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Pittsburgh Tribune Review
Jenn Murzyn opened her gym, CrossFit Athletics, in the South Side in 2010 when only a handful of gyms in the area were practicing the workout program founded 15 years ago in Northern California.
Now, there are nearly 40 CrossFit affiliates throughout Greater Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Butler and Washington. Murzyn's gym has been so successful that she was able to shutter her chiropractic practice and focus full-time on training. They have more than 160 members and offer 36 classes per week.
Worldwide, the growth of CrossFit is astounding. In October 2013, the privately owned company announced it had reached 8,000 affiliates. Today, there are over 13,000 affiliates worldwide with an estimated 2 million to 4 million people using CrossFit for their training. The annual CrossFit Games, which aspires to determine the fittest man and woman on the planet, are broadcast on ESPN.
The practice itself focuses on all-around fitness. It takes elements from weightlifting, gymnastics and endurance activities, skills such as pull-ups and rope climbs, and more traditional workout activities such as running, swimming and rowing and combines them in high-intensity workouts.
The workouts change constantly and are meant to be completed as quickly as possible, generally lasting between five and 20 minutes.
"I was a triathlete and I tried a few of the workouts online," Murzyn said of her introduction to CrossFit. "I thought I was in good shape. It turns out I wasn't, and that's what drew me to it."
Amy Butteri, part-owner of CrossFit R.A.W. in the North Hills, has been in business for eight years, before CrossFit was really known or accepted in the area, she said. Now, they have CrossFit clients of all shapes and sizes who range in age from 10 to 70.
"I think we're now seeing pro athletes doing CrossFit, celebrities doing CrossFit, firefighters, military," said Butteri, who comes from a personal training background. "We have everyday people, soccer moms, kids, and they're getting results."
CrossFit isn't without its detractors, however.
Most often the criticism centers around the possibility for injury either from overuse or when form suffers as athletes race the clock. Proper coaching and supervision can minimize these risks, but to open an affiliate requires only completion of a two-day seminar and a $3,000 annual fee.
Kevin Beaman, co-owner of CrossFit Mt. Lebanon, said he encourages anyone thinking of starting CrossFit to check out the gym first and see how they run their classes. His gym offers free community classes every Saturday morning at 9 a.m., during which people can get a feel for the exercises, the people and the staff.
"We want people to come in and give it a try," he said. "Meet the coaches, meet the community, because you can do a lot of this stuff at home or at an L.A. Fitness, but it's about the community of people and everyone cheering each on and giving fist bumps and high-fives. And it's a slow burn. You start at your level. You use what you've got, do what you can, and all of a sudden doing what you can means you're doing more than you thought you could."
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.