Seaward CrossFit
For Chuck Bennington, founder of Seaward CrossFit, CrossFit isn’t about sport, but “wellness and longevity,” and training your body to be active longer into life. “We want this to be a program – a service – that people can get into but then retain for the rest of their life,” says Bennington, who also leads CrossFit classes within the cozy and rustic interior. While Bennington does lead supplemental classes for those looking to compete, there is no open gym and competition remains focused on time as the enemy, with CrossFitters working to better equip themselves in the battle against physical decay. A proper and strong squat form today, he says, means the ability to take that action without pain or unsteadiness later in life. “We’ve got a way to build peoples’ resilience to the aging process in the best manner possible,” says Bennington. “That allows them to live the highest quality life as long as they can.” Classes meet five times a day Monday through Friday, as well as Tuesday and Thursday for the children.

CHUCK BENNINGTON FROM SEAWARD CROSSFIT. PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.

CrossFit Gulf Coast
Out of more than 15,000 CrossFit gyms sprouting up today, CrossFit Gulf Coast stands as one of the earliest, only the 35th opened nationally, operating under the guidance of owner and head trainer Frank DiMeo, who studied under CrossFit founder Greg Glassman at the first gym in Santa Cruz, California. Operating out of a simple setup that looks like a repurposed storage unit, it ain’t pretty, but “you get the most results per square foot of anyplace in town,” says DiMeo, who has packed the space wall-to-wall with weights and bags and intimidating apparatus of all sorts, including two sleds, “The Destroyer” and “The Butcher.” A massive construction of wooden beams, ropes and chains dominates center-stage. Lovingly dubbed “The Gallows,” a wide assortment of grips from steel balls to eagle loops to gymnastic rings dangle and cross, serving as a multi-use gymnastic training ground. Not for kids, CrossFit Gulf Coast is only for those looking to push the limits. “We train people who are self-motivated,” says DiMeo. “If I need to motivate you, you’re in the wrong place.”

FRANK DIMEO FROM CROSSFIT GULF COAST. PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN

 

Real Fitness Sarasota
At Real Fitness Sarasota, the CrossFit program is designed around flexibility and self-motivation. With spacious facilities providing ample room for group or individual training, an Olympic weightlifting facility in the basement and knowledgeable coaches to train and assess, Real Fitness Sarasota provides the means, but the individual has to make it happen. The OnRamp program brings beginners into the fold with five one-on-one sessions with a coach to work on the basics, and only then can one progress to the normal classes. A self-driven program, members are given a program for each week, typically comprising three days of workout, before a group session on Saturdays. The competitive program kicks it up a notch for the committed, while the kids program and teen program, aimed at 5- to 9-year-olds and 11- to 16-year-olds respectively, provides a lighter foundation. “With CrossFit it’s a very scientific-based program,” says Matt Saeler of Real Fitness, “It’s a structured, thought-out process geared towards seeing results.”

 

CrossFit Sarasota
At either of CrossFit Sarasota’s facilities, coach Matt Wilmoth says you’ll find “anything you would need to train your body the way it’s supposed to be trained in an athletic fashion.” With airdyne bikes, rowing machines, boxes, rings and the requisite assortment of free weights, Wilmoth stands confident to meet any comer. For newcomers, the beginner’s program leads them through proper form to avoid injury. For competitive sorts, Wilmoth offers a program he calls “much more than even the most fit person would need.” And with the youngest member at 12 years old and the oldest hitting 78, age is not an issue. Adopting the belt system from martial arts training, CrossFitters mark improvement by progressing from belt to belt, creating a reward and recognition system to improve motivation. “We get to watch people constantly improve,” says Wilmoth, “and not just in the gym, but in how they function outside in life.”

 

CrossFit Lakewood Ranch
In the pristine and open-air gym at CrossFit Lakewood Ranch, it’s all about the community. A gym for the whole family, the coaches at CrossFit Lakewood Ranch offer a wide variety of programs, depending on the desire. The Elements program for beginners comprises two weeks with three classes a week, where you’ll learn the fundamentals of movement. Once graduated, the standard CrossFit program gets supplemented with intense competitive classes for those looking to take it to the next level, as well as core classes for those wanting to focus on the abdominal area and the running-oriented CrossFit Endurance program. “I wanted something different and something new that was going to push me a little further,” says CrossFit Coach Lee-Ann Gordon, “and once I got here, it was the community.” With kids’ classes available, it’s not unusual to see whole families drop by the gym, where it’s all about being supportive. You’re not competing against each other, Gordon says. “You compete against yourself.” Semi-regular nutrition seminars complete the package.