The sound of fitness

Eleven minutes in to the CrossFit workout, Bryan Martin works through 60 sumo dead lifts with a kettle ball.

Eleven minutes in to the CrossFit workout, Bryan Martin works through 60 sumo dead lifts with a kettle ball. Photo by Joe Tierney.

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It was hard to say which was louder, the crash of barbells hitting the floor or the hard rock music pounding the air.

Both were part of the picture at a recent workout session in the CrossFit gym in Walla Walla, one of two now open in the area. (The second is in College Place.)

This evening’s group was a diverse lot, men and women ranging from college age to slightly graying. But all had one thing in common, intensity.

“We have a method to our madness,” said Chuck Amerein, owner of the Walla Walla facility. “We’re a community of common suffering. It’s one of the things we have in common.”

A fitness regimen developed by coach Greg Glassman over several decades, CrossFit workouts eschew the usual approach of exclusively pumping iron or working out on machines. Instead, participants engage in “constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity,” said Amerein, with the aim of developing their whole bodies.

The pattern of exercises varies from day-to-day. A typical week consists of hitting the gym two days in a row, then taking a day off to rest, then back for another two days, followed by another day of rest. The seventh day is reserved for making up any missed days.

Amerein said he’s being doing CrossFit since 2006. He later opened a gym in Dayton, Hammer Down Fitness, and then started the CrossFit facility in Walla Walla, which recently moved into a former retail store on Rose Street.

The words “intense” and “intensity” crop up constantly when talking with devotees about what attracts them to CrossFit.

“We got hooked on this because it’s short, but intense,” said Abbie VanDonge. She and a companion, Nikki Sharp, were waiting to start their session last week. “People cheer you on. There’s that friendly competition and then everyone is competing against themselves.”

One of the participants in the group preceding VanDonge and Sharp was Lindsey Williams. During the last part of the 20-minute workout, she had been hard at work with a set of barbells.

Williams said she had been doing CrossFit workouts for about eight months now. When asked if could have done what she was doing that night when she started, her answer was short.

“Oh, God no!” she said.

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