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Strong is the New Skinny: CrossFit Hits Edgewater

A new gym just opened in Edgewater. Its goal? To kick your butt.

As a wrestler in college, John Klessinger was on a strict regimen of exercising, eating well and lifting to maintain his 134-pound competition weight.

However, almost 20 years later, the 38-year-old says he's now in “the best shape” of his life—even better than his days as a collegiate wrestler at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

Klessinger’s business partner in the gym they operate, Erin Boensch, has a similar story. A gymnast in her youth, Boensch is 39 but didn’t complete her first pull-up until she was 38. She also said she feels better now than ever before.

How are both of these 30-somethings so fit beyond their “prime"? Their answer is short and to the point. CrossFit.

Using a highly specialized regimen, CrossFit workouts feature “constantly varied, high intensity functional movements,” Klessinger said. Using an assortment of workouts, athletes execute a hybrid of activities including Olympic lifting, gymnastics, power lifting and other non-traditional exercise methods.

The two began participating in CrossFit workouts a few years ago. After seeing and feeling terrific results, they independently became certified as CrossFit trainers. Months passed and after much deliberation, Klessinger and Boensch opened their own CrossFit gym in Edgewater to cater to those in south county.

Keep it Simple, Keep it Intense

Since opening the new gym in September, Klessinger and Boensch have turned their passion for fitness into a full-fledged, high-intensity, kick-your-butt experience now open to the public at 113 Mayo Road, called CrossFit South River

Both co-owners are certified CrossFit trainers and hope to bring the CrossFit style of training to the southern parts of Anne Arundel County—reshaping the way residents view personal fitness. In a world filled with high-tech machines, CrossFit South River uses a more elemental approach, using nothing more than rope, bars, weights, balls and blocks.

Upon walking into the gym, residents can see a lone rope hanging from the ceiling and a large, intricate structure with bars and rings to provide a plethora of exercises. CrossFit workouts only last about 20 minutes if completed at a grueling pace, but for many, with stretching and post-workout activities, the entire experience lasts about an hour, Klessinger said.

Workouts vary depending on a person’s capabilities, but some basic exercises include swinging pull-ups, medicine ball lunges and leaps, gymnast rings and dead lifts.

Offering fun, movement-centric methods and concentrated attention to the individual, both Klessinger and Boensch feel CrossFit is not only the best overall fitness option in town, it’s the best value too.

“We’re basically selling personal training at a very reduced price," said Klessinger, who also teaches physical education at South River High. "Classes are small enough to focus on individuals … We can change any workout to meet fitness levels."

Strong is the New Skinny

The biggest difference between CrossFit and a traditional gym experience is a mental one, Boensch said. Instead of just working out to be thin or look a certain way, CrossFit feels like an athletic activity that monitors progress and encourages a goal-oriented mentality, she said. For women especially, it shouldn’t be about just getting thin, it should be about getting strong, Boensch added.

“I just want to share with people, especially women, when you focus on goals, you end up looking the way you want,” Boensch said. “The way you look isn’t the goal itself, it’s the byproduct of working hard and reaching for your fitness goals.”

Boensch said for years she was a “gym rat,” just working out because she felt like it was the only way to stay healthy, stay skinny. After coming across CrossFit, her mentality changed and it’s something she wants everyone—men and women—to experience for themselves.  

“The whole idea is to get that typical person that’s worried about losing weight, wearing smaller clothes. And the concept behind Strong to Skinny is embrace the fact you’re capable to be a strong woman or man,” Klessinger said. “It’s going to be better in the long haul to be stronger than it will be to starve yourself and run on a treadmill.”

The new business owners are offering a special grand opening discount. Those joining a CrossFit class can sign up for $140 per month, earning unlimited classes for three-, six-, eight- or 12-month terms. Classes take place at 5:45 a.m., 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. depending on the day.

For a full list of classes offered, see over to CrossFit South River’s website or Facebook page

Missy Middledorf October 03, 2012 at 12:22 PM
I followed John's program for a couple of years. It was the best I ever felt and looked in my life and I was almost 40. Best of luck to both of you!!!! Missy M.
Marsha Merton October 03, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Hey, I know him!!! His kids swim for Mayo....Good luch John. Hope this is very successful for you Marsha Merton, Team Manager, Mayo Swim Club
D.W. October 03, 2012 at 04:28 PM
$140 a month?! Whoa!
Sandy October 04, 2012 at 05:06 AM
I am 50 years old and very out of shape. I started at Crossfit South River about 3 weeks ago and I absolutely love it!!!! I am exhausted at the end of every workout but it is a "good" exhaustion. They have been great at scaling back certain things when I was not quite at the level of fitness needed. I love the variety and that there is very little if zero just standing around. I have worked with personal trainers at $70 an hour at other gyms and I am basically getting personal training here at Crossfit South River, for a fraction of that price. I was nervous at first but those nerves are gone. There are certain conditioning items that I am unable to do at this time, but I am inspired watching the others do them and I am confident that I too will be able to perform them with my continued participation at Crossfit-South River. Thank you Crossfit-SR for the awesome workouts and support!!!

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