It’s been here for about eight months, but its popularity is just beginning to take off.
Soldotna has welcomed a new kind of gym in town, named the Crossfit Norsemen, but it may not be the type of gymnasium you may think. It employs a type of exercise format that is continuing to see a rapid rise in popularity around the world — the sport of Crossfit.
Crossfit can be described as a core strength and conditioning program with constant variation, high intensity and functional movement, according to Crossfit Norsemen trainer Nikki Dixon.
“It pertains to what you do outside the gym, every day,” Dixon said during a recent workout session. “Instead of isolated exercises, we focus on a range of motions. The joints are meant for full flexion, and people are losing that, so we focus on a full range of mobility. In Crossfit, there’s not just one area of focus.”
Dixon and her husband, Andy, are both level one certified trainers at the Norsemen gym, or “box” as it is known. The Dixons opened up shop last May after noticing that the Kenai Peninsula did not feature any boxes.
“We came up here in January from San Diego, and we noticed that the Kenai area was kind of its own world,” Nikki said. “There are the usual gyms around here, but no Crossfit boxes.”
While Nikki is new to Alaska, Andy is not. The 28-year-old was born in Colorado Springs, his family moved to Alaska where he was schooled in the bush community of Titlis Point. He then spent his high school years in Seward, and after his family moved to Texas, he immediately made the jump to the Navy, where he spent nine years.
Nikki, 29, is very easy to spot in the gym with her red hair, and said Crossfit has given new energy and excitement to her life. 2012 was her first year in Alaska, but having lived in “exotic” places like Iceland and Germany — which are the inspiration for the name of the couple’s business — she said Alaska is her home for now.
Located just off the Kenai Spur Highway, on Sports Lake Road, the Norsemen currently has at over 30 enthusiasts that train at the box, which is essentially a former warehouse. There is a garage door on one side that is typically open in the warmer summer months, when the Norsemen hold many workout routines outside.
On the opposite side the building is a sprawling display of crimson letters bearing the name of the business, plus the phone number for interested parties.
At this point, one might be wondering, why is it called a box?
“It’s just something that people came up with,” Dixon said. “It’s something that people that do Crossfit can distinguish themselves from other gyms.
“There are boxes everywhere. They’re even overseas, and there are four boxes I know of in Anchorage, the Mat-Su area, Fairbanks and Juneau. We’ve been doing it for a while, so we both thought, why not introduce it to Kenai.”
The history of Crossfit is very new, compared to other sports. It was brought to fame by founder Greg Glassman in 2002, and since then has seen an exponential rise in popularity. The Crossfit Games have become ever more popular since being introduced in 2007.
At Andy and Nikki’s Crossfit box in Soldotna, the workout regimen is simple. Hour-long classes typically start with various types of exercise, but then the Dixons begin what is called the “Workout of the Day”, or WOD.
For example, participant on any given day might do 50 box jumps, five climbs up the rope that is hanging from the ceiling, 50 kettleball swings, 50 sit-ups, 50 hang power cleans, 20 sprints and 50 back extensions. Now see how many times you can do that in 20 minutes.
Now, obviously, everyone has a different level of fitness, so the Dixons work around that by scaling the workouts based on fitness level, so they can finish it in a timely manner.
Also, Nikki is quick to distance Crossfit from what others might confuse with hard-core exercise regimens such as the Insanity workout, which does not work around the participants fitness level.
“I would encourage anyone who thinks they’re out of shape to come and check out a class with us,” said Dixon. “It’ll completely change your life.”