Utah CrossFit | Get Out | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Get Out

Utah CrossFit

Fit to Be Tried: Utah CrossFit athletes take their skills to a national competition.


Among its many distinctions, Salt Lake City can also claim to be home to planet Earth’s second-fittest man. This naturally leads to two questions, for which we have the answer. First, the world’s fittest man, Mikko Salo, lives in Finland. Second, the Salt Laker is Tommy Hackenbruck, who claimed his status at the 2009 CrossFit Games, and will try to climb to the top spot July 16-18 at the 2010 international competition in Southern California.

If Hackenbruck’s name sounds familiar, it’s because, in 2004, he was the starting middle linebacker for the University of Utah’s 12-0, Fiesta Bowl-winning football team. Now, he and his wife Bobbie Jo—a former Ute soccer player—are co-owners of the Ute CrossFit gym in Salt Lake City, which opened just over a year ago. It’s one of many gyms that have popped up around the world as the “CrossFit” movement has grown exponentially in the past few years by promoting overall fitness, achieved through constantly varying routines.

“We’re always changing things up, and the intensity is much higher than what most people do at the gym,” Hackenbruck says of his particular brand of training. “There’s also a group atmosphere to the workouts that’s contagious.”

“I really like the community aspect of it, not just in your own gym, but other gyms as well,” says Alli Cerruti, a trainer at Ute CrossFit. “People who want something different from the mainstream gym experience will find that in a CrossFit gym.”

One result of the growth of the movement has been the CrossFit Games. The competition began in 2007 at a barbecue where about 100 CrossFitters were gathered, and has since grown to the point where this year’s event will take place in the 27,000-seat Home Depot Center, an outdoor stadium in Carson, Calif., and is expected to draw crowds of 10,000 spectators.

Besides Hackenbruck, the Ute gym will be represented by a three-man, three-woman team that took second place in the Northwest Regionals in Seattle earlier this year. Cerruti leads the team, which includes Bryan Boothe, Amber Mortensen, Terry Shanahan, Austin Stevens and Sidni Taylor.

Overall, Utah shows well, as the CrossFit 801 team from Midvale took third at the regional event and will also participate this weekend. CrossFit Park City and CrossFit NRG, from the west side of Salt Lake City, will also field individual competitors.

“There’s been a lot of talk in the CrossFit community about why Utah is doing so well,” Hackenbruck says. “Utah has a lot of active people. It’s just kind of part of the culture here. It’s a hotbed for athletes, climbers, skiers and mountain bikers.”

“So many people who come in are active runners, skiers, or enjoy outdoor sports,” Cerruti says. “The beauty about CrossFit is it’s broad enough to touch everybody’s needs.”

The teams and individuals will go into the competition not knowing until they show up what the events will be. That way, nobody can train for one specific thing and everyone has to focus on overall fitness. As Hackenbruck puts it, “We’re preparing for the unknown, so we’re trying to be as well-rounded as possible. It’s a sport that asks, ‘Who’s the best at working out?’ ”

The events are often the sort of thing you and your friends would come up with while sitting around at a barbecue trying to figure out who’s in the best shape. How much can two people lift together on one bar in a dead-lift? How fast can a team combine to do 200 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 200 dead-lifts? How fast can a team lift a log and carry it 100 meters? For the individual competition, Hackenbruck will have to participate in eight events over two days that will attempt to test a variety of skills. For example, a four-mile cross-country run may be followed by a dead-lift competition, followed by an event where the athletes have to run up a hill while carrying a sandbag. Hackenbruck says he’s leaner as a result of CrossFit training, and “other than the bench press, I’m as strong as ever, but I weigh about 30 pounds less than when I played football.”

While Hackenbruck and the Ute team represent what is possible to achieve through consistent training, Hackenbruck says, “The average cross-fit gym has a good cross-section of people. “Our clients are ages 13-55 and range from athletes to people who are 50 pounds overweight and have been sedentary for two years.”

Whatever their fitness background, Cerruti says what those who try CrossFit training will find it “really motivating and inspiring because of the support system you get.” 

543 E. 2100 South

July 16-18
Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.