Clutch Crossfit owner Laura Schmidt takes the intimidation out of exercising.
By Barrett White
Photo by Christine Wright
Lift this. That supplement is good for you. That food is terrible for you. Five days a week. Three days a week—no, seven days.
Are fitness programs intimidating to you? For many, the beginning of a health-and-fitness regimen can be incredibly daunting. With gyms on every corner and a GNC store in every strip mall, where does one begin? How do you know you’re doing it right, and who has money for a personal trainer? You head to the gym with no experience and no one to guide you during workouts, only to wind up injuring yourself within the first week.
Fortunately, there’s Laura Schmidt, owner of Clutch CrossFit. With four years of CrossFitting under her belt, this out trainer and her crew transform bodies (and lives) of all types—and at all skill levels—in their Galleria-area gym.
“It’s striking, the kinds of friendships you see forming here,” Schmidt says of the facility’s camaraderie. “People who may have never spoken otherwise are all over each other’s Facebooks comparing soreness and encouraging each other.”
A graduate of Oklahoma State, Schmidt moved back to Houston in 2007 and opened Clutch in 2011. Standing in her lofty gym space equipped with padded floors, Olympic equipment in all directions, ropes, and even more space outside beyond the roll-up doors, Schmidt spoke fondly about creating a space for “CrossFit 2.0.”
“It’s CrossFit, but it’s fun,” she laughs.
Clutch is one of the few LGBT-owned CrossFit gyms in Houston (alongside CrossFit Equality in Jersey Village and CrossFit Kemah). When asked how she created such an accepting and encouraging environment, she says it comes naturally to her clients. Because they don’t feel the need to project a machismo-driven gym persona to fit in, they can relax and instead feel motivated to become a part of this fitness community. Clutch clients—young, old, gay, straight, or otherwise—work out alongside Schmidt and her girlfriend, Sarah, and the gym’s nine CrossFit trainers. The environment gives off an air of familiarity that encourages athletes to come out of their shells, without the superiority vibe found in many franchise gyms.
Another attractive feature of Schmidt’s setup at Clutch is the “On-ramp” beginner’s package. While diehard CrossFitters may join Clutch at any time (after informing the trainers of their skill level), beginners are required to start with the On-ramp option that is designed to ease them into the mix. (That doesn’t mean Schmidt’s On-ramp sessions are easy—beginners will feel broken down and exhausted as they start to grasp correct form and technique, preparing them for the real fun.)
“Our courses cater to your ability,” Schmidt states, noting that while everyone completes the same workouts, they are tailored to your strength and agility. This type of conditioning prepares the average CrossFitter to be ready for any number of things, from running a marathon to powerlifting. “No matter what your skill level is, you’re capable of CrossFit. It’s designed to prepare [your body] for the unknown and the unknowable.”
Schmidt’s passion for her craft is undeniable. During a typical full-body workout, she even provides technical explanations about the fundamentals of what makes CrossFit work.
“You’ve got cardio, gymnastics, and Olympic lifting,” she explains, referring to the building blocks of CrossFit. It seems like each session with Schmidt and her dedicated trainers at Clutch could be an exciting new venture in fitness and body tuning.
With membership packages and weekend hours that accommodate a range of budget and time constraints, Schmidt hopes Clutch will meet the needs of anyone looking for some hardcore “fitspiration.”
For more information about memberships at Clutch CrossFit, its members, and Schmidt herself, visit clutchcrossfit.com.
Barrett White is a frequent contributor to OutSmart magazine.