Fit to be tried: Crossfit expands, boot camps
When Crossfit Charlottesville opened in the summer of 2009, some questioned whether the high intensity, short workouts focused on "functional fitness," where workouts have names like "Cindy" and "Fran," and adherents use words like "WOD" and "Rx"– was a passing trend. Three years later, the original Crossfit gym is thriving, says its founder, and on November 1, it got some competition with the opening of a new Crossfit location whose owners believe there's plenty of demand to support both businesses.
"We thought we could make a unique environment," says Michael Towne, a former U.S. Marine who opened Solidarity Crossfit in the former Stubblefield Photo space on Harris Avenue with his wife, Becky Tippett.
Unlike other businesses, Crossfit affiliates are under only the loose control by the California-based parent corporation. For a couple thousand dollars, a new gym can use the Crossfit name, and, unlike many other franchises, the parent company puts no restrictions on how many gyms– called "boxes" in Crossfit lingo– can open in a given area.
"You could open three Crossfit gyms next door to each other," notes Crossfit Charlottesville co-owner Kyle Redinger, who sees positive and negative in that policy. "It increases competition, which is good," he notes, "but it also means gym owners may be reticent to invest heavily in expanding, since they have no guarantee of the population size they alone are serving."
Nor do the corporate headquarters hold gyms to any strict standards. That lack of oversight allows gyms to be flexible and create unique atmospheres and training programs, but critics point out it can also result in trainers with insufficient experience to be leading intense exercise classes that often include sophisticated Olympic weightlifting moves like the snatch, a move in which a loaded barbell is swiftly lifted from the ground to overhead, and the deadlift, in which the a heavy barbell is lifted from the ground to a standing position. Performed incorrectly, such exercises can result in serious injury, but both Towne and Crossfit Charlottesville owner Kyle Redinger say they stress proper form and adjust workouts so that they're appropriate for any fitness level.
The concept has only gained, ahem, strength in the past few years, and now a second Crossfit gym has opened.