By Aida Toro
“Hook Grip!”, yells Andre Crews to a group of 10+ females he motivates on a daily basis when taking his class at his CrossFit gym.
Crews, known as Men’s Health Magazine’s Fittest Trainer, is the owner of 150 Bay CrossFit in Jersey City, a municipality of Hudson County, New Jersey. “I’ve been working out since I was a kid, and remember watching X Men and Dragon Ball Z cartoons and wanting to look like them, but I started my professional fitness career after I left the world of corporate banking,” expressed Crews.
Crews also worked as a bartender at the time and was inspired, by his now mother-in-law, to pursue a career in fitness. He didn’t think he would like working in the fitness industry until he earned his Personal Training Certification in 2012 and fell in love with the practice after his first few client sessions.
“I discovered CrossFit a few months into my fitness career,” said Crews. “I started doing the workouts from CrossFit.com and they were unlike anything I’d done before.”
A year after getting his Personal Training Certification, he became certified in CrossFit. In order to learn more about the discipline, he started training himself and his clients in functional fitness. Crews then wanted to open up his own CrossFit facility. His current business partner, Joe DiMare, suggested the area as the perfect spot to launch a fitness locale since he owns a CKO Kickboxing franchise in the same building as Crews’ gym. After seeing the success of DiMare’s kickboxing gym, Crews was sold and decided to open up CrossFit box at 150 Bay Street in New Jersey.
With 150 Bay CrossFit now open, Crews has been striving to make the gym’s community a safe, fun, and welcoming place for everyone. He dedicates his time to assisting members in crush weight loss and becoming skilled CrossFit athletes. Especially, women.
“I think all CrossFit boxes are special places for women,” he said. “This sport has exposed the world to functional fitness and helped demystify decades of ignorance that women shouldn’t lift weights.”
CrossFit also provides women some benefits they would appreciate. According to Crews, science and empirical evidence have proven time and again that weight training can help women lose body fat and build lean muscle. Both of these factors, assist women to maintain a healthy body composition and avoid see-sawing in weight.
“The community aspect is also huge for consistency and fun,” said Crews. “When you workout with a group of friends everyday, you’re more likely to keep coming!”
Walking into a CrossFit gym can feel intimidating. Heavy weights are thrown around when doing specific weightlifting movements, such as cleans & jerks or snatches, for example. A great way Crews welcomes everyone to the gym, and puts them at ease, is smiling. “I always smile and I encourage all my coaches and staff to smile and make everyone who walks into our doors feel welcome,” he said. “Something as simple as a warm smile and a high five can immediately break down the intimidation factor.”
Beyond that, Crews always provides scaling options and substitutions on movements and weights for folks who are new to CrossFit. There are certain CrossFit movements that can be done in the comfort of one’s home. His best “at home” suggestion for the ladies is the squatting movement.
Crews’ Top 3 reasons to squat:
Squats work your hips, glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abs, and even your upper body. It’s a great one stop shop if you’re trying to hit multiple muscle groups at the same time.
Your legs have twice the muscle capacity as your entire upper body. So squatting will help you build lean muscle throughout your body, which will help burn fat even while you’re at rest.
I say this to new folks all the time: as soon as you lose the ability to sit down and stand up on your own, you will be going into a retirement home.
“You don’t need to squat hundreds of pounds to get the benefits of squatting,” said Crews. “You can do squats to a chair, air squats, squats holding your baby, or squats with a light Kettlebell or backpack.”
Overall, if women want to pursue CrossFit in their fitness journey, Crews said they should grab a friend and sign up for a free introductory class at their local CrossFit box. He mentioned that once folks meet the coaching staff and a few members at any CrossFit establishment, they’ll realize that not everyone is a scary fitness monster and he looks forward to inspiring more women to gain an interest in CrossFit.
“CrossFit workouts are not easy, but if you can get past your initial fears and misconceptions, you will find a fun form of fitness that will help you reach aesthetic and performance goals you’ve only dreamed of.”