J Performance Zone makes debut for crossfit training buffs

Fitness Director Matt Vamvas and J member Lauren McCombs work out with the battle ropes at the new J Performance Zone fitness station inthe lower gym. (Community photo by Tara Cocco)

For some gym rats, workouts have less to do with Stairmasters, NordicTracs and weight machines, and more to do with medicine balls, box jumps and a contraption called Jacob’s Ladder.
These are some of the instruments used in crossfit, a mode of exercise that deemphasizes workout machines that has been growing in popularity over the last 15 years. They can be found in the new J Performance station, which opened last week in the lower gym.
Really, it’s the trend where gyms are going,” Fitness Director Matt Vamvas said of crossfit. “Running, lunges, jumping … it’s less about machines.”
Crossfit exercising was already happening at The J, Vamvas said. J Performance merely centralizes them in one location for a total experience.
“For people into crossfit, we want them to have this option,” he said.
Much of the crossfit equipment can be found on a modular apparatus called the “X-lab.” Bolted to the gym floor, it holds medicine balls (and an elevated target against which to hurl them), battle ropes, pedal bells, pretty much anything that doesn’t require an electric current to get a workout.
The X-lab isn’t the only apparatus. Spread 60 feet along the side of the gym is an Astroturf carpet upon which gym rats can push something called the “prowler” – a weighted obstacle, much like a blocking sled in football camps.
In fact, Vamvas explained that many of the exercises at the J Performance have their roots in football or military training. “If you played football, he said, “this isn’t new.”
The only other apparatus, Jacob’s Ladder, is an angled, elevated climbing device with wooden pinwheels. The user wears a belt with a taut line as he (or she) climbs continuously up the pinwheels. Unlike the other apparatuses, Jacob’s Ladder does use electricity, but only to run a screen to measure the user’s performance.
Demo classes will be offered this fall in which the fitness staff will show members how best to use J Performance. For first time users, Vamvas recommends a trainer, or at least a spotter, for some of the equipment.
“There are so many things to do [on J Performance], it can be overwhelming,” he said, “but we’re here to help people and give a better workout.
And he noted that weight machines are not going away for those who prefer them. Crossfit buffs simply have more options.
“Now we have more toys to play with,” he quipped.

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