15 – 95 lbs OHS
From The New York Times
We’re One Big Team, So Run Those Stairs
Employees of Datalogix in Colorado take part in its CrossFit exercise program.
By JED LIPINSKI Published: March 30, 2013
AT 12:30 p.m. on a Tuesday, the chief executive of Datalogix was spider-crawling across a conference room floor. All around him, account managers and data analysts were thrusting 20-pound medicine balls overhead, while their Spandex-clad co-workers sprinted up and down the lobby’s carpeted staircase.
A panting, red-faced software developer rested against a railing as a colleague rushed past. “Push it, Karin!” she cried in encouragement. Minutes later, having regained her strength, the developer was back in the conference room, completing her fourth set of jumping squats while a muscle-bound trainer studied her form.
Since the summer of 2010, Datalogix, a Big Data company in Westminster, Colo., has offered these classes, calledCrossFit, twice a week for its employees. CrossFit gained early popularity among law enforcement officers and military personnel, but lately, both large and small businesses — judging that fitness programs can bolster employee morale, improve productivity and reduce health insurance premiums — have taken an interest. This fast-growing fitness trend combines weight lifting, gymnastics and endurance training and has attracted more than 10 million practitioners around the world, according to the company, about 60 percent of them women.
“My enthusiasm for CrossFit knows no bounds,” said Eric Roza, 45, Datalogix’s supremely fit and upbeat chief executive. In fact, his enthusiasm led him to open with his wife a 10,000-square-foot gym in downtown Boulder, Colo., called CrossFit Sanitas, where he generally works out at 5:30 a.m., five days a week, though he will occasionally join his employees, too.
Mr. Roza used to run 100-mile ultramarathons, but he took up CrossFit after an injury in 2008. “I got hooked instantly,” he said after the conference-room workout, his army-green T-shirt damp with sweat. “It was like crack or heroin.” So when some Datalogix employees organized their own weight-loss competition three years ago, to see who could lose the most pounds, Mr. Roza began offering CrossFit classes in-house. He hired Pat Burke, the owner of another local CrossFit gym — or “box,” as it’s often called because of its spare, no-frills design — to teach the classes.
Mr. Burke, a former Marine, brings in barbells, gymnastics rings and medicine balls, depending on the day’s workout. To vary the routine, he might show up with tractor tires, which Datalogix staff members flip and pound with sledgehammers in the parking lot as their less gung-ho colleagues stare from the windows. Mr. Roza estimates that 50 of the 200 employees at Datalogix’s headquarters have taken part in the CrossFit classes. The participants, who sign a waiver of liability for injury, have shed around 300 pounds collectively — or at least that is the figure that Mr. Roza derived from informal employee interviews.
There are other, less quantifiable benefits. Karin Eisenmenger, 46, Datalogix’s director of order management and the woman running up the stairs past her panting colleague, says the classes unite people from different departments who might otherwise never meet. “If you can sweat and groan and moan with your co-workers,” she said, “you’ll have no problem working with them in a meeting.”
Ben Nelson, 31, an information technology analyst who says he lost 60 pounds after he started CrossFit in 2010, said a lunch hour spent doing squat thrusts and swinging kettlebells enabled him to work longer and with greater focus. “I used to work for the Dish Network,” he said, “and the workouts there were running up and down the stairs on the way to company meetings.”
CROSSFIT is one of many perks at Datalogix, where a range of other options — like self-defense classes and courses in the Java programming language — are available free and in-house. The company’s fitness initiatives, called DLX Fit, cost the company around $25,000 a year, Mr. Roza said. A majority of that goes toward CrossFit.
“I’ve been calling CrossFit the new golf,” Mr. Roza said. “You wouldn’t believe how often it comes up in business meetings.”
CrossFit was started in 2000 in Santa Cruz, Calif., by Greg Glassman, a former gymnastics coach. Over the next decade, it grew from a single gym to a global workout craze. (There are now 42 CrossFit boxes in South Africa alone.) In 2010, a partnership with Reebok further raised CrossFit’s profile. Reebok has built 15 gyms inside or near its offices around the world, and plans to open 11 more. In most cases, Reebok employees receive their membership at a discount.