WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- WWAY viewers voted it the best gym in the Cape Fear. CrossFit Coastal is just one of hundreds of CrossFit programs that have popped up around the nation, but what exactly is CrossFit, this fitness craze that has garnered local and national attention?
Everyone joins for a different reason.
"Just to get into better shape and to see better results on the outside," Amanda Capdapon said.
Fellow CrossFitter Zach Carpino said, "I wanted something a little more hardcore and somewhere I would get results real quick."
CrossFit is a relatively new exercise program. The first affiliate opened in California in 1995. Since then, more than 2,000 CrossFit gyms have popped up worldwide. So why has it become such an exercise phenomenon?
"It's different," CrossFit Coastal owner and instructor Ezekial Martinez said. "It's more than just moving around from machine to machine. We're not your average gym. We do exercises outside, and people will tell their friends about it."
You won't find any treadmills or elliptical machines at CrossFit. During a typical WOD, or workout of the day, you can find CrossFitters doing anything from sprinting 200 meters, flipping a 400-pound tire or even climbing a rope.
"The movements that we do in CrossFit relate to things that you do every day," Martinez said. "So you're just stronger at life in general."
WODs typically range from 15 to 40 minutes incorporating a variety of exercises, but the group atmosphere is what most people say attracted them to the program.
"At the gym you've got your iPod on, go off and do your own thing, and you can quit whenever you want," Carpino said. "Here everyone motivates you to keep going and strive to be better."
Regardless of the movement or exercise, everything is scalable.
"If you can't do a push-up, you start on your knees," Cardapon said. "Of you can't do a pull-up, you start with ring rows."
Because CrossFit is so new, there are not many studies on its effects. Some critics, though, say there are health risks associated with the program.
"It is pretty hard on the joints," exercise physiologist John Clancey. "There's a lot of squats, a lot of jumping, and a lot of running, which can be orthopedically challenging for some people."
But many participants say the benefits far outweigh the risks.
"One-hundred percent different," Cardapon said. "I have more motivation. I am more energized. I am not sleepy. A huge difference in my clothes. My pants have gone down a size already, and it's only been a month."
Carpino said, "Coming out of here feeling like you got your but kicked, but still in a good way. You feel like you've accomplished something real big that day just from a work out."
Clancey said the bottom line is any exercise is beneficial if you do it consistently.