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Friday
Aug292014

Rest Day

Throwback from #sbkgoeswest, at CrossFit SolCity

On the Road, and Sweaty: Visiting Other CrossFit Affiliates

By Noah Abbott 

About a month ago, Coaches Melissa, Chris and Jess Fox, Commander in Chief Osorio, a few of our members, and I were lucky enough to take a long vacation in California, centered around attending the 2014 CrossFit Games. (You may have noticed when every single class for a week was taught by some combination of McDowell, Arturo, Jeremy, Whit, and Nick.) While on the road, despite some questionable food choices and even more questionable beverage choices, we were able to work out roughly about every other day, each time at a different CrossFit affiliate. Heading down the CA coast, we stopped in at CrossFit San Francisco and WODed with Carl Paoli, benched outside, Muscle Beach style at Grover City CrossFit, and experienced both older, established, and polished Brick Crossfit and the younger and more familial Sol City CrossFit in LA.

"Dropping in" at another gym can be a wonderful experience, or a shocking reminder that CrossFit gyms vary widely in philosophy, organization, and overall quality. We often get questions from members about what gyms to visit while they are away, and have a dedicated Travel Gym Recommendations section of the blog to make finding a good home away from home that much easier. Still, if you find yourself headed to a locale nobody else has visited, or haven't stepped outside the gentle confines of CFSBK, here are some tips and (typically verbose) musings to make you a better road warrior. 

Preliminary Research

Much like Coach David suggested in his ITA piece on choosing a Crossfit gym, it's useful to do some poking around on the web when looking for a gym to visit. First, size up the gym itself: 

  • Programming: Check to see if the gym programs (roughly) like CFSBK. Do they have dedicated strength training along with metcons, or just day after day of chipper style beatdowns and Hero WODs? Do they talk about mobility, technique, and recovery? Scroll back through a few weeks of their blog, and see if you can get a feel for how they run their gym—even though you are just going to be there for a day or two, look for intention and clarity in their approach.
  • Staff Bios: Check out how long their staff has been coaching and whether they have some diversity of experience, knowledge, and credentials. If the head coach or owners blog says "I started CrossFit 6 months ago and fell in love, got my Level 1 and opened my gym last week!" you might be in for some growing pains. Look for coaches that emphasize their education and coaching experience over their competitive CrossFit resume ("Trevor is a total firebreather and took 26th place in the West Mid-Central Madagascar Region!!!”). It seems silly, but you can get a decent idea of the vibe of a gyms coaches by how they portray themselves. I once didn't visit a gym because their head coach's bio picture was him posing with a giant machine gun—not necessarily a bad thing, but generally not the vibe I look for when choosing a gym.
  • Drop In Policies, Schedules, and Flexibility: I'll cover some of this in greater depth further along in this article, but make sure to check out what they require of visitors, if their classes fit your schedule, and if they can accommodate any special needs you might have. Smaller and newer gyms tend to be looser about paying for classes, and will often be more flexible about scheduling. Recently I dropped in at CrossFit Ancile in the bustling metropolis of McFarland, WI. They were able to accommodate a bunch of specific training requests I had, mainly because they were under a year 

Reach Out 

Once you've found a gym to go to, it's good policy to get in contact with the gym's management to let them know you'd like to drop in. A quick email will usually suffice, and there is no need to go into voluminous detail. Just let them know you're interested in dropping in, that you're a CFSBK member, and how long you've been CrossFitting (especially important if its been 6 months or less). This will often start a short dialogue with the gym owner/administrator, and it’s very useful on their side, so they can let their coaches know to expect you. Some gyms may require you to register in whichever logistics system they use, and possibly RSVP to a specific class. 

Be a Badassador 

Whether you are cognizant of it or not, you are effectively a CFSBK ambassador when you are on the road (especially if you are wearing a skull 'n bones tee!) Most of us are pretty well-mannered gym-goers anyway, but prepare to kick things into overdrive as a visitor, and reprezentreprezent. 

