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Photo by: Tim Freed - The number of CrossFit gyms has grown rapidly across Central Florida, but a study by a physical therapy professor has raised eyebrows over some of the gym's practices.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 5 years ago

CrossFit opens in Winter Park

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Controversy over CrossFit
by: Tim Freed Managing Editor

A new CrossFit location opened in Winter Park in early October – bringing the city along on a nationwide trend with the renowned fitness program. But it may be bringing some controversy with it.

The new gym opened its doors to group classes and individual lessons targeted at fitness and specific sports, but before that even happened CrossFit Winter Park co-owner and coach Jack Eisenhut said that at least 50 members had already signed up.

“I believe there’s a need for functional fitness for people of all ages,” Eisenhut said. “By bringing it to the city of Winter Park, we’ll be able to capture that whole entire group of people, whether they’re 10 years old or 70 years old.”

The chain of gym franchises has exploded across the country in the past few years, rapidly expanding through Orange and Seminole County. Near Oviedo there are three locations within a few miles. In Casselberry there are three within a short jog of each other.

Winter Park’s new gym will have an unusual walk-in tube called a cryosauna that allows members to heal from muscle soreness after a day of working out.

The machine gently surrounds members with a nitrogen mist and drops their skin temperature down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes. Receptors in the skin send signals to the brain to produce collagen, a natural protein that forms connective tissue and promotes healing.

The new gym at 125 W. Fairbanks Avenue will be the first out of more than 7,000 CrossFit locations to include a cryosauna in their facility.

“It’s pretty new technology in the U.S.; they’re not as widely used here as in Europe,” said co-owner and coach Stephanie Nickitas, pointing out that there are only four in the state of Florida “It’s great for athletes in terms of rest and recovery, joint issues and muscle soreness.”

But recent accounts show that muscle soreness in CrossFit members can indicate a deadly disorder. An article on Medium.com written by physical therapy professor Eric Robertson of Regis University shows that the intensity of the program can cause Rhabdomyolysis, a condition where damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down due to excessive working out.

Sarah Matthews, a former CrossFit member from Boston, reported that she developed the condition after only one class back in January. The heavy workout session left her arms sore and swollen for a whole week, forcing her to make a trip to the hospital where doctors found a high level of creatine kinase, an enzyme caused by working out that can cause kidney damage in excessive amounts.

She received treatment, but wrote in her blog Blonde Bostonian that she’s finished with CrossFit.

“Am I completely turned off from CrossFit? A little bit,” Matthews wrote. “Am I going to be more careful about pushing myself to the point of failure in the future? Abso-friggin’-lutely”.

“Shouldn’t the instructors encourage people to not push themselves to absolute failure in CrossFit?”

Eisenhut assured that safety means everything to CrossFit and that coaches will be stationed throughout the gym to make sure members are pacing themselves.

“One of the most important things to us is safety in our gym, and as long as you’ve got coaches that know what they’re doing and they take safety very seriously you can prevent that from happening,” Eisenhut said.

“We’re not going to allow people to do more than what they can do.”

CrossFit Winter Park will offer a variety of clubs in addition to group and individual classes. A barbell club and an endurance club give locals a chance to work on a specific skillset and sharpen it.

“If you’ve never lifted weight in your life or even if it’s an elite athlete looking for an extra edge, they’ll be able to find a home to train at CrossFit Winter Park,” Eisenhut said.

CrossFit Winter Park will have a grand opening celebration 90 days after the soft opening.

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