Madeline Reale got her first CrossFit membership as a Christmas gift four years ago, when she and her husband, Carmen, lived in Houston.
The Bemus Point native met her husband two years earlier while they were at Rochester Institute of Technology. He grew up in Geneva, so they were a long way from home. He thought joining a gym would help the couple meet new people.
"He wanted to get me to push myself outside my comfort zone,” she said. “I think he saw it would be a really good fit for me and I would catch on quickly, which I did. I instantly fell in love with it."
The couple moved to the Elmwood Village about two years ago, joined Lumber City CrossFit in North Tonawanda, and befriended Matt Angelucci. The trio, all with full-time jobs and in their late-20s, wished they had a CrossFit gym closer to their home base in Buffalo – so they started one themselves.
RockPile Athletics (rockpileathletics.com) opened in July at 1235 Main St., at Northhampton St., in the former Buffalo Post Office postal carrier parking garage. The gym was designed to help those at any point on their wellness journey see how fitness and a proper diet can help prevent chronic disease, improve daily function and nurture overall health.
"We [owners] all have a different path for being here,” said Madeline Reale, who works in digital marketing and communications for Evans Bank. “We didn't just wake up one day and decide we wanted to do CrossFit."
Carmen Reale, a controller for Caplugs manufacturing, discovered CrossFit eight years ago after a heavy college schedule led to choices that added 50 pounds to his frame. He lost weight, added tone and looks to share his success.
Angelucci, who works at Lactalis American Group, a food company, started 6½ years ago to help him get ready for a 24-hour obstacle race – and liked the results.
Madeline Reale calls herself a “washed-up” college basketball player who hung up sneakers and needed to get in better shape during her early working years. Here’s what she said about the trio’s young business.
Q: What were your diets like?
I didn't follow a strict diet plan. Carmen did a few fad diets here and there. Matt has consistently been a fairly decent eater. In the last two years, we've all started to dial into the nutrition a lot more.
Q: How have you done that?
Making sure you're eating a lot more. That's the biggest misconception: "I had this big meal, so maybe I should skip lunch or shouldn't have dinner." That's not the case. Your body is fueled by what you put into it. You want it to be healthy foods: proteins, vegetables, some fruit, a little starch. No sugar. That's kind of the baseline for what we follow.
The model of CrossFit is based on a pyramid. At the bottom, the biggest chunk, is your nutrition. Above that, you start incorporating things like cardio, weight lifting, gymnastics and sport.
Q: How has your body and changed since you started CrossFit?
I feel stronger than I ever did, even when I was playing college sports. Consistency and variance of what we do here helps. You're never going to come in and do the same workout, fall into some type of routine. I credit our master programmer and genius, Greg Coleman. CrossFit is constantly varied. You're doing functional movements performed at high intensity. It can be a short workout. It can be a long workout. It can be a mixed workout. Doing all of that has allowed us to recover more quickly. We're not training the same body part or at the same intensity every day.
Most women tend to feel like they want to lose weight. I have gained weight but it's lean muscle. I don't want to get too bulky or feel big. That's not going to happen unless you're training every day to be bulky or be big. You're training your body to have lean muscle so, over the course of the day, your body is burning fat more quickly. It took me a while to accept that. ... Many women have changed their philosophy. Strong is the new skinny.
(The first drop-in class at RockPile Athletics is free. Rates range from $10 per class to $155 for a monthly membership; bootcamp classes are less expensive. The gym will host a free 60-minute class at 7:25 p.m. Jan. 23. For more information, visit rockpileathletics.com.)
Twitter: @BNrefresh; @ScottBScanlon