The CrossFit craze has swept across Denton, finding its way into small industrial alleys, shopping malls, and sometimes even in your attic (that's what those sounds are). You can find these CrossFit fans sweating it out and shouting loudly while squatting, lifting, and jumping in simple spaces with little else than a set of weights, some rings, bars and a whole lot of dedication. Our very own Glen Farris checked out CrossFit940, the newest even in town and even underwent a "fat test" in a truck with a tub full of water. We spoke with Nate Altes, owner of Crossfit940, to see how CrossFitters prefer to sweat it out. Read on for more!
WDDI: Have you always 'repped the 940? If not, what brought you to Denton?
I'm from Oklahoma originally. I moved to Denton in 2001 for a job and have fallen more in love with this city every day since. The diversity and opportunity while maintaining that small town feel makes this such a great city. And maybe, just maybe someday I-35 will be drive-able.
People are either completely obsessed with CrossFit or asking, "CrossFit? Is that some new kind of Spanx?" What actually is CrossFit?
Um, I think CrossFit is the Anti-Spanx? The name tells the story. I remember when the idea of the cross-trainer shoe came out. The concept was that you could wear one shoe to do multiple types of training. CrossFit is no different. The concept is that you are training to be FULLY fit in the 10 key principles of fitness. From cardio to balance, from agility to accuracy, from endurance to strength (yes, I only listed 6 keys). CrossFit will get you fully fit across all facets of fitness, and it's done using functional and scalable movements, meaning anyone can do it. CrossFit is done in a group class setting so you are training with folks from all walks of life and fitness levels in the same class. I love walking into the gym and seeing a college athlete working out side by side with someone's grandpa. For me personally, having a coach involved in my fitness EVERY time I walked into the gym was huge. The gym can be a very intimidating place for some people but having a knowledgeable coach at your side the whole time teaching and encouraging you creates a comfort level that you won't find anywhere else without paying for a personal trainer.
Why do you think Crossfit has such a cult following?
Ha! "The cult minus the creepy leader!" CrossFit goes against the mainstream conventional wisdom on health and fitness both nutritionally speaking and in terms of its methodology of getting fit. When people buy into a principle that goes against the majority, it tends to create a community or "cult like" group of like minded thinkers. Secondly, CrossFit is hard! It pushes you to your limits both physically and mentally in an effort to make you better. Not everyone is willing to be pushed to those limits, so the folks that do tend to walk around in their CrossFit gear with a little swagger. Without getting too far down the socio psychological rabbit hole, confidence can sometimes be misinterpreted as arrogance and most people don't like arrogance. CrossFit breeds confidence because it changes peoples lives in ways they never thought possible. And frankly, people who don't do CrossFit don't really want to hear you ramble on about CrossFit so we're stuck sharing our experiences in our own little cult. Shaving you're head and getting tattoos are not required.
What did you do before opening CF940?
I actually still own and operate a freight logistics company. CrossFit is more passion than paycheck for me. My business partner and co-owner, Blake Burleson is the general manager and "head coach". He handles the programming, coach training, and daily operations within the gym and I handle the administrative, marketing, and janitorial (my favorite) side of things. Blake has been in CrossFit for many years and has earned a phenomenal reputation in the CrossFit community for his passion in coaching athletes from all fitness levels and for his standards in judging CrossFit competitions. The TWU women's volleyball program affectionately gave him the nickname "El Diablo" in our first year of doing their strength and conditioning program.
How’d you get into the CrossFit business?
I got turned down by my insurance provider 6 years ago. I was 285 pounds and horribly out of shape and my insurance said I was too high risk to cover. Long story short, I lost 80 pounds and completely overhauled my life by doing CrossFit. At that time, CrossFit hadn't gained the notoriety and popularity that it has today so I made it my mission to share my CrossFit success with anyone and everyone that would listen and do my part to spread the greatness of CrossFit to anyone that would take the first step . Watching people change their lives is still my motivation and I love seeing it everyday I walk into the gym.
What’s your business philosophy and how does it relate to your fitness philosophy?
Work smarter not harder. In business, working less hours and getting paid more would seem obvious. It's no different in fitness. CrossFit will completely kick your ass but the results you will see in comparison to the amount of time you spend in the gym are unprecedented. Obviously a large part of this starts with nutrition but the same concept applies. Be smart about what you eat, be smart about how you exercise, and ultimately you will spend way less time in the gym than the millions of folks at the 'globo-gym' walking on treadmills reading a magazine sipping on their sugar filled sports drink. Yeah, I went there.
What are some of the pieces of equipment that you only find in CrossFit gyms?
I think it's probably more about what you WON'T find in a CrossFit gym. No treadmills, we run outside. No ellipticals, we do box steps/jumps. No leg press machines, we do squats. No mirrors, our coaches will tell you if it looks good or not. To be very CrossFit cliche, we don't use machines, we make them.
Can a regular Joe like me get into CrossFit? What's a good route for beginners?
Yes, ANYONE can get into CrossFit. We've trained navy seals, college scholarship athletes, soccer moms, and grandmas. We had a 69 year old woman at our grand opening working out next to 20 year old college athletes. Wanna guess who got most of the cheering? All CrossFit workouts are scalable to the fitness level, mobility, and desired results of the athlete. We have folks come in with preexisting injuries or mobility issues and we can work around those issues by substituting and scaling the workout. Beginners are required to go through our "Elements of CrossFit" classes. These classes are setup to be very coach intensive (which really means that there is an abundance of attention for each person) and will teach the techniques, lingo (you know, our cult's secret language), and nutritional concepts of CrossFit.
What's your fitness regime?
Next question please!!! So before I start listing too many excuses (I have 5 kids, 3 businesses, and my wife is a nurse) I will say that my regime changes weekly. I try to get in a workout at least 3 times a week. Some weeks it's 5, some weeks it's 1. I have said many times that I am the "Fat Man's CrossFit" guy. I will never compete in the CrossFit games or beat you over the head with CrossFit philosophies. I just want you and me to be doing something. If I'm not in the gym, I love an intense game of H-O-R-S-E in the driveway with the kids and I love playing tennis. Simply stated... just move! And no, '12 ounce Corona curls' do not count.
What's your stance on kale?
Usually seated....with a fork....and bacon.
A large human like myself in yoga pants would probably not end well for anyone in the room but I would definitely give it a ride. Side note, I have done Pilates (I co-own Empower Pilates) and for any dudes who think it's easy "girly" training, give me a shout and I'll hook you up with a free session and then wait for the tears as you're leaving.
What's your least favorite thing about the workout world?
One word.... ego. This is one of the other huge benefits to CrossFit and especially to our CrossFit 940 community. We don't care where you are at in your journey to fitness. You can be 100 pounds overweight and a smoker that brings chocolate brownies and Mountain Dew to the gym everyday. We applaud the fact that you showed up and are taking the steps to improve your well being. I've seen it over and over and over again, the person finishing the workout last, always gets the most encouragement, the most cheering, and the most high fives when they're done. Another CrossFit quote, "Leave your ego at the door and exercise it on your own time, the rest of your body will need your full attention once inside."
Glen is not fat.