WARR ACRES — They come together as a unit for workouts that not just anyone can keep up with. One day it might be carrying another person over their shoulders. The next workout could be on a rowing machine or throwing the weighted medicine ball.
They may be going into the military or already have served, or they just want to be in shape.
About 100 members of the CrossFit Native fitness group are running, rowing, climbing, squatting and working out as one chapter of a worldwide organization.
Randy Dennis, 18, of Oklahoma City, found out about CrossFit Native from a Marine recruiter. Before he went to boot camp, he spent time doing the rigorous workouts.
“Going into the Marine Corps, I figure a lot of what I'll do is a lot of fast-paced movement and I have to have the cardio for it,” said Dennis, a Putnam City North High School graduate. “I just come in every Monday and Wednesday and get my butt kicked by a nice workout.”
Push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and running are part of the workouts. Dennis said he is working toward running three miles in 18 minutes, but is coming in at 20 minutes now.
“It's a test of how far you are physically,” he said.
Director Kirk Suiter, 38, of Piedmont, opened CrossFit Native three years ago at The Park in Warr Acres — a private, outdoor area that previously was the YWCA's Camp Ione. An aircraft mechanic, Suiter said he wanted to open a CrossFit unit to stay connected to the military and the community.
There are eight other CrossFit groups across Oklahoma City.
CrossFit Native raised about $3,500 over Labor Day weekend with the “Thirty-One Heroes Workout” that benefited the families of 31 service members, mostly elite Navy Seals, who died in an Afghanistan helicopter crash in August 2011, Suiter said.
Suiter served in the Marines and now allows those going into the military a chance to train at discounted rates or in exchange for performing manual labor at the 40-acre park.
“I use CrossFit Native to serve my community and the military,” Suiter said. “I bring young guys and girls in and train them to get ready to go to boot camp.”
He often gets referrals from military recruiters in the Oklahoma City area.
One wall in the gymnasium displays pictures of Jack Martin III, of Bethany, who died in The Philippines serving in the Army in 2009. He was a CrossFit athlete whose father, Jack Martin II, still works out at the gym.
CrossFit members are planning to run in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Oct. 27 in downtown Oklahoma City, he said.
Angela Griffin, 46, of Bethany, survived breast cancer in 2009, but was tired and out of shape after having chemotherapy.
“I felt really crummy and unhealthy,” Griffin said.
For the past six months she has been working out at CrossFit Native.
After more than 20 years with no exercise, she committed to workouts for a month. After a month, she committed to making it part of her life.
“I'm stronger than I've been since I was 20-years-old and an athlete,” Griffin said. “I am healthier, I'm thinner. I'm more energetic and I can handle a whole lot of things in my day that I couldn't before.
“Overall it is just a feeling a well-being I did not even have before my cancer.”