By Rod Lee
Early in a conversation with Zathan Simpson it becomes obvious that the shine hasn’t worn off the gift he presented himself with back in March, when he and his wife Ally acquired the CrossFit Athletic Center in Sutton.
“Since I started coaching it’s been a goal of mine,” Mr. Simpson said between classes the afternoon of August 13th. Clad in gym shorts and a brightly colored T-shirt and looking fit as the proverbial fiddle, he was relaxing on a sofa with his dog Daisy resting on his lap.
A resident of Douglas, Mr. Simpson has been a fitness enthusiast for some time. Starting with Reebok at the company’s headquarters in Canton and working in CrossFit facilities in Waltham, Needham and the Virgin Islands whet his appetite for a stronger involvement in a lifestyle that he believes in. One that espouses “safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition.” A system that goes by the mantra “the magic is in the movements…off the carbs, off the couch” and that is driven by the words of Founder Greg Glassman who has said “eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar, keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”
At a Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Business after Hours event that was scheduled for August 21st, Mr. Simpson was planning to share information on Sutton’s CrossFit Athletic Center including mention that “the first workout is free of charge.”
Last week, in asserting that he was eager to host the Chamber function as a new member of the organization, he said his objective is to grow the gym and to remove what he referred to as “a stigma:” a perception on the part of some that workouts are too intense for their own good.
To that end, amid the changes he has made (aesthetics that are “more homey” and an updated logo, for instance) is a tweaking of the program at CrossFit AC. “It’s problematic if people are getting hurt,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s less strenuous. It’s just a matter of keeping people safer.
“Safety is our biggest priority. New people may think we are holding them back more than we need to but this is a lifetime commitment.” Conversely, in noting that “older people may say ʽI’m too old’” for the regimen, he said, “it’s not true. A sixty-five year-old woman may not be able to jump on a twenty-inch box but she could a smaller one. Everything is relative to that person’s fitness. A lot of it depends on a person’s individual goals. For some it’s strength, for others it’s a marathon. It can’t be both. We are trying to address all aspects of physical training…strength, power, speed, flexibility.”
CrossFit, Mr. Simpson, “is the most effective way to get fit. The best way to achieve fitness is intensity and not doing the same thing every day.”
Erin Merrill, CrossFit AC’s “Athlete of the Month” for February, found this to be true. At the age of thirty, Ms. Merrill quit smoking and started running. Then she discovered CrossFit. Initially, she says in a post on CrossFit AC’s website, she was “intimidated by the workouts.” Frustrated, too, by what seemed like a lack of progress. The answer, she says, was provided to her by her coach: “come more often!” She stepped up her workouts to four to six days a week. In the first year, she says, “I added 45 pounds to my 1 rep back squat. Once you start seeing the results…that’s what is so great about this sport!”
Mr. Simpson said that in building “a community aspect” into the business, which is desirable, the accountability factor is higher with it. “If a member is not here in a day or two I’ll give them a call, to check on them,” he said.
A complimentary first workout, no contracts and an environment that stresses the safety of members. This, Mr. Simpson says, is a winning combination.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.