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What is CrossFit? A HPER Grad Explains.

Cary Hair, a recent HPER graduate has an immense professional background in exercise science and fitness.  After working as a Program Assistant for the Fitness/Wellness program at Indiana University while receiving his Master’s he accepted a position at the University of Houston-Clear Lake as the Coordinator of Health, Wellness, & Recreation.  Cary recently began working for CrossFit.

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What is your educational and professional background?

I have a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Evansville, a M.S. in Recreational Sports Administration from Indiana University, and possess 8+ years of experience in fitness, strength and conditioning, special events, personal training, recreational sports, etc.

What role do you currently hold with CrossFit?

Special Events Media Liaison – This position requires me to filter information through appropriate media channels to our audiences (spectators, athletes, vendors, etc.) for our various special events. Additionally, I handle incoming requests for Hero WODS (Workout of the Day) and home gym video submissions.

How does CrossFit differ from tradition weightlifting and exercising?

(Response taken from journal.crossfit.com)

CrossFit is a core strength and conditioning program that attempts to optimize physical competence in each of ten recognized fitness domains – Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy. 

The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, firefighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess.

Aside from the breadth or totality of fitness the CrossFit Program seeks, our program is distinctive, if not unique in its focus on developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and practice with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies.  Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways.

We train our athletes in gymnastics from basic to advanced movements aimed at increasing body control while maximizing strength to weight ratio and flexibility. We also place a heavy emphasis on Olympic Weightlifting having seen the sport’s unique ability to develop an athletes’ explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery of critical motor recruitment patterns. Finally, we encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.

What opportunities are present/do you foresee for CrossFit to continue to grow and expand?

Last year we signed a 10-year contract with Reebok, who has since created an entire brand focused on CrossFit, Reebok-CrossFit. Additionally, the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games were aired on ESPN3 during the weekend that they took place (July 29-31).  Currently, the Games are being compiled into 12 episodes, which are airing on ESPN2 on Wednesday evenings. This will put CrossFit into millions of homes and potentially lead to increased participation at local affiliates.

 The base of our international competition starts with The Open, which is “open” to anyone for a  $10 fee and can be completed anywhere (at your home gym, garage, backyard, etc.). Last year we had over 26,000 people participate. I personally think that number will be much higher next year. The sky is the limit.

How can students get involved with CrossFit both locally in Bloomington and at a national level?

I started “CrossFitting” during my two years in Bloomington, working on my Master’s Degree. At that time, there were no local affiliates, so a few others and myself strategically used the HPER and SRSC facilities to perform workouts that made the most of the equipment provided. Additionally, we would go to parks and other outdoor areas and utilize our surroundings for workouts.

Getting involved at the local level is usually the easiest and best way to get started. There are now at least two facilities in the area (crossfitbloomington.com, hoosiercrossfit.com) and several in and around Indianapolis. In my experience, opportunities exist for those interested in coaching, programming (fitness routines, special events, competitions, etc), and facility management. CrossFit is about enhancing community at its core. Thus there are unlimited options to be involved. Take pictures, help others, organize events, make videos, create a club on campus, talk with friends, etc. Each of these will reach different people and help spread the word about a fitness movement that has positively impacted hundreds of thousands of people.

Are there currently internships or professional opportunities within CrossFit for students looking to gain practical and “real life” experience?

I’m not aware of an official internship program offered by CrossFit, but I truly believe the possibilities are endless for anyone who is highly motivated and understands the mission of the program. We are passionate about many things at CrossFit, but our focus is always on improving human movement, building a community, and making people better in multiple facets. This is at the foundation of all that we do.

We are an ever-expanding company that loves volunteers and people eager to help. If you have the drive, you’ll find a way to succeed. To use myself as an example, I worked for the Fitness/Wellness program at IU in 2009 and wanted to develop a CrossFit program for the department, however this idea was quickly shot down. After leaving IU, I continued to educate myself on CrossFit methodologies and concepts. Soon after, I was working in a collegiate recreation department running CrossFit workouts for my clientele. Fast-forward 18 months and I am now employed by CrossFit HQ and training at the first CrossFit gym ever (CrossFit Santa Cruz) – there are now more than 3,000.

What advice would you give to a student looking to get into the fitness and wellness industry?

Great question. Let’s start with know what you know and know what you don’t know. This applies to life as well, but it certainly fits within this scope. Don’t get into it for the money, because you’ll have to sell your soul to make it in a traditional gym.

Never stop learning. There is always more to learn. CrossFit is a fitness revolution, find someone who knows more than you and ask that person a million questions. Once you have learned what you can from that person, move on to someone else and repeat this process.

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For more on CrossFit events, opportunities, and workouts visit CrossFit.com

Also, for daily updates and stories pertaining to CrossFit follow @crossfitjournal

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