A CrossFit Pro Spills the Truth About This Fitness Craze

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Photo by @shannonfieldsphoto for Twenty20

CrossFit is not just a workout craze that will be gone before we know it; it is a lifestyle that prioritizes your health. While asking CrossFit members about their experiences I kept hearing words like stronger, healthier, happier, and competitive. After speaking with Jordan Quinones, trainer and manager at Paul Bunyan Fitness in Newtown Square, PA, I now understand the strong, hard-working, motivational mindset and community behind CrossFit.

When did you first try CrossFit? How did you hear about it? Were you sold after the first class?

I first tried CrossFit during in the summer of 2012 with my sister. She had been doing it for about a year and finally convinced me to give it a try. I immediately was pretty hooked to that type of training, as I had been looking for something like that for quite some time.

In what ways has CrossFit transformed you or bettered your life?

I could write a book on this one! In short, CrossFit has given me continued health, confidence, and friendships. It has also provided me with a way to connect to and help people on a daily basis. I come from a background of playing many sports growing up, continuing into college where I played football. CrossFit also scratches that competitive “itch” that is still there, allowing me to push myself to achieve things I never thought I could.

If you had five words to describe CrossFit as a workout and lifestyle what would they be?

High-intensity constantly varied functional fitness. I know that’s technically 6 words but that is literally the definition that CrossFit defines itself with, and I think it is pretty fitting.

I have heard people say they are interested in trying CrossFit but are intimidated. What should they know before they sign up for a class?

We get this a lot, and I totally get it. The media you see related to CrossFit can be confusing at times, sending the wrong impression as far as the typical experience goes. Basically they should know that you do not need to be at a specific fitness level to start, everything is modified to what you can handle as an individual.

Can you give us five tips for weight loss both in and out of the gym?

Track what you eat. Use MyFitnessPal and be diligent. Oftentimes people who are focusing on losing weight find extra calories sneaking in during the day.

  1. Eat real food. Sounds simple right? Those hidden sugars that are in processed food add up fast.
  2. Work hard during your workouts. Also sounds simple enough, but the difference between going through the motions in a workout and absolutely exerting yourself can be staggering.
  3. Drink more water. No one drinks enough honestly.
  4. Be consistent. Weight loss to me is not just about shedding pounds: It’s about promoting an overall healthier lifestyle. This is why we do not focus that much on the number on the scale but the times of our workouts and the general wellbeing of the person. Numbers can be misleading. If you are consistent in your approach to your fitness and nutrition, your body composition will change rapidly.

Is there a specific diet you recommend to members of Paul Bunyan Fitness? For weight loss? For toning? For bulking?

We have a nutritionist for specific cases such as these that works with members personally. In general, every diet should consist of a healthy balance of real food with protein, carbs, and healthy fats making up most of your nutrient intake. Avoid processed sugars at all costs, and work hard. After those points are covered, weight loss/toning/bulking comes down to simply being a little below your recommended caloric intake to lose weight, right on it to tone, or a little above your caloric intake to bulk.

Besides weight loss what are the benefits of CrossFit?

I’d say weight loss is a side effect of the main benefits of CrossFit. Some members may come for the weight loss, but the community that welcomes you and the feeling you have when you are done with a brutal workout—and are high-fiving your peers—keeps them around. Before they know it, they have lost 20 pounds and look and feel amazing, never once having stepped on a scale during that time. Achieving things that you never thought you’d be able to do (rope climbs, muscle-ups, handstand push-ups, etc.) does wonders for the mind and body. Doing it a safe and effective manner keeps people healthy and happy.

It seems like your gym, Paul Bunyan Fitness, has members of all ages. What is an appropriate age for kids to start training with?

We have kids that start as young as 10 to 11 years old and a kids program that starts at age three. There really is no age limit to what we do which is great as we get to teach kids the foundations of movement that they will use for the rest of their lives.

How can CrossFit be utilized for sports training?

There are many different aspects of CrossFit that benefit athletic performance. The barbell movements like the squat, deadlift, push press, power clean, snatch etc. are used in many different sports to build power and overall strength. The conditioning aspect of CrossFit has obvious benefits. I have worked with multiple teams where I have combined aspects of CrossFit and traditional strength and conditioning programming to great success. At the end of the day, CrossFit is just a mishmash of different training methodologies, so taking some parts that benefit athletes and leaving out some that do not is pretty natural.

On your days off from the gym, what do you do to unwind?

I have a six-year-old labrador mix who is my right-hand man. I usually take him to a local park or to visit family. Ironically, my biggest activity I do to unwind is workout, so I find myself in the gym more often than not. I’m also somewhat of a closet video game nerd, so I’ll indulge in that side of my life from time to time.

Have you tried CrossFit? How was your experience?