When you walk through the doors at Geaux CrossFit, you can expect to leave with two things: spent muscles and a new outlook on life.
“It’s a very supportive environment,” co-owner Amber Leonard said. “You’ll see people gathered around the last person to finish, cheering them on. If not, it’s because we’re out of breath ourselves.”
Leonard was a high school athlete, and co-owner Johnny Blount was in the Navy.
The chance to use their natural competitive spirits to get them in better shape had appeal, and that’s one kind of CrossFitter.
“We have people like Austin (Thomas), who are just genetically gifted. They’re natural athletes, and they’re doing the more advanced versions of the exercises listed in the WOD,” she said. WOD stands for Workout of the Day, the base on which CrossFit is built.
But, she said, those natural athletes make up a very small percentage of their clientele.
“Ninety percent of the people who walk in those doors are normal, everyday people. They want to lose weight or just get healthy. Some people are recovering from injuries and want to maintain or regain fitness. If you put in the time, we can get you there. We have so many success stories,” she said.
The workout changes every day, Leonard said, and is always functional.
Some exercises will be familiar to former football players, she said, but there will also be elements of gymnastics, weight-lifting, running and yoga built in.
“We take a little bit from everything,” she said.
That will keep people both challenged and motivated.
“One person may be better at the exercises that require strength, but may be very weak when it comes to flexibility. We try to work on everything with the goal of getting everyone more fit.”
Blount and Leonard started the CrossFit gym five years ago, and said it has become more of a lifestyle than a “sport.”
“It’s more about getting stronger and proving to yourself what you are capable of,” Leonard said.
Every fitness level is welcome, however, Blount said.
“We offer a free intro workout, so people can come see what it feels like,” he said.
And, when asked to describe it, he said, “It feels like death,” laughing, but only half-joking. “It’s hard for everybody. It should be hard. To get more fit, it needs to be,” he said, but adds that’s the beauty of CrossFit to him.
Every move has progressive modifications that take you from zero to advanced, he said.
“I’ve had people call and ask me what they need to do to get in shape so they can join CrossFit. I say, ‘Come to CrossFit.’ There are a lot of misconceptions about what we do here, and a big one is that you have to be in shape. You don’t. We can start you where you are. It’s almost like having a personal trainer — the workout is always tailored to your level,” Leonard said.
Sarah Balladares, who teaches some introductory classes, said she gets odd looks when newcomers, especially women, see push-ups or pull-ups, “especially pull-ups. It’s either disbelief or fear,” she said. “But anyone can work up to it.”
While classes last about an hour, Blount said, generally only about 8 minutes of that is the workout.
“The rest of the time we’re either warming up, cooling down or working on skills,” he said, to perfect form so each student gets the most out of the workout.
“And we try to be community-oriented,” Blount said. “It’s all about having fun and getting fit.”
Geaux CrossFit is one of many CrossFit locations in the Baton Rouge area.