By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderOctober 3, 2013
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- The CrossFit fitness program has been gaining in popularity on Fort Jackson since its formal introduction on post early last year.
The group of a dozen active participants has grown to several dozen active members since 2012, drawing a crowd to the 187th Ordnance Battalion building at 2250 Sumter St. at noon each day for a rigorous workout.
"CrossFit is considered to be constantly varied, highintensity, functional movements," said Rick Ellis, operations specialist at Moncrief Army Community Hospital and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. "We do everything from kettle bells to pushups to dips to pullups to running ... that's the 'constantly varied' part. There's no routine, so your body never gets used to it."
Started in 1995, CrossFit is an exercise program that combines weightlifting, sprinting and gymnastics that, working together, improves a person's endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, coordination and balance. Workouts are typically short -- 20 minutes or less -- and require intense physical exertion. And the variety of exercises in a single session changes daily.
Ellis is relatively new to the program. He was introduced to the CrossFit concept when it arrived on post in 2012.
"I first went to the program when I was 55 pounds heavier," Ellis said. "I was on cholesterol medication, and my back hurt ... I told my wife, 'I have to do something different.' I did my first workout and thought I was going to throw up, but I loved it."
Ellis gradually took a leadership role in the post's program after the departure of its original trainer, he said.
"I was getting so into it that I took CrossFit Level 1 training in Charlotte, N.C., because I loved it so much," he said. "Now, I'm the coach. I do all the coaching, all the programming for the week. I'm there with everybody each day."
The advantage to CrossFit is its lack of routine, he said. Rather than following the traditional method of isolating muscle groups as part of a scheduled program of exercise, CrossFit seeks to exhaust muscles using common activities.
Those activities aren't shared with participants until an hour before the day's exercises.
"People can show up, find out what they're doing and get warmed up for the workout so we don't get any injuries," he said. "Other than that, we do one thing today, and tomorrow it's going to be something completely different. We do the movements the human body is meant to do every day, and we make you stronger and more flexible."
"Anybody at any fitness level, even if you've never worked out before, can do this," said Bob Landrum, a training facility coordinator with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.
Landrum came to the program not long after having surgery, and worried the program would overwhelm him. Today, he assists Ellis in organizing each day's CrossFit activities.
"I was afraid to do it because I had bypass surgery," Landrum said. "I had double-bypass surgery about two years ago. Six months ago I joined up with these guys at CrossFit, and I've already lost 20 pounds. It's great."
The program is open to anyone 18 and older with a military identification card.
"I've got Soldiers who have lost 3 percent body fat and are no longer on the overweight program," Ellis said. "They come up and thank me, but I tell them they don't have to ... I can give you the toughest workout in the world, but if you don't do the work, you're not going to get the results. It's a great team environment. It's really fun, and you're still getting a good workout. All you have to do is show up to Building 2250."
Find the Fort Jackson CrossFit group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CrossFitMaintainer.