Like most fitness-conscious types, I had heard of CrossFit, but only knew it by what its name literally suggests: a cross between different fitness regimes. I naively lumped it with fitness fads like P90X, Insanity, and a milieu of others that carpet bomb TV screens with infomercials promising fast, beach-body results.
CrossFit, however, has no DVDs to buy, and no screen exercises to mimic in your living room. CrossFit sweat is produced live, in real time, inside one of the 14,000 CrossFit gym affiliates worldwide.
What is CrossFit?
The textbook definition is pretty straightforward: CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. “The payoff,” says CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, “is an inordinate adaptation of fitness that you didn’t think was potentially achievable.”
That’s pretty heady stuff, and maybe a bit intimidating. But one of the founding principles of CrossFit is universal scalability, which means that each unique Workout of the Day (known as the “WOD,” for short) is scaled to match the fitness level of each individual participant. Weights can be lowered, reps and sets reduced, rests extended, or one exercise substituted for another.
Universal scalability means universal accessibility, so Glassman doesn’t exaggerate when he says, “Your grandmother could—and should—be working out with us.” Seven of the 38 members currently enrolled with CrossFit Globe-Cobre Valley are over the age of 60—and they’re having a blast.
“In the majority of cases,” says CrossFit coach Kathy Walker, “you’re not too old and you’re not too heavy” to do CrossFit. While the daily workouts—the WODs—are challenging for everyone regardless of their age or fitness level, it’s the cumulative results and class comradery that keep everyone coming back for more.
CrossFit is not about body sculpting and six-pack abs. But the byproduct of becoming fit and healthy leads to a better body image, with vastly improved self-confidence for both men and women. Crossfitters are strong—and that strength looks and feels good.
Two experienced, certified coaches
CrossFit Globe-Cobre Valley is a fully sanctioned CrossFit affiliate gym started by Greg and Kathy Walker, both certified CrossFit trainers. They’re transplants from Tucson, where Greg and his daughter ran CrossFit Northwest Tucson, a thriving gym with nearly 400 members.
CrossFit is marketed mainly by word-of-mouth, and it was Kathy’s son who urged her to take a class in San Diego in 2010. “It was a ten minute workout, the hardest ten minutes I’ve ever done,” she recalls. “And I said, ‘Okay, I’m hooked.’”
Back in Arizona, she discovered CrossFit Northwest Tucson and from there, rapidly distinguished herself as a top-shelf CrossFit athlete. In 2013, she received her certification as a CrossFit coach and in 2014, won a silver medal at the CrossFit Games.
Lest you think this is the achievement of some hotshot barely out of her thirties, Kathy Walker didn’t attend her first CrossFit class until she was 51 years old.
Greg Walker is similarly qualified and has an even longer pedigree. With a backround of playing competitive football and riding off-road motorcycles, he gained his own CrossFit coaching qualification in 2009, then went on to participate in three CrossFit games, winning a gold medal in 2011. He, too, was a late bloomer, not beginning his passion for CrossFit until his late 50s.
CrossFit comes to Globe
By 2016, Greg and Kathy had decided to leave Tucson (Greg’s daughter would continue running the gym). They wanted to open another CrossFit affiliate gym somewhere with a warm climate in a community that didn’t yet have CrossFit.
Greg had been coming to Globe for decades as a nexus point to stage his motorcycle rides, so he already had a familiarity with Globe and thought it would make a good fit. Kathy agreed, and in August 2016, they opened CrossFit Globe-Cobre Valley on the corner of Pine and Cedar streets.
Since then they have married (the ceremony conducted in their gym, of course), built a house, and have made a long-term commitment to coaching CrossFit in the area. Their mission is be the catalyst that members need for their physical and mental evolution. Even more broadly, Greg says that “we’re here for health, wellness, and fitness for Globe, Arizona.”
<pull quote> “We’re here for health, wellness, and fitness for Globe, Arizona.” –Coach Greg Walker<pull quote>
Commercial gyms are usually overstocked with specialized equipment, so you’ll no doubt be struck by the amount of open space in one outfitted for CrossFit. Except for a neat line of stationary rowers, there isn’t another exercise machine to be found in Greg and Kathy’s gym. Mention this to Greg and he’ll give you his stock response. “We are the machines.”
What he means is that a typical CrossFit workout will use some combination of running, pushing, pulling, lifting, climbing, jumping, carrying, swinging, and squatting, using medicine balls, kettlebells, ropes, barbells, rings, pullup bars—and your own body. All done at high intensity, of course. These functional movements are the core movements of everyday life. No fancy machine is needed.
CrossFit really is for everybody
CrossFit is designed to be gender neutral. Even though men will always have brute muscle capacity in their corner, CrossFit requires just as much coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance. These skills come naturally to women. “That’s not macho stuff,” founder Greg Glassman points out. Woman find they improve quickly—and excel—with CrossFit. In fact, 60% of all Crossfitters worldwide are women.
Sarah Alexander joined CrossFit Globe-Cobre Valley in October 2016 to lose some baby weight. She began with one day a week, then two, finally reaching five. “Now I can’t get enough of it,” she told me. Her husband, Travis, saw the progress she was making, not just in her body, but in her growing confidence and self-esteem. Three months later, he signed up for CrossFit himself.
“Your grandmother could—and should—be working out with us. –Greg Glassman, founder of CrossFit.
When Shawna Fierro, a mother of three, started CrossFit, she couldn’t do a proper pushup and barely made it through her first workout. Six months later, she was swinging 30-pound kettlebells and doing hand stands.
She credits Greg and Kathy with believing in her when she was afraid to believe in herself. And she gives a shout-out to the unwavering support that class members give each other. The class camaraderie “helps get us through every workout and is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.”
Kathy readily agrees. “You can’t explain the culture in here until you step into it.” Greg feels the same way. “Man, woman, 8 to 80. It doesn’t matter. We’re all in this together.”