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Teamwork key to CrossFit in Connellsville

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JOHN TREMBA I FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDIA
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JOHN TREMBA I FOR TRIB TOTAL MEDI
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As soon as you enter the Snap Fitness Center in Connellsville, you sense there is something special going on. The normal gym noises, treadmills thumping, ellipticals whirring, and weights clanging, are trumped by the noises of teamwork in the CrossFit Room. Jackie Rodgers of Greensburg is the CrossFit trainer at the Connellsville Snap Fitness Gym.

“The owner of the gyms here and in Mt. Pleasant asked me to take the CrossFit position because of my lifetime of athletic competition,” Rodgers said. “I participated in track all through high school specializing in the pole vault and earned a scholarship to Kent State University. That led me to a stint as a professional touring pole vaulter based at the University of Nebraska.”

She described how the competition format led her to more and more types of sports: “I guess I am an eclectic athlete, especially after my stint on the U.S. Bobsled Team from 2007-2010.”

Rodgers is well prepared to instruct and coach the CrossFit Team in Connellsville.

“We emphasize several core themes here: Smile, stay positive and keep moving; know what you can do; strength; mobility; stamina; and agility,” she said. “Partner workouts are essential to success here.”

Shawn Nicholson of Connellsville has been working out at Snap since it opened nearly two years ago.

“I’m totally in with this CrossFit program. I wanted some more cardio work and this certainly provides all I want. The teamwork factor is my favorite. Most people work out alone with earbuds in listening to music and missing out on the team concept.”

Nicholson played golf in high school and he loves the physicality of CrossFit.

“I feel part of a family team here. Everyone helps everyone else reach goals and beyond. I have gone from 150 pounds in high school to a fit 190 now.”

He is preparing for an upcoming team competition that pits a number of CrossFit teams against one another.

Maryellen and Mike Pallow of Connellsville are a married couple who have found that working out together brought them to the CrossFit program.

“Mike works for PennDOT and I for the United Mine Workers, so both of us are free in the evening, making CrossFit ideal for us,” Maryellen Pallow said. “I think it is great we have all age groups working out here. Shawn is in his 20s; we have people in their 30s and 40s as well as a few teenagers. There is something in CrossFit is for everyone.”

She has found it intriguing that before this program she had trouble moving cases of bottled water around in her office, but now weighty objects are almost no problem at all. Mike Pallow has always worked out, but he feels the foundation of CrossFit pushes everyone on to new challenges and goal achievement.

Rodgers continued her description of CrossFit: “This is an everyday program. We have 28 participants with probably 20 on a dedicated regular schedule of five nights per week. The others are hamstrung by work shifts and travel schedules.”

Those who do dedicate to the program find something different in the workout on each meeting.

“I use Sundays to plan my lessons or WODs, workout of the day, through Wednesday then develop new and muscle shocking routines for the rest of the week,” Rodgers said. “Some weight lifters lose a little definition as they try to maintain flexibility. I suggest to them that they still do some basic weight training between classes here.”

The class goes through some gut wrenching exercises as a group. They team up on the many pull-up bars around the fitness room.

“There are four types of pull-ups tested in our competitions,” Rodgers said. “Kipping where the person swings on the bar creating momentum for the pull. There is a butterfly version and the strict straight arm pull-up. Really accomplished athletes do a muscle-up style where he or she pulls up into a handstand doing several dips before lowering and repeating.”

Camille Hunter, 13, of Scottdale feels at home among the older athletes.

“I’m quite thin and want to do better at my school sports so I thought CrossFit might be my answer. These people accepted me with no problem. I fit in well here and have made some progress.”

CrossFit began in 2000 near Seattle as both a way to work out and as a competitive basis; it has spread to 10,000 gyms around the world, including CrossFit 724, 114 Equity Drive, Hempfield; Crossfit Utown, 542 Morgantown St., Uniontown, and Crossfit Laurel Highlands, 2578 Kingview Road, Scottdale.

John Tremba is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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