By Jon R. Anderson and Allison Pattillo – Staff writers
Posted : Thursday Sep 29, 2011 14:30:42 EDT
Is CrossFit just not cutting it for you anymore?
That was Mark Twight’s problem. Already a world-class mountaineer and special ops trainer, Twight was among the first to be ordained as an affiliate coach spreading the CrossFit gospel shortly after attending his first training seminar in 2003.
“I don’t believe I will find anything better than CrossFit for developing power, endurance, lactate tolerance, stamina (local area endurance), balanced muscle groups, efficient neurological pathways,” Twight wrote in the March 2004 CrossFit Journal.
But it wasn’t long before Twight began questioning his new faith, wondering if the daily workouts handed down from CrossFit on high were too broad-based. Maybe the fitness faithful needed more individualized, targeted workouts.
Within two years, Twight broke away from CrossFit to form his own cult of conditioning and gained early notoriety as the guy who concocted the workout that whipped the Spartan cast of “300” into fighting form.
Dubbed Gym Jones, Twight’s breakaway effort in one of Salt Lake City’s sketchiest neighborhoods has become a growing cult of fitness among mixed martial artists, military elite and top athletes.
Self-described disciples wear black T-shirts bearing the words: “There’s a fine line between salvation and drinking poison in the jungle.”
“Some readers will be offended, while others will merely scratch their ignorant heads,” reads the website.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Danny McMillian sought out Twight’s advice while helping redesign the Ranger Regiment’s PT program.
“Mark is a very creative thinker and independent spirit, and I think he wanted to change some things up and take a different direction,” McMillian said.
“What we found — and why we went to Gym Jones instead of to CrossFit — is that Mark is very interested in trying to meet the unique requirements of an individual or a unit and adapt the program to their needs as opposed to adapting the individual to the program,” McMillian said.
CrossFit has gained popularity for all-access inclusiveness, but Twight has carefully fostered a mystique of exclusivity. Think: Fight Club meets Gold’s Gym.
“We invite individuals of a particular temperament and experience to train at Gym Jones because they foster an environment of evolution,” Twight says. “We become what we do, and we become who we hang around.”
Long an invitation-only gym, Gym Jones has recently cracked open its doors, now offering online memberships for $50 a month and — following the CrossFit model of evangelism — has begun certifying trainers authorized to teach Twight’s basic tenets.
And Twight is not the only one building on CrossFit’s success.
SEALFIT says it’s no mistake that founder Mark Divine’s program is close in name to CrossFit.
“I started off as a CrossFit instructor, and still require all SEALFIT instructors to become Level 1 CF certified,” says Divine, a martial artist and yoga instructor and former Navy SEAL.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to Greg Glassman and think of SEALFIT as almost a master’s level CF program,” Divine said.
He sees CrossFit as a good base for SEALFIT, which attracts athletes interested in long-distance workouts and improving endurance. Workouts are long and hard, with one recent example consisting of a two-mile run, two-mile swim, another two-mile run or six rounds of 400-meter run, 50-meter bear crawl, 25 burpees and 10 dead-hang pulls. For an added punch, you can try the September monthly challenge of 1,000 double-unders for time.
SEALFIT goes beyond CrossFit by integrating principles of “warrior spirit development,” including breath control, meditation and yoga, with strength, stamina, work capacity and endurance in running, swimming, rucking, durability, teamwork and leadership.
Much of this is accomplished through the CrossFit-style workouts of the day, with other education shared through SEALFIT’s 5 Mountain Training “philosophy of training and living” that teaches mental toughness, emotional control, and awareness and intuition development as three of its five “human capacities recognized as crucial to overall development.”