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Firebreathers are most likely reading this while jogging to their local box for a WOD. They’ll probably arrive early and finish first. For everyone else, be sure not to get dubbed “Pukie the Clown” after too many burpees.

Say what?

Established in 2000 by Greg Glassman, CrossFit is known as much for its colorful lingo and competitive yet familial atmosphere as it is for its unapologetically intense workouts combining gymnastics, weightlifting, sprinting and more. Since its inception, the worldwide phenomenon has gained cult-like status among fitness fanatics looking to break free from the routine of big box, or what CrossFitters call “Globo,” gyms.

“The secret sauce is intensity, but everyone can do it because it’s scalable,” said CrossFit Garage ( co-owner Andy McCann. “It’s coach led, and the coach imparts knowledge to help you excel. Plus, you start competing with the people around you, and there’s no better way to improve than to compete. CrossFit is not for crazy people. It’s for people who want to be fit.”

At CrossFit, gone are the standard workout machines (which isolate muscle groups and don’t use fine twitch muscles, according to McCann). In their place are a variety of short workouts (between two and 40 minutes) designed to help participants achieve general fitness rather than specific athletic expertise. “We’re building complete fitness,” McCann said. “There are 10 fitness tenets, and we hit all of them.”

Those 10 tenets include endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy—all physical characteristics anyone can perform and improve upon based on their starting level.

Enter Canton resident, wife and mother of two Kelley Rhinehart. “We went to this little gym where the owner was CrossFit certified,” she said. “We’d never heard of it, but we tried it and fell in love. I was in this stagnant fitness routine, and CrossFit was completely different.”

Now a two-year veteran who can often be found at CrossFit 140 in Canton, Rhinehart enjoys CrossFit with her husband and three-year-old son. In fact, she didn’t stop heading to the box until two days before her newest addition was born. “I did a lot of research and listened to my body, but I did CrossFit the whole time I was pregnant,” she said. “It’s so motivating and uplifting because everyone cheers you on. It’s the love of the game and competition, but it’s a second family, so it’s friendly and fun. We already bought my son his first WOD toys he keeps at the gym.”

From toddlers to expectant moms or any average Joe, CrossFit offers an unparalleled network of friends, fun and fitness sure to have you in the best shape of your life. Now, get out there and tackle the filthy fifty in time for The Games!

CrossFit Lingo 101

Firebreather: Athletes who finish first and then cheer on everyone else—even on the toughest workouts.

Box: A barebones gym with all the CrossFit equipment you could ever need.

WOD: Workout of the day.

Pukie the Clown: An unofficial mascot who needs no explanation.

Burpee: Starting from standing, bend down, move into plank position and do a push-up before jumping back up and clapping hands over head.

Filthy Fifty: 50 box jumps, jumping pull-ups, Kettlebell swings, walking lunges, knees to elbows, push presses, back extensions, wallballs, burpees and double unders. Yep, 50 of each!

The CrossFit Games: Each summer, the best of the best compete for the title of World’s Fittest Man and Woman.

*Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Cherokee Life Magazine.

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