“CrossFit is Not a Religion”

Forge Fitness gym.

Forge Fitness gym.

Fitness phenomenon is about technique, not torture.

I began this project with a very negative attitude. CrossFit has become an obsession for many. Two members of my family participate in CrossFit, and I had become annoyed with the endless talks of WODs (workout of the day), PRs and reps. It seemed to me that it was an easy way to bulk up and injure oneself in the process. However, after interviewing several CrossFit gym owners and participants, I realized I should not count it out entirely. I showed up at Forge Fitness, a CrossFit powered gym in Vestavia Hills, and was surprised by the dedication of these CrossFitters to work out on a Friday night at 6 p.m. During my time at Forge, I witnessed a short workout and spoke with Forge owners and certified CrossFit coaches Rich Pennino and Chris Wade. Here are a few things I discovered during my time at Forge: they really do care about proper technique and execution, CrossFit is not for the weak-minded, 12 minutes can seem like an eternity, box jumps look miserable and these people really do care about each other (they even offered everyone of legal age a beer after the workout was over).

Q: What do you love most about CrossFit?

Rich: I can’t tell you any one thing, but I guess the community. And that was the part I didn’t really appreciate when I first started CrossFit because when I started I did the workouts by myself. I did them by myself for five of the seven years that I’ve been doing CrossFit. And when I finally decided to join a CrossFit gym it was to have a competitive edge, not for the community. But when I got to know the community side of CrossFit I fell more in love with it.

Chris: (without hesitation) The community, the comradery, the friendships.

Q: Why do you think people are obsessed with CrossFit?

R: I think there’s an inner drive in every human being just to be competitive and work hard. This gives you the opportunity to do that. Here it’s always challenging. You can ask some of the greatest athletes who do CrossFit, do they feel like they’ve mastered everything and they’d probably say no. You can come in here any day of the week and find something you can be better at. I feel like CrossFit has really helped me to try and want to be better in every aspect of life. Just because there are so many things in here I want to get better at and I take that into day to day life. I think people love the community, the competition and that you have someone right across from you that’s pushing you to work harder. I feel like I found the fountain of youth.

C: Some people get way too over the top with CrossFit. CrossFit is not a religion. CrossFit is a sport. CrossFit is a way to be able to develop a community with others because it’s a common goal. You’re all here to get in shape, to lift better, to look better, to feel better. With that being said, some people take it to the extreme and treat it like a religion.

Q: Have you ever been injured while CrossFitting?

R: I’ve done this for seven years; I’ve only had one injury while I was CrossFitting. I tore my ACL last year at a competition, which I think was just because of poor movement patterns on my part that led to the injury. (Stops to correct someone on their form.)

C: Never, only a minor thing, very minimal like a pulled Achilles. CrossFit is very safe if you do it correctly and that’s why we’re so critical on form here.

Q: Have you ever witnessed anyone be severely injured while CrossFitting?

R: No, but I’ve heard of someone being severely injured while CrossFitting.

C: At a competition, yes, but not at my gym. There was a guy that tore his ACL at a local competition. He was jumping over a wall and came down incorrectly.

Q: What would you like to tell CrossFit haters?

R: I would say CrossFit is for anyone but not everyone. And just because they may not agree with it, does not mean they have to bash it. There are a lot of people that have found a home here. It has helped them spiritually, mentally, physically and as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, I don’t see why they have to hate it so much.

C: I would say they haven’t tried it. It’s so incorrect, kind of ignorant and those people haven’t tried it. I’ve done every type of training you can do and this is the best that I’ve ever done. People think that it’s moving weight at a rapid pace without any type of form. If you have correct form, moving at a rapid rate, over a period of time, there’s nothing that can even contend with it. CrossFitters have been put against your top athletes, your weight lifters, your world-class body builders, world’s strongest men, any type of athlete – track athletes, gymnasts. It’s the greatest compilation of all because you’re doing weight lifting, cardio and gymnastics.
For more information visit forgevestavia.com.

