Work begins on new CrossFit / warehouse gym

BUCKHANNON — If January has passed and you still haven’t committed to any 2018 fitness goals, it’s not too late.

In fact, in March, if you’re ready to try something new — or at least new to the area — you’re in luck. Almost Heaven CrossFit, an official CrossFit affiliate, will be opening at 6 Trader’s Alley. The business will be housed inside of Rob’s Warehouse Gym, and co-owners Rob Cress, former owner of Rob’s Fitness Factory, and Taylor Foster, a certified Level 1 CrossFit instructor, are currently working on renovating the space.

Although the “warehouse-style gym” — more on that later — will be the entity within which Foster will teach CrossFit classes, Cress said CrossFit coming to Buckhannon is really the biggest deal.

“I think the big thing is CrossFit is coming to Buckhannon,” he said. “It’s not like we’re getting another Arby’s or another McDonald’s. This is like something you only see in bigger areas. It’s almost like bringing Buckhannon into 2018.”

So, what is CrossFit and who can do it? CrossFit is simply the sport of fitness, Foster said. A long-distance-runner-turned CrossFit fanatic, Foster dabbled in the sport before deciding to commit to it about a year and a half ago “when my typical regimen of running long miles, lifting sporadically and enjoying French fries” was no longer producing the results she wanted, she said. After about a year of waffling, she decided to join 1201 CrossFit in Elkins, where she became hooked and eventually started coaching and serving as a mentor there.

“CrossFit is the sport of fitness,” she said. “As simple as that sounds, that is truly what we aim for — to be proficient at everything and not just really good at one thing. It combines elements of running, power lifting, gymnastics, plyometrics and more.”

In CrossFit, there’s an emphasis on what Foster calls “functional movement,” or movements typically performed in everyday life.

“The core of CrossFit is the use of functional movements — movements that are natural to the body and allow us to move large loads efficiently,” Foster said. “These would include movements of pressing weight overhead, similar to putting items on a shelf, or deadlifting weights from the floor, which mimics what we do every day when we pick up our kids or lift a box from below us. We take these functional, natural movements and add some intensity. The end result is a great workout and proficiency not only in the gym, but also in day-to-day activities of life.”

And CrossFit isn’t limited to the already-fit. Foster says anyone can do CrossFit because workouts can be scaled to take age, injuries and abilities into account. Almost Heaven CrossFit will offer a foundational course to newbies that will introduce them to the nine foundational movements of the program.

“At the end of the course, the athlete will be prepared to slide easily into group classes alongside other members,” Foster said. “We will also offer personal training sessions for athletes wanting to work more outside of class time or to those who prefer the one-on-one setting.”

Each class will incorporate a warm-up and mobility practice, skills work and then a 30-minute workout of the day, commonly referred to as “WOD” in the CrossFit community. Foster says WODs are usually 30 minutes or less and mix together a wide range of movements that will be challenging and, with consistent practice, produce noticeable results.

But results aren’t the only thing about CrossFit that Foster likes; she’s a fan of how the sport builds community.

“One of the most important things for me to bring to this gym is the sense of community and friendship that really fosters success for the members,” she said. “This is created in the gym setting, but we will also rely on technology to keep members engaged outside the gym.”

Almost Heaven CrossFit plans to introduce an app that will enable members to reserve classes, record workout results and support other members, even if they aren’t able to attend the same classes. The app will also give members access to instructions for the WOD if they can’t attend class for some reason, Foster said.

“While I want everyone to come to class and work to achieve their goals together, I understand schedules and commitments don’t always allow it,” she said. “So having access to the workouts and open gym hours is important to me so that each member has the opportunity to meet his or her goals.”

Rob’s Warehouse Gym, home to Almost Heaven CrossFit, will be open 24 hours a day, according to Foster and Cress, so members can get in, get their workout done and get out, without having to worry about the gym being closed.

And the warehouse gym will be a no-nonsense place for athletes to push themselves. Cress, who owned Rob’s Fitness Factory in Buckhannon until moving it to Fairmont in 2014, said members can expect the same high quality facilities and cleanliness his other businesses have been known for. But don’t expect the same bells and whistles that are part of many modern gyms geared toward baby boomers.

“It’s more of an old-school type of gym setting, so you’re not going to see a lot of treadmills with TVs on them or Zumba classes,” Cress said. “This is going to be a gym for people who actually want to train, who want to work out hard. It’s not a place to come and hang out with your buddies, it’s a place to come and work out.

“Instead of kind of having a lot equipment that you don’t need, it’s just having the basics,” Cress added. “Dumbbells, benches, some of the equipment will be machine type of equipment, but most of it is just going to be your old-school free weight kind of gym. I kind of thought of it as the place I’d want to work out, that people of my age and my generation would want to work out, before everything was geared toward the baby boomers. I would say this is primarily geared toward Generation X and younger, so people in their 40s and younger.”

The gym will include a 50-foot-by-30-foot turf area, ideal for running sprints and conditioning and/or agility drills, Cress said.

“So basically, we’re kind of carrying the CrossFit vibe into the weight room area,” he explained. “We’re going to make it very hip and very modern, but it’s not going to be the place for somebody who just got out of physical therapy and has to walk on a treadmill for an hour a day.”

Foster said the workout itself — whether it’s a CrossFit workout or a weight room workout — will be the focus, rather than comfort and convenience.

“The modern conveniences aren’t going to be as important,” she said. “It’s going to be more about the workout.”

Stay tuned for more detailed information about the anticipated March opening date.

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