Photos by Shawn Jones
For some, the thought of CrossFit entails heavy weights, grueling competitions and strong athletes. As a result, many turn away without a second thought.
This was true of senior Whitney Gilliam, niece of sports medicine professors Holden and Priscilla MacRae. A few years ago, the MacRaes started to participate in CrossFit and urged Gilliam to check it out.
What started as skepticism grew into a passion. After a year of interning, Gilliam started to coach beginner classes and is now working toward coaching group classes.
“CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movement at high intensity,” Gilliam wrote in an email. “Workouts are always different, which is what makes it so awesome. The overall goal is to gain a high level of fitness across a wide variety of domains and to become prepared for any possible physical demand.”
According to Gilliam, the benefits of CrossFit include improved strength, flexibility, muscle gain and fat loss. Additionally, CrossFit requires mental strength, presenting a fun challenge for all of its participants.
This time last year, there were approximately 5,000 affiliates in the CrossFit community. This year the sport has grown to over 10,000 participants.
According to junior Joshua Chan, CrossFit is the fastest-growing sport in the world. Chan works at the Cage here at Pepperdine and seeks to grow the local CrossFit community as well.
“CrossFit is a sport that involves people maintaining a healthy lifestyle while also keeping others accountable for their work ethic and health,” Chan said. “It gets you ‘swole’ on the inside and out.” (swollen)
A typical day for Chan entails waking up at 5:15 a.m. and heading to CrossFit Agoura Hills. Class starts at 6 a.m. with a small cardio workout of either rowing or running 500 meters.
As a class, they then stretch or foam roll for 10 to 15 minutes and work on some strength and skill lifting for another 10 minutes. After the workout of the day, or the WOD, the class finishes with more stretching.
Unlike many other sports, CrossFit is flexible and can be catered to anyone. Universal and open to those of any age, it can even be modified to benefit those with injuries.
However, similar to many sports, CrossFit can lead to injury. Good techniques and smart lifting create a beneficial workout and allow athletes to do the “common uncommonly well,” according to Gilliam.
In addition to the physical benefits, Gilliam wrote that she also finds joy in the encouraging community and welcoming environment she experiences at CrossFit on a daily basis.
Gilliam’s favorite part of CrossFit, especially CrossFit Malibu, is the community — a community that Gilliam believes reflects how the church should be.
For Gilliam, CrossFit is a place where she can work out and delight in a welcoming community. As a sports medicine major with a minor in coaching, Gilliam hopes to one day go to mountaineering school to become a mountain guide.
Although this career presents many physical challenges, Gilliam continues to train her body. With goals of gaining a high level of fitness over a wide range of domains, Gilliam prepares for any possible physical demand.
Follow Marissa Yoshizawa on Twitter: @MarissaYosh