Bringing CrossFit to Campus Rec


The professional recreation staff at Valdosta State University noticed students were going to CrossFit gyms in the local area to try a workout they could not get at the rec facility.

So Shawn Phippen, the director of campus recreation, decided to get proactive and renovate an area of the facility for CrossFit classes. “Our mission is to serve the students of VSU and the faculty and staff,” said Phippen. “And so we looked around at different spaces, we got some feedback from students and we got very positive feedback. We got a lot of students that really were interested and excited about the possibility.”

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning workout program, founded in 2001 by Greg Glassman, that involves constantly varied, functional movements executed at a high intensity for varying duration.

Because of its intensity and equipment, an area of the facility must be adapted to withstand Olympic lifting and new equipment. For this particular project, Phippen said they’re starting with flooring – they’re planning to implement both rubber flooring and turf. Then, they’ll bring in equipment as well as host training for staff members so they know how to properly use the equipment.

If a project is over a certain dollar amount, the university is required to hold a bid process. This allows companies to bid on putting equipment, flooring or develop the training in the facility. “Vantage Fitness is the company that won the bid and they’re putting Escape products in the area, but they’re also providing training to all our staff,” said Phippen.

He explained Escape Fitness has a very similar program to CrossFit. But because CrossFit is patented, a professional staff member or student would have to be certified to coach the classes. Phippen explained by Escape’s method, more of the professional staff could be trained on CrossFit movements. “They key, obviously, is getting the appropriate training to your staff. If you have the appropriate training for your staff, you can do a lot to provide a safe environment for people to exercise in, regardless of the type,” said Phippen. “That was a big component of the bid was the training, because we wanted to ensure the safety of every student, and every member that comes into our building.”

Of course, Phippen explained, this would be on top of the university’s own safety measures. When introducing any new class to a campus rec center, Phippen said proper training to professional and student staff is necessary to ensure the safety of members of the recreation center.

The space is scheduled to be open on March 21, when Valdosta State University students return from Spring Break.


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