Kristen Lodge: The Community of CrossFit; it’s about being healthy and fit
John Kacik, husband and father of two, works out simply to stay fit and healthy. “I want to increase my fitness so I can play with my kids and not get injured,” he said.But by following a health regimen that includes a branded core conditioning program, as well as a Paleo diet, Kacik has not only simply stayed “fit,” but has reached an impressive 13 percent body fat. The workout program he’s embraced is called CrossFit, produced by a company that has grown world-wide. Its philosophy is that the workout is constantly varied with high intensity, coupled with functional movement. “CrossFit is all about mixing it up and not doing the same workout,” the Fraser athlete said. Kacik started CrossFit on a recommendation from his massage therapist Tim Gibbons from Blue Sky Massage after suffering shoulder soreness from swimming. “Tim worked on my shoulders, and as I got more mobility, he suggested CrossFit. It teaches you functional movement: moving large loads over long distances, quickly.” For example, instead of a bicep curl, a pull-up uses more muscle groups. “If I’m doing a bicep curl, what am I doing? I’m using one muscle. In CrossFit you do exercises that recruit more muscle groups at the same time.”You need to build intensity in your workout. Intervals increase your capacity for work. You do short reps quickly to increase your capacity to run faster.” CrossFit coaches, who are trained by the program, encourage athletes. “It’s hard work, you’re being pushed to the limit,” Kacik said. “We train to a weight limit or capability. The coaches know their athletes well since they work with them all the time. All our workouts are really hard. It’s part of the prescription. You don’t do anything at low intensity or you’re wasting your time. It makes a lot of sense.”Another important aspect of CrossFit is tracking progress. “In my gym we keep a benchmark for all the work so we can measure where we are now and where we are going. We record all workouts.” The workouts are constantly varied. “It’s great training for firefighters, police, and military because you do what is thrown at you and you can handle it. When you throw in the movements with good technique and fast repetition, you will be surprised how hard it gets. Your biceps hurt, your chest hurts, but it’s an accumulative effort.”Combining Paleo and CrossFit”I’ve always been a person who worked out a lot but I never felt lean. I thought that if I do an extra run, I can take off the fat and get leaner. I even thought my diet was good,” Kacik said.Then he tried the 30-Day Paleo Challenge recommended in the book by Robb Wolf, “The Paleo Solution – The Original Human Diet.” The plan consists of eating meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruit – no grains or dairy. “I tried it because I was cross fitting for a year and getting fitter, my endurance was better, my maximum lift was getting better. I was putting on muscle, but my weight wasn’t changing.”He tried the meal plan for 30 days and lost body fat. “It came off like crazy.” Kacik’s weight at the start: 215. Two weeks into the challenge he was down to 195. One month later, he was 188 with 14 percent body fat.”Just by reducing grains I lost 10 pounds.” And it kept coming off.During the month on the diet, his Cross Fit workout didn’t changed much. It was the diet that took the fat off, and he felt leaner with 13 percent body fat.A typical breakfast is a mushroom omelet with a side elk sausage and chopped tomatoes. No cheese. No wheat. One dinner that follows Paleo is tacos, and instead of a shell he wraps the taco in lettuce. He believes that he gets many benefits from eating 85 percent Paleo, “I don’t really need a cheat day. When my family goes on vacation, I might eat some fabulous aged cheese. I haven’t had pizza in a long time and thought about adding it in every few weeks but haven’t done yet. I’ve tried gluten free pizza without cheese, but why bother.” Kacik’s Paleo recommendation:Read Robb Wolf’s book “The Paleo Solution” and visit his website. It lays out the plan using simple terms and goes into the science but doesn’t overwhelm with details. Try the diet for 30 days and be strict for 30 days. Some people try it, and it doesn’t work. The diet might just make you feel better although diet is a tough way to think of things. Woolfe calls it a solution.Kacik’s CrossFit recommendation:The Grand Park Community Recreation Center has Cross Fit information and apparatus on Functional Alley. Kettle bells, wall balls, Olympic lifting bar, and boxes. A 7- to 12-minute workout is a good place to start. Warm-up, practice air squats, then sit-ups and push-ups. One simple exercise to try: 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 15 air squats, for 5 minutes. “When you do quality work in the fastest time you can, see where it puts you,” Kacik said. “Record your results. After a month, try it again and see if you are faster.”What’s next? Coaching.Kacik is taking courses to become a CrossFit coach. He has been coaching some of his son’s Middle School classmates with a 12-week program. His program was held three days a week for 1 hour a day starting with a mile run. Then, a 40-yard dash, push-ups, squats, and sit-ups. Eleven kids completed the program. At the end of the program, all were tested and everyone increased their work capacity. “Jake, my son, went from a 10-minute mile to 7-minute mile,” he said. “All the kids pushed past their limits.”The community of CrossFit is supportive and everyone has their own diet, Kacik said. “We share recipes and work hard together. It’s about health, wellness, and being fit. It’s important to push yourself to fitness. If you can keep yourself on the continuum, and stay in basic wellness, when stressors hit you, you are OK.”
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