by Elizabeth Morris and Kira Maddox
There has been a spike in the fitness world, and the international trend has resonated with the Ithaca community as well. It’s called CrossFit.
From Nov. 5–9, CrossFit Lift Off, an online CrossFit competition, will pit any interested men and women from around the world against each other to see who can do the best in a series of three fitness challenges: the snatch, the clean and jerk, and a final that will be announced the day the competition opens.
CrossFit Lift Off is part of a fitness trend that has a considerable following in the U.S., especially throughout the Northeast.
CrossFit is a collection of strength and conditioning workouts that has seen a spike in popularity within the last four years, even though CrossFit Inc. was only founded about 15 years ago. Though Ithaca is a relatively small town with a population of about 30,000, it has two certified CrossFit gyms: CrossFit of Ithaca and CrossFit Pallas.
“CrossFit is a wide variety of different exercises,” said Jared Jordan, co-owner and head coach at CrossFit of Ithaca. “We take weight lifting, cardio, all mixed together and then it’s kind of defined as functional movement that’s performed at high intensity and it’s constantly varied.”
“The growth of CrossFit has been, I think unexpected for everybody,” said Tim Paulson, an owner of CrossFit Pallas. “Even for people who do CrossFit and were involved with it from the start. It was a bit of a slow growth for a while, but in the past fews years it’s just taken off.”
Paulson’s gym saw so much growth from its original home on Court Street, where it opened in 2012, that they had to relocate. The business now occupies a large, red garage space on Cherry Street, expanding from about 1,000 square-feet to 6,000 square-feet, with 25-foot high ceilings.
Paulson said the business is nearing the 200 member mark.
“People who do CrossFit, they see results, and when they see results they share that,” Paulson said. “So I think a lot of the growth of CrossFit has been word-of-mouth, organic.”
CrossFit of Ithaca has seen similar growth. While it’s only been open for a little less than two years, Nina Cobb, co-owner and coach at CrossFit of Ithaca, said the business began with four members in the first two months, it has grown to about 60–65 regulars.
Cobb said they’re hoping to expand their business and move into a bigger space by February 2016.
“Even if you go to your normal Globo Gym, Planet Fitness, this and that, you see CrossFit happening in all those gyms,” Jordan said. “A lot of boxing and martial arts places have added CrossFit in their program.”
Paulson said he thinks this is also do to the screening of the annual CrossFit Games on ESPN.
The CrossFit Games began in 2007 and was first live streamed on ESPN in 2011. These games start with a five week competition, called the Open. Boxes across the world, including CrossFit of Ithaca and CrossFit Pallas, compete in the same workout and submit their scores every week. Then athletes who qualify go on to the regionals, which occur over three weekends. The fittest 40 men and 40 women compete in the final stage, the CrossFit Games.
While there are only two affiliated CrossFit gyms in Ithaca, there are many other areas where CrossFit is taught in the area. In 2012, the Cornell Fitness Club was founded, and it now offers two CrossFit inspired bodyweight classes a week.
“A lot of the people who have joined this semester, a good handful of them are freshmen students,” said Nicky Blobel, Cornell Fitness Club president, “and so they have all done CrossFit before before coming to Cornell, and wanted to continue similar workouts. So I guess because the popularity of CrossFit has been increasing, people have becoming more interested in our club also.”