Oscar Opinions

About a month ago, I was sure that Richard Linklater’s epic “Boyhood” would certainly edge out Alejandro Iñárritu’s cerebral “Birdman” for Best Picture. “Boyhood” was my favorite film of 2014 and is one of my favorite movies of all time. And while I thoroughly enjoyed “Birdman”, I found it to be a little self-congratulating and indulgent. The whole film is edited together to be a single take, which is interesting enough, but certainly doesn’t warrant the amount of acclaim it was receiving.

Both Best Picture and Best Director inevitably went to “Birdman” last month. I can’t act like I’m surprised. The Academy voters swoon for bizarre, slightly gimmicky films like “Birdman” (see soppy, uneven “Crash”). Here’s the thing that I have to keep telling myself every year: the Academy Awards, while they have their merits, are a skewed view of cinema’s “best”. Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong. This year they were wrong, and the majority of professional film critics in this country would agree. “Boyhood” was the best film of 2014. It was everything that is good about cinema: inventive, funny, moving, poignant, and a reflection of actual life. Years from now, I don’t see film scholars still talking about “Birdman”. The film is too timely, too trendy, and I don’t think time will be very kind to it.

Getting your news on Snapchat

Snapchat Logo

Courtesy of Snapchat

By Sydney Cromwell

College students know Snapchat as the app they use to send photos to friends, knowing those

photos will disappear within 10 seconds. However, the Snapchat ghost mascot is expanding into the news


In January, Snapchat debuted the “Discover” feature, providing news content as part of users’

app experience in addition to its own original content. News outlets are partnering with the

app in a bid to reach teen and young adult audiences who might rarely find cause to pick up a

traditional newspaper.

Instead of calling this new demographic to their own sites and apps, these media are meeting

their audience where they already spend their time. According to Tech Crunch, Snapchat was the

third most popular social media app in 2014. The app’s makers said 700 million snaps were sent

every day in 2014.

Here’s how Discover works: Partner media outlets post stories specifically formatted for

Snapchat’s style, such as a short video or picture. If a user is intrigued, he or she can swipe

upward to read or watch the full story. If not, the user can keep scrolling. After 24 hours, the

story disappears.

Current partners with Snapchat include the Washington Post, Comedy Central, Vice News,

CNN, Food Network, ESPN, People magazine and National Geographic.

Potential problems with the Discover feature include the currently limited number of partners

and the possibility that the platform will encourage shorter, “fluffy” articles in place of hard

news. However, it could eventually become central to reaching a millennial audience.

To try out Discover, download Snapchat from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Klingler’s: A Birmingham Treat

Klingler's black forest torte is a long-time Birmingham favorite, and it's not hard to see why.

Klingler’s black forest torte is a long-time Birmingham favorite, and it’s not hard to see why.

In a Vestavia Hills shopping center, tucked away behind an understated storefront, is a European-style Birmingham gem. Since 1982, family-owned Klingler’s European Bakery has dished up a variety of treats in a quirky, German folk-style atmosphere. Banana custard French toast and strawberry blintzes, as well as heartier fare like sauerkraut and sausages, are noteworthy menu items.

There’s one treat, however, for which Klingler’s has earned much acclaim. Their black forest torte was named a “dish to eat before you die” by the Year of Alabama Food and ranked in Birmingham magazine’s Best of Birmingham.

Exodus staff took on the task of putting these claims to the test, and we were not disappointed. The moist chocolate cake, which sells for $5.50 per slice, is filled with whipped cream and cherries and topped with chocolate shavings.

Don’t take our word for it, though – this is a dish you should try for yourself.

Klingler’s is located at 621 Montgomery Highway in Vestavia Hills. They are open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Find more information at www.klinglers.com.

Sweet tooth still not satisfied? Keep an eye out for more Birmingham desserts featured in the next print publication of Exodus.

Best Spring Break Locations

Spring Breakers on Miami Beach

Spring Breakers on Miami Beach

It’s time again for Spring Break. With Samford’s break having just wrapped up and UAB’s about to start, Birmingham students join the ranks of the nation’s college students looking for a break from studying.

