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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Every day across the country and around the world, men and women of all ages and backgrounds are driving past air-conditioned gyms to warehouses where tractor tires and iron bars qualify as fitness equipment. They train regardless of heat or cold. They can pay as much as $150 per month for the privilege.

The regimen is CrossFit, a conditioning program that combines cardio and strength exercises in interval format. Though the brand has existed since 2000, the past several years have seen explosive growth in participation, including locally.

In 2010 the Corpus Christi area had three "boxes," CrossFit's term for an affiliate gym. Today there are 10. Of those, half have either opened or significantly expanded in the past year.

Blue Steel CrossFit and CrossFit Iron Addicts opened this year in the vicinity of Holly Road and Staples Street. Contender CrossFit expanded to that same area from a location in Flour Bluff. CrossFit Metro 361 expanded from its Water Street box to Lawrence and Mesquite streets, former home of Katz 21 Steak & Spirits. In 2013, CrossFit Outback opened in Platypus Fitness on Alameda Street, and CrossFit XLR8 in Gregory added a Calallen location.

"It's been crazy," said David Harris, co-owner of Contender, who is working on an addition to his 6-month-old building. "From a business perspective, everything we had forecast or hoped for, it's just blown out of the water."

The growing number of boxes and buzz is bringing CrossFit to more neighborhoods and more athletes than ever.

However, as with any decision, customers should research before making a commitment.

"(Choice) is good for the consumers, but at the same time, it's buyer beware," said Tim Hamilton, owner of SeaCity CrossFit, which opened in 2010. "People don't always have the experience to tell the difference between good and bad coaching."

Improper CrossFit technique can lead to injury (more on that in next week's column). Hamilton and other local owners advise researching coaches' experience levels and reading reviews before joining a box. But done with proper technique and guidance, CrossFit is effective and addictive, participants say.

"CrossFit didn't invent the push-up or the squat," said Molly Gillespie, owner of CrossFit XLR8. "It just puts it in a different sequence that makes it fun. It's fast, it's hard, and it never gets old."

If you want tough, CrossFit delivers all you can handle. If you want stories of weight loss and physical transformation, CrossFit has those, too. However, athletes and coaches alike repeatedly say that CrossFit's allure is something more.

"It's the community," said Valerie Martinez, who joined CrossFit Metro 361 downtown after returning from an Army deployment. "Everyone helps each other out. A regular gym is full of machines, but here we're the machines.

 

June 27, 2014

 

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