Crossfit Coppell Central brings faith, fitness to community

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Crossfit Coppell Central brings faith, fitness to community

By Kristen Shepard

When Crossfit is mentioned, the image that first comes to mind is one of intensity, bodybuilding, commitment and competition. Through its newest location in Coppell, Crossfit hopes to bring a new level of fitness to Coppell through an energetic staff who believes the new fitness company can help anyone achieve their fitness goals.

At the corner of Moore and Sandy Lake, Crossfit Coppell Central was born on Oct. 1, from the efforts of Coppell resident Todd Szalkowski.

Crossfit Coppell Central is not the only center of its type in the area. Crossfit North Lewisville and Crossfit BOLT Coppell both call the area their home. Despite their close neighbors, the Crossfit Coppell Central staff believes it has a unique audience, and hopes that

Crossfit Coppell Central trainer Pamela Vas demonstrates proper form during a the 5 p.m. class. Photo by Sandy Iyer.

Crossfit Coppell Central trainer Pamela Vas demonstrates proper form during a the 5 p.m. class. Photo by Sandy Iyer.

mothers, especially in Coppell, will be interested in the scheduled, hands on course that Crossfit programs offer.

“Crossfit, as many people know, is very different from gyms like [Texas Family Fitness] and [the Coppell YMCA],” Szalkowski said. “There are really no machines here, no elliptical, no treadmills and no stationary bikes. Other than that, three main things set Crossfit apart: our trainers, the community that forms within classes and the training program.”

Szalkowski is an interesting man himself, and carries three business cards in his pocket. As the owner of TGS photography, Szalkowski transformed his hobby of taking photos into a business and in-home studio, where he has served as the professional photographer for the Coppell Theatre and Choir department for numerous years. Secondly, Szalkowski is a Christian missionary, who spreads the story of salvation and the word of God near the Mexico border and in South Sudan. As of most recently however, Szalkowski is proud to boast the title of head trainer and owner of Crossfit Coppell Central.

A family man and father of two, CHS senior Wesley Szalkowski and 2010 graduate Avery Szalkowski, Todd is committed to keeping Crossfit Coppell Central an open and encouraging atmosphere. Szalkowski was introduced to Crossfit in August 2012 by his daughter Avery’s boyfriend Jared Leal, who was involved in the program. Just over a year later, Leal and Avery are engaged, and Leal and Szalkowski are co-trainers.

All the trainers at Crossfit are passionate about achieving results; through commitment and dedication, Crossfit’s trainers have seen more results than many other fitness programs. Instead of the freedom a standard gym offers, a trainer, who corrects bad form, helps clients maximize their workouts and minimizes their risks of being injured leads all workouts at Crossfit. Because most Crossfit participants attend the same class time, a community forms between members. The community holds its members accountable, and natural competition between members pushes the individuals to success.

The typical Crossfit membership is unlimited gym access for a monthly fee. Training programs suggest a minimum of four or five days a week, but this suggestion is modifiable based on participant goals. Morning classes are offered during all days except Sunday at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. For those who prefer to work out later in the day, Crossfit Coppell Central offers classes at 4 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturday, the 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. classes are not available.

“We know that Crossfit is different, we call our workouts WODS, or workout of the days,” Szalkowski said. “We are also not in a gym right now. We are in a what we call a box, there are no machines because every member is their own machine.”

Crossfit classes last one hour. The workouts themselves last anywhere from 20 minutes to as short as two minutes, and each workout is named after a female.

With locations across the nation, Crossfit boasts a reputation of extremity and competition. 160,000 competitors met at the Crossfit games in 2004. Each participant is given a ranking in their age group. This builds a competitive atmosphere and gives each individual a quantifiable level of fitness. This makes goal setting a part of day-to-day fitness.

Szalkowski is being temporarily assisted by friend and fellow missionary Keith West. Though West is from North Carolina, he is passionate about the impact Crossfit can have on individuals, and jumped at the opportunity to assist Szalkowski in getting Crossfit Coppell Central up and running. An Ironman marathon finisher and ardent triathlete, West believed Crossfit would be a walk in the park, until he himself tried a class.

“When I showed up at my first Crossfit workout, I thought ‘I can totally do this’,” West said. “[The class] kicked my butt. I was not prepared for the edge Crossfit gave me. I have become such a better athlete and runner from Crossfit. My mile times have improved, and I have a lot more strength.”

The idea that everyone can benefit from Crossfit is a cornerstone idea for Crossfit as a business.

“Crossfit really is for everyone. My 68 year old mother and a college athlete can be in the same class at one time,” West said. “You probably want to ask, how is that possible? Every activity is modifiable to age and ability, and a trainer is there at all times to guide you.”

West claims that his mother started Crossfit just recently, and was overjoyed to be able to do a single sit-up. Even at 68, she is quickly becoming fit. Students at Coppell High School have already taken an interest in the newest Crossfit location. Junior Natalie Arwine joined Crossfit with her mother, and, as a former gymnast, is challenged by the workouts.

“My mother and I usually go to the 6 a.m. class,” said Arwine. “It gives us lots of mother and daughter time. It is a great way for us to spend time together and stay fit. I am looking forward to being in the same shape I was in as a gymnast.”

The Crossfit staff also includes trainers Leal and Paula Vas. Both Vas and Leal have grown through Crossfit to reach their optimum fitness levels. With a reputation for success, a dedicated staff and a location in an already tight-knit community, Crossfit Coppell Central eagerly awaits what the next few months of business will bring.

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