WALLA WALLA — In a cavernous warehouse building a block off Rees Avenue, eight people arrive in workout clothes, ready to find out what they’ll be doing during the next hour. They learn that the workout of the day, or “WOD,” as it’s known at CrossFit Walla Walla, includes “wall climbers,” “kettle bell swings” and sit-ups.
Five men and three women, ranging from twenty-something to fifty-something, are led through a series of warm-ups and stretches by certified CrossFit trainer and business owner Chuck Amerein. Then the clock starts and the WOD begins: seven rounds, for time. Most of the participants finish in about 15 minutes. All are exhausted.
Amerein, 41, opened CrossFit Walla Walla in August at 65 George St. He offers three sessions per day — at 4, 5 and 6 p.m. — Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Monthly memberships are $90. He currently has about 30 participants each day.
Amerein is an Army veteran who lives north of Waitsburg in Columbia County. He was introduced to CrossFit while working as a civilian contractor in Iraq in the mid-2000s.
“I really liked CrossFit because it provided functional workouts that gave me strength I needed for the physical work I was doing,” Amerein said.
In the spring of 2011, while helping a couple of Dayton High School seniors get in shape for upcoming military duty, Amerein decided to become a certified CrossFit trainer. That summer he opened HammerDown Fitness in a warehouse building at the Port of Columbia in Dayton.
CrossFit is a network of affiliated gyms, with more than 4,500 now operating throughout the world, according to CrossFit.com. CrossFit has also spawned worldwide competition: the annual CrossFit games are shown on each July on ESPN2.
Many CrossFit gyms offer T-shirts with motivational sayings, like “You can cry, but don’t be a baby,” or “Ask your doctor if getting off your butt is right for you”.
CrossFit WODs integrate a wide variety of movements, such as pullups, pushups, sit-ups, squats, “double-unders” (using a jump rope) and running. They often also incorporate weightlifting, including dead lifts, cleans and presses. Some days the workout might even involve beating a large tractor tire with a sledgehammer. WODs can be short or long, ranging from less than 10 minutes to more than 30.
On its website, the CrossFit program defines ten elements of fitness: cardio endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.
“CrossFit workouts feature constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity, in order to develop all of those areas,” said Amerein. “And they’re always done in a group setting, which helps with motivation.”
Amerein points out that workouts can be “scaled” up or down, so that those starting out will do fewer repetitions and use lighter weights, while those who are most fit will do more.
For more information on CrossFit Walla Walla, go to www.crossfitwallawalla.com, or call 509-540-1023.