One box, two box, red box, blue box

My quest to Crossfit in every city I visit is going really, really well. One of the great things about integrating these really intense workouts into my trip is that doing them once a week makes sense both physically and logistically. I’m moving around enough that one WOD a week (usually on Saturday) fits my schedule really well, and I’ve been away from CF for a long enough time (over a year and a half) that doing one WOD a week is about all my body is really ready for to begin with. This morning was my fourth WOD back, and while I was not in pain, I could tell that I physically wasn’t ready to do all of the exercises yet. And that was okay. Doing step-ups instead of box jumps, rowing instead of running, jumping pull-ups instead of banded ones, low weight on all the lifts, etc…I’m 100% okay with that, because I know I’m pushing myself hard at a level that works for me. The more I do and the longer I keep this trend up, the higher that level will get.

So last Saturday I was in Hollywood FL, staying with my good buddy Josh Barad, and I almost didn’t get to Crossfit. Because I’m writing about Crossfit on this blog, I’m trying to trade blog exposure for free drop-ins when I WOD (because saving money on this trip is pretty much priority 1). Normally the drop-in fee for a CF class is $15-20, and at this point even that amount once a week is not sustainable for me (though hopefully it will be soon). At the first box I went to that Saturday morning, the owner was out of town, and the coach leading the class didn’t feel able to offer me a free drop-in without the owner’s approval. So that box was out.

The second box I went to was closed, even though the door clearly said it was open 9-11 on Saturdays and I was there at 9:10. Strike two.

The next closest box I found was up in Fort Lauderdale, a good 10-15 min drive from where I was…and its next class started at 9:30! So I booked it north, navigated some crazy road layouts between the Fort Lauderdale airport and the Port of Fort Lauderdale, and drove through a tiny alley to find Crossfit Empirical. I got there just in time.

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When I say Crossfit Empirical is a hidden gem, I mean that literally. I almost couldn’t find it. It seemed a bit like the Isla de Muerta in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film: it can only be found by those who already know where it is. But once I got there, I was so glad I found it! The welcome I got was one of the warmest I’ve received at any box, and the self-professed “community Crossfit” box included a pen for members’ young kids and/or dogs to hang out in during WODs. (The coach of that morning’s class, Lindsay, had in fact brought her large dog, which barked the occasional encouragement at us from the pen. It was pretty awesome.)

The WOD was actually two WODs back to back: Grace and Helen. (For those not in the know, a lot of CF benchmark workouts are named after women.) Grace is 30 clean and jerks in a row, Helen is 3 rounds of 21 kettlebell swings, 12 pull-ups, and a 400m run or 500m row. I went light on weight for Grace, but it still tired me out for the first round of Helen–I’m pretty sure I negative split between rounds 1 and 2. Crossfit Empirical also has a computer system where members can input their results, even drop-ins like me. This was a very progressive box.

By contrast, the box I visited this morning, Crossfit Gainesville, was a bit more traditional–no computer system or dog pen there. But it still had a great energy and community feel to it, and the morning’s coach Matt was very welcoming.

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The box was also surrounded by grassy areas as well as paved streets, so when we did our opening 400m run, I got to run on the grass and save my ankles and shins a bit of impact. No complaints about that!

The WOD was fairly straightforward: 4 rounds of 30 KB swings, 20 box jumps, 10 burpees, and a 400m run or 500m row. I scaled the crap out of it (3 rounds of 20-20-10-500m), but still got a great challenge out of it. What I liked even more, though, was the skill work we did before the WOD. Periodically in Crossfit there will be strength or skill training after the warmups but before the WODs, and today’s was on a skill move I hadn’t done often even back when I WODded regularly: the snatch-balance, one of the rarer Olympic lifts.

What the hell is a snatch-balance? Imagine doing a squat and an overhead barbell press at the same time. Now imagine doing it really quickly, so you drop under the bar more than you push it upward. Now do that without falling over. That’s a snatch-balance. It’s tricky and technical, but a lot of fun in its way. I was definitely happy to get some pointers on it.

Next Saturday I have no idea where I’ll be, but I know I’ll find a box there. I’m excited already.