Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NorCal CrossFit - San Jose

For the last 16 months it’s been all about notches on my proverbial CrossFit bedpost. I'm talking about visiting and working out at as many different CrossFit boxes as possible as I travel the world. I broke that cycle with  NorCal CF -San Jose. I've had the good fortune of visiting the other two locations for NorCal CrossFit (Santa Clara and Mountainside), but wanted to see firsthand the newest addition to the Khalipa Kingdom. I barely made it in the front door and was greeted by none other than Games badass, Pat Barber. I didn't get the impression that I was being treated special, because I was visiting, it seems as though he has the habit of treating everyone as though he's known them for years. (Affiliate owners, this is called professionalism and common courtesy. Take note, follow suit it really does matter.)

After knocking out the obligatory waiver and grabbing a t-shirt ($20), I started down an extremely long hallway towards the box. Along the way, I passed a couple of racquet ball courts, a couple of big locker rooms (w/ showers), 3-4 Jiu Jitsu and judo rooms, and some personal training rooms. On the way to the workout space I passed a door with a sign marked "Super Heroes" only, seems appropriate with Pat Barber, Jason Khalipa, and Neil Maddox working out here.

The crossfit area of the facility measures approximately 8000 sq ft with an additional 2500 sq ft room set up to focus on O-lifting.

Coach Pat feels the potential for CF NorCal San Jose is huge, citing its very convenient location off the I-280 S (Junipero Serra Freeway) and the dense population of San Jose.  Add in the excellent programming and great coaching and I would agree their future is very bright. In the three months the gym has been opened they have built up a membership of 120+ athletes. 

The afternoon session, I dropped in for was being coached by Taz (Pat's fiance). There were approximately 20 athletes in the class and Coach Taz recognized that there was an abundance of unfamiliar faces. She did a little Ice breaker and had the group introduce themselves and share how long they had been crossfitting. The majority of the athletes measured their experience in weeks or months, rather than years. Evidence again of the continued growth of the sport we all know and love.
Today’s wod was 21-15-9 of back squats and HSPU (handstand push ups). The warm up was a series of increasing weight squats and HSPU progressions. Coach Taz, to her credit, was adamant that even if athletes already had strict HSPU's they progress through the warm up hitting handstand holds, negatives, kipping HSPU's, and strict HSPU's. For the workout, if you knew you wouldn't be able to maintain strict HSPU throughout you were to do push press with body weight. I liked the fact that she set a particular standard rather than let people scale throughout the workout. I believe that learning a movement correctly and being able to do it repeatedly is critical in ones success in crossfit. Often once you’re on the clock, form can suffer and Taz made sure that wasn't going to happen in this situation.
After the wod, Coach Pat made a point to speak with me and ask how everything went.  He made sure I understood,that I was welcome to come back during my trip to Palo Alto/ San Jose area. He said this even after I explained my blog and history of visiting multiple boxes during my travels. Coach Pat offered some recommendations of other affiliates, but his sincerity in inviting me to visit again stuck with me. So a couple days later, I did just that and hit up a second wod NCCF. I'll admit the opportunity to get coached by a Games veteran did weigh in somewhat on my decision. When I showed up and found out the wod was 5-5-5-3-3-3 Power Cleans to be coached by Pat, I was pretty happy.

I didn't have a chance to talk in depth about to Pat about this particular progra, CrossFit/ SAT Prep Program, but it's pretty awesome.  Wish I would have had something like this when I was young.

A great example of how CrossFit is different.  Yes it's a business but they understand the value of giving back to the community. Pretty sure 24 Hour Fitness, Golds, etc would never see the value.

Check out the video.

If you're ever in the area of San Jose/ Palo Alto I strongly recommend you make the time to visit at least one of the NorCal CrossFit locations, you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gables CrossFit

At every box I  visit, I  ask "If I were to hit any other box in this city, which one should it be?"  At 3 of the 4 previous gyms I visited in Miami, CrossFit Gables came up as the box I needed to visit.  No one was able to truly articulate what made Gables such a great box, just that it was a top notch gym. 

Located approximately 10 minutes East of the airport in the quaint downtown of Coral Gables. I'd say it is probably the most convenient gym to visit if you end up on a long layover at Miami International.   I happened in on a pretty sleepy Monday morning,  for a small class of 7-8 athletes.  Two of the participants happened to be fellow traveling crossfitters from Aspen, CO.  The guy (I apologize, but I suck with names and have totally forgotten his name) who travels extensively mentioned to me that he was up to 27 boxes visited.  I told him that was awesome and that Gables was my 64th.  HA.  It's always cool to meet people that have a similar passion for CrossFit. 
Today's wod was called "Syaonara Open" being that it was the Monday after the end of the CrossFit Games Open. It consisted of backsquat "21's" @ 135lb.  You know the classic body building routine, I remember doing them for biceps, 7 partial reps in the top range of motion, 7 in the bottom range, and 7 of the full range.  The metcon was a good quick wod... 3 rounds of 10 burpees, 400M run, 10 burpees, Two minutes of rest in between of each round. 

