I can’t believe it’s been a year since Drop-In Diary launched. I also can’t believe everything that’s happened since then, as I’m sure most of us can’t. When I first set out, I wanted to help travelers feel more comfortable about dropping in as an overall way to help people stay healthy. A new location, new people, different styles of coaching and programming can be intimidating. I had to overcome that intimidation and knew if I could others could as well. As a pretty average CrossFitter, I found that sharing my experiences was a way I could give something back that would be helpful.
Who’d have thought that a couple of months later there’d be no dropping in? For a while we couldn’t even go to our own gyms, let alone try a new one. Fortunately, I had something to keep Drop-In Diary going…a backlog of notes and experiences I could share. I also had material for product reviews, nutritional information (with some help from my nutrition coach) and other general observations.
While I was still able to post, like everyone else has experienced, conditions weren’t optimal. Afterall, it’s a lot more useful to read about a drop-in experience when we’re actually planning to be in that area. Fortunately, these experiences will still be valid as we begin to return to relative normalcy…hopefully soon.
As an addition to the “conditions weren’t optimal” category, I had learned in the middle of the year that I needed hip surgery for a torn labrum. And, just for good measure, a couple of weeks before the hip surgery I learned that I needed hernia surgery. So, in three months I had two surgeries that didn’t allow me to truly do CrossFit workouts again for about four months.
However, lemonade out of lemons. It was an opportunity to share a different set of experiences, as I’m not the only person to need surgery so I started the Rehabin’ Diary to document my recovery process. Unlike Drop-In Diary, I was hoping I would run out of content in a relatively short amount of time. Thank goodness that seems to be the case.
Personally, I’ve felt very fortunate to have been able to interact with athletes, coaches, owners and experts in new ways and learn different perspectives. I’ve received great feedback from people who have read Drop-In Diary content. My most surprising discovery was how useful some of the owners had found my feedback and how it helped them make some positive changes.
What’s in store going forward? Believe it or not, I still have some backlog reviews and additional content that you’ll be seeing soon. I plan to continue to help those who have apprehension about dropping in to feel more comfortable. If it’s worthwhile content, perhaps I’ll even expand beyond dropping in. I’m passionate about giving back in the best way I can.
I particularly want to thank all of those who have read content on Drop-In Diary, shared their feedback, given my posts a like, contributed their knowledge, rooted for me during my recovery and supported me in even the smallest of ways. I encourage you to keep checking in and I would love nothing more than if you join the conversation. Your feedback only helps make the information more valuable to everyone.
Here’s wishing you a safe, healthy, happy and successful 2021.
What a year it’s been! I started a blog about dropping in to various CrossFits throughout North America, then COVID hit and it got tremendously difficult, if not impossible to drop-in. Even with that limitation, I hope I’ve been able to share a lot of good content with you. I’m currently hard at work to get you more.
It’s the end of the year and I think it would be fun do to something on the lighter side. So, here it is. Your 2020 drop-in awards! These awards don’t go to the CrossFits that have the best facility, coaching or programming. Frankly, all the places I’ve been to have been consistently good.
These awards embrace the fun things that stuck out to me with some of my visits. If a CrossFit I’ve reviewed isn’t on this list, it’s not because they’re not deserving of an award. They’re all excellent. It just means I’m not creative enough to think up something. But I have another year to ponder.
So here are your 2020 Drop-In Awards:
1. The Most Indestructible Rig Award goes hands-down to Hunters Creek CrossFit in Orlando, FL. I’m not sure what they have stabilizing their rig but I think you’d need explosives if you want any hope of dislodging it. This is a great CrossFit that has a lot going for it.
2. The Drop-In Gets to Pick the Music Award – Little things mean a lot. And I was pleased to be asked to pick the music genre for the workout at Beacon Community Fitness in Portland, ME. You’ll find super nice people here and it was a great workout as well (to very good music).
3. The You Can’t Get Any Cleaner Than This Award – I’ve been to a lot of clean CrossFits but holy smokes, CrossFit Schenectady in NY was like 5-star luxury hotel kind of clean. It’s almost like this level of cleanliness doesn’t belong in a CrossFit. Well done, CrossFit Schenectady!
4. The King of the Chipper Workouts Award goes to CrossFit OTG in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. I’ve worked out here several times and have been joined by my wife and my sister on occasion and we all say the same thing; We never walk out of there feeling like we’ve been shorted on our workouts. Nick (the owner) is a great guy and is passionate about what he does. And you will most certainly get your money’s worth if you drop in at CrossFit OTG.
5. The Most Fun CrossFit Name Award goes to Stay Classy CrossFit in San Diego, CA. I can appreciate good branding. And I really love this CrossFit’s name. You can tell that they are fun as soon as you see it. This is a great nod to a fun movie set in San Diego. It’s referenced throughout their web site. I’m sure it’s reflected in their t-shirt sales as well.
6. The Most Fun Ice Breaker Award goes to CrossFit for the People in Albany, NY. CrossFit for the People (CFTP) has a great culture. I’ve dropped in several times and every time we’ve stood in a circle before class and introduced ourselves and answered some sort of inconsequential question about ourselves like do you prefer ice cream in a cone or a cup. I’ve heard of this in other places, but this is the only place I’ve seen it in consistent practice. CFTP is a great overall CrossFit experience and I can’t wait to return.
