Fulton’s first CrossFit gym opens on Bluff Street

Brad Vickers, trainer and owner at the new Bluff Street Cross Fit, leads a class through an exercise called burpees Wednesday night.

Brad Vickers, trainer and owner at the new Bluff Street Cross Fit, leads a class through an exercise called burpees Wednesday night. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

Seventeen people stand in a circle, some of them bouncing back and forth, some dancing in place, some just bracing for what is to come, all of them panting and sweating.

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Bluff Street CrossFit owner and trainer Brad Vickers explains the CrossFit philosophy to a group of newcomers Tuesday night.

Every time Andre 3000 belts out “hey ya!” — around 24 times in just under 4 minutes — they drop and do a burpee.

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Bluff Street CrossFit members stretch before their WOD (Workout of the Day) Tuesday night.

And that’s just the warm up. The real workout begins a few minutes later as they are split into two groups to perform the WOD (Workout of the Day): Eight-minute AMRAP [As Many Reps (or Rounds) As Possible] of 15 box jumps, 15 air squats and 10 burpees.

Group members run the gamut of ages and fitness levels, and their movements don’t all look exactly the same — some are doing modified versions such as stepping up and then off of the box rather than jumping — but they are all doing it while the waiting group claps and cheers them on.

It is that picture — of men and women, older and younger, overweight and well-muscled all sweating side by side — and the camaraderie that results that owners of the new Bluff Street CrossFit in Fulton say make CrossFit such a popular fitness movement.

“Something often overlooked with CrossFit is the community — it’s a very encouraging, uplifting atmosphere,” said co-owner and trainer Brad Vickers.

Another thing he said sets CrossFit apart is the diversity of its workouts, which change daily, featuring everything from push ups, lunges and kettle bell swings to weight lifting exercises such as jerks, snatches and presses.

“(Working out) is a lot more fun when you don’t do a routine where you know what you’re coming into Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” Vickers said. “There are always new achievements.”

Gretchen Walker of Auxvasse, who has been coming almost every night during the gym’s cold open over the past month said that is one of the things she likes best about CrossFit.

“It’s a really intense, great workout and it’s constantly changing,” Walker said. “It keeps you excited and wanting to come back.”

Fitness for everyone

For those who are intimidated at the thought of repeated circuits of burpees, squats, lunges and weight lifting, Vickers said several times that “every movement we do is scalable to a degree.”

“As an example we had a girl with MS (multiple sclerosis) in here last weekend, and we scaled it down to her ability,” Vickers said. “Whether it’s a pull up, a jumping pull up or a ring row, we can find a movement to get you up to the next level.”

John Ellermann of Fulton, who has attended eight classes so far, said he enjoys that flexibility.

“It’s a really high-intensity workout in a short period of time, but you also go at your own level — there’s no standard you have to meet, it’s what you can do,” Ellermann said.

Co-owner and trainer Andy Coldiron said he got into CrossFit after years of being a marathon runner because he liked what he got out of the workouts.

“Just after the first few weeks what you feel like, and after the first few months what you’re able to do, it’s unbelievable,” Coldiron said. “Six months in I was able to do 50 pull ups in a few minutes — I haven’t been able to do that for 16, 17 years.”

Coldiron said he also was attracted to “the environment” of CrossFit.

“The community, that’s the main thing,” he said.

Many of the clients who have been joining in the nightly workouts said that was the primary draw for them as well.

“You walk in and we’re all total strangers, but we all have a bond — it’s all about doing the best you can do and being there for everybody else,” said Margie Coatney of Fulton.”Come in and experience the feeling of everybody being accepted no matter their age and fitness level.”

Mandy Moore of Fulton said she also likes the supportive atmosphere.

“It’s a lot of fun. You kind of feel like we’re all family, and it’s a good workout,” Moore said. “It’s a different workout every day, and our trainer is amazing — he’s become a great friend.”

The details

Bluff Street CrossFit, located at 721 Bluff Street in the old Movie Gallery location, will have hour-long classes at 4:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. until May, at which point they will add morning and noon classes. There also will be free introductory classes at 11 a.m. on Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. There will be a certified trainer in attendance during all classes. Child care is available.

For more information, contact Coldiron at (573) 590-0304 or visit their website, www.bluffstreetcrossfit.com.

Coldiron said Bluff Street CrossFit already has been well-received within the community, with as many as 40-60 people showing up each night to participate in the WOD.

Vickers said that level of interest has been the best part about getting the gym going.

“The positive feedback I’m getting from people going through,” he said when asked what he is most excited about. “People are getting excited about being involved in fitness.”

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