The Culture of CrossFit

Posted by on Jan 30th, 2014 and filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Photos by Jason BALLARD Client Erika Loda pumps some iron during her Crossfit workout.

Photos by Jason BALLARD
Client Erika Loda pumps some iron during her Crossfit workout.

By Brandon HENSLEY

One night at the CrossFit Survival studio in La Crescenta, a man walked in to meet with coaches Shannon Franklin and Erik Boyd. He opened the doors and saw Boyd performing gymnastic moves on rings that hung from the ceiling, quickly dropping down and going into a “burpee” – a pushup when the person tucks their legs in and jumps up – then repeating the whole thing while being timed.

The man’s eyes lit up and, as soon as he walked in, he was out the door.     Apparently Boyd’s workout was much too intimidating.

Could Boyd or Franklin have run after him? Maybe, but they were in the middle of workout and didn’t realize that was the man who had come a tad early to meet with the coaches.

“He was half an hour early for his appointment, so no one knew who he was until after,” Franklin said.

Indeed there are stories, if not exactly like that man’s, similar to his; a would-be CrossFitter overwhelmed by the fitness phenomenon that has taken over the country the last decade.

“You still do have people that walk in and say, ‘Wow this is kind of scary,’” Boyd said.

Franklin and Boyd, who run CrossFit Survival located on the corner of Boston Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, want people’s fears to be assuaged. Participating in CrossFit takes a lot out of the body, but Franklin also wants the reluctance to join gone as well.

“We really try to be friendly,” she said. “We have an introductory workout where we talk to people. We’re really encouraging.”

And after the encouraging part, it’s time to sweat.

Every CrossFit place will have a different atmosphere, a different way to do things, said Franklin, but the core of what it is remains as rock solid as some the bodies it helps sculpt: constantly varied functional movement performed at a high intensity.

That means lot of running, pushups, pull-ups, rope climbing, squatting often with various weights done at specific intervals of time. The exercises are designed to get the heart rate up and burn calories while building strength and endurance.

For those who have recently gone online looking for a new way to work out, CrossFit has probably come up in the search. The American Council on Exercise reported last year, “CrossFit boasts more than 7,000 CrossFit gyms (except they call them ‘boxes’) worldwide, more than 35,000 accredited trainers, more than 10 million Crossfitters (nearly 60% of whom are women) and even recently inked a 10-year, multi-million dollar deal with Reebok to sponsor the annual CrossFit Games, which crowns the man and woman deemed the ‘Fittest on Earth.’”

CrossFit Survival takes people of all ages and puts them into different classes depending on their level of experience. Franklin said the workout is like none other, but it’s worthwhile, especially since the classes have a communal feel.

“There really is this great camaraderie forged here through suffering … You’re annihilated and there’s something really empowering about it,” she said. “It’s the hardest part of your day and when you get past that you feel like you can do anything.”

Except if you get sick. A side effect of overdoing CrossFit is the now well-known condition of Rhabdomyolysis, when muscle fibers break down. Symptoms include abnormal swelling and soreness, as well as urine that looks like Coca-Cola, because of how the kidneys receive the fibers.

Franklin said in her five years of running her place, which used to be in Sunland before opening in La Crescenta 13 months ago, she’s seen two cases of the condition, usually shortened to “Rhabdo.”

Rhabdo can occur when someone pushes themselves too much too soon, so stressing the tempo to workout is key, said Boyd.

“It mostly occurs to athletes coming back from a hiatus, and they’re ready to jump right back into how they were doing it before,” he said. “Athletes who haven’t been taking care of their health in the meantime, as far as eating and drinking [alcohol] and things like that, and they come in they go faster than they should … going way past failure.”

Failure meaning when someone cannot do any more repetitions of an exercise for that set.

Rhabdo can be serious, but Franklin and Boyd said it’s very rare. Boyd is a former football player and said athletes of any kind can get it, and probably do get it; they just don’t realize the signs at the time.

Both coaches go over any potential risks involved with CrossFit with beginners. Those who are well enough to take on the challenge will most likely push themselves like they never have before. CrossFit isn’t simply going to a gym, putting on earbuds and tuning out the world for an hour. Franklin said the CrossFit culture is worth looking into for anyone looking to get in shape.

“Mostly because it’s so freakin’ fun,” she said. “People come out here to hang out with friends, and it just so happens that what we do is train.”


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6 Responses for “The Culture of CrossFit”

