Athletes will vie for the laurels at Shreveport-Bossier City’s first large-scale CrossFit-style championship in December. CrossFit focuses on overall, functional fitness, with participants working to build strength, flexibility and endurance. They compete against themselves, setting personal goals, and with other members of a group in daily workouts.

“It’s anything you can imagine that’s physically strenuous,” said Ken Sanders, one of the local CrossFit enthusiasts who organized the championship. “We’re climbing ropes and flipping tires.”

He and other members of the group whom have participated in smaller, regional events put together WodGodz, the Shreveport-Bossier championship. The event will be Dec. 9 and 10 at the Shreveport Convention Center.

“There’s no large competitions around here,” said Sanders. “The closest ones are in Austin, Texas, and New Orleans. We had some fun with it — we have an Olympus theme, so we all have nicknames. Mine is Zeus.”

“Wod” refers to Workout of the Day, a staple of CrossFit. Workouts consist of several moves, such as pushups and barbell lifts, with the goal to improve performance over time.

“It’s a very planned out arc of exercising over a three-to-four-month period,” Sanders said. “For example, if you want to improve your leg strength, you may do more squats. What you’re trying to do is do that as fast as you can safely.”

WodGodz will offer several divisions, ranging from pro athletes to amateurs just starting in the sport. There are also divisions with less strenuous requirements for older athletes. Licia Passin, 45, already has her sights set on the event. Passin considers herself at an intermediate level in CrossFit after participating in it for seven years.

A marathoner and long-distance cyclist, she became interested in CrossFit after her husband tried it. “I couldn’t do a pushup when I started. I had never really lifted a barbell in my life. Once I started, there was always something else in sight. As a woman, lifting weights, I had never really even thought about it,” she said.

She says the program helps her with running, biking and all-around fitness. “Here’s the perfect example. I also do mountaineering. When I train for mountaineering, I don’t do anything extra than CrossFit,” Passin said.

The local CrossFit group organizing the event includes a variety of people, among them doctors, lawyers and business owners, according to Sanders. “It’s functional fitness. That’s one of the reasons people like it,” he said. Sanders believes the ever-changing workouts also attracts athletes.

“You won’t ever walk into the gym and it’s Wednesday and you’re doing the same thing you do every Wednesday,” he said. That’s part of the attraction for Passin.

“CrossFit is very interesting. I have a very short attention span,” she said, laughing.  “The thing I got out of it was the social side.”

Sanders said community is an important part of CrossFit groups.

“The winner certainly gets cheers, but the guy finishing last gets more support than the guy finishing first. You’ll see it in workouts — everyone is gathered around the last guy cheering him on,” he said.

He and the other organizers of WodGodz will bring that same atmosphere to the competition. Sanders expects up to 300 athletes and up to 1,000 spectators. Athletes will participate in three workouts each day, and on the final day the top finishers will compete for the championship in a fourth, final workout. As they move through the workouts, they’ll move closer to the spectators, Sanders explained.

The event will include a vendor village and demonstrations. Sanders said some demonstrations may offer spectator participation. Healthy food options also will be available. “I had to go to bat for our athletes,” he said. “They won’t eat the regular nachos and hamburgers.”

Passin noted that CrossFit has even changed the way she eats. “I ate a high-carb, low fat diet. I was doing everything the opposite to what I’m doing now,” she said.

She’s competitive by nature and said entering the WodGodz championship gave her a goal for her training. She encourages anyone interested in trying CrossFit to visit what participants call the “box”— the place where people work out.

“I think a lot of people are very intimidated,” Passin said. “They quite often have a community workout or a red, white and blue workout. And you know, just try it and see how you do.”


WANT TO GO?

What: WodGodz
When: Dec. 9-10. Shreveport Convention Center, 400 Caddo St., Shreveport
Admission: Spectator tickets are $15 per day, $25 for the weekend, no charge for children under 12 accompanied by an adult
Info: For a schedule of events, visit wodgodz.com