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Welcome to Racked's Fitness Week: five days of workout coverage, so that you can start your New Year's resolutions off right.
There are more niche fitness options crowding New York City's blocks than there are Duane Reade stores (not confirmed, but probably true). We wanted to pick the brains of the people at the top of the regimes with cult-like followings to simply ask, "What's the big deal with your weird workout?"
First up is Brooklyn CrossFit co-owner and coach Carlos Vizcarra. Not only did Vizcarra and crew expand from their original Columbia Street location to an additional Williamsburg gym, but citywide, CrossFit boxes have nearly tripled in the last year.
After the jump, Vizcarra busts some myths, recommends proper footwear, and explains why mastering the sport isn't the point. If you want to give CrossFit a try, Brooklyn CrossFit offers free classes on the first and third Mondays of every months at 8pm in Williamsburg and 8:30pm at the Columbia Street gym.
How did you get into CrossFit?
Carlos Vizcarra: I was introduced to CrossFit through my cousin. He has been CrossFitting for about a year and I noticed the transformation in his physique. I tried it for the first time and was hooked.
I had played soccer competitively for many years and hadn't been involved in a competitive enviornment for so long. CrossFit is a workout that anybody can do, but also that brought that competitive spirit back to me.
And when was that, when did you start?
That was four years ago.
In the last year, there's been so much buzz about CrossFit, so many gyms opening up—why do you think it's caught on with such rapid fire?
A lot of our programming is evidenced-based—we're all about metrics. We record all of the workouts that we do. We have this huge whiteboard where all of the members write down how long the workout took them. We'll do the same workouts again over a certain amount of time so they're able to measure their progress. The proof is in the pudding. They see their results, like, "Oh, three months ago I was backsquatting 100 pounds, now I'm backsquatting 200 pounds."
It's also become more mainstream. You see more articles about the sport, and the CrossFit Games are televised on ESPN, which has brought a lot more interest to the sport. More CrossFits, more exposure, the involvement of ESPN, and Reebok as the official merchandising partner has helped the sport a lot.
It's a pretty unique workout, yet it doesn't seem to take much for people to be "sold" on CrossFit. Why do you think that is?
The results are undeniable. It's not competing against each other as much as it is than competing against yourself and at the same time helping each other. The workout doesn't finish when you finish, the workout finishes when the last person in the class finishes. That's where the community aspect comes in, and that is another major draw to CrossFit.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions you hear from either new students, or people who write off CrossFit without trying it?
They think this sport is for someone in phenomenal shape. Anybody can do it. My grandmother can do it. Everyone just does it at a different ability—everything we do is scalable. We never change our programming. Our programming is the same for everybody, but everybody is doing it at their own level.
Is there a certain body type that's better suited to CrossFit?
No, not at all. It's amazing when you see some of the elite athletes of this sport. One gentleman, Chris Spealler, I think he's like 5'6" and he weighs like 160 pounds and he's doing just as much weight as someone who's 6'2" and weighs 220 pounds.
Same thing with the women—Camille LeBlanc is 5'2", she weighs 130 pounds and she deadlifts 300 pounds. That's what's great about it—anybody can do it and it doesn't depend on your physique at all if you work hard.
How long does it take for a new student to "get it?"
It can take awhile. Anyone that comes into our program has to do a month of foundations. After that, they join the regular group classes. You get the gist of it within the first thee months but really it takes awhile to learn some of the more technical stuff, like Olympic weightlifting. That's one of the great challenges of the sport, you want to keep improving.
For a new student who's looking to get in shape, but doesn't have their mind committed to competing, how many days per week would you suggest?
Three to four times per week.
Are there any workouts that make a good complement to CrossFit?
Although we work on flexibility, agility, and balance while incorporating strength, endurance, stamina, a good complement would be yoga to work on that flexibility component.
Lastly, what do you wear to CrossFit?
[Laughs] Any type of workout clothes are fine. We do a lot of squatting, so we do recommend a flat shoe like a Converse. Nothing with a big heel [like a running shoe], because it throws your balance off.
· All Fitness Week 2014 Posts [Racked NY]
· Brooklyn CrossFit [Official Site]
· Why is CrossFit So Popular Right Now? [Racked]
· Columbia Street CrossFit Expanding to Williamsburg [Racked NY]