Once all of the logistics are squared away, its time to actually show up and work out. Make sure to show up at least fifteen minutes early. This is good practice at CFSBK too, often neglected (you tardy scofflaws know who you are!) but especially important when traveling. You'll need to get the lay of the land, fill out waivers, and generally get settled into a new place. If you stroll in a minute before class time, especially at a gym without a dedicated front desk or admin staff, you will be monopolizing the coach's time, and by proxy the members' time as well.

Remember that while traveling, you should strive to be the most A+, 110% version of your elite self you can be. Arrive early, listen as closely as possible, perform all movements with as much care and virtuosity as you can possibly manage, help break down equipment, clean up your space—you want to act like the Coach's Pet, a near caricature of what a good gym member should be. Accommodating visitors can be hard work for a coach—different gyms speak slightly different "dialects" and follow different patterns, so try and be as helpful, unobtrusive, and anticipatory as possible.  

Treat this experience as just that, an experience. It's unlikely that the programming where you're visiting will match up with ours exactly, and that's okay. Try not to get too Type A about missing your Wendler 3 week, and just embrace the “Unknown, Unknowable,” aspect that is central to CrossFit.

Be chatty! Introduce yourself to other members, the coaches, and if you are working as a team or as partners in a WOD try and be as supportive and motivational as you can be, within reason. I love to plumb members and coaches for restaurant recommendations, places to see, and other info that a local CrossFitter would know. Try and be an ambassador for CFSBK, and leave your temporary home with a good impression of our little community. 

One last, weird little thing regarding paying for drop-ins. Some gyms have very hard and fast policies, and charge decently hefty fees, some allow a set number of visits before you have to pony up (generally 1-3), while others have no policy at all. Usually it’s the older and more established gyms that allow for free drop-ins, as they were a central community value when CrossFit was starting out. Informally, most gyms will waive the fee if you buy a t-shirt, and since 90% of the reason people do CrossFit is for the t-shirts, this tends to work pretty well. Always offer to pay the drop-in fee, and the coach will likely waive it or just tell you to buy a shirt.  Sometimes it can be a bit of a stilted exercise in reading between the lines and innuendo, but it’s a pretty unique and cool tradition based in the idea of a larger CrossFit community.

It's also pretty common to ask the coach who ran your class or even the whole class to pose for a picture, and most folks will be pretty accommodating about this. That said, try and find a time when people aren't busy, generally the start and end of each class. Getting a picture in front of something with the gym's name on it is always cool, as is making muscles and faces for the camera. Make sure you email KR Editz (aka Kate Reece) your picture so she can pump you on the blog, and also put it on your Instagramz so I can give you mad likes and emojis.

Go Forth and Conquer!

  • Happy belated birthday, Rob U.!
  • Please remember that Yoga for Athletes with Coach Whit is canceled tomorrow. 

_____________________
Edible Anatomically Accurate Chocolate Human Skulls Colossal
Roadways You Can Install Like Throw Rugs NPR
Taking an Honest Look Catalyst Athletics
My Secret New York Sanctuary Narratively

Reader Comments (30)

Im thinking about comepting in the Ruby Salbo weightlifting meet on 9/21... Never done this before. Anybody have any clue on where to start with the paperwork? Do i need to be a memeber of USAW? I hope its not too late...

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter..

?

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter..

testing

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterD.

is it eating up comments again

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterD.

Im thinking about competing in the oly meet on 9/21 at garden city... Anyone know how to register for it? Do I have to be a member of USAW? and do i need a singlet?

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterd...

Great piece Noah!