  1. Jack S says:

    I have been training at CrossFit Survival for the past 11 months and feel it necessary to share my experience after having read your article. I did a lot of research on CrossFit and their approach to fitness prior to joining – making multiple visits to different Boxes and asking the coaches questions before making a commitment. After 3 interviews I decided to join Coach Franklins team at CrossFit Survival because of their training philosophy and the care and attention they give to ALL levels of CrossFit’ers. You have to understand that there are several levels of training at CrossFit Survival, here is how it worked for me – all new members are required to attend and pass the CrossFit Fundamentals Course. This is where I was taught proper technique on many of the core functions, educated on nutrition, monitored and constantly evaluated and coached as they saw best fit – the fundamentals course was approximately 4 weeks long – but may be extended if the coaches feel it necessary in order for you to grasp the essentials. It’s basically to make sure you don’t hurt yourself and helps the coaches see what you are capable of doing and more importantly not capable of just yet. The article caught my attention from the get-go with “could Boyd or Franklin have run after him”? This comment was clearly not thought out very well – this ‘man’ expected the coaches to run out after him during a class? Glad they didn’t and it shows their true commitment to their athletes – coaches are on point during the workouts, making sure everyone is doing the workouts properly in order to avoid injury and also motivating them to push harder. They stop you if they see you doing something wrong which could result in injury – this Cleary shows their care for the athletes. Further, I know for a fact they wouldn’t just let you leave or walk out because I have personally experienced people walking off the street inquiring about joining during a class – the answer is ALWAYS the same with the coaches basically stating that they are currently in middle of a class and will be with them shortly – they even let them stick around and watch the class in action. Clearly the feeling of intimidation got the best of this person who visited CrossFit Survival – this is just ONE of the many hurdles that coach Franklin helps you overcome during your training career at CrossFit Survival. Definitely feel as though the comment was not an appropriate reflection of CrossFit Survival, Coach Franklin, Coach Boyd or any of its members. A personal note to the person who visited – give it another shot, don’t be intimidated (its hard, I still get intimidated on my drive from the San Fernando Valley to the Box on workout days). Everything is tailored to your ability and you WILL achieve great accomplishments while being monitored for safety like a hawk – maybe after your next visit and try you can re-write the article and have it portray a more meaningful image of CrossFit Survival – it deserves it after your current publication which I’m not too fond of.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write. I’m sorry that you’re not fond of the publication, but I must ask: what in the story is inaccurate? The training can be intimidating, but equally rewarding as you (and our writer) pointed out.
      Good luck on your continued success with CrossFit and again – thank you for taking the time to write.

  2. Shannon Franklin says:

    I appreciate that the CV Weekly article tried to paint a balanced view of CrossFit Survival, but as the owner, I feel that I must point out a few things that were not well conveyed at all. 1. We are professionals. We take great care, indeed painstaking care to ensure our clients are educated in the proper way to do things and are safe. When the gentleman walked in 1/2 an hour early, I was literally seconds away from finishing up a workout. I came in one hour early to do this workout, as I take pride in being prepared, indeed early for an expectant appointment. When the gentleman walked in, not knowing who he was, I shouted, “I’ll be right with you”, as I ran out the door to complete a 100m run I was finishing up. My intention was to find out who he was, what he needed, and in what way I could help him.

    He left so quickly, it was literally 30 seconds between when I said that to him, and my returning. In that time, he disappeared. It wasn’t until later, that I realized he was my 8:30 appointment.

    His wife indicated that he was already quite unnerved by the whole CrossFit experience, so I really wanted to spend a great deal of time ensuring he understood just what lengths we go to in order to a) handle even the most deconditioned clients and b) assuage our clients’ fears and take care of them as people.

    Unfortunately for me, he did not give me that chance. His wife did, and she has now completed our Fundamentals Course and joined our gym.

    In fact MOST people who complete our Fundamentals Course join, a testament, I believe to the great care we take in educating people and caring for them.

    I also want to address the rhabdo cases. In both cases, we made stringent changes to our policy to address what happened. It was not something we took lightly, and is something we never expect to have to handle again.

    Additionally, I don’t recall mentioning “annihilation”. If I did, it would’ve been said in jest, to indicate a degree of toughness and intensity. I mention this, because once again, at CrossFit Survival, although what we do is indeed very fun, we come from a place of professionalism, training, purpose and goals.

    Our clients come to us, mostly because they wish to get “in shape”. Obviously that is something we provide. However, what we also provide is something much more than that. We offer guidance, encouragement, direction, purpose. We are more of a training facility for burgeoning athletes than we are a gym.

    Last but not least, I wanted to make you aware that CrossFit Survival is also involved in the community. We offer classes for both kids and teens. We also work with seriously overweight individuals to help them lose that weight and change their lives. In the greater sense, we are also currently raising $25,000 to build a school and a water cistern in Kenya. Locally, we are hosting a large event for local girl scout troops in February. These young women under our charge will be getting educated and teaching others about fitness and nutrition and will also be collecting used sports equipment to donate to a local charity that helps kids in need.

    There’s a lot more to CrossFit Survival than grunting and sweating. I think the community of LaCrescenta should be aware of this. I invite anyone who would like to drop by our gym. We are happy to show you around and share with you our passion and what we know.


    Shannon Franklin
    CrossFit Survival

    • Thank you for taking the time to write. I don’t think the professionalism of the training was ever in question. The intensity of the training can be intimidating and not everyone is cut out for it. I’m glad CV Weekly had the chance to present this exciting program to our community. Continued success.

  3. Robert says:

    I’ve been attending CrossFit Survival for the past year and a half and can honestly say that it was the best decision I’ve ever made for my health. Before I came I was a certified couch potato and made the decision to change. At first, it was very intimidating but the staff (Shannon, Erik, and all the coaches) were great. They explained each and every movement for proper form and all the workouts were scaled so that I wouldn’t kill myself. I’ve seen others that were in worst shape than I was and seen them transform into strong, fit, confident people. It’s a great community that supports and pushes each other. We love to see each other succeed. Can’t say enough good things about this place

  4. Vartan says:

    Unfortunately the man walked in at the time the coaches were training, which of course is going to be intense. Understanding that’s what was happening the message that this article portrays is that the man was intimidated and that CrossFit intimidates people. CrossFit is not easy, but if you have made the choice to be healthy and to be fit it is an awesome experience and can be tailored to you. Clearly the workout the man saw is not the workout that a new team member is goign to be expected to endure. This is not the only CrossFit box or coach I have experience with. There are three of us that did a ton of research on CrossFit boxes in the surrounding area and chose this box specifically because of Shannon. I have had the pleaseure of working out with Shannon and EriK for almost a year. They are extremely caring about each individual and will go out of their way to ensure the safety of everyone workign out and will tailor the workouts to individual needs, strength, and capability. Try the box out and you will see yourself what a great and rewardign experience you will have.

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