Last month, LoganSquarist covered fitness groups in the neighborhood to help keep you warm. A few winter storms and polar vortexes later, many snowed-in residents have found themselves falling behind on their New Year’s resolutions.
For residents still looking for a fitness program, CrossFit Logan (@CFLogan_Chi, 2080 N. Milwaukee Ave.) offers a week of free classes to anyone interested in getting involved with the popular fitness regimen.
CrossFit Logan opened in Logan Square in last October. Head Coach Morgan Funke says she is “amazed” by the response of the neighborhood.
“Our members are the most genuinely nice and eager people I’ve ever worked with,” Funke says. “We have gotten a lot of positive feedback from the neighborhood and are very excited to be here.”
Building Strength Without Machines
CrossFit is a high-intensity program that uses rapidly changing functional movements such as gymnastics, olympic weightlifting, running and body weight training.
Founded by Greg Glassman in 2000, CrossFit Inc. has become an international phenomenon. In 2005, there were fewer than 20 CrossFit gyms (known as “boxes”) in the country. Today, CrossFit, Inc.’s official site lists more than 8,000 affiliate boxes worldwide.
“One will not find a pec deck in a CrossFit box,” says Coach Kyle Smith. “Instead they are more open and are filled with weights that are meant to be thrown around.”
According to an article published in the New York Times last April, there is a growing trend away from traditional weight machines and toward niche gyms and fitness programs. Smith says he sees that trend taking place in Logan Square.
“Logan Square as a neighborhood reflects [this trend] by its lack of traditional gyms while simultaneous wealth of yoga studios and personal trainers,” he says. “People are paying to sweat and get in shape, not to have access to a treadmill 24/7.”
Smith says he considers CrossFit to be a more “robust” training program and is also effective for cross-training purposes. Funke, who has coached CrossFit for two years, uses the fitness program to train for events such as marathons, Ironman competitions and competitive rowing.
“I played some team sports in high school and college, and [CrossFit] reminds me of what I would do to train for those sports,” says Alex, a new athlete at CrossFit Logan.
A Typical Day At The Box
CrossFit Logan is a huge open space with a new gym smell. The box has a line of rowing machines, but by and large eschews machines for equipment such as medicine balls, kettle bells, boxes, resistance bands and gymnastic rings.
Athletes arrive every hour in small groups to complete the daily workout. When LoganSquarist visited the box, they began with a warm-up including push-ups and weightlifting, and moved into mobility and strength exercises, such as stretches and pull-ups.
Next, Funke instructed athletes on the WOD (Workout of the Day), which included a 400-meter row, five rounds of 15 wall balls and 10 burpees and another 400 meter row. To get the blood pumping, she turned on a loud playlist of energetic songs, such as Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America,” and the athletes begin the circuit.
Each athlete moves at their own pace and uses the appropriate amount of weight for their strength level. Funke monitors each individual, shouting encouraging words and instructing them on their form.
When the workout is over, Alex says, “I enjoy it when I walk out of here.”
“Not so much during,” says Mike, another athlete.
There’s No “I” In Team
Each box is independently owned and operated, and the workouts in a CrossFit program emphasize teamwork. According to Funke, this allows for each box to develop its own culture.
“Community is a huge part of CrossFit. We hold each other accountable for showing up and working hard,” she says. “We share tips and cues that work for difficult movements or skills. We stay around to socialize.”
“In the past, usually I would do cardio by myself at the gym, but being with other people is awesome,” says Caitlin, who has been with CrossFit Logan for three months.
“It’s a little more personal. You won’t get that in yoga or spinning,” says Foster, another athlete.
Although some individuals may feel intimidated by the high-intensity group workouts and the ongoing controversies that CrossFit may lead to injury or strain, athletes and coaches say that safety is a priority at CrossFit Logan.
“Because you can get injured without proper coaching it is important to have a CrossFit coach that really knows what they are doing,” Smith says. “In well-coached facilities, such as ours, more people hurt themselves outside the gym than in.”