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

I always thought a "Badassador" was a cross between a Basset Hound and a Labrador, but now I see that is actually an Bassador and this Badassador is something that, with the right amount of practice and dedication, I could become. I also now want to go to Raratonga.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Mc

6am. HBBS: 255x5x3. Still moving well, though might have to jump only 5# next week. Metcon Rx: 8:43. Did the KB swings unbroken, row in about 1:50, run was comically slow. OHS broken up in 13-12-5. Was thinking maybe I could do the OHS unbroken, but legs weren't having it. Should have really done them in 2 sets. Dropping the bar at 13 was weak sauce.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

testing 123

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Yesterday: Worked up to 83# on the snatch complex. WOD with JJ: 6 rounds total plus 6 pull ups. I did 6 kipping pull ups, burpees, and 35# on the snatch.

Today: HBBSQ with JJ, 142.5#x5x3. I'm definitely approaching my limit on these - they're starting to slow down. So happy that I made such progress this cycle. Rxed the WOD in 10:38 - great WOD today! Love me a chipper workout.

It's Labor Day Weekend y'all! See you Tuesday. :-)

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKH (a.k.a. Cage)

..

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdee...

6am with McD and MeLo.

BSQ 225x5x3. Felt pretty good. Missed the last 2 exposures so I stayed at 225 which I hit in exposure 6. Will continue to move up next week.

WOD 9:47 Rx
I took my time on the swings because I was trying to keep good form and make sure my arms were locked out overhead. Broke the KB swings 40/20. OHS were 15/9/6. I didn't wrap my wrists for these and I was regretting it halfway through. Moved pretty well although balance is always a challenge.

Finished up with some red banded MU work, some C2B pull-ups and some T2B.

Make-up post from yesterday:
snatch work at 115#. Partnered with Moe on the WOD where I finished 4 rounds + 8 DB snatch and he finished 4r. DB snatch at 50 which was too light. I'd try 60# next time.

August 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterElliott

Hello CrossFriends, my weightlifting belt seems to have gone missing from the bins behind the platforms! Perhaps you have seen it? It is one of the hard, tan leather bodybuilding,com belts, size small, and has my name (Jenna J.) written in purple marker by the buckle. I miss it very much and would love to see it makes its way back to the bins in case anyone spots it, please and thank you!

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Hey guys-- this is Kate, but as you're probably aware, the blog is still eating comments. Just try to keep reposting and we'll monitor the spam folder to see if any end up there. :(

August 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

MISSING BELT!

Hi Crossfriends, my weightlifting belt seems to have gone missing from the bins behind the platforms! Perhaps you have seen it? It is one of the harder, tan leather ones, size small, with my name (Jenna J) written in purple marker by the buckle. I miss it very much and would love to for it to be returned in case anyone sees it lying around or may have grabbed it by mistake. Many thanks, and apologies if this comment shows up twice; I don't know what happened to the first one.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Saturday's Programming

Back Squat

Fitness 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Add 5 pounds.
e7/12

Performance: 88%x1, 92%x1, 96%x1, 92%x1, 88%x1
e4/6
Post loads to comments.
_____________________

For Time:
60 Kettlebell Swings 53/35
500m Row
400m Run
30 Overhead Squats 95/65
Overhead squts should be a light weight. Kettlebell swings and overhead squats are meant to be minimally broken.

Post time and Rx to comments.

August 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Nice thoughts from Noah. I will admit that when I'm traveling, I usually seek out a box to train in based purely on convenience. After all, although CF has exploded in popularity lately, it's not like you can find a box on every corner the way you can a Starbucks.

Noah is right -- they vary WIDELY in quality. And I think, in large part, whether you need to take the time to find a class-A box depends on how experienced of a CrossFitter you are, and how comfortable you are with the movements. I remember visiting a box in London after I'd been doing CF for a little over a year, only to find that their coaching was pretty minimal. Since the WOD included kettlebell snatches, a movement with which I was totally unfamiliar, this was a bad combination. I ended up walking around with very sore shoulders and huge bruises all over my forearms for the rest of my vacation. But, at that point I was still a novice athlete, especially at movements that require a lot of coordination (as KB snatches do). I think if I went to that same gym today I wouldn't have had such a bad experience, because I've been WODing long enough that I'd either be able to do the movement better without help, or else I'd have just asked to use a dumbbell instead of a KB.