7. The Most I Wish I Were There Every Day Award has to go to Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas. This one’s kind of a layup. I mean, it’s St. Thomas. Such an amazing island and I was very happy to get off the cruise ship and work off some of that cruise ship food there. If you go to their web site or follow them you’ll see that it’s not uncommon for them to do a beach workout. I think Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas will hold on to this award for a while. At least until I can get to a place like Hawaii to possibly challenge them. I definitely want make a return visit for both the atmosphere and the CrossFit experience.
So, there you have it; Your 2020 Drop-In awards. Despite all of the obstacles that have gotten in our way this year, I hope you’ve been able to stay safe and get some good workouts in, wherever you are. I hope you’ve enjoyed the information Drop-In Diary has shared with you so far. Most of all, I hope you have a very safe, happy and healthy 2021. See you next year!
When I first learned I had to go on a trip to San Diego (earlier in the year, before all of this craziness began), I enthusiastically started looking for places to drop in. I found Stay Classy CrossFit and loved the name. You know the owners must have a sense of humor. I was thinking “please have good reviews, please have good reviews” and I was in luck. There was lots of good feedback on them. So, they were my primary target…that and Belching Beaver microbrewery. I had to go there if for nothing else than the t-shirt. It shows you how important branding can be.
I reached out via email about a week before I went out and received a prompt response from Rachel. She was very welcoming and helpful, answered all of my questions and got me all of the information I needed.
Usually when I travel I have a rental car. As this was in downtown San Diego, it made more sense to Uber/Lyft wherever I needed to go. It was an interesting Uber ride to get to Stay Classy. They weren’t the easiest to find. The front of the facility was not on the street that it’s addressed on and it’s not well marked. We passed it a couple of times and I had to call to get some more direction. I walked through a garage to find it. But I did find it. Was it a concerning start? Yes. Was it a bad omen? No.
Let’s see the details. It’s been a while so I’ll remind you that all ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
This part is going to be a little unusual because they’ve changed their website since I was there. When I first researched them, they had a banner across the top of their site that welcomed drop-ins and had a link to click on to get started. It’s not on their new site. However, there’s a note on their schedule indicating there are current mandatory indoor facility closures. So, it makes sense that drop-in information is not available right now.
Their site details their programs and memberships, schedule and some information about themselves in the Who We Are section. It also has some great pics and has some fun references to the movie Anchorman, which you should definitely catch if you want a laugh.
What I would have loved to have seen is some details about their coaches and their credentials. Some notes on their site on how to locate them would be really helpful as well.
Personal communication was excellent. Rachel answered all my questions and sent me the workouts for when I would be in town. She said there would be no problem with helping me to scale in whatever way I needed to.
When I first walked through that garage to find them I wasn’t sure if the facility would be similarly garage-like in cleanliness. Fortunately, this was not the case. There appeared to be no cleanliness issues. It was an evening workout and I saw no key indicators that would say that the facility wasn’t kept clean – no chalk on the rig or barbells. No dirt build-up in the lesser-travelled areas. I didn’t have the time or occasion to see the lavatory.
I was talking to one of the members before class and he told me that this was a pretty new location for them and the most recent move of several because they keep growing. Always a good thing. The facility is long and sufficiently wide to have a rig running down most of the length against the wall and plenty of room to spare. It had a spot down some stairs that was kind of a lobby area but they also kept some GHD machines, which was a little bit out of the way. I saw an area in the back where some athletes were working out as a group, perhaps training for an event. They were really nowhere close to where the workout was happening so, there was plenty of space.
There was about a half dozen rowers that I could see and maybe a few more bikes than that. The barbells and plates were in good shape. There was also plenty of other hardware such as plyo boxes and kettlebells.
There was a lot to the workout on this day. There was a warm up, followed by some core strengthening work. Then we moved to the metcon, which started with cash-in of a 1,000 m row , followed by 3 rounds of 21 toes to bar, 15 deadlifts (185/135#) and 9 burpee box jump/step overs. There was an 18-minute time cap. Everyone was able to complete the workout.
Altogether, it was a full workout from beginning to end. We finished just on the hour and the next class came right it. I definitely got my money’s worth.
This is the first time where I couldn’t find the name of the coach in the notes. Usually I can find the coach on the website if I don’t have it. However, as I mentioned earlier, they don’t have details on their coaches on their site. So, in this case, we’ll just refer to him as “the coach”.
The coach did a fine job. He ran the class well and made sure I was all set for the workout. He discussed what weights I should use and he checked on me during class. He was encouraging and demonstrated a very good knowledge of the movements.
When I first arrived, I observed the interaction of the members. It was a pretty social group. I struck up a conversation with one of the members who I learned about Stay Classy’s growth and how they moved into this space.
During class there was also some interaction with members. Everyone was friendly and there was definitely some encouragement as well. There was plenty of kudos after the workout was over.
