By Scott Prater
As an Air Force officer and a former college athlete, 1st Lt. Gary Goff has never really been out of shape.
In a typical week, the Wideband Global Satcom Engineer for 3rd Space Operations Squadron would usually run three to four times and lift weights on alternate days. But he never subscribed to a particular routine.
And he considered himself a fit person – that is until he found out about CrossFit.
“My brother turned me onto this Web site,” he said. “I figured I’d try it for a few months and see what effect it had.”
A year and a half later, Goff can often be found flipping giant tires, pounding out sets of hand-stand push ups, swinging kettlebells like a steer wrestler and heaving 30-pound medicine balls against the side of the Schriever gym.
Yes, he’s still following the principles of the CrossFit regimen. And he’s never been fitter.
“It’s an amazing workout so I just stuck with it,” he said. “And the effect has been amazing. I dropped roughly five percent body fat in the first couple of months.”
Created in the 1980s by Greg Glassman, CrossFit has swept across the nation as one of the hottest fitness regimens going, especially among military members, police academies and martial artists.
Glassman is a former gymnast, so some CrossFit’s exercises are derived from that sport, but CrossFit leaders say the fitness regimen’s specialty is… well, not specializing.
The fitness phenomenon emphasizes strength and conditioning. Its goal is to create the quintessential athlete, equal parts weightlifter, sprinter and gymnast. On the CrossFit Web site, an information page explains that combat, survival, many sports and life reward this type of fitness.
Meanwhile, the information age might be the best thing to ever happen for CrossFit. Its popularity has been driven by a virtual community, people who not only visit the site to obtain their daily workout, but also report about their daily performances.
“That’s one of the most exciting things about it,” Lieutenant Goff said. “You can simply log on to the Web site and they design the workouts for you. They don’t usually repeat exercises, so every day is exciting and new.On any given day CrossFit may prompt athletes to run, jump, climb, row, flip giant tires and carry bulky, odd-shaped objects. The regimen also requires participants to use kettlebells (large balls with handles), medicine balls, pull-up bars and gymnastics rings.
The workout is calisthenics heavy and its weightlifting exercises force participants to perform complex and compound movements with heavy loads.
“I’m sore often, because most of the workouts force you to use muscles you don’t normally use,” Lieutenant Goff said.
As interesting and provocative as CrossFit may be, the fitness regimen is not without its critics. The program has been knocked for being too intense, or creating an atmosphere where participants risk significant injury or even death.
“CrossFit training does often require very strenuous exercises using heavy weights and apparatuses,” Schriever Fitness Center Director Seth Cannello said. “It’s not a program for beginners, or something most people can just jump into. I recommend people work their way up to the CrossFit exercises slowly, especially with the weightlifting and aerobic routines.”
Still, Mr. Cannello recognizes CrossFit’s popularity and its benefits. He even plans to create a room specifically for CrossFit training once work on the Schriever fitness center expansion project is complete.
“My first couple of months, there were things I couldn’t do,” Lieutenant Goff said. “Once you’ve been doing it awhile you get better with the lifts and form, so you’re able to keep up with the numbers they put up on the Web site.”
Goff hinted that CrossFit relies on two basic criteria – participants should try to lift as much weight as they can in Olympic style lifts like cleans, jerks, shoulder and presses. On other days, a participant’s circuit is based purely on speed. Exercises on those days combine running and high-repetition weight lifting.
“The military is picking up on CrossFit principles a lot more now as a good way to stay in shape,” Lieutenant Goff said. “Most bases have everything you need to use at their gyms. Peterson (AFB) even has a group that meets daily to do CrossFit training.”
To find out more about CrossFit visit www.crossfit.com or call or visit the Schriever fitness center at 567-6628.