CrossFit gym works out niche in Freeland

Jodi Buschko, a trainer at the gym, practices a ring muscle up at South Island CrossFit in Freeland.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Jodi Buschko, a trainer at the gym, practices a ring muscle up at South Island CrossFit in Freeland.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Freeland has a new group of fitness enthusiasts.

South Island CrossFit on Main Street opened Aug. 1 and now has 17 members. Owner and certified trainer Emmanuel “Manny” Rios, 32, started the gym because he wanted to help people with their athletic technique. He said at many gyms, trainers overlook the small details of technique and he’s looking to fix that.

“I want to help people with the tiny flaws no one helped me with,” he said.

Ron Nelson, executive director of the Island County Economic Development Council, said he is always excited when a new business opens. Small businesses have a mighty impact as a whole and are phenomenal at giving back to the community, he said.

“Personally, I think it is good to provide opportunities for a retirement community who wants to stay active,” he said.

A CrossFit workout includes four parts: a warm up exercise, a strength skill, the workout of the day and a cool down. The exercise lasts about an hour, but people can stay longer if they choose. The program is designed to be constantly varied to increase overall fitness and includes staples from weightlifting, gymnastics and cardio.

Alex Bonesteel, 25, of Freeland has been to a few CrossFit gyms on the mainland and was excited for a gym to open here. He first tried the exercise three years ago and has since been hooked.

Bonesteel said at this gym there is a big emphasis on form and technique with a lot of personal instruction. His favorite exercise is a “muscle up” which provides him with the biggest sense of accomplishment, he said.

“CrossFit is the great equalizer for everyone,” he said.

The exercise includes adjustable weights to scale to each person’s ability, said Jodi Buschko, 26, a certified trainer at the gym.

Buschko said people join the exercise for many reasons including weight loss, increasing strength and endurance.

Buschko said at the gym there is a community bond where the trainers know everyone’s name.

“We cheer more, it’s a cool thing. Everyone wants everyone to succeed here,” she said.

The facility is 1,926 square feet and includes bars, rings, weights and an area for children.

Rios first tried CrossFit while deployed in Iraq three years ago. He served in the Navy for 14 years. Rios was stationed in Oak Harbor when he really got into the training. Rios, a Langley resident, said he wanted to start his business in a quiet area with a healthy community. He knew the big city coming from Southern California and wanted something else.

People like Bonesteel are glad he did. The CrossFit exercise is cost effective despite the price, he said.

Fees begin at $80 a month for twice-weekly attendance.

“It’s like having a personal trainer 100 percent of the time,” he said.

Before joining CrossFit, Bonesteel said he did not get regular exercise and this has  brought regular intensity back into his life. He said his confidence and well-being has increased.

Marybeth Dickerson, 43, said she has been waiting for one to open on the island. She is on the paleo diet, which highlights meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The diet is often paired by the CrossFit exercise.

Dickerson said she had never done an exercise like this before joining CrossFit.

Rios said he makes a point to keep the gym small so he can know the strengths and weaknesses of each member. He said that is what makes his gym distinct, the focus given to each person.


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