For varsity and club athletes at Whitman, working out is a way to stay in shape for their sport. For non-athletes trying to stay in shape, working out is their sport. Sophomore Colin Brinton is one of a handful of Whitman students whose workout regimens are dictated by the fitness trend known as CrossFit.
CrossFit is a West Coast fitness development that has achieved international recognition in the last decade. While the training style has received an influx of attention following ESPN’s coverage of the CrossFit Games, Brinton is in a small minority of Whitman students who train.
“It’s definitely not huge here. Walla Walla, in general, has been slow to catch on to the rise in CrossFit’s popularity,” said Brinton.
CrossFit combines explosive weight lifting, cardiovascular training and body weight exercises in a way that is very conducive to success in sports. Many professional athletes including triathletes have found great success in their craft through incorporating CrossFit training, but for Brinton the competition remains within the weight room, not in the field.
“One of the great things about CrossFit is that the workouts are quantifiable, allowing you to compete against yourself or others. It has a competitive side to it that pushes me to improve every day,” said Brinton.
While Brinton considers his discipline a sport, many varsity athletes remain skeptical to CrossFit’s merit.
“Comparing CrossFit to traditional sports is like comparing scrawny, uncoordinated apples to oranges. Sports demand you train just to be able to perform. CrossFit is less a sport and more of a side show, really,” said junior Jonny Lari.
Brinton often works out on his own, but CrossFit is known for its strong community that results from working out in classes and friendly competition.
“[Baker Ferguson Fitness Center] does not have the space or equipment to accommodate classes or large groups performing. Most workouts involve free weights and pull-up bars, both of which are scarce,” said Brinton.
The Baker Ferguson Fitness Center (BFFC) has only two sets of the rubberized weights used for dead lifts and other floor-based Olympic lifts that CrossFit incorporates. While Brinton would like to see more, Lari does not think the weights are the issue.
“There is a reason CrossFit gyms exist. There are unwritten rules about weightlifting etiquette and having guys running around and doing overhead lifting makes the gym a place I don’t want to be,” Lari said, adding, “Abuse of equipment is one of my biggest pet peeves in the gym, and scrawny guys swinging from pull-up bars is the biggest abuse of equipment that comes to mind.”
While Whitman’s gym may not be ideal for CrossFit training, CrossFit Walla Walla is a gym, or “box” as they call it, entirely dedicated to the discipline and located less than a 10-minute bike ride from campus. The box is already filling with Walla Walla community members, but is always looking for more members.
“We have Olympic lifting equipment, power lifting equipment [and] kettle bells as well as equipment for gymnastic-type movements like dips and pull ups,” described Chuck Amerein, who opened the box last year after operating a gym in Dayton.
CrossFit Walla Walla, located in a small warehouse, might cost a bit more and not have the warm, luxurious facilities of BFFC, but has the ideal setup for those interested in the popular fitness discipline and working out with like-minded people. The humble box has just what is needed for the constantly varied, functional and high-intensity movements CrossFit is based on.
“We have a cold box right now, but you warm it up working out,” said Amerein.
Filed under: Sports