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Husband-and-Wife Team Opens CrossFit Gym in East Village

 CrossFit East River will be opening up Monday on East 9th Street and Avenue C.
CrossFit East River
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EAST VILLAGE — Opening a new business isn't too heavy a lift for this couple.

Husband-and-wife team Eric and Melissa Leon are set to open CrossFit East River on Monday, jumping on the cult fitness trend that features repetitions of aerobic and body-weight exercises, gymnastics and Olympic weightlifting.

To prepare for the gym's launch, the couple decked out a 2,500-square-foot former garage on East Ninth Street at Avenue C with gymnastic rings, rowing machines, climbing ropes and a 54-foot-long pull-up rig.   

"One of the great things that CrossFit offers [that] gyms don't is the community," said Melissa Leon, 26, who along with her husband is a certified CrossFit instructor and lives nearby. "It is more of a lifestyle."

Classes will last for about an hour with participants completing a "WOD" — workout of the day — which consists of an ever-changing program of exercises mostly in three-set repetitions of 21, 15 and 9.

"The program is always varied," Melissa Leon said. "We don't do the same thing over and over again each day."

Exercise options include squats, pull-ups, using rowing machines and movements that involve lifting dumbbells or throwing medicine balls.

While the exercises are often done individually, group-oriented workouts will take place on the weekend, she said.

CrossFit East River, first reported on the blog EV Grieve, will initially offer six classed each weekday with another two on Saturday in the industrial-style garage space. Unlimited classes go for $200 a month, or participants can pay $175 for 10 workouts, with discounts offered to teachers and members of the military, as well as emergency responders such as firefighters.

"It has changed my life," said Melissa Leon said, who started doing CrossFit two years ago and lost 30 pounds before she and her husband got married. 

"I love the challenge, and being strong is beautiful," she said. "My husband is handy, but I can move things around the house, too."

In choosing the East Village, the Leons are hoping to fill a void for CrossFit gyms in the neighborhood.

"We were going to make it work in this area," said Eric Leon, 24. "If you look on the map, there is really nothing in this area."

Eric Leon, who served in Afghanistan for nine months last year with the National Guard, started doing the workout in 2008 when CrossFit was considered obscure.

"It is now on the border of mainstream," he said.

Melissa Leon hopes CrossFit East River and the strength-focused program it offers will also appeal to women as much as men.

"Every single workout is scalable to everybody, whether you are brand-new to working out, 80 years old or working out every day your whole life," she said. "Everyone can do it."