The 3500+ sq ft space is spacious enough to handle their 500-600 membership. I wasn't charged a drop in fee and unfortunately they didn't have any t-shirts available. 

I hope I get a chance to hit Gables again for a big class and experience the energy I'm sure they have with such a large membership. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

IMT CrossFit

IMT CrossFit another gigantic box with a massive, passionate membership in the greater Miami area.  IMT, is owned and operated by the same dynamic group that runs Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach. It's obvious where the energy and intensity I experienced at RCMB comes from.  IMT is not without it's  problems, though.  A problem, I imagine, most other affiliate owners would love to be stricken with, uncontrollable Growth.  Four out of the last five years IMT has had to move to a larger facility to accommodate their ever increasing clientele.  They believe their new 10,000 sq ft facility should hold them for a while and more than accommodate their 420+ athletes.

The night I visited they had 4 wods going on at once and there was still plenty of room.  I know what you're thinking...How can you have quality coaching with so much going on?  After 4pm they staff the box with a minimum of 3 coaches. 
Some athletes were knocking out 12.5 while the rest were involved in a wod consisting of 3 x 8 minute Mini wods dubbed "Stations From Hell". 

Station 1
30m Burpee broad jump
60m O.H. lunges(45/25)
90m Plate run (45/25)

Station 2
25 Double unders(75 singles)
250m Row

Station 3
8-Cln and Jerk (135/95)
8-Toes to bar

Being a new box location they are great example of integrating technology into the gym. They have a simple to use bar code reader for clients to check in allowing the management to easily track their clients.
Located approximately 20 minutes South of Miami International Airport.  Drop in fees are $15 and shirts are $20.  Being that they are associated with Reebok they have a small selection of Reebok gear in their office/ coaches lounge.  One thing that I found unique was Gaby's attention to the quality of work environment for his coaches.  He was adamant that he wanted to provide an environment his coaches not only wanted to work in but hang out in as well. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Holy warehouse Batman!!!  Very few boxes cause me to pause when I walk in, that's not the case with the 20,000+ sq ft I AM CROSSFIT.  The place is so ridiculously big it short circuited my brain.  And it’s not just a huge undeveloped open warehouse space, it's totally painted and has plenty of gear throughout.  One section known simply as "Eastside" is 4000sq ft and is a complete box in and of itself.  This area is used by members more as an open gym space where they can do their own wod/ programming (Outlaw, Wendler, etc..), separate from the daily wods.  One unique feature in Eastside is a full size boxing ring. 

A lot of props to Coach Danny and Coach DJ, they went out of their way to make me feel welcome in their house.  I note this because unfortunately it's not a common occurrence at quite a few of the gyms I have visited.  Affiliates, CrossFit is a worldwide community, not just in your neighborhood. 

IACF is located a convenient 10 minutes south of Miami International Airport, in the Doral neighborhood.  They have been in their current location for just a year and have built a membership of over 500 athletes.  Make sure you confirm the address before you head there as I found two separate addresses online. 

I Am CrossFit is part of a 5 gym network of boxes in the greater Miami area.  Those gyms are I Am CrossFit, Gables CrossFit, CrossFit Vida Brickell (currently 6th in the SouthEast Regionals), CrossFit South Miami, and CrossFit Coconut Grove.  Most of the gyms have a specialty offering as well, South Miami has CrossFit Kids, I Am CrossFit has boxing, Gables has yoga, etc.  $150 buys you a monthly unlimited at one gym or $175 gets you into any one in the group.  Heck of a deal.  Programming is done by one person and wods are consistent across the network.  A cool thing to keep the group of boxes connected is their annual Civil War Games.  A Games like competition of individual throw downs and a team finals competition.  The winning box takes home The Golden Hammer which is currently held by I Am CrossFit.

The wod today consisted of a 1 mile run (warm up) then 3X1 Front Squats followed by the metcon "Longhorn"; 5 rounds of 1 minute Max KB swings, 1 minute Max burpees, 1 minute rest.  I swear I did enough burpees in 3 wods in FL to last me a couple months.   Good wod.  Tons of encouragement doled out by the coaches as well as the athletes.  This place had a great "family" vibe and supports Coach Danny's opinion that the coolest thing about IACF is the athletes.