One thing I've noticed in my travels (I think I've been to about 10 other boxes) is that the Rx weight for similar workouts can differ a lot. The coaches will often set the Rx weights based on the athletes that work out at *that* box, not necessarily based on benchmark weights (although of course benchmark WODs like Grace and Isabel have set Rx). So, a couple of times, especially at smaller affiliates that don't have as large of a pool of athletes to draw from, I've found that the Rx was much lighter than I would imagine would be assigned for the same WOD at SBK. Fortunately both times this has happened, the movement was an Oly lift, so I was perfectly happy to go with a nice light Rx. But I'm hoping I never run into the day when I'm tempted to ask a coach, "Can I please go Rx-plus on the deadlifts?"

Looking forward to OG tonight.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

AAAARGH stupid comment-eating! Trying again.

Nice thoughts from Noah. I will admit that when I'm traveling, I usually seek out a box to train in based purely on convenience. After all, although CF has exploded in popularity lately, it's not like you can find a box on every corner the way you can a Starbucks.

Noah is right -- they vary WIDELY in quality. And I think, in large part, whether you need to take the time to find a class-A box depends on how experienced of a CrossFitter you are, and how comfortable you are with the movements. I remember visiting a box in London after I'd been doing CF for a little over a year, only to find that their coaching was pretty minimal. Since the WOD included kettlebell snatches, a movement with which I was totally unfamiliar, this was a bad combination. I ended up walking around with very sore shoulders and huge bruises all over my forearms for the rest of my vacation. But, at that point I was still a novice athlete, especially at movements that require a lot of coordination (as KB snatches do). I think if I went to that same gym today I wouldn't have had such a bad experience, because I've been WODing long enough that I'd either be able to do the movement better without help, or else I'd have just asked to use a dumbbell instead of a KB.

One thing I've noticed in my travels (I think I've been to about 10 other boxes) is that the Rx weight for similar workouts can differ a lot. The coaches will often set the Rx weights based on the athletes that work out at *that* box, not necessarily based on benchmark weights (although of course benchmark WODs like Grace and Isabel have set Rx). So, a couple of times, especially at smaller affiliates that don't have as large of a pool of athletes to draw from, I've found that the Rx was much lighter than I would imagine would be assigned for the same WOD at SBK. Fortunately both times this has happened, the movement was an Oly lift, so I was perfectly happy to go with a nice light Rx. But I'm hoping I never run into the day when I'm tempted to ask a coach, "Can I please go Rx-plus on the deadlifts?"

Looking forward to OG tonight.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

7am with Me-lo, always happy always laughing,

Perf. Squats
WU: 45x5, 135x5, 225x2
WW: 255, 265, 277.5 ... ran out of time. (I still have to hit all 5 squats in a single session, there just isnt enough time)

Wod @9:40 20kg KB, 30/30, 500 row under 2 mins, 400 run (tested out my ankle, still a bit sore) 75# OHS 10/10/10, with a butt load of questionable depths.
This was more fun than I had anticipated.

Happy Birthday RobRob, and happy long week end CFSBK folks.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPigeon

Hope this doesn't get eaten again...
Is anyone doing the oly meet @ garden city on 9/21? Just wanted to know the steps on how to registerer for it. Do you need to be a member of USAW? Are singlets required?

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterd...

Great piece Noah!

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJay

Make up from yeterday:

Hang Snatch (Knee) 2RM: 60, 70F, 70, 75

75KG (165) is definitely a PR for me, although I'm not sure I've tried a heavy hang double before. Felt good, the second rep is definitely a race to the bottom with fingers crossed that everything is organized when you get there!

