Kelly and John King's athletic history is extensive and diverse—they've climbed up rocky cliffs, paddleboarded oceans, and cartwheeled across balance beams. Out of all their fitness-related experiences, however, they praise CrossFit as being one of the most elite and effective they've encountered. The CrossFit-certified Level 1 trainers conduct classes within their 5,300-square-foot studio, leading students through high-intensity routines of functional exercises. The trainers design their workouts to foster the 10 skills of CrossFit, which include cardiovascular endurance, stamina, and strength. They scale movements to accommodate students of all experience levels, ages, and abilities, from former athletes recovering from injuries to elderly sailors who’ve forgotten where they stashed their spinach. The coaches encourage their students to follow the paleo diet, which favors grass-fed meats, seafood, and fresh produce in lieu of processed foods.
At Anaheim CrossFit West, co-owners Stephanie and Al Amato lead small groups through the ever-changing and intense workout of the day. The workouts—which are designed for all fitness levels, including Little Mario, Bigger Mario, and Fire Mario—require exercisers to complete a daily sequence of functional exercises such as squatting, deadlifting, rowing, and jumping with purpose. To help replenish exercisers' bodies following the grueling sessions, Stephanie, whose nickname is Primal Mama and whose background includes nutrition counseling, posts protein-packed recipes on her blog.
When CrossFit RIOT co-owner and head coach Derek Fay was younger, he was into powerlifting. Even though he wasn't being coached and knew his form wasn't great, he kept ramping up the weight—until he was diagnosed with herniated discs, leading to nearly two years in physical therapy. His back was so damaged that his doctors predicted he'd never lift weights again. But after he finished therapy, a friend introduced him to CrossFit sessions, where he was coached in safe lifting techniques and proper form. Today, he can dead lift more than 500 pounds.
But CrossFit RIOT isn't just for powerlifters. Derek and the other coaches strive to help members of all ability levels reach their fitness goals, from climbing stairs with greater ease to losing weight. Their high-intensity functional workouts can be scaled to be challenging—but not impossible—for everyone, and they emphasize executing good form, which helps to prevent injury.
The exercise routines change each day to keep bodies challenged and minds engaged. Throughout the one-hour workout of the day, they might lead students in swinging kettlebells one day and doing lunges and sprints the next. Classes are capped at 12 students, and the coaches are also available for personal-training and nutrition advice, such as choosing to snack on carrot sticks instead of butter sculptures.
CrossFit Onslaught is led by coach Jason Davis, who uses CrossFit’s principles of functional movement to help his clients push past mental barriers and achieve higher levels of physical performance. Rather than pack his facility with treadmills and circuit-training equipment, his green- and white-walled exercise space opens to the outside and is unencumbered by anything other than practitioners using free weights to complete the Workout of the Day. The staff of certified trainers also doles out nutritional advice and holds classes twice a day, six days a week.
The experienced coaches at Chalk Fitness want to make sure their clients get results quickly with their fast-paced, challenging group fitness classes. There are no rows of expensive machines in this indoor/outdoor gym—members do pushups outside, heft kettlebells, and work with resistance bands to achieve measurable workout goals.
At CrossFit Structured, it doesn’t matter where you finish as long as you finish with integrity. Trainers adopt this philosophy during each class, which covers a new workout of the day, or WOD, every day. WODs involve constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensities to help burn calories and fat and boost the body’s metabolism. Though exercises often vary, it’s not uncommon to see CrossFit Structured’s warriors performing weight lifts, running, or testing their body’s limits with exercises such as squats, pushups, pull-ups, and sit-ups.
You won’t find any treadmills or ellipticals at Bear Flag CrossFit, just 4,000 square feet of iron bars, weights, rowing machines, gymnastics rings, and kettlebells. Beneath an American flag and a California flag, CrossFit-certified trainers Eric Schubring and Will Hurst lead squads of athletes through each Workout of the Day (WOD). WODs never repeat and incorporate exercises such as Olympic weightlifting, body-weight exercises, heaving kettlebells, and rowing—all of which are based on CrossFit’s dogma of varied, functional fitness.