Eagle River Church launches community CrossFit ministry

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

Todd Polk of Eagle River begins some of the basic assembly of the CrossFit Iron Refined support materials Sunday at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. The fitness ministry will feature a variety of weekly classes at the church Mondays through Saturdays beginning Jan. 26. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

Todd Polk of Eagle River begins some of the basic assembly of the CrossFit Iron Refined support materials Sunday at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. The fitness ministry will feature a variety of weekly classes at the church Mondays through Saturdays beginning Jan. 26. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

EAGLE RIVER, Alaska – Community Covenant Church of Eagle River seeks to improve the spiritual and physical health of area residents through the emerging CrossFit Iron Refined ministry.

An open house for the ministry will be offered Jan. 24 at the church at 16123 Artillery Road in Eagle River from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., said Kate Polk, the CrossFit Iron Refined lead trainer. The event will feature a free workout of the day from 11 a.m. to noon, as well as online registration and payment stations; opportunities to learn more about CrossFit training and equipment; and information on what to expect from the unique ministry.

“It’s not going to be a barn burner type of WOD,” Polk said of the free workout of the day. “It’s going to be a fun WOD, where people can come in and get experience and just get a feel for what the atmosphere is and get to meet the coaches.”

The concept for the ministry began more than a year ago when Polk, a certified Level 2 CrossFit trainer, began IRON Refined – CrossFunctional Fitness at her Eagle River home. She said the inspiration for the ministry’s name is biblical and rooted in Proverbs 27:17, which reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Eagle River residents Marshall Pickens and Todd Polk begin some of the basic assembly of the CrossFit Iron Refined support materials Sunday at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. The fitness ministry will feature a variety of weekly classes at the church Mondays through Saturdays beginning Jan. 26. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

Eagle River residents Marshall Pickens and Todd Polk begin some of the basic assembly of the CrossFit Iron Refined support materials Sunday at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. The fitness ministry will feature a variety of weekly classes at the church Mondays through Saturdays beginning Jan. 26. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

“I just found that verse to be so meaningful as to what I was looking for in a CrossFit community,” Polk said. “The purpose of the community is that we’re sweating, we’re working out, we’re growing together in a community, and one person gets stronger because of another. So, as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another – one person builds another.”

That relational mindset is integral to the ministry and the CrossFit community, said Lisa Thomas of Eagle River, a CrossFit Level 1 trainer with CrossFit Iron Refined.

“Everybody’s just cheering for each other,” Thomas said. “When I’m working out and there’s someone who’s even faster than me or they’re slower than me, it doesn’t even matter, I just encourage them.”
Polk noted the relational aspect of CrossFit training encourages whole-body fitness and adds a level of accountability to the experience that isn’t found in most forms of exercise.

“It’s not just physical strength, it’s spiritual strength, it’s community strength, it’s being together,” Polk said. “I can hold you accountable all day, but once you have this little community of people who you love seeing every day, they notice when you’re not there.”

According to Polk, CrossFit Iron Refined has a training model that’s designed for those 18 or older and is appropriate for participants of all fitness levels.

“We have people come to us who are injured, who have prior injuries, women who are pregnant, people with athletic backgrounds who’ve run marathons and triathlons and people who have never done anything before in their lives,” Polk said, noting men and women in their 20s could be working out alongside those in their 60s.

“The beauty of it is that everybody brings their own talent, their own physical fitness gift, and is married up with other people and their gifts,” she said. “Everybody has a strength, everybody has a weakness, and we’re all working on it together.”

According to Polk, the CrossFit concept encourages high-intensity, functional fitness through everyday movements, such as squatting, walking, running, lunging, jumping, lifting, pulling and pushing.

“Your body is doing common movements uncommonly well in a workout, so that when we go into everyday life, we can lift our grandkids when we’re 75,” Polk said. “Your bodies are used to that movement.”

CrossFit Iron Refined classes begin Jan. 26 in the Community Covenant Church gym and will be offered weekly Monday through Friday from 5:30-6:30 a.m. and 9:30-10:30 a.m.; Monday through Thursday from 5:15-6:15 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m., Polk said.

Although the weekday classes will primarily focus on WODs, Thomas said the Saturday sessions will be a great place to receive a program introduction.

“The Saturday class isn’t going to be a regular workout,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be going over the movements, so someone who’s new to it will [want to] make sure they come to Saturday classes to learn the techniques.”

Polk added seasoned CrossFit enthusiasts may benefit from the weekend classes as well.
“It’s always good to go through foundational movements. There’re nine of them, and they’ll just rotate every Saturday,” Polk said. “We’ll do an hour of those foundational movements training, and then we’ll do an hour WOD after that.”

According to Polk, each CrossFit Iron Refined class can accommodate up to 12 people, who will be able to sign up for sessions online no more than 24 hours in advance at www.crossfitironrefined.com.

There’s a monthly $125 per person fee to participate in the ministry, Polk said, and registered members may attend as many classes as they choose monthly. Classes will be filled on a first come, first served basis, she said.

The 12-person sessions the ministry can currently accommodate is somewhat modest, Polk said, noting class sizes will grow as more certified CrossFit Level 1 sub-coaches begin to support the ministry. Qualified coaches can contact ministry managers, and interested CrossFit Iron Refined participants can learn more about the ministry at www.crossfitironrefined.com.