In 2013, Forbes Magazine reported there were 6,000 CrossFit affiliated gyms worldwide. Bikram’s Yoga College lists thousands of Bikram studios from Africa to Australia. With about 9 CrossFit gyms and at least four hot yoga studios across Cobb County, there is no shortage of individuals aiming to get in shape physically and mentally.
What is CrossFit?
According the co-owners of CrossFit Marietta, located on Liberty Road just off Canton Road in Marietta, CrossFit is ultimately a belief in fitness.
“CrossFit is the sport of fitness. People who didn’t have a connection with one specific sport are often drawn to do CrossFit,” said Leah Cozzo, trainer and one of the owners. “CrossFit is functional movement. You can translate anything we do in here to something functional in your everyday life.”
Classes run every hour, Monday through Friday 6 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday 8 to 11 a.m.
CrossFit is a group training workout, with each group composed of 5 to 10 members and led by a coach. Workouts include an active warm up, which typically involves skills training, followed by weight lifting using objects ranging from PVC pipes, to tires, to 45 pound balls and metabolic conditioning — nicknamed “met-con”— which is the cardio aspect of the workout.
CrossFit Marietta has about 70 members ranging in age from about 14 to 52. The primary age group is from 25 to 35, with people of all backgrounds, athletic or not, who participate regularly. Their membership varies from former football players, to runners, to people who have never formally exercised.
“Everything is scalable to each person,” Cozzo said.
“Don’t be intimidated, said Casey Meehan, co-owner of CrossFit Marietta. “We are like a big family that works out together. No one is going to make you feel like you are out of place,” he said.
“It is motivation to me. You learn new things all the time. Community is an aspect. No matter which gym you go to, you seem to make a new friend,” said Edward Carroll, the third owner of CrossFit Marietta.
Cozzo, 31, of Smyrna, Carroll, 35, and Meehan, 31, both of Marietta, work together to operate one of Cobb’s leading CrossFit gyms.
All three owners have full-time careers, but say their love of fitness inspired them to open their own gym.
Cozzo hails from a dance background and works as a physical therapist at NeuroSport on Johnson Ferry Road, a privately owned outpatient physical therapy practice. She got involved with CrossFit in 2007. Her husband also owns CrossFit Smyrna.
Meehan played baseball at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, but a knee injury left him looking for a different type of workout. Meehan said he chose CrossFit because “it’s personal training in a small group.”
With individual training sessions costing hundreds of dollars at other gyms, Meehan said he was drawn to the sport for its competitive nature, but also the cost benefit of so much one-on-one attention.
In 2011, Carroll, who owns Stone Creek Landscaping in Marietta, planned to attend CrossFit classes for three months, “but once I started coming,” Carroll said, “I became pretty hooked to it. I started lifting weights I lifted in my 20’s.”
“You can’t not like it,” Meehan said, “even if you hate working out, you can come here and socialize and get something out of it.”
The trio cited CrossFit Marietta’s community feel as a reason people keep coming back.
Meehan and Carroll said they both enjoy that the sport allows participants to be competitive, be it a friendly competition with other members or at the annual CrossFit Games in California.
“It pulls the competitive nature out of people. When we get to 31, 35, we aren’t going to be participating in a lot of real (sports), like football. So this is really our only competitive outlet,” Meehan said.
“Someone is pushing you through the entire workout, even if you finish last. It’s motivation on a daily basis,” Carroll said.
Cozzo said with big name companies such as Reebok sponsoring CrossFit and ESPN 2 airing the CrossFit Games, the sport has become a brand.
CrossFit Marietta Lead Coach Payne Underwood, 23, of Kennesaw has been coaching CrossFit for two years and is a Certified Level 1 trainer. During his workouts, he focuses on endurance, gymnastics, strength training and mobility.
During his high school years, he wrestled for South Cobb High School. He started working out at LA Fitness, but easily became bored with the traditional gym atmosphere. But the work ethic of his high school wrestling days led him to CrossFit.
“CrossFit became my thing,” Underwood said.
“I honestly don’t think CrossFit is going anywhere just because it’s made such a big impact on the fitness community,” he continued. “I’ve heard high schools are using it for training purposes for their students. College athletes are getting into it to help them improve. It’s here.”