Where do these students go for this time of relaxation? With so many options for a warm retreat, “U.S. News and World Report” created a ranking system for Spring Break locations based on a college student’s ideal place being one that is “affordable, accessible, popular among their peers and adheres to a party mentality.”

Using that criteria, here is the list that they came up with.

  1. Miami Beach: Affordable compared to other Florida beaches, lined with clubs and bars and pleasant beaches make this location easily slide into first place.
  2. South Padre Island: A tiny island on the tip of Texas, this location is an affordable and lesser-known Spring Break island.
  3. Cancun: Why mess with the classics? This has always been known as one of the most popular spring break locations.
  4. Puerto Vallarta: More than just beaches, this area offers hidden coves to explore. It is an ideal location for students who love the outdoors.
  5. Bahamas: The allure of Caribbean culture draws students in, and the cheap housing options seal the deal.
  6. Jamaica: Another well-known Spring Break location, Jamaica offers all the fun of the beach with a mood that is a bit more relaxed than U.S. coasts.
  7. Puerto Rico: While not a stereotypical spring break spot, Puerto Rico is still famous for its beautiful beaches and music.
  8. San Diego: This location offers sand and boardwalks at a much milder temperature than other places.
  9. Cabo San Lucas: For those students who are willing to pay steeper hotel prices, this location is considered the party capital of southern Baja.
  10. Daytona: A spot that was once more popular with spring breakers, many students are still drawn in by its affordability. Not to mention, you can drive on the beach!

What’s on Second? Antiques and oddities abound

Tucked away on the corner of 2nd Ave. N and 23rd St, What’s On Second is an antiques and collectibles shop with as much character as inventory.


“We carry everything that has ever been made in one convenient shopping location!” is the claim on the store’s Facebook page.


The tiny shop is packed to the brim with everything from vintage toys to antique chandeliers and collectible belt buckles.


Unlike antique malls with staged areas for each vendor, What’s On Second? is piled with unique items. Customers enter the shop and are free to wander through the three stories of comic books, lamps, cigar boxes, vases and vinyl records.


With traditional items you would find in an antique store, as well as an entire section dedicated to collectible video games, the store has something for nearly everyone.



What’s On Second? is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whatsonsecondbirmingham.

31st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Birminghamians and Irish enthusiasts gathered in Five Points on Saturday, March 14, for the 31st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Attendees enjoyed a shower of candy, jewelry and party favors as party music, roaring engines and blaring sirens buzzed in their ears. The Ian Sturrock Memorial Pipe Band led the parade in appropriate fashion.

Festivities will continue through St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday, March 17.

Celebrate Pi Day with McWane

March 14th is an important day for the math and science community. The day is both Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s Birthday. Usually, schools will celebrate this important day with numerous activities. However, this year’s Pi Day falls on a Saturday. You can celebrate the 130th anniversary of Einstein’s birth and Pi Day by celebrating with the McWane Science Center. There will be fun hands-on activities that will focus on the importance of 3.1415 and different applications of math in our everyday lives.

About Pi
Pi is the symbol used in mathematics that represents the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. This constant is approximately 3.14159.

Five Group Fitness Classes to Try this Week

Instructor Emily Cain demonstrates a pose using the silk hammock. Photo by Rebecca Terrell


It’s the week before Spring Break and you know what that means: packed gyms. Escape the crowd and try something new with these fun group exercise classes right here in the Magic City.

Get Healthy on the Railroad
Working out in a group can be just what you need to shape up right before your hit the beach. Try out one of Birmingham’s free fitness classes at Railroad Park. Pick and choose from a variety of classes including Zumba, yoga and even boot camp.
Railroad Park, 4-6 p.m., free, railroadpark.org

Aerial Yoga and Pilates
Test your balance and strength while being suspended four feet above ground in a trendy workout. Try either Aerial Pilates, a combination of Pilates and aerial performance, or Aerial Yoga, which blends elements of traditional yoga with the unique conditioning of the aerial arts. No prior experience is necessary.
Aerial Joe Pilates, $22 drop-in, aerojoepilates.com

