The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Future of Fitness

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Old Town’s “805” Aims to Change the Way We Move

Jacqueline Lutz

Staff writer

It’s not uncommon to see an injury during a sports game. At the high school level, ACL injuries are one of the most frequently occurring, particularly in football, girls soccer, and girls basketball. But does it have to be this way? 

To Jerry Hill, the answer is no. 

Hill is the owner of a local gym that was once known as CrossFit Old Town and was affiliated with the popular fitness company. 

During its time as a CrossFit, Hill trained multiple sports teams from (what is now) Alexandria City High School. In 2008, he trained the boys lacrosse team. In 2019, he trained the girls field hockey team. And for the past four years, he has worked with the girls crew team.

“Jerry has provided an amazing outlet for the girls and [has] shown us how to prioritize injury prevention. Our team is so grateful for everything that he has done for us,” said Madeline Glanz, senior coxswain for the girls crew team. 

No longer affiliated with CrossFit, the gym is now called Old Town Strength & Conditioning. It is nicknamed “The 805” because of its location at 805 North Royal Street in Old Town. It focuses on fitness that is both challenging yet sustainable and aims to code patterns of movement that the strongest and least injury-prone athletes seem to have. 

This movement is called GOATA, or Greatest of All Time Actions. 

GOATA movement seeks to recode human movement patterns that have been inhibited by increasingly sedentary lifestyle patterns. Specific movements it emphasizes include keeping one’s feet straight and fist-distance apart, inside ankle bone high (to avoid heel strike), and staying on the outside edge of one’s foot to avoid collapsing inward. The main goal of GOATA movement is to remain back-chain dominant — that is, when one’s hips and haunches drive movement forward and the spine and posterior chain are kept secure. The main gym is based in Marrero, Louisiana, but the exercises and practices have spread across the country and world. 

Shifting away from CrossFit, and its infamous intensity, was a change for Hill, who had been weight training since age 13 for baseball and wrestling, was a college baseball player, and is a former Marine. Notably, he was also the champion of his age group (45-49) in the CrossFit Games of 2012, which meant he was considered one of the ‘Fittest on Earth.’ 

However, as he coached and trained the CrossFit way, he began to notice patterns of soreness and injuries in himself and others that seemed excessive. 

“Even at the height of my ‘Fittest on Earth,’ I was in so much pain… It didn’t make sense. How could I do all these things [with CrossFit] and be in so much pain,” he said. 

He “started to see this pattern of fifty-year-olds and teens moving the same, so something was wrong,’” he said. “And it’s not anybody’s fault – it’s just that [teenagers] have been sitting and on phones longer than anybody else. So I started seeing movement issues earlier on that I normally wouldn’t see until later.”

He began to implement GOATA in small ways, such as with his teens class. However, it was not until mid-2020 that he decided to make the switch to GOATA, completely disaffiliating with CrossFit and becoming an independent gym in the midst of the pandemic. The motivation to disaffiliate was supplemented by racially insensitive comments by CrossFit founder and CEO, Greg Glassman, during the social justice movement of the summer of 2020. The CrossFit sign was taken down within days. 

“To see the trauma that was going on in people’s lives [during the pandemic]… I knew that I wanted to make a bigger impact on people’s lives, and I knew I wanted to go for a movement-base and wellness-base,” he said. 

Bud Hart, Alexandria City attorney, said, “I have known Jerry Hill for more than 12 years. He is just the right combination for a great coach: an education in Kinesiology, years in the Marines, and an interest in keeping people healthy.”

Hill now teaches multiple classes a day, in addition to personal training sessions, dedicated to implementing the GOATA movement patterns in the lives of others. The gym is a heavily local one, with ACHS athletes, parents, and administrators participating. 

Patty Moran, ACPS staff member and Alexandria City community activist, said, “My daughter was a CrossFit coach and bought me sessions with Jerry Hill for a birthday gift 11 years ago. He changed my life. He got me off the couch and active again. Jerry cares about everyone and that they move daily, the young, not-so-young, and oldsters like me.” 

“His gym provides a place where you can receive great athletic advice and training in a positive environment. [It has] helped to improve my athletic ability and confidence,” said sophomore Timothy Gants. 

Hill’s introduction to GOATA class for teenagers, which he hosted in the summer of 2021. Photo by Jerry Hill. 

To Hill, it is especially important for athletes of all ages to be working with the GOATA movement patterns because “If you get strong and fit on a poor foundation, you’re just going to get hurt.”

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The Future of Fitness