I was speaking with a friend recently and he said he would be travelling and will need to find a place to drop in. This naturally peaked my interest, so I started to do a little research. How I find places to drop in is no secret and I don’t want it to be. You should have all the tools and information at your disposal to make the best decisions for you.
Realistically, if you invest only a little time, you will significantly improve your opportunity for a good experience.
Where to start? I always start with a search on “CrossFits near” my destination. The “near” is important because if, for instance, you search on CrossFits in Deer Park, TX chances are you’ll get CroffFit Deer Park in your search result and nothing else around it. CrossFits near___ will more often than not get you a list of choices
as seen here.
If you zoom out in Google maps, it will populate with more options. You can also move and/or zoom in.
In some less populated areas you might have to search on CrossFits near a larger city like Houston and drag to the area you’ll be going to. From there, you can set your boundaries based on how far you’re willing to travel.
Which one to select? That’s a matter of taste but I find the Google reviews to be of great value. Things I look for first is the number of stars (the more, the better of course) and the other thing of equal or greater importance is the number of reviews. Ideally, I look for places with roughly ten reviews or more. Anything less than that could be reviews from mom, cousin Billy and their three closest friends. It doesn’t mean it’s not a good place to try. There’s just less data for you to make your decision. If you see a couple of really good drop in comments, you might want to give them a try.
What are people saying? This is important. You could get 5 stars or 1 star with no comments and have no idea why that particular rating was given. The person that gave 1 star could have been having a bad day or an isolated experience. Context is valuable. What people say and how they say it is very telling.
I look for people that say they’ve dropped in to a particular location. You can have regular members that have been there for years giving great reviews and that’s great but they can have established friends and their experience is going to be much different for them than someone who has never been there before.
Even if one location has a slightly lower overall rating than another, if the drop-in comments are strong, as long as a place is well-rated, I’d definitely consider it. A 5.0 is great but doesn’t tell the whole story.
Keep in mind some locations don’t get a lot of drop ins so that information may not always be available to you. Look for details on coaches, programming, how friendly the members are and other things that are of particiular importance to you.
Here’s a couple of examples:
Language you want to avoid is anything negative, of course. But also, some owners choose to fire back at a negative review. That’s understandable. There’s two sides to every story. But having the debate online isn't the answer. I personally prefer to avoid the drama. If you see an owner respond with something like "I'm sorry to hear you didn't have a good experience. Please contact me and we'll do what we can to make it right for you" that's a good indicator that the owner has a good head on their shoulders. They see there was some dissatisfaction, they want to fix it and they want to take the conversation offline. I admire that approach.
Think you’ve found a good location? Great! You’re almost there. The next thing you’ll want to do is go to that CrossFit’s web site to get some key information. Does their schedule fit with yours while you’re there? If not, you may have to find a different location that starts earlier or ends later.
Next, what's the drop-in fee? If there’s language on their site welcoming drop-ins, that’s even better. That means they’re thinking about people like ourselves. Can you sign wavers and pay online? A nice-to-have for sure. Maybe you don’t know what time you can get there. I haven’t been to a place yet that hasn’t been flexible about when you drop in as long as it’s a CrossFit class and not a specialty class. They may also have options like a mini punch card or a week-long fee if you’re there for more than just one visit.
Have they posted the WOD? It’s always good to know what you’re in for. Optionally, if you can’t find the WOD, you can call in and ask. I prefer to do this but I realize not everyone wants to make a project of it. Another factor in my personal decision making is how responsive a place is in getting back to me, how welcoming they sound over the phone and their responses to other questions like do you mind if I scale my workout?
How much time to invest in your search? Realistically, you can probably locate and research a place online within 10-15 minutes. A little more if you call them. However you decide to proceed, the research will be well worth your time. It sets you up for a better experience and gives you the opportunity to find a great workout.
What next? Let them know you're coming. Even if you're not 100% sure you'll make it, you should try to communicate with them to let them know they'll have a drop-in. It helps them more than you might think. I have a piece on this very topic at https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/communicating-before-you-drop-in. Please give it a look.
After you're done...If you liked the experience, give them a nice Google review. You'll be helping the CrossFit you visited and next person looking for a place to drop in.
If you have any questions, please contact me at email@example.com.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels!
I visited CrossFit for the People for the fourth time on November 5, 2019.
I had good experiences there in the past and this was no different. Having the opportunity to drop in more than once at a location gives me a sense of their consistency.
CrossFit for the People (CFTP) is located in Albany, NY about 10-15 minutes from the airport. It’s easy to get to but you’ll probably want your phone GPS to guide you there.
CFTP is relatively new (just over a year old as of this post) but already has an impressive membership of about 150+. The location is spacious with several large garage doors, which are kept open in nice weather.
When I first found this box, it was the unique name that caught my attention. They do a pretty good job of branding themselves. I did my usual research; looked at Google reviews, went to the web site and called/left a voice message. The owner, Kayla, texted me back quickly and started communicating with me on the WODs, drop in fees, etc. She was very accommodating.
