Growing fit: Intense gym expands, targets youngsters
A new gym opened its doors two summers ago riding a wave of research asserting that short-but-intense bursts of exercise trump moderate-but-longer sessions. Eighteen months later, CrossFit Charlottesville is going so strong that it has tripled its footprint in the old National Linen building on Market Street.
"It's not for everyone," acknowledges co-founder Kyle Redinger. "But if people make it two or three months, they never leave."
Now, says Redinger, he's expanding to a younger demographic, with twice-weekly fitness class for children ages 5 to 12. The concept of the kids classes, which begin January 26 and cost $69, is similar to the grown-up version: relatively intense and varied movements. But while adults may grab heavy weights, the kids classes aren't for turning children into mini-Schwarzeneggers.
"It's a lot more body weight, more gymnastics," says Redinger, who notes the classes will be taught by Gretchen Kittelberger, a former collegiate gymnast who recently obtained special training and certification for the kids' classes.
Redinger attributes the success of the adult CrossFit program to its social nature, as the workouts happen in groups with no mirrors, no TVs, and–- although there's music playing–- no one plugged into iPods. And in an industry that profits from no-shows, a recent internal survey Redinger cites shows his clients are averaging three visits per week over the year–- three times the industry average.
"From a business perspective, that is not a good thing," says Redinger. "But doing the right thing for our members is an awesome thing."
CrossFit Charlottesville isn't the only gym engaging members in group cross-training. At both ACAC locations and Total Performance Sports and Fitness on 29 North, classes that incorporate plyometrics, agility, body weight resistance training and speed training have become a big draw.
"Shorter, higher intensity workouts make the heart work harder, lungs work harder, and therefore the benefits are greater," says Total Performance c0-owner Todd Proctor, "not only for athletic performance but for fat loss and getting heart and lungs in better shape."
Total Performance has long offered over-8 kid classes, which cost $20 per hour-long session. (Unlike most other workout facilities–- with the exception of Snap Fitness on 29 North–- Total Performance offers 24-hour access.)
Recently, a group-exercise competitor has arrived in the form of CoMo Functional Fitness, whose owner Courtney Modecki offers intense workouts at various locations, including outdoors. Redinger says he's not surprised to see businesses blooming in the group-training world.
"People are social creatures," he says.
Those interested in witnessing top-level Crossfit athletes from all over the East Coast compete can attend this weekend's Superfit Games, held at at Crossfit on Saturday and Sunday, January 22-23. Spectators are asked for a $10 donation to benefit the local chapter of Boy Scouts of America.