Chesapeake, Va. – You’ve probably heard of one of the fastest growing workouts around — CrossFit.
Every year, there’s a worldwide competition to find the fittest CrossFit athlete. And one Chesapeake man is headed there for the fifth time.
To the athletes working out at CrossFit Krypton in Chesapeake, he is Coach Ben, and owner of their home away from home.
But to a legion of CrossFitters around the world, he is a rock star of the sport.
23-year-old Ben Smith has participated in the CrossFit Games four times, even placing 3rd in 2011.
“It’s getting to the point where it’s getting pretty big and it’s a lot of fun when you go there so it’s like a whole different experience than it was a few years ago,” he says.
Smith clinched a spot in this year’s games by winning the Mid-Atlantic regionals, competing against his younger brother Alec, who is also climbing the ranks of CrossFitters.
“I was in the same heat as him a couple times. That was really cool. I hope that continues for the next couple years,” Smith says.
It seems there are now multiple CrossFit gyms or “boxes,” as they are known in every city.
So what is CrossFit?
“The movements could be ranging from Olympic weightlifting to running to rowing to gymnastics, anything you can think about, anything you can think an athlete would need to be able to do,” Smith says.
Amazingly, the Great Bridge and Old Dominion grad taught himself how to do all of the complex movements because he wanted to be a better baseball player.
“I watched a lot of other people that were better than me and other coaches that have coached before. But I spent hour after hour after hour just watching and learning and trying to tune myself to make it look like they do it and copy what they do and go off how I feel and it’s just been a constant learning experience since I started,” Smith says.
At Smith’s gym, the athletes are teens, people in their twenties, moms working out with their sons, grandmothers, and even news anchors.
CrossFit Krypton opened this year so Ben says the games will be a little different now.
“Everybody at the gym motivates me so much more. It’s not just going out there with my family. I feel like I’m going out there but I have the gym here supporting me and everybody here has been amazing. In my head, I hear everybody yelling at me,” he says.
And while you have elite athletes like Ben, his brother Alec, and Coach Adam Klink competing in major competitions, Smith says you may be surprised what you are capable of.
“Honestly, it can be for anybody. You get to the right gym and you get to the right coach and they should be able to take care of you and scale the workouts down to whatever you may need. So everybody starts somewhere,” he says.
Smith started in his garage and while his goal is to end up on the podium next week as CrossFit’s fittest man on Earth, he enjoys helping his athletes with their daily victories.
“It’s been awesome. That’s what I love about it. I love coming into the gym every day and pushing people past that point where they don’t think they can go you know? They’re a little uncomfortable and I’m like, no, you can do it. You got this. Let’s focus. Let’s do this. And then they get it and they’re like, wow I didn’t think I could do that.”
There are plenty of CrossFit gyms here in Hampton Roads, but as always, you want to check with your doctor to make sure any workout program is right for you.