology at the College of St. Scholastica. “It took a little while to get going, then it spread like wildfire.”
CrossFit, which was started in California in 2000 by former gymnast Greg Glassman, has doubled its number of affiliated centers in just a couple of years. Now it boasts more than 6,000 CrossFit gyms.
While its participants include beginners who can scale the moves to their performance levels, it’s especially popular with former athletes and is used by some police, firefighters and military personnel.
Scott Lustig, 25, who works out regularly at PMA CrossFit, fits the profile. Not only was he active in sports in high school and college but he’s with the Minnesota Air National Guard in Duluth.
He missed the intense workouts he got in college.
“It gets you in all-around great shape,” Lustig said of CrossFit. “Here, you have coaching and they push you. It’s all about how functionally strong you are. Overall, it’s a big character builder. I love it.”
Some, like 45-year-old Scott Lunt, are drawn to CrossFit because they find traditional gyms with exercise machines boring. He heard about CrossFit from friends in the Twin Cities and had been looking for one in Duluth.
“The results are amazing,” he said. “There’s nobody to push you at a (traditional) gym.”
After the same workout that Lustig and Moench did last week, Lunt, dripping with sweat, said he was wiped out,
He says that during the workouts he keeps asking himself why he’s putting himself through it. But when he’s done, he said, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ ”
CrossFit gyms — which are called boxes — often are set up in no-frills warehouses. You won’t see the typical aerobic and weight machines found at most other gyms. CrossFit’s apparatus can include barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, pull-up bars, gymnastic rings, large boxes, industrial-size tires, even sleds.
“It’s not like a traditional gym,” said Dale Collison, owner of CrossFit Duluth. “People don’t come in, put those ear plugs on and use a cardio machine without talking to each other. It’s done in an atmosphere and attitude that’s very encouraging.”
The Workout of the Day, called a WOD, is a set of random physical challenges that changes daily. The combination of exercises can include Olympic-style weight lifting, kettlebell swings, rope climbing, box jumps, pulling weighted sleds, flipping tires and tossing heavy balls as CrossFit focuses on conditioning and strengthening the movements of everyday life.
“We basically prepare you for anything that life throws you,” Collison said. “We take gymnastics, Olympic weight lifting, power lifting and metabolic conditioning, cardio and make a workout out of it. The work is hard, but the results are rewarding.”
With the exercise rounds timed, participants complete the assigned sets as fast as they can and try to better their times. Classes start with an ambitious 20-minute warm-up that can include running laps before the actual Workout of the Day, which lasts about 15 minutes.
“People who finish first don’t put equipment away. They wait and cheer the others completing their WOD,” Collison said. “With every class, people are clapping and cheering them on.”
In Duluth, classes typically have 12 people or fewer, who get to know each other.
“It’s so much more fun and motivating to do as a group,” said Chris Fournie, who owns PMA CrossFit. “People try harder when they’re with others.”
Four since February
In early February, Fournie, 55, was the first to introduce CrossFit to the Twin Ports when he added the program to his business, Progressive Martial Arts & Fitness in Hermantown. His center also now bears the name PMA CrossFit Twin Ports.
“CrossFit is so fun and cool,” he said. “It’s a personal favorite of mine. It’s challenging and fun. People really like it.”
Now with nearly 25 CrossFit classes a week and 50 members, its popularity has surpassed his other fitness programs.
“For a new thing in Duluth, my feeling is that’s quite good,” Fournie said. “And I see it growing.”
PMA CrossFit’s opening beat the launch of CrossFit Duluth by about a week. However, its owner — Collison — was the first to get a CrossFit affiliation, in December.
Collison, 42, had lost 40 pounds doing CrossFit in Minneapolis before moving to Proctor with his wife last year. He led free workouts in his garage before opening CrossFit Duluth near Miller Hill Mall. There he leads seven classes a day plus a daily boot camp for beginners. He’s building his staff, including adding a female trainer.
CrossFit gyms cost more than traditional gym memberships. They typically offer membership, based on how many classes the member wants to attend and for how many months. Some also offer punch cards for 10 classes. Introductory classes often are free.
So far, CrossFit Duluth has 30 members and is growing, Collison says. While members range in age from 21 to 66 at his gym, most are 24 to 35, with slightly more men than women.
A few weeks ago, Impact Sports Training in Lincoln Park, which trains high school and college athletes, added several CrossFit classes a day to its offerings. Its IST CrossFit is geared to adults with owner Christopher Bell incorporating diet and nutrition into the classes.
“At least 50 percent of looking and feeling better is diet,” he said. “If you eat terrible, but come to our CrossFit classes, you probably won’t perform so well. Diet is a huge component of your workout.”
The fourth CrossFit affiliated gym is opening in Duluth on Saturday. Ryan King, 29, plans to open CrossFit Aerial in a converted warehouse space on Garfield Avenue. It offers room to expand if his business grows.
A former CrossFit coach from Frisco, Colo., King chose Duluth to set up shop because it didn’t yet have CrossFit, plus Duluth is similar to Colorado in offering the outdoor winter activities he enjoys.
He started looking for a site in December, before the other CrossFit gyms opened, and said he isn’t deterred by the competition that he now faces.
“I want the other guys to do well, but my intention is to be the best at this,” King said, adding that he will have more equipment to use in the workouts than some other CrossFit gyms.
Duluth-area CrossFit affiliates
Address: 316 Garfield Ave., Duluth
Owner: Ryan King, Level 2 certified trainer
Classes: Start Saturday 6/1, and will be offered Mondays through Saturdays
Cost: $80 per month for two workouts per week; $115 for three workouts; $150/month for unlimited workouts. The first 50 members who join get a lifetime discount. Free introductory classes will be held every Saturday at 9 a.m.
Call: (218) 461-8011
Address: 2510 Maple Grove Road, Duluth
Owner: Dale Collison , Level 1 certified trainer
Classes: Tuesdays through Saturdays
Cost: $79 to $179 per month, depending on the number of workouts per week and the number of months. Options are for three- to 12-month programs. A six-week boot camp for beginners is offered. Beginners also get a free introductory lesson and two free classes.
Call: (218) 329-7489
Address: 1621 W. Michigan St., Duluth
Owner: Christopher Bell, Level 2 certified trainer
Classes: Mondays through Saturdays
Cost: $120 per month for three workouts a week; $150 per month for unlimited classes. Free introductory classes will be held at 6 p.m. this Wednesday, 10 a.m. this Saturday and 6 p.m. June 3 and June 5. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org to attend a free class.
Call: (218) 626-7728
PMA CrossFit Twin Ports
Address: 4176 Thunderchief Lane, Hermantown
Owner: Chris Fournie, Level 1 certified trainer
Classes: Mondays through Saturdays.
Cost: For three workouts a week, $105 to $135 per month, depending on the length of the commitment. Unlimited workouts for $120 to $150 per month. Punch cards of 10 classes for $130. First class is free.
Call: (218) 727-5527