Since I began this endeavor to visit a new-to-me gym in my community each month I hadn't yet been taken too far out of my comfort zone in the placed I'd visited. Despite trying new places with unique and different offerings I really hadn't done anything that I hadn't done before. That is until this month with March's featured gym, Unyoked CrossFit. Over the years I have done 'CrossFit-like' workouts and exercises that were embedded into different classes but had never been to a straight-up CrossFit gym, or box as it's often referred, and done a complete CrossFit WOD (Workout of the Day) before.

In light of my word of the year BRAVE, I thought Unyoked CrossFit would be the perfect place to visit. I've always been a little intrigued by CrossFit but the thought of actually taking a class intimidated me. I knew that trying CrossFit would allow me to stretch beyond my comfort zone, try something totally different, meet new people and hopefully have fun while doing it. While I was nervous to show up to class not only the first time but also the second and third, I actually loved it! I was pushed deep into my discomfort zone, tried all kinds of new things but had a blast at the same time. Everyone was so welcoming and greeted me when I showed up for class. I'd heard before that CrossFit groups can be a little 'cliquey' but I did not get that feeling at all at Unyoked. I immediately felt like a part of the team which, as the newbie, was nice and refreshing. Owner and head coach, Kam Fitzgerald, showed me the ropes, assisted with my form and provided encouragement along the way.

If you're curious, as I was, where the name Unyoked CrossFit originated, it has a pretty awesome meaning and background story. Galations 5:1 says "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." According to Dictionary.com, the term yoke means "a frame fitting over the neck and shoulders of a person, used for carrying pails or baskets" or "a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull". We all have carried a yoke in some capacity as it relates to our own personal life, struggles and/or challenges. Your yoke probably differs from mine but where we find similarities is that we both can enjoy freedom when release our burden or yoke and live our best lives every day when we choose to do so and believe that we can.

The tagline for Unyoked CrossFit is to 'Enjoy Your Freedom'. It's perfectly aligned with its origin story to release the yoke that weighs you down, that stands in your way, that tells you that you aren't strong enough, brave enough, capable enough but that you have the freedom to do it. We are only limited by the stories or excuses we tell ourselves. I had my own yoke by way of the box standing before me when asked to do box jumps during my first class. The box was tall, intimidating and made me nervous. I had plenty of opportunities (45 to be exact) on day one to try a box jump but couldn't bring myself to do it for whatever reasons. Eventually I was able to progress to jump down from the box. Considering trying CrossFit in the first place was intimidating, jumping down from the box was progress.

The aforementioned boxes of intimidation.
Bonus WOD: putting your barbell back up here after class.

You'll find more than just a gym when you workout at Unyoked CrossFit. I believe the place has the power to make you stronger in more ways than one. You will gain muscular strengh and endurance through functional fitness but you will likely gain much more in terms of mental strength, toughness and freedom. I love that, absolutely love it. You'll also gain new friendships. While they welcomed me in as a newcomer, I could tell the people in each class had a family like bond helping one another in their quest to complete their WOD and reach their highest potential.

All classes at Unyoked are one hour in length and comprised of a warm-up, skill walk through to prep for the WOD ahead, the WOD itself and end with a brief period of stretch and recovery. No two days at Unyoked are the same so you can show up day-after-day and always expect to get a different workout. Members can log in through an app to get a preview of the WOD in advance of class (as well as log workouts, goals and PR's). The gym offers early morning, mid-morning and evening classes Monday through Friday so you're bound to find something that aligns with your schedule.

I tried three different classes during my visit and enjoyed the variety within each one. Monday's workout consisted of a warmup followed by a WOD consisting of deadlifts, box jumps and push jerks. You already know my feelings and fears of box jumps but I didn't even know what a push jerk was before starting class. Wednesday's workout was totally different with a completely new warmup and WOD including squat cleans, more deadlifts, burpees (eeek) and the rower. Not to mention when we finished the WOD, Coach Kam gave us the added challenge of 300 lunges before class time was up (I got to 222!). Friday's workout was different still as it was 19.3 of the CrossFit Games Open. Individuals from across the globe are all working through this same workout and can actually submit their results for an overall competition. We started class with a brief warm up and a few rounds of box step-ups to prep for 19.3 which was for time at ten minutes in length max. During each class, Kam worked with me to get my form right which I totally appreciated and by the end I felt much more confident executing the exercises even managing to get one step closer to nailing the tripod which will ultimately help me conquer a handstand.

My first ever WOD. Challenging, yes but I made it through all four rounds and had fun at the same time.
Wednesday's WOD. Not pictured 222 (goal 300) lunges.
My times for each round during Wednesday's WOD.
Friday's workout, CrossFit Games Open 19.3. I made it through the lunges and step-ups completely before attempting a handstand (more like handsquat).

There are a variety of membership options available depending on the commitment you are looking for. Memberships range from six month offerings with varying days per week to three month, month-to-month or even drop-in on a weekly or daily basis if that works best for you. If you have an unlimited membership, that also gives you the ability to use the gym within the space to workout on your own time outside of the classes offered.

If you have any additional questions or would like to hear more about my experience, don't hesitate to reach out. You can also send any inquiries about the facility, classes, and membership options to the team at Unyoked CrossFit through their website.

Thanks again to Kam and all the new people I met during this last week. Unyoked is definitely an awesome space with great people working individually but also encouraging each other as a team to achieve their health and fitness goals.  I felt honored to workout with everyone and be included as a part of the group. If I don't find myself back at Unyoked before May, I am challenging myself to come back for Murph on Memorial Day. It sounds super tough, but after this week, I am up for the challenge.

Thank you Kam, see you for Murph!

In case you missed my previous month's featured gym posts, you can find them all below.

November - Stephen's Family YMCA
December - Pursuit Fitness & Performance Institute
January - Hatha Yoga & Fitness
February - Refinery Gym

Lastly, stay tuned for April's feature, Fit4Mom. I'm excited to try out this group and workout with fellow mommas here in Champaign-Urbana!