Drop-In Cost and SWAG
It’s clear that (under non-pandemic circumstances) Stay Classy CrossFit caters to drop-ins. San Diego gets a lot of visitors and Stay Classy does as well. Their drop-in cost was a very reasonable $15 when I visited. They also had a package with a shirt. I’m pretty sure it was another $10. And who wouldn’t want a Stay Classy CrossFit shirt? It was a very good deal.
Overall, it was a very positive experience at Stay Classy CrossFit. It was a little bumpy finding them, but I was told they would be opening up direct access to the street and some signage out front to make it easier to find. That will be a huge help.
They have a nice facility that is well laid out and I particularly liked their programming. The coach did a good job and the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. I hope I get to make it back there when I get out to the west coast again.
Stay Classy CrossFit
1775 National Ave
San Diego, CA 92113
You know what they say about first impressions.
Whether you’re looking for a place to drop in or maybe even your new CrossFit home, more often than not that first impression comes from a web site. There’s loads of components to a web site and, when done well, it can make a huge influence on where to go (and sometimes where not to).
You know I like to break things down to examine each element in more detail. I’ll point out some sites that I think are doing a particularly good job with a web site feature and why. As an owner/affiliate, you don’t have to be a master of web design or even lay out a bunch of money to make your web site more effective. There’s loads of tools that help get it done pretty inexpensively. It’s really the content that counts. When I look at a site, I want to know if it’s easy to find all the information I need to make a decision. The more convenient it is to find what I want to know, the better.
Web Site Organization
A site that is organized, intuitive and easy to navigate, is a big key to keeping people clicking on the site. If I can find everything that I need without hunting, it just makes the experience so much easier. That doesn’t mean I mind clicking to get to something. If it’s obvious I’ll find the sub-category under a main navigation that’s fine too. For instance, I know I’ll generally find coaches bios under About.
https://www.newcovcrossfit.com/ NewCov CrissFit has nicely laid out site. Hovering over the main categories on their navigation bar will take you to what you’re looking for. You can generally get to everything withing a couple of clicks.
https://blackbirdcrossfit.com/ - Similar with Blackbird CrossFit. You can hover over the main navigation bar to find the categories you need and then get to your destination within two clicks.
If I’m dropping in, I ask myself how easy is it to get the information about dropping in. Is it easy to find? Maybe on the main navigation bar? Is all of the drop-in information in one place? What about info on multi-day drop-ins or combos with swag? How about language to make people feel welcome?
In my research, I found a location (not going to name names) that’s pretty sparse on drop-in details. Finding their drop-in information, while not super difficult is not obvious and there’s only a drop-in button once you scroll a bit to click to a schedule and pay the fee. No other language around drop-ins. Not too terribly welcoming. While it’s probably not the intent, it feels like “yeah, you can drop in here but we’re not all that interested in having you.”
https://www.crossfitforthepeople.com/ - Right on CrossFit For The People’s home page, after a few seconds there’s a pop-up for drop-ins.
https://www.crossfitotg.com/drop-in-visitors - CrossFit OTG has a couple of ways to get to drop-in information.
Honorable mention to Stay Classy CrossFit http://www.stayclassycrossfit.com/. Although removed for the moment, undoubtedly due to the pandemic, they had a banner on the main page that was very welcoming to drop-ins. I’ll keep an eye out for when it returns.
The next think I look at is staff and their bios. Are their certifications listed? I have a friend who looks specifically for that when he drops in. What does it tell me about their coaches? Is there a little bio on them? Things like what drives them as a coach. It helps build familiarity for someone who is dropping in or looking to join.
http://crossfitnewengland.com/about/coaches/ CrossFit New England has a short but sweet bio on each coach and all of their certifications. You can quickly get a sense of who they are.
https://blackbirdcrossfit.com/crossfit-coaches/ Blackbird CrossFit also has all of the coaches certifications plus a couple of paragraphs on each coach.
Most sites have a schedule that’s pretty easy to find. While it may be easy to find and what information can you see? Are there reservations? If so, does it show how full a class is? Is there a link to class sign up? Does it indicate who the coach is?
https://www.crossfitcrosscheck.com/schedule-location I like CrossFit Crosscheck’s schedule because it has the number registered for the class and the coach listed on the schedule. You can sign in as a member for a class with a password. Drop-ins would contact separately.
https://crossfitfairmount.com/schedule CrossFit Fairmount has links off the calendar schedule where a regular member can sign up and another link for new/drop-ins.
https://www.crossfitstthomas.com/schedule Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas has a calendar too. Click on the class you want and you can either register for class as a drop-in or a member.
Personally, I love knowing what the WOD is ahead of time. Having the a week’s schedule in advance would be ideal. If I’m somewhere for multiple days, I can select 1 or 2 workouts that appeal to me.
https://www.newcovcrossfit.com/workout-of-the-day-1 NewCov CrossFit has a great setup. They have the WOD listed in detail and can advance to the next day for the entire week.
https://www.crossfitotg.com/workout-of-the-day CrossFit OTG offers the workouts for the week all in one place. It doesn’t give the rep schemes but at least you know the movements.
