CLASS FEE: $25. AVERAGE BURN: 780 calories. COST PER CALORIE: 3¢. (Photograph by JJ Miller. Shot on location at Total Performance Sports, Everett.)


By Alyssa Giacobbe

I’d heard there would be no running. That’s the short of what got me to Newburyport’s CrossFit Full Potential, my local CrossFit gym—regulars call it a “box”—even though cardio was exactly the sort of thing I needed. One of the fastest-growing workout systems in the country, CrossFit, I’d been told, wins fans with sessions that are varied, low-tech, and relatively brief yet extremely effective: The high-intensity portion of an hourlong class might be as short as five minutes or as long as 20, but will burn up to 1,000 calories. A sucker for efficiency, I loved it instantly.

Performed in an open, industrial space, old-school exercises like pull-ups and barbell lifting—as well as a rope climb that triggered flashbacks of the Presidential Physical Fitness Test I failed 30 years ago—creatively got in that strength-training stuff everyone’s always talking about. Later, I would hit a giant tire with a sledgehammer. Moderate cardio, meanwhile, comes in palatable modules of rowing and a few rounds of short runs—as complaint-averse trainer Geoff put it, “Do you want me to make you do a mile straight instead?” (I didn’t)—plus a modicum of masochist-friendly favorites like mountain climbers, burpees, and box jumps, typically prescribed in multiples of 100. Instructors lead a motley crew of lawyers, students, moms, and stay-at-home writers with clear instruction, peppy encouragement, and none of the bullying I’d imagined might happen at a place where people hit tires with sledgehammers. The workouts are never the same, avoiding muscular (and personal) boredom, and are challenging yet doable, encouraging camaraderie, commiseration, and competition. You don’t quit early and go for a steam because, well, you’d be the only one.

CrossFit Full Potential,; go to for other locations.

Do You…Run Marathons?

CrossFit’s Workouts of the Day emphasize stability, strength, and mobility, while constantly building endurance.

Ultimate Accessory

For discerning germophobes, the belle of the (medi) ball.

Lineaus Athletic Company 16-inch medicine ball, $800,

What You’ll Get

Waist, glutes, cardio, thighs, abs, agility.

How You’ll Pay

Shoulders: Risk of rotator cuff tendinitis from lifting more than you’re ready for. Or, as CrossFitters call it, Death by Deadlift.

Hips: Risk of fractures, dislocation, and snapping from squatting too much—or too deep—or using excessive weight.

Check out more of our winter fitness package, “Stronger, Faster, Dirtier.”