A fit way of life

Crank up your fitness level

It’s a cold, blustery kind of December night that would make most folks hunker down inside their warm homes, but not inside the spacious metal building off U.S. 431 South near Hampton Cove. As LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” cranks out of the sound system, 10 men and women are pumping iron, hoisting huge barbells in the air and dropping them — making a distinct clang – grunting as they arch their bodies up to an iron bar for beastly pull ups called muscle ups and stretching their arms between two hanging rings for an Olympic-like maneuver.

Yep, it’s safe to say CrossFit isn’t your mom’s Jazzercise class.

“These women don’t need you to carry their groceries to the car,” Andrew Mann, owner of the Moontown Crossfit center, said with a smile.

No offense to those who enjoyed dancing around and like Richard Simmons in tight leotards and  sweatbands in the 1980s and ’90s, but this is really “Getting Physical” — the new challenge for 20-to-30-somethings, wives/moms, husbands/dads, even 3 to 5 year old toddlers — especially as people look for ways to get fit in 2014.

Other programs in the Huntsville area include Joe Martin’s Adventure Bootcamp for Women, Reboot, a bootcamp in the Hampton Cove area for men and women who tend to shy away from the gyms; SWEAT, a relatively new facility that offers a variety of classes, including the Navy Seal-originated TRX.

Californian Greg Glassman started CrossFit in 2000 with the first affiliated gym in Seattle, Wash. By 2005, there were 13 affiliates and today there are more than 7,200, including several scattered across Madison County.

An explosion of interest

“It really exploded,” Moontown Crossfit owner Andrew Mann said of the CrossFit program. “Everybody likes to be challenged and overcome something difficult. It’s like walking into a math test, acing it and feeling good. The philosophy is be great at nothing … but good at everything.”

In this particular hour-long class, there’s a couple of stay-at-home moms, a husband/engineer, FBI agent and a mom/wife/engineer. The typical CrossFit workout includes a warmup, skill development segment and the high-intensity “workout of the day” or WOD. A coach encourages and monitors the participants and activities, which could appear very daunting to some.

“Oh, I really think it is for everybody,” said Tasha Wiley, a 36-year-old engineer, wife and mom of 3-year-old Addison, who also who takes the CrossFit Kids class, when asked if anybody could do it. “This is so different. It never gets boring.”

Tasha Wiley shows the ropes to her daughter Addison, who takes a. CrossFit Kids class.

Tasha Wiley shows the ropes to her daughter Addison, who takes a. CrossFit Kids class.

Wiley was 31, had just gotten married and seen some results with a personal trainer before and after the wedding, but then hit the dreaded plateau many gym rats encounter. “I’d lost a few pounds and inches quickly in the beginning, but I was spending an hour a day, five days a week working out and I just felt like my progress was at a stalemate – and I was getting bored,” Wiley said. “A friend of mine had mentioned she had started CrossFit and when she described it to me, I immediately thought, ‘Wow.  That sounds intense.'”

Hooked on a fit way of life

Wiley watched a CrossFit class and then went through a free 5-minute workout doing as many reps as possible of 10 squats, 10 burpees and 10 box jumps. She left exhausted … and all in for CrossFit.

“Watching the class was pretty incredible,” she said. “”Everyone, even the women in the class, was doing heavy power cleans with a barbell. If you’ve never touched a barbell, there’s something intimidating about just watching someone lift it – and then hearing that loud thud  when they dump the weight and it hits the ground.

“After the class, the owner/trainer gave me some personal instruction on proper form for squats, burpees and box jumps. Of course, I wanted to impress him, so I went all out and didn’t stop.  A couple of the girls who had just finished their class encouraged and cheered me on through the last couple of minutes. I got in the car and thought I was going to throw up the entire way home. I couldn’t believe that a 5-minute workout had made me sweat so hard.  So, as they say, I  drank the Kool Aid and I was hooked.”

Tasha Wiley make her four or five weekly CrossFit sessions a priority in her life.

Tasha Wiley make her four or five weekly CrossFit sessions a priority in her life.

Wiley said the actual classes last about an hour and everyone does the same warmup, skill work and WOD. She attends classes four to five days a week and, with the support of her husband, makes it a priority. She will get up at 5 a.m. before work or come at night after if there’s a conflict. If she can’t attend for some reason, she does pushups in her office. She never makes an excuse or says “I don’t have time to do it.”

“My body has responded to CrossFit in a way it’s never responded to any other exercise,” she said. “I sleep better, I have a ton more energy and endurance, I’m happier and more confident, and I’ve met some of the most amazing people and have developed some of the most wonderful friendships I’ve ever had – all because of CrossFit.

“People ask me all the time, ‘Where do you find the time?’  My honest response is, ‘It’s important to me, so I make the time.’ Sure, I give up an hour of sleep some mornings and there are plenty of nights I don’t have time to watch any TV, but it’s worth it to me.  It’s the one thing I get to do that’s just for me and, again, as a working mom, I just feel having something that’s just for me is absolutely essential to my well-being and sanity.”

Reboot your fitness program – and have fun too

Reboot is a twice-weekly, six-week long boot camp started by Becca Byers and Hope Feder, both certified fitness instructors that teach at the University of Alabama in Huntsville Fitness Center, YMCA and Alabama Athletic Club. Byers said the idea was to offer a way to work out  for those who shy away from the gym and like to workout near their homes. The camp is held at the Creekhouse Clubhouse in the Creekstone neighborhood off Taylor Road in Owens Cross Roads.

“We assess our participants, guide them in setting realistic goals, provide ‘homework’ and ideas for what to do outside of Reboot and work to meet participants’ individual needs,” said Byers, who is also one of the top local female runners. “We work hard to provide a great deal of variety to our workouts with minimal equipment.  We have successfully held two six-week sessions this fall as well as a three-week holiday half session and will continue as long as there is interest.”

Byers said the classes promises to “get your heart pumping, help you gain strength, assist you as you move toward your fitness goals, and have fun doing it.”

The classes run Jan. 6-Feb. 12 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30-10:30 a.m. and 7-8 p.m. The cost is $100 per six-week session and a minimum of six participants is needed. For information contact Byers at 256-503-8448, beccabyers@aol.com or Feder at 256-509-1989, hopediannw@yahoo.com

Sweat comes to south Huntsville

Jeidi Pippins said the relatively new Sweat Fitness is not a group aerobics facility with group fitness instructors, but a “small group personal training facility with certified trainers creating, coaching and modifying their programs to keep each individual at the upper edge. The classes can take beginners, intermediate and advanced students because the trainers can modify the programs for each individual.


The TRX Training was developed by NAVY Seals and uses the TRX Suspension Trainer, a portable apparatus that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability.

“The nylon ropes allow for each person to take on as much or as little body weight as needed in order to perform movements,” Pippins said. “Where it really humbles even the most fit individual is that every movement requires a tremendous amount of core strength. Whereas a bicep curl using traditional weights leaves your back and abdominal muscles mostly at rest, the TRX requires all of these muscles to be fired up at all times.”