Preparing for the physical challenges of real-life, like carrying the grandkids, staying healthy into old age and hauling groceries, has brought dozens of Fort Jackson-ites into the fold of the CrossFit community.

"I think people hear (CrossFit) and think big muscles and flipping tires, but that's not the real deal," said Katie Martin, clinical director of Substance Use Disorder Clinical Care and a Level One-certified volunteer CrossFit trainer on-post. "We're just a group of everyday folk who want to move, get fit and have a good time."

CrossFit is a sport focused on functional fitness and healthy living, founded in California 19 years ago.

Fort Jackson established its own CrossFit group, TCB CrossFit -- named after its tagline, "Taking Care of Business, Taking Care of Bodies" -- in 2014. It is one of more than 15,000 CrossFit affiliates worldwide.

Participants pair wholesome nutrition habits with customizable workouts.

The goal is to improve their physical performance both at the gym and in real life.

At least 60 people participate in the installation's daily CrossFit workouts. Many do so remotely.

While Fort Jackson's group of CrossFit enthusiasts have met at Vanguard Gym for years, they have been temporarily uprooted with ongoing renovations at the facility.

"TCB is homeless right now," Martin said.

Even when they can't train face-to-face, Richard "Rick" Ellis, a Level Two certified volunteer trainer, who oversees the non-profit group on-post, keeps all Fort Jackson CrossFitters in the loop. He posts workouts to the app SugarWOD, and the Facebook group TCB Crossfit every day.

"We have a saying … routine is the enemy," Ellis said, so "(CrossFit) workouts change all the time."
People of all ages take part, from kids to grandparents.

"There's no fitness level that you have to be at (to join) … we work you up slowly," Ellis said. "Safety is our number one concern."

"I turned 40 in February," Martin said. "TCB has helped me manage that big birthday. I'm in better shape now than I was in my 20s."

Ellis first started doing CrossFit when he was at one of his lowest points of physical wellness.

A year after retiring from the Army, he weighed more than he ever had before.

With knee pain flaring up, he decided to start running rather than take medicine. Weight loss helped his aches, but he wasn't as strong as he wanted to be.

He heard about CrossFit and decided to give it a shot. He was hooked.

"There was no turning back," Ellis said.

CrossFit workouts include cardio and weightlifting exercises "geared toward things we do all the time," like picking things off the floor and lifting them up, Ellis said.

"I always refer to … what CrossFit calls itself -- its functional fitness … at a high intensity," he explained.

On Memorial Day, TCB CrossFit members came together to host the MURPH, a special CrossFit challenge commemorating Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL killed in combat. The event included two one-mile runs, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 air squats, wearing body armor weighing up to 20 pounds.

"It's the community part" that keeps people going during these workouts, Ellis said. "We have fun together."

"(CrossFit) for me is about the people. It's the feeling that keeps me coming back -- the feeling of being accepted and pushed and encouraged," Martin said. "There's zero judgment."

While formal CrossFit classes are temporarily suspended, once Vanguard Gym is back in working order, classes will resume, free to anyone with a DOD authorized ID, according to the following schedule, subject to change:

n 6-7 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday.
n 6-7 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
n 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. the last Saturday of every month.

In the meantime, anyone interested in an extra challenge can contact Ellis on Facebook or at rickellis2@yahoo.com to set up a time and place to complete a specific CrossFit workout he created.

Contestants who finish all of the tasks correctly during a set amount of time under the supervision of a coach win a T-Shirt that says "I earned my STRIPES" -- standing for Strength, Toughness, Resilience, Intensity, Power, Endurance and Scars.