Walking into CrossFit Plant City is an exercise in “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Or, it is — if you go early enough in the morning.
The fitness craze that has spread throughout the country makes its home in “training boxes,” rather than traditional gyms, so it’s easy to look inside and wonder why Lauren and Mike Bearden are hanging out in a big, nearly-empty warehouse.
Go a little later in the day, though, and then it’s more obvious. CrossFit Plant City has about 45 members participating in its daily workouts, and its members love the group-oriented, high-intensity WODs — short for “Workout of the Day.”
“I know that most people are immediately intimidated at the mention of the word, ‘CrossFit,’ but it’s not as bad as people think,” member Lauren Der says. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”
That’s essentially the message that the Beardens want to spread throughout the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World, and moving into that warehouse was their first big step since they became trainers.
It started in 2007, when Mike Bearden was completing SWAT training with the Tampa Police Department. CrossFit was worked into the training regimen, and he began to enjoy it. It wasn’t long before he got Lauren Bearden on board with it, and they began doing the WODs at home while following the online program.
It was the easiest way for them to train, because the closest CrossFit boxes were out in Brandon and Lakeland. After a while, though, the Beardens decided they wanted to do more with CrossFit. In 2012, the idea to start CrossFit Plant City was born.
Lauren Bearden, who had previous experience as a personal trainer, became a Level 1 trainer with her husband that year, and they eventually earned Mobility accreditation — one of many supplemental classes that CrossFit has to offer but arguably the most important one, because it focuses on teaching proper form.
The opportunity to rent a warehouse or some other large, open space, wasn’t available right away. So, the Beardens had to make do with what they already had.
“We initially started training people out of our garage, and it grew quicker than we thought it would,” Mike Bearden says. “We outgrew our garage pretty quick.”
They had to get creative. Because the garage wasn’t big enough to accommodate a lot of people, some workouts had to be moved outside — which led to shuffling people in and out of the garage, based on what they were doing. It became apparent that the Beardens would have to try to move the operation elsewhere.
“The whole time, we were looking for a place to rent that would be big enough and, fortunately, we found this place,” Mike Bearden says.
On Jan. 3, they moved into their current home off Airport Road and transformed CrossFit Plant City into a full-fledged business venture. Their draw is that they operate much differently than any other gym in town, and individuals will always have coaching.
“What makes CrossFit so different is that we take care of the programming for you,” Lauren Bearden says. “You never have to try and figure out, ‘What do I need to do today?’ Or, search online for hours and figure out what program you want to follow, and then print it all out, take it to the gym, and try to figure out what you’re doing. And, hopefully, you might be doing the form right.”
The Beardens are cultivating a workout experience where no one can walk in for a workout and give anything less than their best effort. Getting quick results is the key.
“That’s one of the big things that separates us from a normal gym,” Lauren Bearden says. “You could go in there, you’re not feeling it, you’re just throwing these bicep curls and dumbbells around, and you don’t see as much progress. Here, you see results much faster.”
Having had a successful five months, the Beardens are ready to start doing even more for their training box. They are looking to add more supplemental classes under their belt, going beyond their mobility accreditation, and plan to eventually move up to Level 2 training status. They also would like to add yoga but are searching for an instructor.
Most importantly, they hope that all of their word-of-mouth promotional efforts will help the membership grow beyond 45 members. As far as they’ve seen, the potential to do so in Plant City is definitely there.
“It (having 45 members) fluctuates a little bit from month to month, but, overall, that’s where we’re hanging out,” Lauren Bearden says. “People in Plant City have been like, ‘Finally, there’s a CrossFit in Plant City. I’ve been wanting this.’ So, I think as more and more people find out about it, we’ll get bigger and bigger.”
Contact Justin Kline at [email protected].
WHAT IS CROSSFIT?
“It’s never boring,” Lauren Bearden says. “It’s always different. It’s constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. That’s basically what CrossFit is, in a nutshell. You get personalized coaching in a group environment. We teach you to perform mobility, and we encourage you throughout the workout.”
IF YOU GO
WHERE: 1402B Mercantile Court, Plant City.
CLASSES: 3:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes available with RSVP (including 9 a.m. Saturdays).
COST: $115 per month for individuals; $210 per month for couples; $90 per each additional family member (with couples rate). Three-, six- and 12-month packages are available.
REGISTRATION: (813) 650-9125.
WEBSITE: crossfitplant city.com