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Intense Crossfit workouts increasingly popular


Pull-ups, weight lifting and handstand pushups are all part of a Eric and Patty Braendel’s new morning workout.

The Braendels joined Crossfit Spotsy eight months ago and have been doing Crossfit workouts nearly every day since.

They join a growing number of people switching from traditional gyms to Crossfit “boxes,” and said they’ll never go back to treadmills and ellipticals.

Patty said she used to work out at a local YMCA four times per week.

“I thought I was in shape then,” she said.

Since starting Crossfit, she said she’s been able to do pull-ups, which she didn’t think possible before.

Crossfit workouts vary, but the high-intensity exercise is consistently focused on improving functional fitness. During a typical 45-minute class, participants might lift dead weights, do pushups and pull-ups, flip tractor tires and swing kettle bells.

The focus on functional movement is designed to make everyday tasks easier, said Lisa Quinn, owner of CrossfitSpotsy. The workouts can help people feel stronger carrying groceries, for example, but they also can help people prepare for competitive events.

Eric Braendel, who also works out at a Crossfit near his office in Washington, D.C., likes to compete in athletic events and said Crossfit lets him not worry whether he is fit enough for them.

“I’m always ready,” he said.

In 2006, Crossfit Spotsy was the only Crossfit gym in the Fredericksburg area. Now, six years later, there are five in the region.

The growth of Crossfit in the Fredericksburg area reflects a nationwide trend. Crossfit was founded in 2000; by 2005, there were 13 affiliated gyms, and now that number has grown to more than 4,300.

Quinn, of Crossfit Spotsy, said her own gym has grown to include 80 people. She said one reason Crossfit is successful is because it makes people accountable.

As Eric Braendel explained, “In normal gyms you’re anonymous. Here, everyone has the opportunity to cheer you on, and you get to know people. I went on vacation and got an email from a coach checking up on me.”

The Braendels said they even bring their four children to the Crossfit gym. While the parents work out, the kids climb on boxes and tires used for training, thereby being active. The kids also do small workouts led by Quinn.

“I like having them here,” Eric said. “They see mom and dad working out, and they cheer us on.”

Crossfit Stafford, another local gym, also is family-oriented.

“We train everyone from 60-year-olds to 6-year-old kids,” said John Beiswanger, one of Crossfit Stafford’s four owners.

The Stafford gym has about 100 people working out there. Beiswanger said the focus on functional movement sets Crossfit apart.

“It’s a completely different atmosphere here,” said coach Michelle Kapp, who used to work for a traditional gym.

Other local Crossfit facilities include Rare Crossfit in Fredericksburg and Crossfit Forward in Spotsylvania County.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976;