When a friend talked Kevin Oie into trying out a CrossFit class near work, he agreed to go to the strength and conditioning class. He was almost 29, and felt that his metabolism had slowed in his mid-20s until his weight had crept up to 220 pounds on his 5-foot-7 frame. He was skipping physicals to avoid "getting yelled at" by the doctor. When his family finally persuaded him to go to the doctor, the doctor told him what he already knew: With a family history of diabetes on both sides, he needed to get fit. Now he goes to CrossFit, where the workout of the day may include anything from jumping rope to climbing to rowing, three or four times a week, and he is closing in on benching 300 pounds and deadlifting 470. 

He talked about his experiences:

TRIAL BY FIRE

"The first day I went in, I did a workout called Baseline No. 1, where they put you through a 500-meter row, 40 squats, 30 sit-ups, 20 push-ups and 10 pull-ups. On the white board it doesn't look like much ... so I started rowing for all I was worth and after 200 meters I stopped dead in the mythical water. Squats took forever; sit-ups were terrible; I had to do the push-ups from my knees and I had to stand on a box and jump to do a pull-up. Then I had to run out into the back of the office building, where I collapsed against the Dumpster and lost my lunch."

PEP TALK

"The trainer was saying all these encouraging things and I'm thinking: Were you there for the last 15 minutes? But the more I started thinking about it, I realized she was talking about the effort relative to myself. Maybe I'm just stubborn, but I wanted to get better/faster."

TEAM SPIRIT

"It took me a lot of ice and three days of psyching myself up [to return], but the feeling of positivity and being surrounded by people doing something they love made me want to be a part of it. They weren't saying you can't do X or Y but we will coach you through this. I work out with guys in training for Navy SEALs and 65-year-old grandmothers."

BYPASSING SURGERY

"A year ago, I decided I wanted to go back to the doctor, and he drew my blood. At that point I was about 195 pounds -- I think I'd gained 10 to 15 pounds of muscle and lost 45 pounds of fat. The doctor looked at the results from last year and this year, and he said, "From these lab results I can't tell it's from the same person." People who know me asked if I got bypass surgery."

RX: MORE CROSSFIT

"I [recently] went to a sports orthopedic person to diagnose my shoulder pain, and it turns out I have early stage disc degeneration in my neck. The doctor said the best thing would be to strengthen my neck muscles, and I can't think of a better way to do it than CrossFit. ... I really credit it for saving my life. But my journey is not over. I lost a massive amount of weight, but I want to be even more healthy and fit."