The Grinder

Dropping In: Do Your Research

Our grinder shares the three things he always looks for when dropping in to a gym while on the road.

Jamie Toland, CF-L1 | June 28. 2016

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Not all CrossFit affiliates are made equal. I had to learn this the hard way several years ago while on vacation. I’m not going to call out this box (partially because it doesn’t exist anymore), but my experience there was not good. The programming was way over the top, and in the three training sessions I did there, I ended up modifying either the movements and/or the weight used because I though it was unsafe. I was actually a little worried that this was what the members there thought CrossFit was supposed to be. I walked out the first time thinking, OK, I get it. This is one of those affiliates that you read about when people talk about how badly they got hurt or when you hear about someone getting rhabdo.

In this case, I had done my research. The issue was that my research came up with the fact that there was only one affiliate that I could train at while I was visiting. I went back this past month to find that it had been closed, but two new affiliates had been opened in the area, so I picked the one I thought looked the best and trained there. It was a much better experience.

In my travels and various drop-ins, this place was very unlike a majority of the community gyms that I have trained at. There were the easy ones to pick like CrossFit Terminus in Atlanta home of Emily Bridgers and the “Squat Mafia” crew. This place was very well-run and friendly, too. Everyone was welcoming and the workout was challenging, but the trainer there encouraged not only me but also the whole class to push ourselves. Likewise, CrossFit Pac Elm, newly opened in downtown Dallas, was an amazing facility that had all-new everything. Easily one of the cleanest boxes I’ve trained at, and they had great locker rooms, as well. The session was challenging and the warm-ups were full of purpose and kept everything moving as we geared up for the WOD.

There are so many places I could name and incredible gyms that I have trained at here and in Europe, but here are three things I try to look for when dropping in either for work or vacation.

1. Location and class times

Obviously, you want a place that is within your means to get there. If I’m working for CrossFit Media at Regionals or at the Games, I sometimes have a car, sometimes I don’t. Location is key, so if we are in a bigger city, I’ll explore all the affiliates within my acceptable range and start with that. For me, the time that classes are offered is another factor. At CF Media, we usually have early call times, which means getting up, getting there, training and getting back so I can make it to work.

2. Programming.

I always look for affiliates that make their WODs available online. I don’t even care that much about what workout I might be doing on the day I head in, but it’s important to me to see what kind of programming they have been doing during the week. A good affiliate should have nothing to hide. I look for gyms that also have various levels of training right there for their members to see: Rx, modified and scaled would be examples.

3. Reviews.

Whether you look at the workout comments or Yelp, knowing how people feel about the place is important. If there is any chance I can talk to someone from the area, I’ll do that for sure. Most members like the community they train in, so sometimes that info can be biased. Facebook reviews and apps like Yelp can help you make a choice once you get the other two factors narrowed down.

What have your experiences been like dropping in at other affiliates? What is your selection process when picking out a place to continue your training away from home?

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About the Author

Jamie Toland, CFL-1

Jamie Toland, CFL-1

Jamie Toland is a CrossFit Level-1 trainer and runs the gear review website Grinder's Gear Review. Jamie has worked for CrossFit Games Media for two and a half years as both a writer and video media team member. In addition, Jamie also works as a freelance writer for various online and print publications.