Syracuse joins the CrossFit craze

CrossFit 315 offers SU students a place to train and improve their stamina with its structured workout routines.

"Do you CrossFit?" Jasmine Watkins asks me as I click a photo of her on the rope pull. She grunts and grimaces through her workout. "It's so addicting, I can't go more than two days before coming back here," she says.

Created in 2004 by gymnast Greg Glassman, CrossFit currently has over 4,000 affiliate gyms worldwide. Reebok Athletics signed on to sponsor this year's CrossFit Games, an Olympic-style annual series of fitness competitions that attract CrossFit athletes from around the world to compete for a chance to win the title of best male or female athlete.

Photo: Cynthia Kao-Johnson
Some Syracuse students train at CrossFit 315, a local CrossFit branch in Cicero.

Watkins, a graduate student at Syracuse's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, visits CrossFit 315, a local branch that is independently owned and operated in Cicero. She says that the cost for CrossFit is worth every penny. She lost 121 pounds within the last year. At her heaviest, she weighed 307 pounds; she has the photo on her iPhone to prove it. She says that the monthly cost of CrossFit is one-third less than paying for a personal trainer for the same amount of training time. Watkins played basketball in her high school and undergraduate years, and noticed that she gained weight after each season ended. Her goal is to reach her personal best, and to focus on sports journalism.

"I don't have a goal of being in the CrossFit Games, but I just want to push myself as far as I can go," Jasmine says.

Mitch Beaver, a CrossFit trainer, says that Jasmine has come a long way. "She pushes hard, and she's here almost every day."

When asked about his goals in CrossFit, he says, "I want to get a team who can make it to the Games. It's like our Olympics, and it's a goal a lot of serious CrossFitters look to. We post our personal best times online, and people watch everyone else's videos and times. It gets to be a unique culture and community of people."

The official Reebok-sponsored CrossFit invitation games, which were held in London, were aired on the Eurosport television network on October 13. This year, CrossFit Team Europe challenged Team USA, and USA brought the title home.

According to Beaver and Mark Lado, owner of CrossFit 315, the workouts are based on a “Workout of the Day,” or WOD, posted on the main CrossFit Website and followed by every gym. Each WOD consists of several sets of movements, such as deadlifts, burpees, chin-ups and box jumps. Some WODS are completed in the athlete’s best time, and some are completed in set amounts. Four consecutive “Foundations” classes are required in order to teach the basic movements and monitor correct position and modifications to fit each individual athlete. After completion of these classes, the individual can choose to work out three days a week, or pay a monthly rate for unlimited visits.

Beaver says that every student receives a ten percent discount, and rates are $85.00 for three workouts a week, or $95 for unlimited workouts. The workouts are the equivalent of an hour or more of combined cardio and strength training crammed into less than a half hour. "The individual athlete does not plateau since the WODS causes muscle confusion and prepares the individual for multiple platforms of fitness, increasing personal endurance and athleticism in novices as well as seasoned professional athletes," says Beaver.

Many police, military and other tactical training forces currently use the CrossFit method, according to, the official website for CrossFit, Inc. But some students at Syracuse do, too.

Jonas Hwang, a junior, was a personal trainer at his hometown gym in Chicago before he moved to Syracuse to pursue his undergraduate studies. Hwang says that CrossFit provides the perfect balance between strength training, endurance and muscle stamina, and he believes that students, not just athletes, could benefit from Crossfit. "CrossFit keeps people motivated, you don't plateau, and you can get incredibly fit and cut," he says. "A lot of guys ask me how to get cut, and CrossFit is a great way to work out different muscles and get full-body conditioning, and improve the way your body looks in a short amount of time."

Beth Lussenhop, a sophomore who works at the Archbold Gym on the SU Campus, says she learned about CrossFit from a friend. While she says she feels CrossFit is a great idea, she feels the monthly rates are too expensive for a student, and the location is inconvenient to students without personal vehicles. "Perhaps they can take CrossFit into the campus, so students can access the classes and get more exposure. I live directly across from a gym, so it's more convenient for me to work out right after I come home from classes or work", says Lussenhop.

Information Studies junior Nick Mastrogiacomo works out on his own individual program created with his mother, also a personal trainer. He says CrossFit can be modified for an individual in a gym of the person’s choice, and he likes to vary his workout based on his individual preferences and needs. "Why should I pay for something that I already know how to do?" says Mastrogiacomo. "Sure, if someone doesn't know how to do the movements then the classes are great, but you can always take those movements into your own gym and tailor your own workout to what your needs are."

None of the students polled were aware that Syracuse University’s Department of Recreation Services currently provides CrossFit classes. The group fitness class meets twice a week, Monday and Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. for fifty minutes per class. Students pay $53 for the semester, and faculty or staff pays $63.

So are you ready to CrossFit?

I am ready for crossfit!  

I am ready for crossfit!


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