Fitness crazes come and go. For awhile Pilates was king. Zumba currently appeals to the exercisers who like to shake their booties. But the next big thing has arrived in Kokomo, and the only dancing that takes place in it involves a punching bag.
The Pit on North Plate Street, just north of Morgan Street, is offering CrossPit training. It’s more than a fitness program. It is the same conditioning regimen used by mixed martial arts fighters, only without the fighting. And instructors Terry Gruel and his wife, Carrie, are confident that the program is ready to capture the interest of Kokomo.
“It’s a high-intensity class, but the beauty of CrossPit is you’re not actually fighting anybody,” said Gruel. “You train like a professional fighter. You do all of the drills, but you’ll never engage with someone. There is zero fighting.
“It’s a hardcore workout. You use sledgehammers and flip tires, a lot of body weight drills, a lot of punching and kicking bags. We use medicine balls like crazy. They’re torture, but they’re a lot of fun. The results you get are well worth the effort.”
I’ll stop for a moment while you let that sink in. Sledgehammers. Tire flipping. Medicine balls. Fun ... torture.
OK. I’m in. Just on that description, I decided to try CrossPit. For the next six weeks, I’ll subject my body to this treatment, and we’ll see what happens. When Gruel explained some of the results participants have seen in his class so far, CrossPit sounded perfect for helping me drop the 30 pounds I’ve gained since I stopped smoking seven months ago.
“The biggest impact we’ve had is people losing inches,” said Gruel. “We have one lady who started with us in January, and she has lost 70 pounds. We have a guy who weighed 271 when he started in January. By March, he was down to 224. When his doctor saw the results, he couldn’t believe it. The guy’s resting heart rate was a 44. That’s like a marathon runner. That doctor actually takes classes here now. He’s a big promoter of it.”
That sounds pretty good. But it wasn’t until I attended my first class on Nov. 18 that realized just how easily Gruel could back up those claims. CrossPit is a monster of an exercise program that challenges you to push yourself to the limit and beyond.
It’s not the instructors pushing you. They give encouragement and support while preaching the need to work at your own pace. And it’s not the other people in the class making you drive over the brink of exhaustion with a brick tied to the gas pedal. They’re sweating and suffering right along with you.
You get out of CrossPit what you put into it. The program and instructors simply provide you with a vast array of heavy objects and high-intensity activities with which to pound your body into the shape you desire.
It has been a long time since I participated in an organized exercise program. Part of the reason for that was self-consciousness. Another part was fear that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with an intense pace. Five minutes into the class, I largely forgot there were people around me. And since I was setting my own pace, I kept up ... mostly.
CrossPit is different almost every time you attend a class. The reason for that, Gruel explained, is to keep things fresh and interesting. On my first night, “fresh and interesting” had another name. “Fight Gone Bad.”
Gee, that’s a catchy name. Here is what it involves. Twenty-five exercise stations, each with a different activity. You spend one minute at each station, pumping out as many repetitions as you can. Then you move to the next station. There are no breaks unless they are self-imposed. (I had my share of those.)
It may not sound like much until you consider the exercises. Like Gruel explained, there was tire flipping — tractor tire flipping, that is. We also were asked to press a full beer keg over our heads, work with resistance bands, do pull-ups, and even jump onto a two-foot high box from a standing position. Yeah. By the time I got to the box, I was proud that I managed to actually step onto twice in 60 seconds.
After Fight Gone Bad was finished, we took a one minute break and then began a relentless assault on the punching bags. That part of the evening is a bit hazy for me. Between endorphin rushes and crashes and a perpetual sense of disbelief that I had not collapsed, there wasn’t much time to think about anything except the next instruction.
Before you get the idea that any of this was bad, it wasn’t. Actually, once the class was over, I felt elated. There was a real sense of accomplishment. CrossPit isn’t just something you do, it’s something you have conquer. I can’t wait for the next class.
That was how I felt that first night. Two days later, my arms are so sore I have to force myself to extend them. In fact, I’m having trouble finding someplace on my body that isn’t in pain. Now I’m wondering how I’ll survive the next class with muscles that scream at the slightest exertion. We’re going to find out.
CrossPit is something just about anyone can do, mainly because you are allowed to exercise at your own pace. There are people of all ages and fitness levels in the classes, and everyone is having fun. The program is affordable. You can attend classes twice a week for $69 a month. For $89 a month you can attend an unlimited number of classes. And there’s always room for more to join.
“Just wear comfortable clothing and bring a towel,” said Gruel. “Come with a good attitude to have fun, and you’ll definitely get a workout. You’ll never get bored with it.”