Fulton CrossFit using “community workouts” to spread word

Sun pours in through the windows and rock music bounces off the walls of an empty Fulton CrossFit on Saturday morning.

Soon, though, the voices of individuals and families looking for a vigorous workout join the guitar riffs, drum beats and sunshine that’s already present.

At the front of the room is Kara Bustrum, co-owner of the gym with her husband, Alex, who is home sick this morning.

The Bustrums opened Fulton CrossFit earlier this month and plan to offer these free community workouts 1-2 times a month. It’s a way of getting the word out about their operation, but it also serves to give the uninitiated a sample of what they can expect from a CrossFit workout.

“It’s bringing something that’ll help people live well, which is what we’re all about,” Bustrum said.

The words, “Work Hard. Dream Big. Live Well.” are stenciled atop one of the walls in the building, located next to Koelling Family Chiropractic, which Bustrum’s aunt and uncle own.

After graduating from Biola University in La Mirada, California, Kara and Alex — a college lacrosse player — looked for ways to stay active. After they both dabbled in the 24-hour fitness trend and long-distance running, Alex took in a CrossFit class near where they lived at the time and was immediately hooked.

Kara soon followed suit and called the sessions — which combine Olympic weightlifting, plyometrics, gymnastics and many other disciplines — “the best workout of her life.”

After becoming regular practitioners, the Bustrums soon became certified teachers. Kara spent summers in college with her aunt and uncle in Fulton, and came to appreciate the vibe of a small town.

So when she and her husband decided they might like to set up their own CrossFit gym, they started looking here.

“I loved the small-town community, loved the culture of the Midwest,” Bustrum said. “People here are friendly and super family-oriented.”

The community workout on Saturday starts with a 400-meter run near the building. From there, groups of 3-4 people break off to split reps among three different exercises.

The first is called a “burpee.” Standing up, the person hops into a push-up position, then goes flat on their stomach. From there, the body snakes up, pops back to a standing position, then does a little hop with their hands straight up in the air. Bustrum’s instructions call for 20 of these split among team members and the exercise works the entire body, according to Joe Stachowicz, who began taking classes two weeks ago.

“The burpees get me every time, without fail,” said Stachowicz, an assistant track and field coach at William Woods. “…It’s a full-body experience and I get tired. I get gassed every time.”

Next, the team rations out 40 sit-ups with the aid of a mat to alleviate any back pain.

The routine concludes with 60 air squats. Those require you to stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, hold your arms straight out and squat to a 90-degree angle while keeping your chest out and back straight.

The exercises vary from day to day, something Stachowicz appreciates.

“You don’t have to walk in and say, ‘Well, what am I going to do today?’” he said. “…You don’t have to worry about making up the workouts yourself.”

Kara Bustrum says CrossFit exercises are all about “functional movements.” She likes to incorporate movements a person would make in their everyday life into the workouts.

The space at Fulton CrossFit has some equipment, but not the normal amount found in typical gyms. There are spots for weightlifting to help strengthen the body, but much of the workouts provided are done without heavy weights.

Bustrum alluded to lifting herself up to do work in the attic or carrying a heavy bag of dog food as efforts made easier by incorporating simple movements into her CrossFit workouts.

“You (are) your machine,” Bustrum said. “We’re going to learn how to move ourselves well because, in life, we have to move ourselves every day.”

Fulton CrossFit offers at least three classes a day, Monday through Friday. The gym also provides Masters/Limited Mobility classes three times a week for participants ages 50 and older.

Through the community workouts and friends telling friends, Bustrum hopes that word will get around about Fulton CrossFit and that classes will continue to fill up.

“A lot of people find out about it and (our) P.R. is word of mouth,” Bustrum said. “…People talk about it and we want people to come see what we’re about and see how it can make them better people and (make them) feel better.”

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