Laughing, Sweating and Suffering Together

Govinda Popoff.

Govinda Popoff.

CrossFit Turns Member Into a True Athlete

When Govinda Popoff, 23, took her first CrossFit class at Gainesville Health and Fitness in Gainesville, Fla., she had to complete a “Turkish Getup” with her shoe, versus an actual kettlebell. “For lack of a better term, she (Popoff) was weak,” joked John Connolly, a certified CrossFit trainer that teaches at CrossFit GHF, Gainesville Health and Fitness’ CrossFit box.

Popoff now laughs about that first class, eight months later. “The first month or two, I hated every second of it,” she recalled. “It was difficult. But I’m the biggest proponent of it now.”

That’s because she’s seen results. In fact, Popoff said that training at CrossFit GHF has led to her being in the best shape of her life. “I’ve never seen results like this,” she said. Those results include increased muscle mass and definition, and improved cardio. In addition, she no longer has to do a “Turkish Getup” with her shoe — a 40-pound kettlebell has replaced it.

Popoff wasn’t a couch potato before CrossFit. In fact, previously she had been an active individual, one that frequently participated in Group X classes such as Zumba® and marathons. However, those workouts didn’t provide her with the motivation and thrill she now gets from a CrossFit class at Gainesville Health and Fitness. “When you’re in the CrossFit setting, it’s a community, a group,” explained Popoff. “You’re friends with every single person and they’re pushing you to do your best. You laugh, sweat and suffer together!”

This community atmosphere is something that has led to CrossFit sometimes being referred to as a “cult exercise.” Popoff said she could see where this connotation is derived from. “It’s the spirit of friendship and community in the group that encourages you,” she explained.

At Gainesville Health and Fitness, that CrossFit community is made up of individuals that range from 20-year-olds, to those in their 70s. “Everyone’s at different levels,” said Connolly. “But it’s fun to see everyone succeed together.”

To minimize injuries, new clients must go through an eight-session series, which covers fundamental form, technique and safety procedures.

Joe Cirulli, the CEO and founder of Gainesville Health and Fitness, looked at the popularity of CrossFit when making the decision to add it as a program to his club. “Some people might ask, ‘Why not create your own brand?’” he said. “Why recreate something that is already a well-established brand?”

Connolly believes that the brand will continue to grow in popularity. “It’s growing, and growing fast,” he said. “I don’t see it going away any time soon.”
It’s not going away any time soon for Popoff, either. CrossFit is something she plans on doing for the foreseeable future. “CrossFit has changed my outlook on exercising,” she said. “It’s not about changing your body, it’s about changing your mind.”

Gainesville Health and Fitness purchased CrossFit’s licensing fees, so that CrossFit GHF would be an “official” CrossFit program. As a result, Gainesville Health and Fitness’ CrossFit program has become a major competitor against other “boxes” in Gainesville, Fla. “There are four competitors in the area, and class-size wise, we’re tied for second,” said Connolly. “It’s been very rewarding.”

Are you seeing a demand for CrossFit at your club or in the surrounding community? Take a note from Gainesville Health and Fitness and think about if you could become a major CrossFit player in your area. Since its founding in 2000, CrossFit’s popularity has continued to soar. If a CrossFit “box” isn’t already in your area, one could be coming soon.


By Rachel Zabonick

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