Since then, I’ll send her a text when I’m in town and she’ll let me know what the upcoming WODs are. They also post their WODs in SugarWOD, with is a gym management program. It uses a free app that you can download to see their upcoming programming.
For this visit, I arrived about 15 minutes prior to the 5:30pm class and was greeted by Kayla who was chatting casually with some of the members between classes. She immediately welcomed me and included me in the conversation about what ridiculous hypothetical scenario I would prefer given a choice of two. I felt that relaxed, comfortable feeling very quickly, even with people who didn’t know me.
Not to ruin the surprise but this box scores consistently well across the board. Let’s look at the details. (All ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells)
I mentioned that Kayla was quick to respond to my initial voice message. She’s also been very quick to respond to any subsequent communication. Additionally, she’s always communicates that she’d glad to hear when I’m returning.
The CFTP web site offers a good sense of their environment. It talks about encouragement and community. Their culture backs that claim up.
There’s no information about drop-ins on their web site, which would be a plus. There’s some information on their coaches. It has Kayla’s certifications and details on coach Joe and minimal information on their other three coaches. I don’t want that to take away from the communication, which is otherwise great.
Kayla runs a clean ship. Yes, you can tell that the gym is well used but she is vocal about cleaning up after workouts and keeps all that nice shiny equipment looking new. They have rags and cleaning solution readily available and members appear to be good about using them. Oh, and by the way, the bathroom (at least the one that I was in) was clean as well – important.
A couple of visits ago, Kayla was touting her new floor scrubber and it appears it’s still being used consistently.
CFTP is at a little bit of an advantage because they’re just over a year old but I see no signs of misuse of equipment. The plates aren’t cracked. The barbells and dumbbells don’t look weathered.
There’s a large rig in the middle of the floor that is very sturdy and in great shape as well. There’s plenty of rowers and assault bikes – more than average. There’s also ample plates, dumbbells and kettle bells. Everything is neatly placed.
CFTP stands out in this category.
The warmup started with a run around the rig where we would switch up our cadence and movement from high knees to side step to butt kicks, etc. That got the heart rate up and warmed up the legs. We then did a series of stretches. It was a thorough warmup with sufficient time spent.
The workout on this visit was a lift then a metcon. It was a 4 x 4 back squat followed by five rounds of descending reps of double unders and kettlebell swings. I’m still working on my single unders and was able to scale to that. I shared a bar with two others for the lift and we helped with spotting each other.
The only thing of note is the location was once used as a garage and the floor on my side of the rig that night is slightly angled towards the rig (presumably for drainage in its former life). It’s very slight but I just had to focus a little more on planting my heels on the back squat.
Kayla was the coach for this class. She reviewed the workout thoroughly. There were options offered for scaling the jump rope. I let her know that I still pretty much suck even at single unders at this point and she suggested to give it several tries but don’t kill myself. Prior to class, she watched my single unders and offered some suggestions.
She was attentive during class and came around several times to check on everyone. She made sure I was comfortable with my back squat weight. She was also encouraging throughout the workout.
One of the things that they consistently do at CFTP that I’ve not seen anywhere else is simple but impactful. Everyone gathers in a circle at the start of class and answers the “question of the day”. It’s usually something simple like do you prefer your ice cream in a cone or a cup. But everyone either gives their name or the coach asks your name and we go around the circle. It’s a nice ice breaker and for a drop-in it’s another way to feel comfortable and part of the class.
I mentioned Kayla actively engages with the members. I’m starting to recognize a few people there and some are starting to recognize me. My workout was slow this time and happened to be the last one to complete it. But most of the class was cheering me on at the end.
A couple of people came up to chat with me after the workout. That’s happened on previous visits as well.
Drop-in Cost and Swag
Cost to drop in is $20. Pretty standard. Or you can purchase a shirt, which is $20-$25. To me, it’s kind of a no-brainer but some people aren’t in to picking up shirts. You really can’t lose either way.
The first few times I visited there was limited shirts/sizes. But, they’ve recently gotten in some new ones and there’s a couple of styles and several colors to choose from. The state of shirt stock at any CrossFit is always fluid.
Kayla has a passion for what she does and it shows. For a first-time visitor, CrossFit for the People is a welcoming environment with a great facility and a close, inclusive community. If I lived in the area and were looking for a CrossFit to call home, CFTP would easily be a front runner.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
CrossFit For The People
24 Lisha Kill Rd
Albany, NY 12205
I dropped in to Hunter’s Creek CrossFit in Orlando on October 23, 2019 for a 6:00 pm CrossFit class. They’re just west of the Orlando airport. Despite the typical rush hour Orlando traffic, they’re not too hard to get to. It’s about 15-20 minutes from the airport hotels and about the same from the Disney, depending on the resort and Universal studios as well. So, if you’re craving a workout while vacationing in the Orlando area, this may be a good option for you.
I found Hunter’s Creek CrossFit when I was looking at the Google reviews for another gym. It said while the gym I was reading about was good, Hunters Creek was the best in the area. I called them and spoke with a very friendly employee (Rose) about the upcoming WODs while I was in town. I like to call to get a sense of the WODs. It gives me a feel for their programming and their responsiveness if I leave a message. I also listen for how welcoming they sound and get other details like cost.
