“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.