Honing Your Inner Athlete

Not just a workout but a lifestyle

Everyone’s an athlete. That’s what CrossFit Elkhorn owner Trevor Baxter believes. After opening Omaha’s newest CrossFit location last March with business partner Justin Carraher, he wants to help athletes of all ages feel younger, stronger, and give them a sense of accomplishment. He’s doing so through his leveled classes that offer a variety of functional exercises in a high intensity program—the cornerstone of CrossFit.

“Every CrossFit gym can be operated a little differently, depending on the coach,” Baxter said. “The gyms started out as warehouse or garage space, but now they’re becoming newer and more modern.” The Elkhorn location is a 2,500 square foot open floor plan that can accommodate up to 25 athletes at once, but Baxter said they try to keep their classes, which are offered several times a day, to about 15 members so the coaches can give them more attention.

What makes CrossFit different from other workout programs is its focus on strength conditioning and endurance. The daily exercises are functional movements that were originally designed for military or police work where explosive moves at a moment’s notice are necessary. “Being able to move large loads quickly over a long distance is what gives you the most benefit from a fitness perspective,” Baxter said. “But working with heavy weights can also cause injury if not done properly, so we spend lots of time on mechanics.”

The 60-minute beginner classes include a 15-minute movement breakdown, where the coach teaches how to correctly perform the day’s exercises. Then members spend the next 20-25 minutes doing a number of reps of that movement. For example, if the daily exercise is front squats, you might do 10 sets. Each set has fewer reps with heavier weights, but you also get more recovery time in between sets. “We constantly change the exercises,” Baxter said. “With CrossFit, the workouts get continuously harder, but people get continuously stronger and better.”

There aren’t any cardio or weight machines in the gym, but rather all equipment that has to be manipulated, such as ropes, rings, kettle bells, and dumb bells. The coaches teach Olympic lifting such as power and hang cleans, as well as kettle bell swings, burpees, and pull-ups. A large white board covers one wall where individual results are recorded for each class. “The afternoon classes can see how the morning classes performed, which promotes a healthy sense of competition and members seem to enjoy it,” Baxter said.

That community-driven atmosphere is another important aspect of both Baxter’s and the CrossFit philosophy. “We try to keep it fun, and a place where members know each other,” he said. “This is not a gym where you put your headphones on and listen to your iPod. There is a lot of interaction. We want people to be a part of the lifestyle, not just the program.”

The CrossFit lifestyle includes frequent parties such as cookouts and an upcoming holiday party for members, as well as free classes for kids ages 3-13 on Saturday mornings. Kids can learn how to do squats and are exposed early on to a different type of fitness. Anyone interested in trying CrossFit is welcome to make an appointment to attend one of several daily introductory 60-minute classes that include a detailed explanation of the program and a sample workout.

Memberships for CrossFit Elkhorn include four, eight, and 12-month contracts. “Our most popular is the four month membership with three workouts per week,” Baxter said. “It takes someone about four months to learn all the movements and become comfortable enough to where they can start to perform them more quickly and with heavier weights.” Just like any other exercise program, the key isn’t just in trying it. “You have to try it, and then keep doing it,” he said. “That will make you the most well-rounded athlete.”

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