Coach Jessica Clohessy performs a box jump at Swamp Rabbit CrossFit // Chrissy Ouellette works on overhead squats // Owner William Timmons does a one-handed handstand on a kettlebell


Swamp Rabbit CrossFit fosters a burgeoning fitness community

/ photography by Paul Mehaffey

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25 Peden St, Greenville /  (864) 438-1450 /

FireBreathers_0115_sidebarThere’s a disparaging joke about people who do CrossFit. How do you know if someone is a CrossFitter? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. Which is to say, CrossFitters are unapologetically vocal. The members at Swamp Rabbit are no different.

Part of it is CrossFit’s life-changing potential. Chrissy Ouellette, Paul’s wife, offers herself as an example. “I started out severely overweight, not being able to do a sit-up or a push-up. [Since then] I’ve lost 50 pounds.” Now, Chrissy, a mother of four, makes regular appearances at local CrossFit competitions.

But more than anything, CrossFitters are passionately vocal because they love their community. “I’ve made some of my best friends here. I keep coming because it’s kind of like a hangout session—plus I’m getting in shape at the same time,” says Chrissy. Barbara Emerson, painter Jared Emerson’s wife, adds, “It’s good to see other girls like Chrissy. It’s like, ‘Oh, I want to get to her level.’ It’s just motivating.”

Paul chimes in: “When you start making friends and seeing the same faces, it keeps you accountable. You start to measure yourself against your peers, and it helps push you.”

FireBreathers_0115_article3German likens the experience of each hour-long session to theatre: athletes are both performers and spectators. “Our job is to give it our best effort and cheer people on. People feed off it. That’s your hour—to not worry about kids, bills, work. It’s your time to let go. You should leave riding high.”

And I do. After 17 minutes, I can no longer get my 135-pound barbell overhead. I’m exhausted, but satisfied. The red digital timer keeps ticking onwards, and the only thing left to do is cheer on the few still grinding out thrusters. There’s satisfaction in the success of others, too.

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