University CrossFit program among top in the nation

Director of Campus Wellness and Recreation promotes CrossFit lifestyle

Jim Fitzsimmons competing at the 2012 Reebok Crossfit Games.

10/2/2012 | By: Megan Akers  |

The University of Nevada, Reno's Lombardi Recreation Center is home to the first and largest university-affiliate CrossFit program. The University's high intensity CrossFit program has become increasingly popular both on and off campus over the past few years.

Jim Fitzsimmons, the director of Campus Recreation and Wellness at the University, has been instrumental in the development of the Lombardi CrossFit program. Fitzsimmons started doing CrossFit five years ago with several University students, and has been competing for the last three years. He recently placed sixth at the 2012 Reebok CrossFit Games, a huge feat that required months of strict training that affected all aspects of Fitzsimmon's life.

Fitzsimmons juggled four workouts a day along with making time for his family, finishing his doctoral dissertation and maintaining his role as director. He did not have a drink or dessert for four months before the Reebok Games, and stuck to a strict paleolithic diet. The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era-a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture.

"Every day, I had to remind myself of the bigger picture, the ultimate goal, and then go as hard as I could knowing that somewhere, someone else was training just as hard as me," Fitzsimmons said. "I was very fortunate that everyday a fellow Crossfitter at Lombardi would volunteer to work out with me, count my reps, coach me or run the clock."

For the last three years, the University has had one of the largest affiliate CrossFit teams in the nation and has been invited to present its CrossFit program at national conferences. The program will even be featured in the American College of Sports Medicine's November issue of Health and Fitness.

Currently, Lombardi runs five to six CrossFit classes a day that typically have approximately 20 to 30 participants and two to three coaches per class. To date, there have been more than 92,000 participants who have gone through the University programs. The classes vary in difficulty level based on the participant's CrossFit experience. For example, Cub Corps is a beginner's CrossFit course offered at Lombardi intended to safely get participants up-to-speed with fundamental movements and conditioning. The classes promote that functional ability (what you can do with your body), is infinitely more important than how your body looks.

Lombardi is also a CrossFit certification site and hosts several certification opportunities throughout the year. Many of the attendees looking to become certified CrossFit coaches are University students and local community members.

"One of the best aspects of what we do is we employee about 15 students who are certified CrossFit coaches," Fitzsimmons said. "They are exceptionally good at what they do and bring a knowledge base and energy to the program that is unparalleled."

Former CrossFit students have extended the CrossFit program to define their careers. One former student, Jared Glover, owns a successful CrossFit gym, CrossFit 702. Two other former students are now Navy SEALS, furthermore proving the success of the hardworking lifestyle that the University CrossFit program promotes.

"We teach self-discipline, perseverance, adherence to standard and never, ever quitting," Fitzsimmons said. "People need to understand that as long as you never quit, you can never be defeated, and this is a truism for all aspects of life."

The CrossFit program will be hosting "Under the Lights," a CrossFit competition, Oct. 12 at 8:00 p.m. at the John Sala Intramural Fields and Oct. 19 at 8:00 p.m. at Lombardi Fitness Center. The competition is free for all Lombardi members and prizes will be awarded to individuals who compete in all of the competitive events.


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