While not on every CrossFit site, if there’s a statement on their philosophy or their culture it’s an opportunity to get a feel for them, or at least a first impression. Do they talk about a community environment or helping you reach your goals based on your specific needs? A short statement can say a lot. Are there testimonials?
https://www.hunterscreekcrossfit.com/testimonials/ Hunters Creek CrossFit has several good testimonials, including a video testimonial.
https://www.crossfitforthepeople.com/ CrossFit For The People has a short but strong mission statement and a button right below to take you to team bios, which seems like the next logical thing to look at.
This one sounds obvious but I’ve seen some sites where contact info is not as easy to find. This is more of an appeal to my owner friends. Is there a preferred contact method? Most of the time that’s not listed but if it is, it might help owners to receive a request and people to get a response more quickly.
Is the phone, email and location address listed? In my research, I saw a place that had none of those. They had a contact form to fill out, which I’ve seen on many other sites. However, I’ve filled those out and received no response more than once. If I don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time (a couple of days), I usually move on.
If a facility is difficult to find, a description would be super helpful for someone who hasn’t been there before. Something like “the entrance is on the left side of the building” or “use the path between 326 and 328 Rogers Street and you’ll find us in the back”.
https://altitudeathletics.com/contact Altitude Athletics has a page for their contact info. The phone number is up top and a form is on the right. The email is further down. It’s possible that phone is their preferred contact method. There’s also a map that clicks into Google maps to easily locate them.
https://crossfitrocksteady.com/contact/ CrossFit RockSteady has a dedicated page for contact as well. It has a phone number and email front and center. There’s a map with an address. Clean and clear.
Keeping Things Up to Date
There’s a pandemic going on. Is it clear how that’s being handled? Are drop-ins still welcome? Are there special rules or conditions in effect?
Also, any simple things like changes in schedule, new coaches and blog updates. The schedule will be very important, of course. One of the things that makes a CrossFit shine is their coaches. If you see coaches listed with pics and get there and someone you didn’t see on the site is coaching the class, it could be a new addition. But if you ask and they say “I’ve been here for a year” you know not everything is kept up to date on their site.
These are just some of the observations I’ve made. In many ways this is just as much for owners as athletes (this blog is for everyone). Prior to a visit, the first experience someone has with a CrossFit is what they can find from their research. That’s why a well put together web site is so important.
As always, I invite your opinions (preferably constructive), ideas and additional input. Please feel free to respond to this post, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on my socials.
Please stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong in mind, body and spirit!
Special mention to CrossFit Cayman for the top photo - https://www.crossfitcayman.com/
With each day we find ourselves in new territory, not entirely sure what progress, challenges and setbacks we’ll encounter. We see this in our own personal dealings with the pandemic and how it’s being handled throughout the world. On the positive side, the pandemic has inspired creativity and innovation. New problems have inspired new ways to address them.
In the CrossFit world, we’ve seen online classes, daily programming to work out on our own and outdoor classes. One approach that I’ve yet to see elsewhere is from my home gym, Blackbird CrossFit. They’ve not just brought classes outdoors, they’ve moved everything needed for their classes outside.
Conditions were very well aligned to favor this setup, which otherwise may not have been possible. The landlord where Blackbird is located has a fenced area in the rear parking lot. In mid-May Matt and Rebekah Titus, owners of Blackbird CrossFit, struck a deal with the landlord to move items they had stored in the fenced area inside Blackbird so they could move the rig outside. To date, they’ve elected to keep classes outside to reduce opportunities to spread infection.
The setup is impressive. The “birdcage” as they call it, has a tent over the entire rig. They secured the rig to the ground and brought out mats from inside. There’s spaces marked for social distancing to accommodate 8 people under the tent and another 4 within the enclosure.
Inside the birdcage there’s two sink cabinets connected with a hose. People wash their hands both before and after workouts. After each workout, the athletes wipe down their equipment and spots on the rig. I’ve seen everyone doing this. No exceptions. The coaches cover their faces for the entire class and spray down the mats with a cleaning solution after each class.
Matt Titus also got creative with transporting barbells and plates. He built several carts that can accommodate two barbells, plates of all sizes and collars. It even wheels out on a pair of 45 lb. plates that can be removed for workouts. Very practical and useful. The carts are wheeled back in at the end of each day and, although the fence is locked when the area is not in use, no equipment is left outside.
The birdcage has worked very well since it’s been set up. There’s still space inside if it rains. A dozen people can workout inside with sufficient social distancing, if necessary. They’re very good about following state guidelines. You work out in a designated space. While in that space you don’t need to wear a mask but outside of it you do. You also enter by one door and exit by another if the workout is inside.
Everyone is doing their best to stay safe. Owners have to balance creating the best workout environment while keeping risk at an absolute minimum. Blackbird CrossFit has done a great job of seizing an opportunity. It’s understood that many affiliates don’t have these conditions available to them. Most don’t have a fenced-in area or the ability to move their rig. I applaud Blackbird for their creativity as well as all other affiliates who are doing their best to help their members stay safe and healthy in the midst of the challenges we’re facing today.
Whether you’re travelling or not, the nutrition bar is a staple for many of us. But what makes a good nutrition bar? For this post, I’ve teamed up with coach Steve Wheatherholt, L3 CrossFit trainer, host of the podcast Let’s WOD About It and nutrition coach at Blackbird CrossFit in Eldersburg, MD. Steve has very strong nutritional knowledge and I wouldn’t write a piece of this nature without his expertise to offer a full picture.