Every CrossFit gym should have this sign on their front door.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach

Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach !  Summed up in one word, ENERGY.  As people walk by the front door of RCMB they can't help but take notice of whats going on inside.  Music blaring and tons of people getting busy, all right on the main drag of Miami's famous South Beach. As with a lot of successful businesses, location is everything, this fact is obvious with Rebok CrossFit Miami Beach.  In the first 22 days of March they have had over 120 drop ins.  While I was there visiting with coach/business partner, Gabriel Balzola, no less than half a dozen people came in and asked questions about membership and three times as many stepped inside the door to see what was going on.  Coach Gaby says they get all types of walk ins, everything from swimsuit models to middle age men looking to recapture their youth.  Just a couple weeks ago they had a guy walk in on the day they were doing 12.3, that guy had never done crossfit before nor did it look like he had worked out in quite some time.  That guy knocked out 14 muscle ups on his first effort of .3 .... #SMH

Location actually has another interesting twist into the success of RC Miami Beach.   Coach Gaby shared with me how they came to be one of the few Reebok branded crossfit boxes.  The ownership group opened this particular facility in January of 2011. A few months later as luck would have it Coach Glassman himself was in Miami on an unrelated business trip, he happened to drive by one early morning and take notice of CrossFit Miami, fortunately for them he decided to stop in.  A large AM class was in full swing.  Co-Owner, Mike Alfaro walked up to Coach Glassman, not recognizing who he was, and actually tried to sign him up for an intro session.  A gracious Coach Glassman introduced himself and let Mike know how much he liked the location and what they had going on.  A phone call or two later, a few months pass , and the rest is history,  CrossFit Miami Beach becomes Reebok CrossFit Miami Beach in September of 2011.   Coach Gaby and his business partners feel very fortunate to have the full support of Reebok and experience the rapid success they have enjoyed. 
The night I dropped in was an "off night" and there were still 20 people in the 7:30pm class.  Although they have plenty of floor space I would suggest calling ahead if planning a drop in as most classes average 30-40 people.  The wod was 20 min to find a 1 rep max Thruster followed by a met-con of 50 burpees, 20 KB push press R arm/ 20 KB push press L arm, 25 burpees, 10 KB push press R arm/ 10 KB push press L arm.  The class was led by Coach Stephanie a former long time gymnast that has successfully transitioned to crossfit and routinely beats the men in the gym. 


RCMB consists of 5000+ sq ft plus an additional 1500sq ft fenced in out back (the outside is totally covered with rubber mats!) .  At the check in counter they have a small pro shop featuring Reebok gear.  They currently have extensive plans to redesign the entire gym making better use of the space for their 420+ members.  Some of the proposed upgrades include a coaches lounge, moving the current pull up rig (from Rhinoco) out back and installing a new bar system inside, and installing locker rooms with showers.  Coach Gaby claims their biggest attribute is their quality coaches which he believes to be the coolest in all of Florida. 

If you're a member of another affiliate and want to drop in it costs $20, if you're not then the fee is $30.  RCMB t-shirts are in big demand and they sell out quickly.  If you happen to be there when they're in stock they cost $20. 

One last note of interest... the ownership group responsible for Reebok CroosFit Miami Beach is in the final stages of developing another Reebok affiliate in New York City. Stay tuned for Reebok CrossFit 5th Avenue!

Ever wonder what happens to O-bars when they die?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

CrossFit 305

Man, where to even start with my expedition to Miami? I crammed in a lot of visits, 5 affiliates,  for only 5 days on the ground.  As I said in a few tweets during my trip, CrossFit is beyond alive and well in Miami.  So much energy in the boxes I visited.  The majority of the gyms report to have well over 400 active members! 

I guess I'll start with the first affiliate I visited, CrossFit 305.  I visited 305 based off a recommendation from an athlete that used to train there and I was not disappointed.  305 has a unique feel due to the shape of the gym itself.  The stark white outside of the building is offset by the yellow and black paint scheme on the interior.  It has large roller doors on three of the four sides each of which have, for lack of a better description, old school prison bars over them. I think it looks really cool and for that reason it sticks out in my mind.

I opted to do 12.5 here, at the first box, rather than delay it and wait until I was tired from additional wod's over the weekend.    With the three overhead doors open, a cool breeze blowing through, and the sun shining outside I figured this was good a day as any to get humbled by another Open workout.  This particular class was small and the gym relatively quiet when I arrived. The small class size allowed coach Pete Kazanas to take the time to analyze everyones thruster technique and offer me some good advice on improving my form before we started.  Pete is an experienced coach and fierce Games competitor placing 8th in the SouthEast regionals last year.
About 3 min into the workout it felt like the breeze had stopped and the temperature jumped up about 20 degrees.  Turns out Florida has this thing called humidity and it sucks (if you're not accustomed to it).  When I left Seattle, one day prior, I was in a tights, a sock cap, and a hoodie at the box.

CrossFit 305 has approximately 200 members doing crossfit and another 200 in boot camp classes.  I really liked the layout of this particular box, it didn't feel as "cookie cutter" as a lot of the other ones I come across.  One thing I found to be exceptional was their Resources section on their webpage. Great content, thourogh scope of topics, and well organized.
305 has a sister gym, CrossFit A1A, loctaed on Miami Beach approximately 20 minutes away.