“This was my first year to do it, and I’m already training for next year,” said Luz, who works at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Like many others, Luz started off running on treadmills and using resistance machines in what CrossFitters playfully refer to as Globo Gyms, borrowing the name of the big box gym run by Ben Stiller’s character in the 2004 movie “Dodgeball.”
“I tried so many things before CrossFit. At the time, before I knew better, I thought that was a good workout. Now I know better,” said Luz, who was introduced to CrossFit in 2008 when her friend’s husband was using it to prepare for military Special Forces training.
“It’s a good way to not get bored, which happens so often at the gym,” she said. “You’re always going to be challenged. Their concept is to prepare for the unknown, and you just hope that you’re going to be able to do it.”
Luz said that she completes her CrossFit routine six times a week, if not more, even when on vacation (since CrossFit’s daily workouts can be followed online even without membership at a CrossFit gym). For example, while visiting home in Ballinger, Texas, recently, she wowed her family by performing handstand push-ups against the side of the house. She wasn’t trying to make a spectacle, but just to get a little closer to the 2012 world games.
“They look at me like ‘Why do you do that?’ They look at me like I’m crazy,” she said. “But I’ve never felt better, and I’ve never felt more prepared for each day.”
Fit for a Fighter
The Lights Out Gym off Red Branch Road, which Mike Richards opened earlier this year, can help a couch potato get back into shape, but the facility also is equipped to prepare aspiring combatants to step into a boxing ring or a mixed martial arts (MMA) cage.
A popular offering at Lights Out is the Fight Fitness class.
Fight Fitness is billed as a class for those who want to train like fighters but don’t necessarily want to trade blows in the ring.
“If you train like a fighter, you’ll look like a fighter,” said Richards, whose wife, Amber, participates in the Fight Fitness class to stay in shape. “The results come a lot quicker with the grunt workouts.”
Fight Fitness has participants skip rope, run laps around the building, throw flurries of punches at a heavy bag and swing a sledgehammer at a large tire.
Some of that may sound a little far out, but Richards points out that this kind of training is far from a fad.
“George Foreman used to chop wood (as part of his boxing training), so the theory on that has been around for a long time,” he said.
Most of Richards’ female Fight Fitness participants have no plans for a career in MMA.
Kathleen Williams, a 38-year-old veterinarian specialist from Ellicott City, does the class because, she says, it works.
“A lot of my friends who are girls want to come and take the class because it is so much fun, and everybody that is in the class gets along very well,” she said. “You push each other to continue moving upward instead of falling backward.”
On the other hand, a few of the women at Lights Out are using the Fight Fitness class as a first step toward an MMA match.
“MMA is growing, and I don’t see that stopping,” Richards said. “I’ve seen a lot more women wanting to get into combat sports.”
Jordan Geddes and Sheila Smith, both 23-year-old students at Howard Community College, coincidentally met at Lights Out after deciding to start an MMA training regimen.
“I used to be 300 pounds, and about four years ago I lost about 120 pounds, and since then I’ve been really trying to get as fit as I can,” said Geddes, a Howard High grad. “First I quit smoking, then I started running and all that, but if you look at athletes, the people who look the fittest -- the crazy fittest -- are in boxing and mixed martial arts.”