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Dan Hagerman and Sarah Sirico of Fitness Advantage in Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

In a former garage behind Fitness Advantage on Route 48 in Southold, eight friends meet multiple times a week with a shared goal: strengthening their bodies. 

At CrossFit North Tribe, the group’s workouts are led by siblings Dan Hagerman and Sarah Sirico, who own Fitness Advantage. As members warm up by doing squats, jumping rope and rowing on machines, they talk about their past workouts and catch up on their personal lives. During the main workouts— which include heavy barbell lifts and combos of exercises like burpees, weighted squats, box jumps and pullups — they give each other advice on form and technique.

At one point, they all stop and cheer each other on as each member completes pull-ups.

“We’re definitely a big team,” said Hailey Schadt of Southold, who has been attending CrossFit North Tribe classes for over a year. “I’ve made so many new friends.”

Her husband, Kyle, and member Courtney Meringer of Mattituck agreed that the “camaraderie” is their favorite aspect of the sport, which some members say has been somewhat misrepresented in the media. It sometimes gets a reputation as being hyper-competitive and only for those in top shape.

This idea is something Hagerman acknowledges, saying most people get their first taste of CrossFit from ESPN clips that showcase it as an intense sport, or from watching CrossFit fail videos, which feature people trying unsuccessfully to complete difficult CrossFit exercises.

That competitive image, however, is what drove some of North Tribe’s nearly 100 members, including Meringer, to join.

“I was a skeptic and wanted to see what it’s about,” she said. Over a year later, she’s still attending classes multiple times a week.

CrossFit member Bill Moore performs a box jump.
CrossFit member Bill Moore performs a box jump.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program used by police officers and military members, and Hagerman began offering classes three years ago as the program grew in popularity.

While he understands that a perception of toughness is a draw, he and Sirico are quick to refute that it’s what CrossFit is all about. Instead, their classes focus on supporting one and another and adjusting the workout to members’ strengths.

“There’s a big misconception of what it really is,” Sirico said. “It’s about training and conditioning properly that has the goal of helping you meet your goals.”

In addition to the CrossFit program, the siblings have owned Fitness Advantage since July 2001 and both have degrees in exercise science from Springfield College in Massachusetts. They were certified in CrossFit training in 2012 and opened CrossFit North Tribe in October of that year.

Hagerman, who’s been doing CrossFit personally for five years and coaching it for more than three, said each facility offers different programs based on how the owners decide to teach it. At North Tribe, he and Sirico tailor the experience to meet members’ goals.

One way he’s able to focus on the individual while still maintaining the “tight knit” group atmosphere is through use of two large television screens connected to the computer system. The left screen displays the day’s workout options. The right screen is where members sign in and can view their workout histories — what exercises they did, how many repetitions they completed, what weights they used and more.

Seeing his students, who range in age from 15 to 71, achieve their goals is Hagerman’s favorite part of teaching the classes. His favorite story is of a two-year member in his seventies, complaining about bringing his Christmas tree up from the basement — a task he hates since the tree is so heavy, Hagerman said. But this holiday season he came to class happy to share that lifting the tree wasn’t that bad this year.

“Everyone is very satisfied with what they get out of here,” he said. “They’re better movers, they have a better sense of their bodies and better mechanics.”

For those interested in joining, CrossFit North Tribe offers a fundamentals program — 12 classes over four weeks ­— designed to introduce people to the sport. The package costs $250 and includes an additional two-week membership, Hagerman said.

Kyle Schadt of Southold performs a weighted squat.
Kyle Schadt of Southold performs a weighted squat.