By Burton Speakman
Students arrive for class each day not knowing what to expect; they might be doing Olympic lifts, using medicine balls, sprinting or even flipping giant tires.
However, the variance and different types of workouts are what make CrossFit work, according to Jason Jannetti, owner of Reaction Defense + CrossFit at 4435 Boardman-Canfield Road in Canfield.
The fitness facility still is being renovated, yet much of the facility is done. The issue remains that most of the facility resembles an empty warehouse because for CrossFit, equipment is put away unless people are using it, Jannetti said.
The goal is to have open areas so people can do activities, he said. The current renovations are occurring outside.
“We’re having the parking lot repaved so we can work out outside,” Jannetti said.
Jannetti started with a small facility in downtown Youngstown where he would teach classes in the Israeli martial art Krav Maga.
Jannetti’s interest in Krav Maga came from watching his brother participate in an event in Columbus. The business has grown despite Janetti’s lack of interest in the business side of the operation.
“I don’t like the business part of it, being cooped up in the office. I prefer to be out here helping people,” Jannetti said.
Brandy Russo of Struthers said she had been coming to Reaction since it opened downtown. She started with Krav Maga and added CrossFit.
“It’s consistently challenging,” she said.
The workouts are like building blocks, Russo said. Despite being athletic her entire life, Krav Maga and CrossFit have changed the way her body feels.
Before starting with CrossFit, Michele Fletcher had been a runner and hadn’t really spent time lifting weights, she said.
While she thought the Olympic lifts such as clean, deadlift and snatch were intimidating at first, Fletcher said she was quickly able to learn the form. Now those are her favorite exercises.
“This is something that is for absolutely everybody,” she said.
The hardest part of CrossFit involves the pull-ups and other exercises that involve using your arms to lift body weight, Fletcher said. “For women, we don’t naturally have a lot of upper-body strength,” she said.
Before taking a CrossFit class, potential students are put into a starter group so they can learn the proper forms and techniques, Jannetti said.
“There’s a program for everybody; it can make anyone a better athlete,” he said. “You don’t have to be a superstar athlete.”
While the combination of martial arts and CrossFit isn’t common, there are benefits to doing them together. Krav Maga and CrossFit work well together because one helps with strength and conditioning for the other, he said.
The exercises have to be varied so no one muscle group is overworked, Jannetti said. The focus isn’t about getting people to compete with one another, but to set their own personal records.
The facility has 10 to 12 classes each day and also has open time when people can come in and do extra work.
CrossFit is not a exercise program that comes without controversy.
Some of the backlash is based on operators who just take people’s money and then don’t provide them with any coaching, Jannetti said.
People who go to those types of facilities could end up getting hurt, he said.
He thinks much of the controversy surrounding the workouts relates to people who have had bad experiences, he said.
There are those who mistakenly think because of those experiences anyone who does CrossFit will get hurt, Jannetti said.
“There are a lot of movements in CrossFit that aren’t that different from the movements you’d see in a rehabilitation facility,” Jannetti said. “They’re designed to use multiple joints and are movements the body is already built to do.”
People who go through the program have more energy, and you can see the difference in their body, he said.
Russo said one of her favorite aspects is the sense of community among the people in her class.
Everyone encourages each other to get better, she said.
A sense of community is common among CrossFit participants, Jannetti said.
“If someone is out for a day or two, someone will call to check up on them,” he said.