Those of us who live in Colorado are passionate about our physical activity—everything from hiking to cycling to ultramarathoning. It’s that hard-core attitude that has cultivated a rich environment for CrossFit, a popular—and controversial—fitness program founded in 2000 that’s designed to improve an individual’s overall athletic ability through a mix of intense lifting, gymnastics, and “mono movements” (repetitive motions like running, biking, and swimming). “People get results from CrossFit they don’t get from big-box gyms,” says Ryan Anderson, owner of CrossFit LoDo (crossfitlodo.com).
Those results have lured legions of diehard fans to more than 6,500 gyms worldwide, including more than 160 here in Colorado (only five states have more affiliates). CrossFit’s disciples swear by it, but the program is not for everyone. CrossFit’s competitive environment and relentless pace can be daunting for the unfamiliar and easily burn out the uncommitted. It’s also a comparably spendy way to break a sweat at approximately $100 to $160 per month. “The personality that tends to stick with it is the type A,” Anderson says. So, how do you ease your way into the high-intensity workout craze without having to commit to—and pay for—CrossFit? Try one of these alternative workouts first:
A 30-minute HIIT class often incorporates Tabata, a four-minute interval sequence of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off. Proponents of HIIT claim the method burns fat more effectively and in much less time than traditional cardio programs. Instead of heavy weightlifting à la CrossFit, HIIT classes use mostly body weight through a series of push-ups, squat jumps, and quick-feet maneuvers. $74–$89/month; lohiathleticclub.com
During this 60-minute class (found at all seven of the metro area locations), heart rate monitors track physical exertion levels and publish them on a large screen using color-coded zones. This allows people of different fitness levels to challenge themselves—from green (base pace) to red (high effort). Treadmills, rowing machines, and basic weightlifting intervals are part of the workouts. $59–$159/month; orangetheoryfitness.com
It sounds like CrossFit—high-intensity workouts in a competitive environment—but owner Courtney Samuel, a former North Dakota State football player (and onetime New Orleans Saints draftee), has incorporated nuances such as speed work from his experiences with college and pro athletic training. BBP also avoids burnout by offering supplemental classes like boot camps, kickboxing, yoga, and personal training. $55–$70/month; mybbp.com