Indy CrossFit – Building Community and Strength in Irvington


Guest writer & photographer: Jeff and Aita Chapman

After a year’s deployment in Afghanistan, Sergeant Jeff Chapman is back doing what he is passionate about – owning and operating central Indiana’s first CrossFit gym. Opening Indy CrossFit in January 2007 was a huge leap of faith- CrossFit was unknown to but a few people nationwide, much less in Indiana. Over the next five years, Chapman and his gym family spread the word about this fitness lifestyle to fellow law enforcement, firefighters, military personnel as well as others looking for a proven and functional fitness program. Then this Sergeant in the US Army Reserve received orders to deploy to Afghanistan for a year, and Indy CrossFit was put on hold.  Now, Chapman is ready to resume his passion.

This time, however, things are different. CrossFit is not a fly-by-night fad, but a proven fitness program, and the new location is near the heart of Historic Irvington – a true community experiencing revitalization and grassroots effort to support and expand local businesses.

Chapman and his wife, Aita, who grew up and worked in the Irvington area, started to scout locations after Chapman’s return home last October. During the Historic Irvington Halloween Festival, they found a site within walking distance for nearby residents, a running path, a nearby pizza spot and a brewpub.  Chapman states “As a group, we like to have fun together, we know each other’s families, we support each other in interests aside from working out together. This location allows us to do just that while staying in the same neighborhood.”

Chapman also has true-life experience to inspire his members.  Nearly 39, he was one of the oldest soldiers in the 325th Tactical PSYOP (A Special Operations Command) deployed to southern Afghanistan.  “ We had to march in a war zone 25 miles every couple of days with 70 pounds of gear on our backs, in temperatures exceeding 115 degrees. If you’re not in shape, you’re a liability to your team”.  Chapman’s physical peak allowed him to out pace and out-perform soldiers nearly half his age. At FOB Lindsey near Kandahar, Chapman bonded with a dedicated group of deployed CrossFitters, often using any leftover equipment that would work as a weight sled or box for jumps.  Even in Afghanistan, Chapman continued to teach, coach and motivate weary and physically worn troops, as well as his Indy CrossFit members that followed his blog and workouts that he posted online. “Doing CrossFit not only kept me strong physically but mentally as well. Everyone misses home, his or her family, just as I did. But workouts helped me through that stressful and difficult time away from my family and friends”

Now he’s ready for his next mission: inspiring and helping the residents of Irvington and the east side of Indianapolis to become healthier, better versions of themselves. “There will be blood, sweat and tears, but everyone is in it together right along with you.”

Now, if that isn’t enough to get you down to CrossFit, here are some testimonials from a few ICF members:

From Seth Brooke, Irvington Resident

How has your overall health/fitness changed since your time at Indy CrossFit?

In the four months since I began training at Indy CrossFit my physical and mental health has improved dramatically. The training has improved my strength, endurance, and flexibility. As a thirty-five year old man I am lifting heavier weights and performing better than at any other point in my life.

In addition the stress and anxiety of my life quickly fades away upon beginning a work out. I’ve found my confidence levels are much higher in my professional life as well.

If you have worked out at larger gyms (Golds/Y/Lifetime), what is it about a smaller place like ICF that appeals to you?

I’ve been a gym member for most of my adult life. In that time I’ve done everything from self-directed to group training. I’ve found, however, that I’ve seldom received the structured, personalized training that I need to really push myself. I’ve also found that most gyms provide little, if any, true training on form. Imagine my surprise when I learned that I’d been doing the squat the wrong way for my entire life.

Indy CrossFit has been able to provide the structured training that I’ve desperately needed to improve my performance in an environment that is both safe and supportive.

Are there any unique motivators about ICF/Jeff/ CrossFit that have exceeded your expections from when you first started?

Little gets by Jeff. Even on the busiest of days he sees and hears everything. Then amazingly he is able to retain all of that information as well. By doing these things successfully he’s able to tailor a work out to your unique needs. Then over time he’s able to convert that into results. I’m constantly amazed with the outcomes.

Overall, how do you feel ICF fits into the demographic and strong sense of community within Irvington?

Irvington is a true community within a larger whole. I cannot think of a better or more apt home for Indy CrossFit.

From Nick and Lauren McLaughlin, Irvington Residents:

Lauren:  Since joining Indy Crossfit in February, I’ve noticed an improvement in overall muscle tone and flexibility. Perhaps more importantly, I’ve made several new friendships and feel truly involved in a community.

ICF is such a great fit for Irvington as it mirrors many of the same values-ICF is not elitist but rather an accepting and friendly environment where people of all fitness levels can challenge and encourage each other to do their best.

Jeff Chapman, owner and trainer, pushes members to achieve more than they believed capable of achieving. Not only is he a great motivator, but Jeff is also very knowledgeable in terms of explaining how to physiologically execute specific movements.

Another huge benefit of being a member at Indy Crossfit is that I can head to the gym, put in an hour or less and experience great results. As a mom of a young toddler, it’s wonderful to get some “adult time” in the neighborhood while not spending too much time away from my family.

Nick: It is a personal belief of mine that Irvington’s greatest asset is its active and vibrant sense of community spirit. The pulse of Irvington flows through the grass-roots efforts put forth by its active neighbors that live and grow together as well as the local businesses that operate daily amongst them. Indy CrossFit fully embodies the Irvington community spirit. The members of ICF have and continue to grow together as more than just gym members; we are a strong supportive community of people from different places in life that come together to find enjoyment in our shared health.

ICF has changed the way I look at fitness forever. Prior to joining ICF, I spent many years between big box gyms and fitness centers working out aimlessly by myself with little gains in strength and stamina but plenty of frustration. After just one work out with Jeff Chapman at ICF I was hooked. Jeff fosters a fun, unique, and challenging environment for the entire gym that keeps me excited and motivated. I look forward to witnessing the daily progress and accomplishments of my entire fellow Indy CrossFitters more so than my own. It is this community and this positive atmosphere at ICF that keeps me coming back day after day.

For more in formation on Indy CrossFit, visit their Facebook page or website:
Indy CrossFit/ SHOK Fitness
211 S. Ritter  #G
Indianapolis IN  46219


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