We looked at several nutrition bars for this writeup. There’s some practical pros and cons, as well as some deeper nutritional details for you. We’ll look at different aspects including quality, ingredients, taste, travel-ability, nutrition – protein/fat/carbs and other important points.
We selected four bars to look at; Perfect Bar, Atlas Bar, RX Bar and One Bar. Here’s what we found.
The Perfect Bar is delicious. Their most popular (from what I’ve seen) is probably the dark chocolate peanut butter. There’s many flavors including coconut peanut butter, chocolate mint, chocolate walnut brownie and blueberry cashew, to name a few. Most of these bars will range from 10 – 17 grams of protein.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve’s Notes:
This is my personal favorite as far as taste goes. If I know I’m going to have a long stretch before my next meal, the perfect bar will get me through because of the higher fat content. Fat is a slow digesting macronutrient so it keeps you feeling full and energized for a long time.
The Atlas Bar is another very good-tasting bar with similar protein content to a Perfect Bar but with fewer calories. Atlas comes in six flavors including almond chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip and vanilla almond chai. Most bars have about 15 grams of protein.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve’s Notes:
These are also high on my list as far as taste goes, but the price holds me back a lot with this one. Another one that’s great to get your through a long stretch between meals.
The RX Bar is easily the most widely available in this group. They’re made up of just a handful of ingredients, all of which are natural. There’s too many flavors to count. From chocolate sea salt, to peanut butter, to chocolate hazelnut. They’re pretty consistent on protein (around 12 grams) and come in at around 210 calories.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve's Notes:
You really can’t beat the availability of the Rx Bar. This is my go-to on the road because it travels well and you can find them at almost any local gas station now for a great price. They are lower in calories than some so it’s my favorite choice before a workout. We want something that absorbs faster before a workout so your body can concentrate on exercising and not digesting food. As far as ingredients, I haven't come across anything cleaner than these either. Every ingredient is real food so you can enjoy a delicious snack and stay on track.
One Bars is an option that I’m starting to see more. There’s a decent amount of flavors including birthday cake, cinnamon roll, lemon cake and white chocolate truffle, which lean a little more towards those with a sweet tooth. They all pack right around 20 grams of protein.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve’s Notes:
While this bar is high in protein and has some more appealing flavors, there are several unnatural and added ingredients in this bar. It’s a better choice than some snack foods, but with so many healthier bar options we’ve talked about, this one isn't at the top of my list.
Some other great healthy snacks to have on the road with you or at home:
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment on this post or email me directly at email@example.com. Special thanks to coach Steve Weatherholt.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
It was a hot summer day in early September 2019 when I found myself in Newport, Kentucky looking from my hotel across the Ohio River at Cincinnati. Only 3 or 4 blocks away from my hotel was NewCov CrossFit. I had contacted them a few days ahead of time to let them know I was coming. They were very nice on the phone and the location was perfectly located for me.
Newport is a growing area with plenty of restaurants, an aquarium, a distillery, a few nearby microbreweries and shops. There’s a great view from the levee. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore but I was impressed with all the options.
When I arrived at NewCov, I went to the front desk, paid my drop-in fee and signed the waver. Someone (I believe one of the coaches) took me back to the workout area and introduced me to the coach for the class.
Here’s how the rest of my experience went. Ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
I had no problems getting in touch with someone to address my questions prior to my arrival. They were very cordial and were happy to have me.
Their web site is among the better ones I’ve seen. There’s a section for drop-in fees on the home page (you’ll see a group of links and it’s the bottom one) or under ABOUT on the main navigation bar. There’s lots of drop-in options with multiple days and combinations with shirts. Once you’ve settled on an option you like, it will link you to a page to process payment. I haven’t gone past this point but you should be able to reserve a class at that point. You’re also able to view their schedule from the main navigation bar. Their schedule has lots of time options. BTW, Saturday classes are free. A nice bonus I haven’t seen anywhere else.
NewCov’s website also offers their workout of the day about a week in advance, which is a huge help if you like to plan ahead. They have bios on all of their coaches. The only thing that appears to be missing is the coach’s CrossFit certification levels.
At the time I visited, I didn’t have my mental check list established yet because this blog hadn’t been contemplated. So, although I didn’t check the bathrooms, the rest of the facility was clean. Not a lot of chalk dust. Nothing glaringly unclean.
They encourage wiping down equipment at the end of class. When I was there, they had spray bottles and rags. I saw just about everyone using them.
NewCov CrossFit is big. One of the largest facilities I’ve been to. They have a large, open area with high ceilings. I think you could have 2-3 classes going on there if you wanted to (not that they do). During class, there were several people lifting on their own and they weren’t really near us. There’s also a smaller area where different fitness classes are held. This was not as open but certainly big enough for a class. They have shelves to stow your bag/gear. Everything was well organized.
There’s a big plate rack close to the middle of the main workout area. It’s got kind of a mix-and-match of plates but they seemed in good shape and there was enough for everyone. There were at least a dozen people in our class.
