AUGUSTA — By the time pulsating strains of the Foo Fighters’ “There Goes My Hero” segwayed into “Shipping Up To Boston,” beads of sweat were forming on the foreheads of the six men and women working out Saturday morning at CrossFit Undaunted.
This was no ordinary workout. How many synonyms are there for grueling?
Billed as one of CrossFit’s worldwide organization’s Hero workouts, this one featured 27 box jumps to a 24-inch box, 20 burpees (a pushup/jumping jack combination) and 11 squat cleans with 145 pounds.
Participants were on the clock and required to finish four rounds of these exercises within 25 minutes. Weights and box-jumping heights were negotiable depending on ability, but there otherwise were no shortcuts.
Eighteen club members signed up for the workout, performed in three separate groups because of the Water Street gym’s limited space.
Hero workouts are unique to CrossFit and honor military, police and firefighters killed in the line of duty. Saturday’s program was a tribute to Major David “Klepto” Brodeur, a fighter pilot killed in Afghanistan exactly two years ago Saturday. Club member and coach Dan Phillips of Vassalboro helped put the workout together in honor of the Auburn, Mass., man who became his friend when the two served in the Air Force.
“He was a crossfitter,” Phillips said. “We crossfit together in Afghanistan.”
Crossfitting is a combination of weightlifting, gymnastic skills and plyometrics, designed to get participants into shape. CrossFit has 12 clubs in Maine and thousands throughout the United States and around the world. The Augusta club was founded in 2012 by Mark Houdlette, a member of the National Guard who was about to be deployed overseas and concerned he wasn’t in shape. A friend encouraged him to try CrossFit.
“I told him I’d give it a month and see if it was for me,” Houdlette said. “It about killed me.”
Houdlette was hooked and his business has taken off. It’s already maxed out with 40 members who have outgrown the 1,500 square feet he rents at the former Children’s Discovery Museum. Workouts vary in length and severity and members sometimes utilize the streets and nearby Kennebec River Rail Trail.
“When you go to a CrossFit gym you basically do what they tell you to do,” Houdlette said. “That’s what I like about it. It’s a good workout in about 60 minutes.”
The best-known Hero workout is the “Murph” named after Lt. Michael Murphy who recently had a destroyer built at Bath Iron Works commissioned in his honor. It consists of a 1-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats and finishes with another 1-mile run, all while wearing a 20-pound vest.
Vanessa Whiting finished Saturday’s workout in under 18 minutes while Donna Plourde took nearly 31, with plenty of encouragement from her fellow club members.
“When she came in here, she couldn’t jump this high,” Houdlette said, holding his hands six inches apart.”
Phillips, 36, played hockey, golf and was a runner at Waterville Senior High School, and joined the Air Force after college. He stayed in shape through running and conventional exercises until a friend turned him on to crossfitting.
“It’s much more interesting, because it can get kind of boring” Phillips said. “But with crossfitting you do something different every day. Not only is it a challenge physically, it’s a challenge mentally.
“It’s also a great group of friends. This is one of the best gyms I’ve ever been to. It’s a great, close-knit group of friends.”
Workouts are listed on a board in the middle of the gym and vary from day to day.
“The brevity and the intensity of it is very attractive,” Houdlette said.
The Hero workout was a first at the Augusta gym and only one of 98 performed throughout the organization. The reps and distances are created with the hero in mind, hence 27 box jumps for the date Brodeur was killed and 11 squat cleans for the year.
The gym is open every weekday evening 4:30 to 7:30 and on Saturday morning. Membership is $95 per month.
“We’re at 1,500 square feet right now and we’re looking for 4,000,” Houdlette said.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638