CrossFit, the epically popular strength and conditioning program, is obsessed with numbers. How much can you deadlift? How many pull-ups can you do? How quickly can you get through that workout of the day?
So it’s a pretty big deal that when it comes to CrossFit in the Washington area, CrossFit D.C. is No. 1. Back in 2005, CFDC founder Tom Brose headed to California to get certified and then launched the first local affiliate, or box, inside Balance Gym Kalorama.
“It’s crazy to see how it’s grown,” says Brose, who’s watched more than 50 boxes pop up in the region and thousands get started around the globe. Same goes for CFDC, which gradually got too big to share space.
That’s why this month, CFDC celebrated its grand opening at 1722 14th St. NW (one of at least six boxes along that street). The former hot-dog-cart storage facility has enough room to hold two classes simultaneously, which allows for a considerable expansion in the number of classes offered.
CFDC used to meet just three times a week. Now, there are 32 classes scheduled, and that still leaves time for personal training and other events — including the D.C. Weightlifting Club’s workouts.
“I’m pretty sure they set that [schedule] up just for me,” jokes Doron Petersan, owner of Sticky Fingers bakery, who’s worked out with Brose for years. “I’m really limited in when I can get away.”
Despite the location upgrade and the schedule changes, Brose plans to keep CFDC’s focus where it’s always been: on “coaching and community.” It’s that dual emphasis that Women’s Health magazine cited in its March issue as the reason for awarding CFDC one of its first-ever Fitness Awards for top national “hot spots.” (The other D.C. business to score a prize was Down Dog Yoga.)
The hands-on approach is especially important to Brose as a way to fight the negative perceptions about CrossFit that have built up over the years.
“One of the knocks against CrossFit is that it’s a cookie-cutter program. We emphasize individualizing the workout,” he says.
The CrossFit Games on ESPN showcase butterfly pull-ups and weighted sled pushing, but there’s more to CrossFit. Brose and his team of coaches look at each student individually and determine a realistic way to structure a challenge.
One of their clients, for instance, is in her third trimester. There are ways to scale the movements in class even for her, says Brose, who credits co-owner Chris Sheppard with developing the “prenatal burpee,” which involves doing a squat, a pushup on a box and a step up.
The goal is always form first, so anyone who’s paying attention can succeed.
“I’m the oldest guy in the box,” says Tom Arend, 49, who knows he can’t do everything as fast or as heavy as the younger guys. “But I can hold my own.”
And CFDC, as the oldest box around, can say the same thing.
New to CrossFit D.C. (1722 14th St. NW; 202-450-6432, Crossfitdc.com)? Sign up for a free intro, and then enroll in Elements ($200), a six-session small group course that prepares students for the box’s regular classes ($190-$245 per month).
CrossFit boxes usually open in converted warehouses or garages, not luxury hotels. So what is CrossFit Foggy Bottom (2401 M St. NW; Crossfitfoggybottom.com), which opened March 1, doing in the Fairmont? Balance Gym is taking over the hotel’s spacious fitness center, and while general membership won’t be signing up until after an extensive renovation, the no-frills CrossFit crowd was invited in right away. Fairmont has a partnership with Reebok, which also has a partnership with CrossFit, so the collaboration makes business sense — and may lure hotel guests who are committed to CrossFit at home. Members ($195 a month) will eventually have access to the entire facility, including a pool.