They had a load of rowers. I didn’t count how many bikes they have but it didn’t strike me as a particularly small or large amount. Their rig was against the wall. There was plenty of space for it.
I mentioned it was hot. As luck would have it, I came on a day where their giant ceiling fan was broken. When you get a large open space like that and add heat it becomes a bit like an easy-bake oven. Nevertheless, we persevered.
The workout was pretty straight-forward. There was a strength portion which was clean and split jerks and an AMRAP of clean and (push) jerks and rowing. There was some time spent on warm up and then we got to work. I personally like a class with a strength portion before the metcon. There was more than enough time to do our lift and get the AMRAP in, with time to clean up before the next class.
In looking at the programming on their web site, NewCov seems to change things up and offers plenty of variety.
Again, I didn’t take all the notes then that I do now but I’m pretty sure that Erin was the coach. She was knowledgeable and confident. However, NewCov was the first place I’ve dropped in to where the coach didn’t introduce me to the class. It could have easily slipped her mind but without the intro I felt a little on my own.
On the strength portion, she gave me some suggestions that have stuck with me and my split jerk is better for it. She also kept an eye on everyone throughout the class. During the AMREP, she pushed and encouraged people to try for their best results.
Lack of introduction aside, the coaching was quite good.
I always say that one drop-in is a moment in time and doesn’t always give the full picture. The folks in my class on that day pretty much kept to themselves. The hot conditions may have contributed to that. It was more like being a guest rather than part of the group.
After the warmup, someone did introduce themselves to me. It turned out to be another coach that was taking the class. That helped me to feel a little more welcomed.
When the workout was over, I had a rag and spray bottle and wiped down a couple of people’s rowers. They thanked me and gave me a “good job” on the workout. So, not a bad experience. Just not as social as some other places. But, I’ll end as I began. It was a moment in time. It would not keep me from returning.
Drop-in Cost and Swag
Finishing strong. The drop-in costs at NewCov CrossFit are very reasonable. One class is $15 and $25 if you include a shirt. They also have two and three-day and week-long packages with options with and without a shirt. The week-long package without a shirt is $55. I haven’t seen many options better than that.
I opted for a shirt. You really can’t beat the price. It’s a tri-blend so, it’s nice and soft and they had plenty of inventory. I’m a big fan of the drop-in/shirt combo.
NewCov CrossFit has some really good things going for it. It’s a big, well-equipped facility (I’m sure the fan is working now). The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and the coaching was hands-on. I wouldn’t let anything about the culture put you off. It was a hot day and not a single person was unfriendly. I would certainly return. Their web site has just about everything you’ll want to know ahead of time and the drop-in costs are excellent. If you’re in the Cincinnati area, I’d recommend giving NewCov CrossFit a try.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
15 West 6th Street
Newport, KY 41071
You've dropped in. Your workout is over and you want to share your thoughts on your experience. So, what next? Most people use Google reviews to leave their feedback. And those reviews are important. It’s the means by which I research places to work out and I believe it’s important to share those experiences so others can learn from what you found. But is it always good to publish a review?
Here’s the part that you may disagree with, and please feel free to do so. It is my belief that if you don’t have something nice to say, Google is not the place to air your grievances. It’s definitely important to share your feedback, even if it’s negative. However, if it’s negative, a well-worded, detailed and constructive email to the owner with your concerns will be much more helpful for all involved.
Why do I say this? A number of reasons, really. First, I believe not all comments need to be public. A flat-out negative review may get something off your chest but may accomplish only that. Second, most CrossFit owners put their heart and soul into their business on which they support their families and are trying to do good for the community. They have a passion for helping people find a healthier path and helping us achieve our goals and that’s a pretty darn good thing. Lastly, and you’ll hear me say this many times; A drop-in is a moment in time and one experience does not necessarily represent what it’s always like at a particular place. Everyone has off days.
It could be argued that a negative review warns others to stay away. But wouldn't it be better to help an owner improve the experience for everyone? If a place is consistently poorly rated, you'll see fewer ratings or more negative ratings before you get there and that's a place you probably won't visit to begin with.
Are there places I won’t return to? Yes. Not because it’s a horrible place but it may not have been as suited to me as others and I might want to explore other options. Although I haven’t had a “bad” experience yet (doing the homework helps, including reading reviews), if I did I would either move on or write the owner with the details of my experience. I would provide the facts of the experience and leave the emotion out of it. The approach would be something along the lines of “I thought you would want be aware of my experience at your CrossFit…” Most owners look for feedback. It allows them to make adjustments and improvements because they want people to have a great experience. If I were in their shoes, I would certainly appreciate it. Constructive feedback (provided it’s constructive) is a good thing.
That said, leaving good feedback is important too. A Google review is a little different than my write-ups because they don’t go into every detail. My suggestion is to give enough details to give a sense of the place. Be sure you say that you were dropping in. How nice/helpful were the coaches? Was there anything that stands out about the facility? How friendly were the members? How did the workout challenge you? Perhaps a few sentences and a 4- or a 5-star rating. If you don’t think the experience is worth the 4- or 5-star rating, I would recommend the approach outlined above.
