CrossFit Camas no longer just a garage gym

An abandoned coffee shop, an open parking lot and a little creativity can go a long ways

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CrossFit combines the movements of standing up, running, jumping, picking up objects from the ground, lifting them overhead, throwing them, pulling, pushing and more into unique workouts with endless variety.

Athletes push themselves to new limits utilizing these methods in garages, barns and abandoned buildings around the world. There are no stationary weight machines, treadmills or elipticals, just a bar and some dumbells, benches, kettlebells, jump ropes and a C2 rower.

During one session, an athlete might be asked to row for 500 meters, swing a kettlebell 25 times and then run for 400 meters in timed intervals. The next day, the work out changes but it’s just as demanding.

“One of these elements is not that bad, it’s when you loop them all into one workout that you see the results,” said Rob McBee, who co-owns CrossFit Camas with friend Ken Broadbent.

“Once you get people outside of their comfort zone, it’s a fight within themselves not to quit,” McBee said. “That’s where breakthroughs happen. If you can survive this, you can handle whatever adversity life throws at you.”

When McBee moved his CrossFit center out of the garage of his Camas home and into a new location with more space, he had a simple message for the people he trains. “Thank you all so much for your belief in our project when we were just a garage gym and for recognizing that how you train and who you train alongside is more important than where.”

On April 5, the new CrossFit Camas opened at HiddenBrook Terrace. The address is 19005 S.E. 34th St., Ste. 106. A free intrductory session is offered by calling 448-3446. Membership fees are $120 for 10 sessions, or $150 a month for unlimited training.

Although the facility no longer resembles a dungeon, McBee has never forgotten those humble beginnings.

“This all started as a garage phenomenon. That spirit is still there,” he said. “We haven’t toned down the workouts just because the facility has gotten nicer. When you see people in here pushing hard, it is going to make you want to push harder. Sort of like misery loves company.”

The people who train at CrossFit Camas are excited about the expansion, but sometimes they miss the old garage.

“Even though it was a garage and it was small, it felt like home,” said Joel Shega of Camas. “Like any new place, it takes time to get comfortable. Not only have we progressed by coming here, it’s nice to see Rob’s facility progressing. He has done so much for us.”

Shega, 34, joined CrossFit about 14 months ago.

“When I started, I weighed 210 pounds. I was so out of shape, I could only play with my kids for about 10 minutes,” he said. “I lost 35 pounds in 14 months, and I feel more energized than ever.”

Ben Schmaltz, a 28-year-old from Camas, and fiancee Adrienne Edgely, 24, have been CrossFit training together.

“I’ve never felt better doing an activity in such a short amount of time,” Edgely said. “For me, it makes me feel more alive.”

“You’re always finding new levels in yourself,” Schmaltz said. “When your muscles hurt, you feel older. CrossFit takes all those weaknesses you have, throws them all into one workout and turns them into strengths.

“You really are building the best all-around athlete,” he added. “I’ve lost 40 pounds by doing this. It’s not something I planned on, I was just looking for something that would add longevity to my life.”

Lance Nakosone, a 38-year-old from Camas, also feels reborn.

“I had high blood pressure. I was 37, but my doctor told me I had the insides of a 43-year-old,” Nakosone said. “After doing CrossFit for about 14 months, I dropped from 205 to 178 pounds. I’m 38 now, and my doctor said I have the insides of a 32-year-old. That’s a big difference.”

CrossFit is gaining in popularity as a sport. From July 16 to 18, the 2010 CrossFit Games comes to the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The top 50 men and women from 13 different regions around the world compete in a variety of different workouts. Each year, the workouts change. Details on them are not announced until a few days before the event.

“It’s no longer just a workout method, it’s a sport,” McBee said. “The first CrossFit Games was held at a ranch in some California town nobody had heard of before. Four years later, it’s at the Home Depot Center. I see these games rivaling the Olympics someday.”

Polly Bobseine represented Camas at the 2009 CrossFit Games. She finished ranked in the top 25 for women.

Back home in Camas, McBee remains humble to his CrossFit roots.

“As long as people working out here are having fun and getting results, I’ll take it one day at a time,” he said.