The Real Chicago sat down with Cheston Bogue of Windy City Crossfit to discuss the nationwide Crossfit craze, having accountability in your workouts, and how many pull-ups he’s seen a mother of three do
By Trent Modglin
A: First of all, as a training program, it works. Constantly varied, functional movements executed safely at a high intensity, along with a high-quality diet, is hands down the most effective way to positively change your body. If done correctly, the results are quickly noticeable. Secondly, with social media we are seeing real-life and real-time testimonials of everyday people we know accomplishing amazing things with Crossfit. It’s not another late-night infomercial with some celebrity selling us a new gimmick. These are our friends and co-workers who are transforming themselves from being out of shape and sedentary to lean and able to move hundreds of pounds of weight with ease. And because these results happen over a relatively short period, it’s hard not to be intrigued. The training and workouts are also really tough, so those who participate are rightfully proud of their accomplishments. Hence the constant excited talk about Crossfit and the clogging of your Facebook newsfeed. For many of our members, simply finishing a Crossfit WOD (workout of the day) can be the highlight of their day.
Q: What specifically makes Crossfit different than a normal workout at the gym or even those intense training videos you see on TV?
A: When you walk into a Crossfit box (our word for gym), the first thing you should notice is the absence of machines. We are the machine. Most of the work we do is with barbells, kettlebells and our own bodyweight. There is an authenticity to this style of training. In Crossfit, we refer to it as functional movement (movements that are analogous to experiences we have in real life). It makes sense and gives purpose to what we do at the box. At Windy City Crossfit, you are also being coached every day you show up. There is a certain dynamic and accountability between the coach and athlete, where both parties put just a little more effort into the task at hand than we would if it was simply for our own sake. Finally, we work out in groups, so our peers actually help keep an eye on each other, and the workouts end up becoming a little more safe and honest than if we worked out on our own.
Q: One thing I’ve noticed is that there seems to be a sense of community among those involved with Crossfit.
A: Absolutely agree. A huge part of your success in any fitness program is developing a system of accountability. The community at Windy City Crossfit is that accountability. Yes, going to a Crossfit box is highly social. But rather than distracting us from our workouts, the social component enhances it. Since the workouts can be physically and mentally demanding, our community bonds tightly over the sweat we share. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments and personal victories. The athlete who gets their first pull-up is celebrated just as loudly as the athlete who did 50 in a row. These friendships and bonds also carry over into life outside of the box. I’ve seen some amazing instances at WCCF of our community pulling together in tough times and going far above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen working in a conventional gym.
Q: Can you give us a fun success story you know of personally?
A: Success in Crossfit can mean many things. Pretty much all of our members accomplish something while at WCCF. Since Crossfit training by nature is constantly varied and doesn’t focus on one particular domain, we are always adapting and improving ourselves as athletes. Aside from members losing upwards of 50 pounds, I’ve witnessed a computer programmer lift three times his body weight (over 500 pounds) from the ground, a 40-year-old concert violinist and mother of two string together 35 consecutive pull-ups, as well as another 40-year-old mother of three become the first woman to finish a continuous 50-hour Navy Seal-run boot camp.
Q: What should someone be prepared for when they walk through your doors for the first time?
A: I would recommend coming in with a humble and open mind. Crossfit from the exterior may seem too intense and out of reach for many people, but that would be the furthest from the truth. Every exercise and movement we do can be modified to your ability level. Our oldest member at WCCF is in her 70s, and we have professional athletes who have competed internationally. Some movements, such as the Olympic lifts, are technically challenging. Be prepared to feel a little awkward with some of these moves. Just always keep in mind that EVERYONE working out with you started in the same place (even your coaches), and that you are 100 percent in the best place to improve yourself.
Windy City Crossfit is located at 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave. (Suite 106) in Lakeview. Visit www.windycitycrossfit.com for more information.