This is what I base my decisions on. As a result, I’ve had many great drop-in experiences. I think it’s good to share that positive experience because it not only helps a hard-working owner but people like ourselves who are looking for an excellent place to work out.
If you do write the owner, they may not respond. At that point, I personally would count it as a learning experience and move on. However, don’t be surprised if you receive a response thanking you for your feedback. Owners can’t always know everything that goes on and your feedback may be a big help in pointing out something they can address and improve. And that’s a place that just might be worth a return visit.
If you have any questions about leaving a review or any other drop-in related items, please comment below or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
Not too long ago, I posted a review on the LifePro Sonic X massage gun. (You can see that review at https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/gear-review-lifepros-sonic-x-massage-gun.) When I was doing my research to make my decision on the massage gun, I noticed some of LifePro’s other products, including a vibrating foam roller and a few different massage balls. They particularly caught my attention because of their portability. I love great products that travel well. So, I kind of filed it in the back of my mind at the time.
To my surprise, when I received my massage gun, I got a card with it that offered me one of these massage balls for free in exchange for my product review on the gun. How could I resist? The price was certainly right. So, I followed the instructions and received a confirmation. It was at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic so, it said it may be a little while before it shipped. No problem. I wasn’t going anywhere. And, I already had a really good massage gun from them.
A couple of months later, I received the massage ball in the mail. Honestly, I had kind of forgotten about it, so I was excited when it arrived. Here’s how it stacks up.
What It Comes With
It came with the ball, a charging cord and a similar card I got with the gun that said to give them a call or send them an email if anything goes wrong with the product. It’s one of the reasons I decided on LifePro’s massage gun. A company that stands behind their products scores big points in my view.
On the web site, it also says it comes with a user guide. However, I didn’t get one with mine. I don’t see this as a big deal, as the guide is on their web site and it’s not terribly extensive. It really doesn’t need to be.
Effectiveness and Functionality
The LifePro Agility vibrating massage ball is a little more than twice the size of a lacrosse ball (a staple of my travel arsenal), which means it will hit a greater surface area than a lacrosse ball but it may not work as well if you want to hit a very concentrated area. The massage ball is also textured, which helps to dig into an affected area.
It’s not going to have as much power as a massage gun, so it may not hit your muscles as deeply as a gun. However, I found it to be effective at the highest speed.
It’s also a little less versatile than a massage gun (but it comes at a far lower cost). I find it works well on hip flexors, calves, hamstrings, glutes, upper shoulders and neck area. Although I would always go to the gun first on many of these things, when travelling, it will do nicely.
I haven’t brought this to a hotel yet. One thing I’m a little concerned about is the vibration against the floor. It’s not loud at all but if you put pressure on it, that vibration radiates across the floor. I wouldn’t want my downstairs neighbor to think I was drilling through their ceiling. I’ll post an update once I put it to that test.
Like all of their other products I’ve looked it, the LifePro Agility massage ball comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee. You really can’t beat that.
Ergonomics and Build
It’s light weight; less than 11 ounces. It’s less dense than it looks but solidly built. Like their Sonic X massage gun, it doesn’t feel cheap or “toy-ish”. It’s quiet, but as I mention just above, you will hear more vibration when pressing it against a floor.
It’s not a hard plastic so, it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. It’s got a silicone surface so it’s forgiving while having the proper amount of firmness.
This massage ball has four speeds; low, medium, high and alternating speed. Changing the speed is just a matter of hitting the only button it has, much like the massage gun. So, it’s simple to use. There’s an LED indicator for each speed as well as a 3-LED battery life indicator on the ball.
I have found that sometimes the button can accidently be hit when rolling across it. Although the button is slightly recessed, I’ve unintentionally changed the speed a couple of times.
LifePro claims a 2-4 hour battery life on their Agility massage ball and all of the evidence supports that. I’ve not had to charge it yet and there’s probably about half the battery left. I’m sure I’ve used it for more than an hour in total. Unless you’re going on a long trip and plan to use it a lot, you can probably charge it up and leave the cord at home.
The LifePro Agility massage ball was made for portability. It’s lightweight and small. It’s less than 4” in diameter. This is an easy choice for taking with you if you don’t want to spend the money or bag space on a massage gun.
The LifePro Agility 4-speed massage ball is a very nice complement to my travel arsenal. It’s not as effective or versatile as a massage gun. However, its portability factor is hard to argue with.
It retails for $49.99. I’ve seen many of LifePro’s products on sale on Amazon. I’ve also seen them offering discount codes on their site so I don’t think it’s too difficult to get a deal if you keep an eye out. It’s a pretty good buy at their retail price but I think it would be a little more attractive at a slightly lower price.
If you do happen to buy one of their massage guns and get that nice little promo card, by all means take advantage of it.
LifePro also has several other interesting products at https://lifeprofitness.com/ if you want to check them out.
I’m always happy to share more details on my experience with this or any product. Please feel free to ask me any questions by commenting on this post, on social media or email me at email@example.com.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
The title is reminiscent of one of those reports you had to do in grade school; “what I did with my summer”. But, as with so many things in life, the decisions we make can send us down many new paths. My first ever drop-in was definitely one of those decisions.
