Talking Shop with Corey Bullard of Southeast CrossFit

Monday, January 17, 2011
Ellen and Corey Bullard operate Southeast CrossFit in Jackson. (FRED LYNCH ~ flynch@semissourian.com)

Jackson native Corey Bullard and his wife, Ellen, returned to his hometown about two years ago to bring a new concept of fitness and nutrition to Southeast Missouri. At Southeast CrossFit, Bullard works to improve the health and lives of people of all ages and athletic skill levels.

Question: What is CrossFit?

Answer: The easiest way to explain CrossFit is it's constantly varied functional movement done at high intensity. The biggest misconception with CrossFit is that people who see it on the Internet or watch YouTube videos think it's hard-core, strictly for athletes and weightlifters. It's not, that's actually a very small percentage of the CrossFit population. Most of our clients are middle-aged men and women, soccer moms, grandmas. We train athletes, but it's not an athlete-based program.

Q: How did you get interested in CrossFit?

A: My brother has been in the Army special forces for many years. The military has adopted CrossFit as its main strength and conditioning program. He's got every certification that CrossFit offers. It's been around since the 1970s. It's a very grassroots movement. It's very popular on the East and West Coast, but it's still new to the Midwest. Police, fire departments and military units are adopting CrossFit. There are a lot of professional athletes and mixed martial arts fighters using it, but the beauty of it is there are a lot of grandmas using it, too.

Q: You and your wife, Ellen, are both CrossFit instructors. What kind of training is required for this?

A: To get our certifications we actually spend weekends doing movements, learning in a classroom setting and taking exams. We're not just certified in just one area. We have to have a separate certification to teach running, rowing, weightlifting, gymnastics, recovery, flexibility. It's very in-depth. We take all those movements, mix them all up and do them in constantly varied, always different types of arrangements and do them very fast and intense. The beauty of the intensity is it's universally scalable for everyone, which is why I can take a 4-year-old and get them started, we've also had elderly people in nursing homes that we've been able to teach them the same stuff, do it at no intensity level and make it therapy for them to get them out of nursing homes.

Q: How did your CrossFit training business get started?

A: This is our third facility. We started in Chicago in 2008 out of a three-car garage. In a matter of two months we had no room to train everyone, so we moved. We went to Iowa and did it there for a while and went to school there for a while. Then we decided, since I'm from Jackson, and we knew this area had nothing like it so we came back here in January 2009 and started Southeast CrossFit in our basement with about 12 clients. We moved uptown by Tractors, but we outgrew that in three months and moved in here in March 2010. Now we have over 7,000 square feet.

Q: What's the difference between Southeast CrossFit and a traditional health club?

A: The problem with machines is they limit range of motion. We don't have a lot of machines. It's all free weights and therapy. There's no treadmills, but we do have rowing machines. If you go into health clubs you'll see a lot of people on treadmills and ellipticals. All the exercises we do, instead of working one joint at a time, they work multiple joints at the same time. Our retention is off the charts compared to a traditional health club. People will join a health club in January for their New Year's resolution and by March or April they're gone. The reason for that is people get tired of the same old thing. I go in. I get on some machines. They're not held accountable. Here they get professional coaching, and if you're not here, we call you to find out why you missed and make sure you are OK. We also never do the same thing twice. I have clients who have been here for a year, coming four or five times a week, and are yet to repeat the same workout. Our belief is that routine is the enemy.

Q: Describe the nutrition program that goes along with the CrossFit training.

A: Very simply, we eat like our ancestors did. We don't eat processed foods. We don't eat grains of any kind. You see the food pyramid charts that have been around for years, if you were to follow the food pyramid you would become obese. If you take the food pyramid and flip it upside down, that's our program. We don't eat bread because it promotes inflammation. We follow the Paleo Solution, written by biochemist Robb Wolf. We eat grass-fed meats, fruits, vegetables.

We have a lady who has her 5-year-old son on Paleo. He was hyperactive, but she's seen complete behavior changes in him.

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