CrossFit: Barriers broken, confidence created

Photos by Gabby Valentine
Photos by Gabby Valentine

By Lam Ho
Staff Writer
Photos by Gabby Valentine

Gym-goers might have noticed the handful of people occupying the Fowler Center weight room on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 7 PM. Led by Alonso Munoz (C’17), president of Sewanee’s new CrossFit program, the high-intensity workouts that take place three days a week have evolved to become an  AFC-funded club sport at Sewanee.

What exactly is CrossFit? The official website defines it as “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” Formulated as an all-encompassing fitness regimen, the workouts challenge athletes from different levels of experience to step outside of their comfort zone and achieve their wellness goals.

“Getting gritty in the weight room… makes you feel good about what you’ve accomplished. On any given day, Alonso and I are in the gym for two to three hours,” Austen Larson (C’17), gymnastics trainer, says.

One caveat in regards to this intense training is that amateurs should be sure to select the right training to suit their level of experience. Today, rhabdomyolysis  (“rhabdo” for short) concerns health specialists. Recently linked to CrossFit, the condition is described by the National Library of Medicine as the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of myoglobin in the bloodstream. High levels of myoglobin results in kidney damage, but this can be prevented with conscious hydration during and after workouts, training under the eye of an attentive instructor, and ensuring that each individual understands hisor her own physical limitations.

Alonso Munoz, president of Sewanee CrossFit, says, “CrossFit involves olympic lifting and intense weight exercises. It takes time to perfect these movements. The problem lies in trainers who aren’t fit to train and beginners who haven’t eased into the workouts.”

For those who have taken healthy steps toward high-intensity workouts, the reward is incredible. Munoz has been training for three years and aims to compete in the CrossFit Games after three more. The first year and a half of his training was done independently, which altered when he joined CrossFit Perimeter in Atlanta. During his time there, he realized his calling to teach CrossFit classes. Along with attending seminars about nutrition, weight-lifting, sports conditioning, and training, he worked with numerous Olympic strength coaches and improved his own form.

“My responsibility is to be a leader. I’m proud of how Devante, Linnea, Austen, and I work together to develop CrossFit at Sewanee. I’m passionate about fitness and nutrition, and I strive to help and mentor the members of our club.” Munoz adds.

The leadership behind CrossFit involves a core group of enthusiastic athletes who aim to cultivate wellness on campus while teaching the class. Davante Jennings (C’16) and Linnea Carver (C’14) play a monumental role in managing the club. Once every two weeks, they meet to address problems in the classes and ways to attract new members to the club. The positive energy that they bring to the weight room has contributed strongly to the growth of the classes from five members to anywhere between fifteen.

“CrossFit is really about finding confidence and strength in each other and stepping out of your comfort zone. The most rewarding part is being able to see progress in our community, and the best part of my own job is mentoring other people,” Munoz iterates.

Because of CrossFit’s popularity, the leaders see a need for more equipment and space. After meeting with the Activities Funding Committee, the team was granted $2000 for the semester to purchase gear and participate in competitions.

According to Munoz, as long as they can accommodate demand for classes, they will remain free and open to the entire community: As expressed on the official CrossFit website, “Anyone with an Internet connection and the willingness, curiosity, and bravery to try it, could.”