I mention in my bio that I’ve always traveled a lot and early on in my CrossFit experience I felt like I would get back to the gym after being on the road and it was like I was starting from scratch. Pushups, sit ups and air squats in my hotel room was helping but not enough. I was looking for a more complete workout. Doing a lot of CrossFit-type workouts in hotel fitness centers wasn’t always easy due to lack of space and equipment. And, not that it was a big deal to me, but people looked at me as though I was nuts.
If you ask my immediate family or close friends, you’d know I’m a researcher. I like to know exactly what to expect in order to have a level of comfort. It’s one of the principles that Drop-In Diary is based on.
So, research I did. Many of my travels bring me to upstate New York. I asked a couple of my coworkers, researched online and made calls. I settled on CrossFit Beyond in Albany. I called and spoke with owner, Joy Smolinski. She spent a few minutes on the phone with me and gave me her background and shared the upcoming workouts with me, which made me feel more comfortable coming in.
I was definitely nervous when I arrived. This was new territory. I knew no one. However, everyone was friendly and I was quickly greeted by Joy. I signed the waver and paid my drop-in fee. The rest is below in the usual format. All ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
Keep in mind, it’s been a while since my last visit there. So, some of this is to my best recollection. Also note that some things may have changed since my last visit. I’ve been there a few times so, this based on my collective experiences.
Joy is very good about responding to voice mail. I haven’t contacted them by email to date. I would more likely email ahead these days and give more notice than I did back then. But the number is on the site so it’s whatever you’re comfortable with.
Their web site is fairly basic in design but gives you all the essentials; class time, contact information, drop-in costs. It also has information on all their coaches, including their training credentials and a little background.
You can sign into classes online but it’s not super easy to find. You’d have to go to Join CrossFit Beyond in the top navigation bar, click on the link provided and it takes you to another page, click on SIGNUP/VISIT and select DROPIN.
When you walk in, you might think that it’s not a super shiny facility and it’s definitely an older building (more on that in the next section). However, there’s a difference between the age/condition of the facility and cleanliness. I’ve never really noticed any issues here.
I thought about this one for a little bit. Again, your first impression is this place is old or not the prettiest. However, it’s a CrossFit gym, not luxury a car showroom. It looks like it may have served as an auto shop in a previous life. Honestly, at the time I had only been to a couple of other facilities and it’s kind of what I’d expect a CrossFit facility to look like; a place to lift heavy stuff and work hard. Subsequently, I’ve learned in my travels there’s so many different looks and feels to places and there’s not one proper setting.
It’s a medium-size facility (not too big but not tiny at all). There’s plenty of room for everyone. There’s a main area in the rear and an area in the front that has a couple of pullup bars and bikes/rowers. The front is a little bit disconnected from the rest of the facility but it’s useful.
The main area has a wall lined with pullup bars. There’s a small free-standing rig outside. The floor is open and roomy. The equipment is a bit of a mix when you look at the dumbbells and plates. Some pieces are older and more weathered than others. There’s metal and rubber plates. However, there’s plenty of equipment. Also, keep in mind it’s been over a year since I’ve been there and they may have upgraded some of their hardware. I’ve seen this happen more than once on return visits.
They also have soft boxes, which not all places have, plenty of squat racks and a good amount of machines.
I can’t recount the specifics of each workout for you but I do recall a good amount of variety.
In my visits, I’ve done barbell workouts, dumbbell workouts, partner WODs, pull ups, sit ups, box jumps and running. There’s been cash-outs on some as well. So, they’re pretty thorough. There also is a warmup at the beginning of each class.
I will say I once had to do a workout there exclusively to music of Britney Spears. Funny…but not terribly fun. I appreciate the sense of humor.
Again, I’m going to best recollection. I’ve worked with a few coaches there. There was maybe 3-4 months of CrossFit under my belt when I first dropped in. Everyone worked with me on scaling and was very patient. I received feedback on my lifts. It always felt like the coaches were attentive, which I was especially tuned in to as early as it was in my CrossFitting days.
The culture here was one of the big factors that kept me coming back. As a first place to drop in, I distinctly remember my sense of comfort was naturally tied to my sense of how welcomed I felt. I was made to feel as I was a part of the class rather than a visitor.
The coaches introduced me at the beginning of each class. People introduced themselves to me each time I was there. On the evening of a partner workout, one of the members approached me to be his partner. There was plenty of congrats after each class as well as the occasional post-class chatting. This is a really good group of people.
Drop-in Cost and Swag
The cost to drop in on their web site is $15. It specifies you must have CrossFit experience, which is reasonable. My recollection is my cost was $20. It’s possible they’ve changed their price on the web site since I’ve been there or the listed price isn’t accurate. Either way, it’s a fair price. However, you might want to get that clarified. Joy also said I could take a class and just purchase a shirt as a drop-in fee. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything in my size at the time. Perhaps on my next visit.
It’s said that first impressions are lasting impressions. This was definitely the case with CrossFit Beyond. I may not have continued with dropping in without the great start that I experienced here. It's very well run. The workouts are thought out and the people here are fantastic. I’ve visited several places in this area but I definitely want to make my way back to CrossFit Beyond.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
Albany, NY 12207
Author: Matt C.
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