“Someday all this pain will make sense to you,” says the enormous wall sign painted over my head as I go through my thrice-weekly workout at my local CrossFit gym.
Maybe so or maybe not, but like the rest of Guadalajara, I decided to embrace the fitness movement with a vengeance.
On virtually any corner nowadays one can find a gym, a fitness studio, or a martial arts dojo. Possibly most prominent among these exercise joints is the CrossFit logo, which is proliferating throughout every community in the area. In fact, as Distrito CrossFit co-owner and head trainer Ricardo Mora explains, there are more than 150 gyms across the city with the CrossFit name, but only five are bona fide programs with a licensed trademark from the parent company.
So what is this CrossFit business? Founded in 2000 by California trainer Greg Glassman after 20 years of research and practice, the company is now a multi-million dollar juggernaut of a strength and conditioning program. It is both a physical fitness regime and a competitive fitness sport, with more than 10,000 affiliates across the United States, Mexico and around the world. The company website is an encyclopedia of CrossFit philosophy, competition regulations, nutrition information, and workout descriptions. The website also offers a workout regime that independent fitness followers may access online through both the parent company and affiliated gyms.The “boxes” themselves (as the gyms are called in the company parlance) offer a vegetable soup of acronymic workouts that vary daily. A WOD – Workout of the Day – includes elements of high intensity interval training, power lifting, plyometric, gymnastics, calisthenics, strongman and other exercises. Roughly translated though my own experience at my neighborhood “Distrito CrossFit” box, this means a lot of running, pull ups, box jumps, kettle bell swinging, handstand pushups (still can’t do them), sit ups, and barbell lifting. The gyms have stripped-down equipment, based on Olympic-style overall fitness training, including free weights, pull up bars and climbing ropes, plywood boxes in various sizes, and the inevitable kettle bells.The only machines in a box are rowing machines, used for aerobic intervals.
Here in Guadalajara, 28-year-old Mora, a Tapatio trained at the UNIVA university as a nutritionist and fitness professional, worked as a physical trainer for twelve years before joining with three partners two years ago to register with the CrossFit company and open their Distrito CrossFit box on Ruben Dario in Providencia and a second one in Valle Real. Mora, a personal trainer, weight-lifting coach and internationally certified kettle bell trainer, manages a team of seven coaches, many of whom are national and international competitors in the demanding CrossFit Games. Trainers Dario Cordoba and Jasmine Arroyo conduct most of their weekday classes while training for competition themselves. Arroyo, 25, who in May placed second in the Latin-American CrossFit games in Chile, coaches youngsters in the newly opened children’s gym in Distrito’s annex next door to the main box, which also offers “Flow” yoga classes to round out the fitness regime.
Classes are ongoing, with a one-hour class scheduled every hour at five past the hour from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. during weekdays in most boxes. Many boxes have classes on Saturdays until mid-afternoon, and some have a “free gym” day on Sundays, during which clients can use their own exercise routine or follow the website WOD. Every class begins with a warm-up, followed by a short skill-building set that introduces the workout, then a 20 or so minute hard routine. The class winds down with a stretching session – and you’re done! The entire body is addressed in each session – and no two are ever the same. The only thing that is assured is that you can work to your point of tolerance – and be quite proud of the fact that you completed a class. Mora recommends a five times per week routine to see any noticeable fitness improvement over time. However, many CrossFit jocks use the workout to train for other sports, both competitive and non-, and any type of aerobic exercise in addition to the box workout can count toward that five-day period.
In spite of the obviously youthful aspect of the business, this is not just a teen-to- twenty-something’s game. At least 15 percent of Mora’s clientele (yours truly included) is over the age of 45. With a challenging workout that changes daily, we lifelong gym rats avoid the boredom that comes with most long-term exercise routines.
“Everyone is different,” notes Mora about the program and its benefits. “We recommend that you see your physician before beginning a physical fitness training. Of course, however, we have small classes and highly trained professionals that watch form, correct posture and monitor the weights that our clients use. We especially watch our kids’ classes, as children under 15 to 18 can damage their bone growth if they try to take on too much weight or follow the routines improperly.” Mora also favors the CrossFit-sanctioned “Paleo-style” diet plan, with the caveat that any diet program should be monitored with the advice of a nutritionist – and most should be personalized to individual needs.
Novices are welcome – and it’s really easy to begin the program. For a reasonable initiation fee and a pay-by-the-month strategy (no contracts necessary), you can join up and start exercising immediately. If you are interested in joining a CrossFit box, do so at your choosing, but be aware that the warning mentioned before is one to note. Of the myriad gyms in the city, the only five CrossFit licensed boxes, according to my sources, are listed on the previous page. Background information about the company and programs are at www.crossfit.com.
CrossFit Boxes in Guadalajara
Distrito CrossFit Ruben Dario
Mazaryk Center, Florencia 2828, corner of Ruben Dario, 3640-3691, www.facebook.com/DistritoCf
Distrito CrossFit Valle Real
Plaza Santa Margarita, Avenida Santa Margarita 5055, (across from Valle Real)
Fit Studio CrossFit Aviacion
Avenida Inglaterra 245, corner of Av. Aviacion, 3167-2477, www.fitstudiocrossfit.com/fitstudio
Pablo Neruda 2640, Colonia Providencia, 3817-0939, www.facebook.com/crossfit220
Avenida Tepeyac 1030, 3122-2627, www.crossfitsantuario.com
Avenida Conchitas 4629, 3663-1957, www.coliseocrossfit.com