Pure Barre
Release your inner ballerina while working up a sweat in this ultra demanding 55-minute workout of isometric strengthening, stretching and balancing. Each class focuses on achieving a full-body workout and concentrates on combating your trouble areas. This workout is not just for women, either. Instructors and clients welcome men to challenge their bodies to lift, tone, and burn at the Barre, too!
Pure Barre, $23 drop-in, purebarre.com

Sweat and Gears
This isn’t just a leisurely bike ride. This is an energetic, indoor cycling studio unlike any other. Take your fitness to the next level with an intense instructor-led cycling session that will surely make you sweat. Best part? Your first class is free!
Sweat & Gears, $15 drop-in, sweatandgearsstudio.com

The Yoga Circle
Work your entire body while toning your muscles, reducing stress and increasing flexibility and balance. Stop in for the Hot Soul class, which takes you through a serious of poses that systematically work every muscle in your body. Ideal for a beginner, the class will emphasis form and correct breathing.
The Yoga Circle, $16 drop-in, theyogacircle.net

Doorways to Downtown

by Sydney Cromwell

A chalk drawing of Birmingham's most distinctive sites on a wall on 3rd Avenue North.

A chalk drawing of Birmingham’s most distinctive sites on a wall on 3rd Avenue North.

The landmarks of Birmingham’s skyline are easily recognizable – Sloss Furnaces, the Vulcan, the Regions building and City Federal, among others.

From the streets, however, the variety of doorways in the city are a glimpse into how Birmingham’s architectural tastes have changed over time. Below are just a few of the unique entrances around the city.


Alabama PowerAlabama Power

The geometric metal and gold design of the Alabama Power headquarters entrance reflects the art deco style popular when the building was originally constructed, in 1925.

The building was restored in the 80s and the headquarters complex added in the 90s, but the art deco motif remains in the original doors and the gold leaf-covered statue of Electra on the building’s roof.




First United Methodist ChurchFirst United Methodist Church

One of downtown’s older buildings is First United Methodist Church, which was built in 1891 and holds services to this day.

The church, built in the American Romanesque Revival style, cost $160,000 to build, a steep sum for the time. The church’s stained glass and towers lend it the appearance of a European cathedral or castle. It is now on the Register of Historic Places.


Regions Harbert PlazaRegions Harbert Plaza

Across the street from First United Methodist, the Regions Harbert Plaza was built in 1989 on the former site of the Temple Theater. The plaza’s entryway features a post-modern style (as well as revolving doors that I was tempted to run through).

The colors of the building were chosen to reflect its other religious neighbor, the Cathedral Church of the Advent.




Federal US CourthouseRobert S. Vance Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse

The courthouse is more recognizable by its long row of columns facing 5th Street, but I found the side and employee entrances to be striking as well. The gold door, arched window and lamps stand out from the white marble wall and steps.

The courthouse was built in 1921 in the Classical Revival style, and later named in honor of Circuit Court Judge Robert Vance after he was killed by a mail bomb in 1989.




Hugo Black CourthouseHugo L. Black Federal Courthouse

Across an intersection from the federal building, the Hugo Black Courthouse was built in 1987 for the federal district court. Despite the modern look of the glass-encased upper stories, the entry to the courthouse is built using limestone and a more classical style.

The courthouse is a blend of classic Birmingham architecture and more modern tastes.




Continental BakeryContinental Bakery Downtown

The cousin of Continental Bakery and Chez Lulu in Mountain Brook, Continental Bakery Downtown opened in 2014. The French-style bakery’s sign mimics an old theater marquee, an intentional choice by the owner, Carole Griffin, to reflect the bakery’s placement near the Alabama and Lyric Theaters.






Shive SalvageShive Design Sign and Salvage

The Whitmire Lofts building, home to Shive, Revelator Coffee and residential lofts, bears little resemblance to the original 1912 construction. Appleseed Workshop, an offbeat design-build firm in Birmingham, overhauled the building into an ultra-modern steel and faux-wood exterior.

The steel design is patterned after the Lyric Theater, which is right down the street.




Lastly, as I passed by the Lyric on Saturday a group of young ballerinas were preparing for a performance. No doorways in sight, but too adorable not to share.