COUNCIL BLUFFS — Lisa Albers took a deep breath and, with all of her strength, went into a full squat and lifted a 115-pound barbell over her head.
Her friends and family cheered, and then she hugged her husband.
Albers, a 48-year-old mother of three from Grand Island, Neb., was among those who took part Saturday in CrossFit Vise's free competition in Council Bluffs.
Athletes from Sioux Falls, S.D., Kearney, Grand Island, Lincoln, Council Bluffs and Omaha completed a variety of workouts, including weightlifting, wall balls, weighted lunges, rowing, pull-ups, sit-ups and running.
CrossFit, a national training program that focuses on high intensity, varied workouts, is becoming so mainstream that Forbes magazine has called it “one of the fastest growing sports in America.”
Saturday was the first time Albers had ever competed in fitness.
“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “I've worked out for 30 years, running marathons, cycling and doing yoga, but I got bored. I love CrossFit because the workouts change all the time.”
Ricky Frausto, co-owner of CrossFit Vise, said he wanted to offer a free competition to give athletes of all levels exposure to the event as well as give judges more experience.
He said it was a steppingstone for what's soon to come in the Omaha area.
“It's only going to get bigger and better,” he said. “I'd say right now there's about two or three local competitions, but next year that number will more than double with at least one or two local competitions every few months.”
Frausto is already planning a few more competitions before the end of the year.
He's also expecting to draw in thousands of athletes and spectators for the “Battle in the Bluffs” competition Feb. 21-23 at the Mid-America Center. That event, he said, will offer top athletes more than $15,000 in prize money.
On Saturday, Kyle O'Brien and Tony Marquardt of Kearney took first in the team division; Kyle O'Neil of Omaha was first in the men's division; and Jacki Rodgers of Omaha finished first for the women.
Sixteen women, 18 men and 28 teams competed.
“What's amazing about this community is that you jump on the bars to do pull-ups and you have strangers yelling at you to keep going,” Rodgers said.
“They're not here to win. Everyone is here to support each other and be their best at exercise.”
There are several CrossFit gyms in Nebraska and western Iowa. To find an affiliate near you, click here.
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