Tag Archives: Picnic Island

Booting up with Tampa CrossBoot

Editor’s Note: David Adams, a University of Tampa student and U.S. Army veteran, is comparing obstacle race preparation and other training methods to the training he underwent in the military. In a series of stories for EnduranceSportsFlorida.com this summer, he’s writing about his progress.

By David Adams

CrossBoot instructor Vinny Fountain

TAMPA – By the end of the first set, my muscles were tense and pleading with my brain to stop.

I was standing with 20 classmates alongside a pavilion at Tampa’s Picnic Island pushing myself through “CrossBoot,” a CrossFit-like hybrid created by trainers Whit Lasseter and Vinny “Scoot” Fountain.

Push harder, Lasseter implored us. I was sweating profusely, and my shoulders, quads, and calves were on fire.  Each exercise challenged a different part of my body, and collectively they made for one really demanding workout.

This was unlike my usual weight room routines, which was just the point.

Over the last few years as fitness enthusiasts have been searching for better ways to condition the body, personal trainers have moved out of the gym. CrossFit coaches have transformed open space into a personal proving ground for anyone who wants to be in better condition.

I recently met Lasseter, co-owner of Tampa CrossBoot fitness classes and The Facility Gym in Ballast Point, who invited me to attend a CrossBoot session and learn about what it means to be a CrossFit athlete.

Lasseter and Fountain started Tampa CrossBoot more than a year ago, and since then the class has exploded, attracting not only CrossFit enthusiasts but athletes from many different backgrounds. CrossBoot’s routines provide a great cardiovascular workout, and weight routines during the sessions test physical strength.

CrossBoot sessions are held eight times a week, with two classes on Mondays and Fridays, and once a day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Lasseter and Fountain both run the CrossBoot classes, helping attendees maintain proper form and providing motivation to everyone involved.

The popularity of Tampa CrossBoot has grown quickly. Although average class sizes vary from around fourteen to twenty people, Lasseter said it isn’t uncommon to see as many as thirty people arriving at class time to run the 60-to-90 minute gauntlet that is CrossBoot.

Post-workout team photo

With Tampa CrossBoot not even a year old, Lasseter and Fountain decided to buy a training headquarters, “The Facility,” in February and train people full time. The new gym offers classes ranging from Abs and Booty to Zumba.  Power lifting, cardio kickboxing sessions, and various forms of yoga are also available.

On Sunday, I made the trip to Picnic Island Park to meet up with Lasseter and Fountain for one of their CrossBoot classes. As I pulled into the gravel parking lot the class was just beginning.  Nearly twenty people were already pushing their endurance, performing box jumps on the seats of picnic tables under a beachfront pavilion.

“Hey, glad you made it!” Lasseter said. “We were just finishing our warm-up.”

Although the box jumps seemed like a pretty intense warm-up, I nodded.  I was silently preparing myself for a very intense workout that would undoubtedly leave me exhausted afterward.  I jumped into the class as they started their next partner-assisted exercise.

One person conducted sit-ups, the other had to hold their ankles while they remained in the plank position. Each group had to complete 200 sit-ups before resting. Lasseter and I partnered, and Whit began knocking out sit-ups at an alarming pace. When she finished 50, we switched, and I completed my set of 50. During the next round, she did 60, leaving me thankfully only 40 to complete. I already was beginning to sweat, and we had just started.

After sit-ups, the group began individual circuits, starting off with squat thrusts while holding a weight bar, followed by frog jumps. Pushups and GTOs (ground-to-overhead) with weight were the final two workouts, with a 400-meter run following directly after completion of the course. To complete the session, each person had to do descending repetitions, starting with 21 reps of each the first time and falling by three reps each subsequent circuit.

When it was done, everyone gathered under the pavilion to catch their breath and congratulate one another on a successful training session.  The group was getting ready to go to Adventure Island and have some fun together.  Monthly “fun” days are now part of CrossBoot, making the class an even better idea for anyone who wants a workout that will push them to their limits and a place to meet fun people.

The best part about CrossBoot is that no two workouts will be the same.

“We constantly change our routines,” Lasseter said.  “You know how we timed this class? We may repeat timed exercises months down the road to gauge individual’s improvement, but 99% of the time, our sessions are completely different.”

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A Cardio Wake-up Call

Editor’s Note: David Adams, a University of Tampa student and U.S. Army veteran, is comparing obstacle race preparation and other endurance regimens to the training he underwent in the military. In a series of stories for EnduranceSportsFlorida.com this summer, he’ll write about his progress.

By David Adams

Off road at Picnic Island

On Friday evening I participated in my first obstacle course since leaving the Army, the Picnic Island Adventure Run in Tampa.

Hundreds of competitors showed up, and the starting line was crowded. The course design was challenging, and many elements of the race were similar to obstacle runs and competitions I took part in while in the military. I finished the 3.6-mile course in 101st place overall (out of 274 men) with a time of 35:35.

My conditioning (or lack thereof) played a major role in my finish and although I am in good physical condition, Picnic Island was a cardio wake-up call.

Picnic Island is a beach park offering amazing views of Tampa Bay, nestled behind a small industrial district at the very end of Westshore Boulevard. The course was designed with endurance running in mind as right from the start we were running in sand. After a short distance, the route led us into shin-deep water, soaking my shoes and ensuring the rest of my run would be completed in wet footwear.

From there, the race took an uphill turn and led us from the beach into the park. Other obstacles were set up throughout the race in addition to several areas where runners were forced to wade through waist-deep water. The obstacles included a small area of dirt hills, a low crawl underneath cargo netting, a tire run, and a small “wall” jump. At the very end of the race we were required to swim out into the bay around a floating buoy and back to shore.

Compared to the obstacle courses and competitive runs I took part in while in the military, Picnic Island was very challenging. The major difference was the obstacles. Those in military competition were usually more physically demanding. For example, instead of crawling in sand under a cargo net, during my training in Air Assault School we conducted an obstacle course that required trainees to low crawl through mud underneath barbed wire.

Other than the difference in obstacle construction, there were no other glaring differences. If anything, the course design of Picnic Island took runners on a more demanding route than any of my Army runs.

Runners must wade around a buoy

My conditioning at the start of this race was not what I was hoping. I twice had to stop for ten-second breathers, which was very disappointing. Although I run regularly during my training schedule, I never thought to run off-road. I paid the price as I was gassed by the end of the run. I have made the decision to change my training regimen and tailor it more towards endurance and cardio training over the summer in hopes of improving my run times over the summer.

I had a great time at Picnic Island, and I view it as a valuable learning experience.  I am going to strive for improvement on my run times, and am planning to start off-road running on a regular basis in an attempt to improve my endurance.  While 35:35 might not be the fastest time, I am happy with the results of my first adventure run, and look forward to seeing marked improvement after my next race.

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