AFRO BRUTALITY. The tag line for CrossFit Harlem. Afro= as a symbol for where the gym is located, which is the far North end of Manhattan. A predominantly African American area of NYC. Brutality = to describe the intensity of training conducted at CFH. I witnessed this firsthand, a few weeks ago, when I dropped in on a sweltry Saturday. The gym itself is located within the Work Space Gallery/ Community Center is pretty easy to find, just take 5th Avenue north until it ends. (about a 20 min cab ride from mid-town) As I turned the corner leading to the 500 sq ft gym I found three athletes in the hallway performing burpees. Like most gyms, CFH has monthly challenges (row 50,000M, 7000DU's, 1000M handstand walk total, etc...) this months particular challenge was 1000 burpees. The difference, and this is where the "brutality" comes in, is that all 1000 must be done in one session. Ouch. By the way Coach Sarah's 12 year old son had the 2nd fastest time (1hr43min)posted for the challenge.
Upon arrival I was greeted by the somewhat imposing coach Sarah. A rather tall Swedish woman with a ton of ink. She definitely carries herself in a manner that does the CF Harlem attitude justice. After pleasantries were exchanged I asked the simple question "So what's the wod?" I got somewhat of a cold stare back and the reply of "you'll know soon enough". It's not like I was going to sneak out if I didn't like the wod but after the response I'll admit I was thinking WTF did I get myself into. Unkown. Uknowable. Turns out the wod was Nancy but with 600m runs due to the route they have laid out around the large armory building across the street. It was pretty entertaing watching the facial expressions on platoon of military personel, coming back from drill, watching me run by on the warm up with a 40lb vest on, in 95+ degree weather. Coach Sarah pushed me through the workout with a much needed tough love style.
Head coach/ Owner Syn Martinez is somewhat of a legend on the East Coast. Coaches at gyms in NYC, Boston, and Philly all had great stuff to say about him. Unfortunately he was away at a local competition and I didn't have the pleasure of meeting him in person. Maybe next time.
If you've been involved in CrossFit for any period of time there's no doubt you haven't come across the CFH logo. One unique feature that sticks in my mind regarding CFH was their insanely stocked swag store. The large walk in closet had dozen upon dozens of endless design t-shirts, tanks, sweatshirts, etc. I dare say the volume of gear they had for sale would surpass the inventory of well over 50 other gyms I've visited, combined.
So next time you're in NY and want a true test of your skills don't bother surfing the net, shopping for a wod you like just head north to CrossFit Harlem.
Unknown. Unknowable. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.