Partner WOD with Coach MeLo: 8 RDs and 2 Pullups 75#/55#

In retrospect we went fairly heavy for this and moved fairly deliberately (me moreso!) Snatches felt pretty disorganized after a lot of overhead work the day before, oddly enough snatching with my left hand was much easier than my right.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNoah

Rest Day 5/3/1

Bench Press
180x5
205x3
230x3
Running out of room here

Deadlift
315x5
365x3
405x5
Used a hook grip through to the 405

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

From yesterday:

-2rm Hang Snatch: 92# (some weird combo of kg and pound plates...blasphemous, I know).
This was truly remarkable seeing as I've been having trouble pulling 90# off the ground once recently, though doing this from the hang definitely helped me get under it.

-some light jerk work (up to 125lbs), practicing bending that back knee more, with varying success.

-WOD w/ Eileen: 9 rds + 9 snatches (I did 5 full rounds). Used a 35# dumbell, which felt relatively light, but was probably the right weight for this workout. It had been a while since I'd done pullups, so the rhythm on my butterflies felt a bit off.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLil JB

Dee - the info should be on their website. I believe you'll need to join USAW which is cheap. Frank can probably provide some more guidance. It should be a great experience, enjoy!

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFox

Came in for OG and Jeremy kindly let our entire chicks' morning platform (Michelle, Adele, and Stel -- we rhyme!) join the 6 PM strength cycle group.

Squats 207.5x3x3. Got lower than last week, or at least Jeremy called me out for depth only once. I'll take it.
DB press, 30x11,10,9. GOD these are hard.
Chins 6x3. I miss lucky 7s. Need a few more weeks of eating Paleo and I'll have them back.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStella

I enjoyed seeing how the comments unfolded when Squarespace finally spit them out.

Wanted to do lots at OG tonight since I'm going away again for a few days.

Squat 135x3x5 Went lower in weight, moved fine.
Bench 97x5, 100x3x5 PR. Hitting 100 as a full set has always been a goal, and I started incorporating benching again on my own this cycle, and here it is. YAY. It wasn't a grind either. I would have stayed at 97 if JB hadn't encouraged me, so thank you!!
Deadlift with Asta 155x6x5. Some weird form stuff crept in when I tried to do 185x3x5 a few days ago so I cut back down and worked on it.

10 minutes of :30 stair sprints :30 rest. Missing my conditioning buddy, Katie Harper!

HAPPY WEEKEND

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate R

@Dee- I have the form if you want it. And yes you need to be a member of USAW and you need a singlet.

EPIC OG-

Snatch, Heavy Single
220
242
264
275
288X
291 PR

Clean and Jerk, Heavy Single
220
264
297
319
340
362 PR
**This was a huge 10lb PR. Fuck yea

HBBS, 77%x2x4
345

Pullups and some pushups.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakeL

While I'm sure extremely aggravating for Dee and Stella, the only silver lining is the semi surreal stream of comments.

Sorry about that guys. I like squarespace a lot as a platform but it's random weirdness with comments is a bummer. Thanks for reposting!

Stella,
GREAT advice from a true veteran!

Dee, as Jake said. you'll need to be a USAW member and have a singlet. Although one meet that I attended actually said they were optional, I think perhaps to be more inclusive. But if you're going to do it, get one cause then you'll eventually have to do another to get your money's worth out of the singlet.

____________
I consider myself unfortunate to have not actually have trained at very many other CrossFit affiliates. Not intentionally just sort of how things with travel etc have worked with me. Recently we dropped in a CrossFit Brick in West Hollywood which was a blast. Literally every square in of how a gym would use its space and run a class is extremely interesting to me.
Anyway we love having visitors at the gym and if you do anything Noah says you'll also be totally appreciated.


I played beach volleyball today. It's SO GODDAMN FUN

August 29, 2014 | Registered CommenterDavid Osorio

Open strength cycle with Jeremy

Came to make up for staggered progress on squats. Ended up with another set of 120 3x3 -third time now, which was actually fine since I found them heavy. 120 5 x 3 awaits Monday morning. 52 5 x 3 press, 1+ from last time. Then band pull ups, which I'm starting to like (shhh don't tell Jeremy).

Good way to start the long weekend.

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle B.

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