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CrossFit Craze Captures Dubuque

DUBUQUE, Iowa - One of Dubuque's CrossFit Gyms is tucked away in a tiny warehouse.

Owner Phil Gothard said, "You are going to get dirty, you are going to be banged up a little bit. It's kind of like riding a bike. You've got to tip it over a couple times, you know. "

Inside this CrossFit gym there are no bikes and no treadmills. The workouts consist of dead-lifts, burpees and ski-jumps. The workouts are similar to military training.

CrossFitter April Elsbernd said, "It's all about getting faster, getting stronger, getting more powerful. "

Elsbernd says, this gym, or as CrossFitters call it "the box" has changed everything.

"In a year, I have become in better shape, leaned out and my confidence has grown," said Elsbernd. " I feel like a different person. "

Anecdotes like Elsbernd's are shared on social media. Along with the accomplishments of each workout.

Gothard said, "I remember 5 years ago, nobody knew what CrossFit was and anymore you can't turn on an ESPN station without seeing a CrossFit commercial. "

Proper form is mandatory. But it is also a competition to complete the workout fastest. Still community trumps competition.

"I would say the last place finisher get the loudest cheers in here, " Gothard said.

But it's life outside the box, where the athletes say they see the most change. For many CrossFitters, their workout group has morphed into a social group. The group subscribes to the Paleo diet. That consists of foods high in protein. They eat, very few, if any, processed carbohydrates, like bread.

Gothard said, "If you see each other kind of cheating on their diet your going to call them out on it, because you legitimately care. "

Accountability to themselves and each other.

Elsbernd said, "some people joke that it's a cult and in some ways maybe it is, on the fringe. But it's a lifestyle. "

A lifestyle of hard work, sacrifices and friendship.

"If this business went under tomorrow I would still have a network of people I'd want to go have a drink with on the weekend or get dinner with," said Gothard.

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