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Fitness event draws athletes to showdown in Gainesville Square
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Kyle Wiley completes “ground to overhead” barbell repetitions Saturday during the third annual Showdown on the Square in Gainesville. Wiley is a member of CrossFit Bema cq in Cleveland. - photo by Erin O. Smith

A showdown in the square used to mean something very specific. Typically, it involved gruff leather clad men, drawn guns and squabbles settled by a hail of gunfire at high noon.

Saturday, a different kind of showdown was on display in the Gainesville Square, one with much fiercer competition, much less gruffness, and many more guns out for the latest workout craze, CrossFit.

The third annual Showdown on the Square, hosted by CrossFit Northeast Georgia in the lot adjacent to the Gainesville Square, included more than 60 athletes from gyms and groups all over North Georgia, all fighting for a chance to take home a win.

Kelly Mullins, Showdown on the Square director and emcee, said the event was as much about outreach as it was about competition.

“By no means are we the CrossFit Games today,” Mullins said of the highly competitive international CrossFit championship that draws athletes from all over the world. “This is just a friendly little competition in the square to promote CrossFit, and health and fitness.”

Mullins describes Crossfit as, “taking high intensity functional movements that are constantly varied and putting them together into a workout.” The result is a succession of different exercises using free weights or body weights that are repeated in a loop several times.

“It’s a great fun way to get in shape. And the best part is that anyone at all can do it, you just have to modify the workout to fit that person,” she said.

Mike Hennigan, a judge at the competition, said that after a number of serious knee and shoulder surgeries, doctors doubted he would be able to do a pull up or raise his arms over his shoulders again. He claims the combination of a year of CrossFit workouts and physical therapy has made him stronger than ever.

“I just didn’t have good blood flow because I wasn’t working the right muscle groups,” Hennigan said.

“They told me not to do even one pull-up. Now I get up and do as many as I can.”

Mullins said the simple nature of CrossFit workouts allow nearly anyone to participate. Of the 30 pairs of athletes competing Saturday, several were in the 50 to 60 age range at their first event.

One team of first-timers, Wilmy Bernard and Cody Atkins, said they had been training for months for the event and it paid off.

“We performed well above my expectations,” Bernard said. “It was nice to finally put it to the bar and get it done. But it took a lot of hard work.”

Atkins said he has taken part in other competitions, but Showdown on the Square was much more competitive than he expected. He has been doing CrossFit for the last three years, and can’t imagine going back to a more conventional workout.

“It’s the best kind of workout you’ll ever get. It beats any gym, any day.

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