Consequently, I called 4 other gyms, as there were others closer to my hotel, and only one had voicemail (but they never got back to me). The others either didn’t have voice mail, their mail box wasn’t set up or I got a strange message that tells me that mailbox wasn’t set up properly. Sometimes it’s the simple things that can cost business. And it’s not just drop-in business. If I were looking for a new CrossFit home and encountered any of the above for those 4 gyms, I’m moving on.
I arrived about 10 minutes before class. There wasn’t a whole lot of parking designated for them but there was parking for other suites in the strip. Being that it was after work hours, I didn’t have an issue but I could see where it might be if you’re there earlier in the day.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Rose, who I spoke with a couple of days earlier. She had me sign in at her desktop. Their tablet wasn’t working but no big deal. They’re a Wodify house, so it was easy for me. She then brought me out to the floor. I was immediately greeted by Daniel Maldonado, the owner and he introduced me to coach Matteo, who would be coaching my class. He’s level 1 certified, and although he’s not listed on their web site, Matteo did an excellent job. More on that shortly.
Let’s go through the details of my experience. (All ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells)
Heck, they picked up the phone. That’s a great start compared to their competition. They were friendly and welcoming.
Their website gave a good sense of the environment. They have a wide range of programs there. It wasn’t easy to find information on the coaches right away – it was actually under the Blog heading. It would have been good to list their CrossFit certifications. However, that information was not available.
Their website also does not seem to specify drop in fees. While some sites allow you to sign up for a class and pay your drop-in fee online, it’s not an option here. To me, these aren’t major things but just something to keep in mind, as you'll want to allow yourself enough time to sign in when you arrive.
You could tell it was a 6:00 pm class rather than a 6:00 am class. However, they were in pretty good shape. It was clear that they don’t let the place go very long without a proper cleaning. They have rags and spray bottles to wipe down the equipment after the workout and members were actively using them.
The facility isn’t huge but there was plenty of room. It didn't feel cramped. Looking at the equipment, while overall things were in pretty good shape, several of the older rubber plates were coming off of their steel hubs. Barbells looked older but in decent shape. The workout didn’t involve the rig that evening but it appears to be solid from observing others using it.
Plates seemed to be plentiful. I only noticed a couple of rowers, a handful of assault bikes and one Ski Erg. There may have been more that I didn’t see. It wasn’t a part of the work out on this night. If needed, it may just require a little rotation planning.
There was some time spent to warm up; a couple of short runs, lunges, pushups, Sampson stretches, bear crawls and a few more items (not in that order). I felt sufficiently warmed up.
It was a strength workout. We started with an EMOM (every minute on the minute), 15 minutes of three movements. First was :45 pistols, followed by :45 wall walk. I have mobility issues with my wrist, so the coach had me do a high plank/shoulder taps. Then :45 hollow rock. We cycled through those movements 5 times.
This was followed by a 7-minute AMRAP of 7 dead lifts, 3 strict press and 7 back-rack thrusters. The Rx weight was 75# for men and 55# for women.
It was definitely a challenging workout but I found it doable, with lots of options to scale if you needed to. I felt I got my “money’s worth”.
High marks on coaching here. While coach Matteo seems like he might be newer to coaching, his communication and involvement was very good. He brought everyone up to the board to go over the warmup and later for the workout.
He understood my personal needs with my mobility issue and gave me a good alternative to scale with. He asked if there was anyone else with mobility issues, which there was so he worked with that individual as well.
Matteo also came around to everyone during the workout several times to see how they were doing. He checked with me on the EMOM to be sure I was comfortable with my movement and offered me alternatives to that if I needed them.
During the WOD I was gassed on the Rx weight about three rounds in and he helped me quickly change the plates out. He also was encouraging to everyone during the workout and congratulated everyone afterwards.
One of the first things I noticed was there were several social conversations going on. Not to the extent where it interrupted the workout. The point being you can tell there’s a good sense of camaraderie at Hunter’s Creek CrossFit.
I personally received a fair share of post-workout fist bumps and saw it among others. Although I really didn’t get involved in any conversations, the folks here were welcoming.
The coaches set a good tone of support and encouragement and it’s clear that it flows to the members. I appreciated the owner (Daniel) introducing himself to me before the workout and checking with me after to see how I liked it.
Drop-in Cost and Swag
A pretty standard drop-in cost of $20. They don’t offer any package with a shirt, which some boxes have.
The swag was nice. They have a good logo and many of the members were wearing their shirts. However, they had none in my size and very few in other sizes. If you go there, they may have stocked back up so you should take that into consideration. Shirt availability at any CrossFit is often hit-and-miss. Hope to get one on my next visit.
I realize swag is not their bread and butter. More of a nice-to-have. Their shirts cost $25, which is not uncommon.
Overall, this was a good experience with a challenging workout, a positive environment and very good coaching. I would recommend Hunter’s Creek CrossFit if you want a good workout in the Orlando area. I’ll return if I get the opportunity.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
Hunter’s Creek CrossFit
2120 Orinoco Dr #200
Orlando, FL 32837