In an old body shop garage off Historic Route 66, men and women ranging from ages 15 to 60 years old from all different levels of fitness, including varsity and special needs athletes, can be seen lifting tires, climbing ropes, and dropping the same size pools of sweat onto the rubber floor. The sounds of human grunting, metal plates clinging, and 90s pop music echo throughout its metal ceilings.
Dropping Plates CrossFit is much different than any commercialized gyms in the area.
There are no elliptical trainers. No weight machines. No mirrors reflecting images of people unsatisfied with the looks of their biceps.
At Dropping Plates CrossFit, known as "the box" to the CrossFit culture, gymnastic rings and ropes hang from the tall ceiling. Graffiti covers a majority of the walls. The sweat-soaked floor is covered with large rubber tires, wooden boxes, and other equipment one just wouldn't normally find in a gym.
"We don't have treadmills, we don't have the stationary lat pull down machines," said Greg Snyder, co-owner of Dropping Plates. "If we want to work those body parts, there are ways we can do it here. We might look a little spartan-like, but we have all the equipment needed for a complete CrossFit WOD."
The large white board that hangs on the east wall might perhaps be what separates CrossFit the most from other fitness facilities. WODs, CrossFit Lingo lingo for workouts of the day, are modified for different levels of fitness and members write their times and reps and compete for their personal bests. Every class also offers a lean fit version, for those who are hesitant to lift weights.
"When someone goes to a gym, they have to have a plan. If they don't have a plan of what they want to do and how they want to do it, they get disheartened," Snyder said. "They hit that level of intensity that is uncomfortable they don't have anyone to push them through it. When they come into Dropping Plates CrossFit they come with a clear head because they don't have to think about not knowing how to do something because myself and the trainers do those things for them."
For more than 49 hours every week, the box is filled with CrossFitters performing WODS in a class-like setting. During WODs, members push themselves to their ultimate physical best to improve both short- and long-term endurance while coaches encourage and guide their workouts.
CrossFit is a fitness training program based on functional movements, high intensity, strength and overall fitness conditioning. CrossFit is a community. CrossFit is a way of life. CrossFit is for anyone who is committed to changing their way of life, according to Snyder.
"CrossFit is for people who want to get better. Not for people who just want to be healthy, but fit also," Snyder said.
CrossFit certainly changed Greg's way of life when he tried it for the first time in 2011 at the Waynesville High School weight room with Sean McCullough. Snyder said he became "addicted" and had an "epiphany moment" when he realized that CrossFit is something that this community needs.
From there, Snyder partnered with his wife Karen Snyder and McCullough and the three researched how to become affiliate. They soon got certified and approved to open a box, and opened Dropping Plates CrossFit in January 2012, starting with only ten members. Before opening Dropping Plates, the closest CrossFit facilities were in Jefferson City and Springfield.
"We've grown exponentially since opening," he said. "I think we hit a hundred members roughly five months after opening."
He said that they now have more than 150 members, but the growth is hard to measure because of the amount of military personnel from Fort Leonard Wood who are coming and going.
One of those members, Marty Burroughs said that joining Dropping Plates not only changed his life, but saved his health.
Burroughs, a cancer survivor who has had diabetes for more than 15 years, started doing CrossFit roughly five months ago and was completely out of shape. His diabetes was so bad he had to take six to seven insulin shots a day. He has lost thirty pounds since and is now only taking one shot per day.
"Marty couldn't run up a hill when he walked into and now he is doing muscle-to-bar pull-ups. Marty is a testament of this place," Snyder said.
Snyder hopes and believes that more members in the community will come to the box to improve their health and change their lives. Snyder said that one of the biggest myths about CrossFit he hears is that people need to be fit to join.
"Saying you need to be fit to join CrossFit is like saying you need to be clean to take a shower," Snyder said.
"To succeed in CrossFit, you need a big heart. You need the ability and desire to change. You have to make a choice to change your body and improve your quality of life. If a person comes in with that attitude, they will succeed."