Changing the game

CrossFit takes fitness to whole new level

JP Kulhman demonstrates his Crossfit expertise in his home gym located in his garage.
JP Kulhman demonstrates his Crossfit expertise in his home gym located in his garage. Michael A. Corn
Two or three times a day, one Ferris student walks out to his garage and teaches a workout class that will kick the butt of even the most avid exercisers.

CrossFit is a fairly new fitness phenomenon that combines functional movements with weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio. The equipment used includes barbells, dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, plyo boxes, resistance bands, and mats.

“Basically, the goal is always to have a high level of intensity,” automotive engineering junior JP Kuhlman said, “which is really where we get our results.”

Big Rapids doesn’t have an affiliated CrossFit location, so Kuhlman voluntarily holds classes in his garage. To become a certified coach and instruct other students, Kuhlman had to complete a CrossFit Level One Certificate Course, costing him $1,000.

Kuhlman participates in CrossFit workouts for about 10 hours a week. Even though there are two other Ferris CrossFit coaches, Kuhlman still teaches from 10 to 12 hours a week and creates daily workouts for those who attend his classes.

Usually, if college kids are spending around 20 hours a week on something along with classes, it’s a part time job. For Kuhlman, however, all his CrossFit activities are strictly volunteer work to share his love of the sport.

“He does a great job at explaining everything and is able to help with any questions I have,” healthcare marketing junior Madison Earl said. “Every class he dedicates time to the development of skills, where he breaks down the movements and shows the group how to practice.”

Kuhlman tried CrossFit for the first time to increase his strength and stability while involved in junior hockey. He saw instant improvements, continued with CrossFit, and started to get seriously involved around Jan. 2014.

“I thought, ‘wow, this is really challenging and I like it,’” Kuhlman said. “So, I stuck with it and I’ve seen massive improvements and it’s pretty much changed my life.”

The first time Kuhlman did a challenging CrossFit workout, he felt an “internal stimulus” he never had before.

“That stimulus I’m talking about is really primal,” Kuhlman said. “I think that’s one of the reasons people like it. Like with modern day stuff, we don’t ever really have to do anything like our early ancestors had to do, like run away while there are wild animals chasing you. You’d have to haul ass to get the hell out of there, and you don’t ever have to do that these days. And I think when you get to that intensity inside, your body wants more of it.”

Earl agreed that there’s just something about CrossFit that sets it apart from other workouts.

“I won’t lie, although I do CrossFit five to six times a week, I’m always sore at some point throughout the week,” Earl said. “Every day is different and every day is killer. Regular workouts get boring and you can find yourself just going through the motions just to make it through your workout. It’s not like that with CrossFit.”

The community aspect of the classes is also a major component of the CrossFit experience.

“If you were to go to the Rec Center, you’d probably just put your headphones in and run on a treadmill for a bit, and go home and not really talk to anybody,” Kuhlman said. “Every time we’re in there we’re having conversations and talking about our lives and stuff. It kind of brings everyone closer together and keeps you wanting to go back to the gym.”

There are currently about 15 students and three faculty members involved with Ferris’ CrossFit, but Kuhlman and a few others are looking to start a legitimate CrossFit affiliate catering to the entire Big Rapids community in August 2015.

“I like it so much that I’m trying to bring it to the school and touch as many people as I can with it,” Kuhlman said. “I put a lot of time into it, and it takes a long time to do, but I like to do it.