Never underestimate how fit you can get by just using your own body weight. Yesterday I walked into Windy City CrossFit for a complimentary intro class. I know a lot of people who do CrossFit regularly. The two things I noticed among all of these people is 1) they never seem unhappy or bored with their workouts and 2) they're truly fit. I define "fit" as not just someone who runs fast, or someone who can lift a lot of weight, or even someone who has great flexibility - rather a combination of all of these things. Of all the "fit" people I know - CrossFitters are some of the fittest.
CrossFit is a type of strengthening and conditioning that applies all sorts of training, including plyometrics, kettlebells, rowing, medicine ball work, weight lifting and sprinting. Windy City CrossFit, located at 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave., is a big no-frills space that is filled with lots of mats, balls, kettlebells, bars and other weight lifting equipment. When I walked in I saw a lot of people - both men and women - of all shapes and sizes. My intro class was led by Sheena, a former Olympian-turned-CrossFit-coach. Along with three other students, Sheena gave us a quick explanation of what CrossFit is, what we could expect from the intro class, and a little bit about the different programs available at Windy City CrossFit.
Class started with a warm up of several stretches, burpees and jumping jacks. NOTHING will get your heart rate up faster than a set of a dozen burpees. The rest of class was based around a series of exercises that used only body weight. Performed "CrossFit" style, there was no cheating. Sheena watched our form closely as we went through several sets of push ups ("chest to deck, please"), air squats ("ass to grass"...hey, I didn't say it), medicine ball work and abs. One thing you will not find in any CrossFit facility is long, slow, easy work. CrossFit is known for building workouts around intense intervals followed by short rest periods. It wasn't much of a surprise that Sheena ended class with a Tabata set. A Tabata set is eight high intensity intervals with short rest periods in between. The total amount of work in a Tabata set is right around four minutes. Sounds easy, right? No matter what you do - if it's remotely challenging - a Tabata set is designed to be difficult.
Sheena set her stop watch and gave us instructions to perform as many air squats (body weight squats) as we could in 20 seconds. This would be followed by a ten-second rest period, and repeated continuously seven more times. Everyone was cashed by the end of the Tabata.
So where do we go from here? Windy City CrossFit has an "on-ramp" program that meets three times a week for four weeks. For $225, or just under $19 per semi-private class, it's a steal! This program prepares members for the regular CrossFit classes. Many of the regular classes revolve around the Workout of the Day (WOD), but a few specialize in endurance, Olympic weight lifting and SEALFit.
Want to see for yourself what CrossFit is all about? YouTube is filled with demonstrative videos, like this one. Windy City CrossFit's website is also loaded with information, including videos, schedules and general information about the facility. Windy City CrossFit's number is 773-895-1378, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.