It’s hard to believe another year has passed already. And we’ve had another year of trying to navigate around the pandemic to stay fit. It turns out, I was still able to get in a number of drop-ins this year and there’s been some award-winning experiences. I hope you’ve had fun reading about them and I hope they’ve been informative for you.
Now it’s time to reflect back and honor the best drop-ins of the year. This was a fun and popular event last year so, why not make it an annual thing? No, this isn’t the Oscars. There’s no statuette given to each winning box. This is for fun… and a little bit of bragging rights.
Just like last year, these awards go to things that particularly distinguished a CrossFit. Any CrossFit that I’ve been to in 2021 qualifies, even if I’ve been there before. Some of the award categories remain the same and there some new ones. But who stands out from the pack in each category? We’ll give one award every day between Christmas and New Year so be sure to check in each day to find out.
Here are your 2021 Drop-In Awards:
1. The Home Away from Home Award goes to my good friends at CrossFit for the People in Albany, NY. They won the Most Fun Ice Breakers Award last year. I had the opportunity to drop-in this past July and it was like coming home.
My work used to bring me up there all the time and I’ve had many visits there. The athletes and owner, Kayla are some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked out with. Sadly, I’ve changed jobs and won’t have the opportunity to make it back anytime soon. I will certainly miss them. So, there’s some nostalgia in this award. Congratulations to you, CrossFit for the People. Stay fantastic!
Want to learn more about CrossFit for the People? You can find my full review at https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/crossfit-for-the-people.
2. The Good Things Come in Small Boxes Award goes to Happy Hour CrossFit in Nassau, Bahamas. This is a small facility but you get just as much quality here as many of the big boxes in the states. It's Boxing Day and it’s no coincidence that this award goes to Happy Hour CF today. I’ve been to Nassau on Boxing Day before and it’s a celebration like no other. I highly recommend it if you can make it there. And I highly recommend Happy Hour CrossFit.
Check out the recently-posted full review at https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/an-island-drop-in-at-happy-hour-crossfitwww.dropindiary.com/blog/an-island-drop-in-at-happy-hour-crossfit.
3. The King of the Chipper Workouts Award goes to CrossFit OTG, in Egg Harbor Township, NJ for a second year in a row. Our first two-timer! It’s always well-earned. I love visiting OTG and interacting with the great athletes after I’ve peeled myself off the floor from one of their workouts. Keep up the good programming, Nick. Thank you, sir. May I have another!
It's been a while since my last full review on OTG but things have remained pretty consistent. Check out the full review www.dropindiary.com/blog/crossfit-otg.
4. The Elbow Room Award goes to CrossFit Bexley, in Columbus, OH. We had a small box award. It’s time to represent the other side of the fence. If you like wide open spaces, prefer to social distance or just like a nice echo, CrossFit Bexley doesn’t disappoint. It's got two sizeable rigs and a whole lot of space in between. This place would make Batman reconsider his accommodations. And I’d go as far as to say it’s got more cool toys than the Batcave too.
Haven't had a chance to see the full review? Look no further:
5. The Lives Up to the Hype Award goes to CrossFit Mile Zero in Key West, FL. When I told people I was going to drop in at CF Mile Zero, many said that they had heard about them or had heard good things about them or that they’d like to go there. Of course, they’d like to go there. It’s Key West.
So, when you think of Key West you’re thinking laid back, cool people and just a good vibe. All true! I’ve witnessed it myself and I would do it again in a heartbeat and hope I can. That doesn't mean they're laid back during the workout. It is CrossFit Mile Zero so you'll get your money's worth. Owner, Jeff is a really good guy and the athletes there are all super nice too. Way to go, CF Mile Zero!
Want more details? See the full review at https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/vacation-drop-in-at-crossfit-mile-zero
6. The Location Admiration Award goes to Rock Life CrossFit in St. Thomas, USVI. This was originally called the Most I Wish I Were There Every Day Award (long-winded but still applies) and I thought it was going to go unrivaled for quite some time. I didn’t expect to be back in St. Thomas so soon. Rock Life is an amazing CrossFit in all categories, and you can’t beat the beautiful location. If you get to visit St. Thomas (and I hope you do), you don’t want to miss this place.
You won't want to miss the full reiview either. https://www.dropindiary.com/blog/dropping-in-at-rock-life-crossfit-in-st-thomas
7. The Better Than Mickey Award is our final award of 2021. Some people love a certain mouse in the Florida area. But there are others worth visiting. I’m speaking about MouseTrap Fitness, home of CrossFit MouseTrap in Orlando. This excellent box is right around the corner from the parks and you don’t have to wait in long lines or pay exorbitant prices for a great experience. The people are cool, the workout is hot, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Learn what makes CrossFit Mousetrap as good as they are. Check out the full review at www.dropindiary.com/blog/crossfit-mousetrap-getting-back-to-dropping-in
Once again, this has been a challenging year to drop-in, but we have persevered. There have been some unforgettable experiences in 2021. Congratulations to all of these award winning CrossFits. I hope you will have the chance to try some of these places out. If not, maybe you’ll find some drop in adventures of your own. If you do, please let me know about it. I would love to hear from you.
What does this mean for the awards from last year that weren’t presented this year? Well, I guess you get to keep your title. Keep on bragging because I haven’t found anyone who could top your award-winning characteristics.
I hope you’ve enjoyed all the posts and I hope you all have a safe, happy, and healthy 2022!
I’ve visited Nassau, Bahamas several times. Each time, it’s been a one-day visit off a cruise ship. After a few visits, I really wasn’t interested in any excursions. Sometimes I wouldn’t even get even off the ship.
But wait a minute. Could Nassau have a CrossFit? Why, yes. Yes they do. And it’s close to the cruise port. Happy Hour CrossFit is less than a 15-minute walk from the cruise port and it’s definitely worth getting off the ship for.
If you come in via a ship, you can grab a cab (and there will be plenty waiting for you) or you can take a walk. I decided to walk. I turned left out of the port and that curved around to Bay Street, where you turn left and it’s about a half mile from there. You will notice two things if you walk: 1. there’s no numbers on any of the storefronts at all and 2. Some of the closed down storefronts look pretty rough. It’s not a bad neighborhood. It’s just in bad shape on and off until you get about 2 blocks out from Happy Hour.
Happy Hour CrossFit is in a building adjacent to a Rubis gas station on the left side (headed away from the port). If you have concerns about the walk, the cab ride will be short and should be cheap.
I arrived in port with just enough time for me to make the 9:00 class. I was the first person off the ship. It was raining but me and my crappy umbrella took on the wind and the rain so we could make class in time. With the lack of street numbers and the condition of the storefronts, I was not sure how far down I had to go. I stopped in an open business and they helped to point me in the right direction.
Finally! I made it, just a couple minutes late from my stop for directions. Class had just started. Coach Jamie turned to me as I opened the door - “Matt?” I said “Jamie?” and he welcomed me into class. How did it go? You know the scale – 1-5 barbells. Let’s see how many Happy Hour CrossFit racked up.
I sent a message a couple of weeks in advance to let them know I’d like to drop in on their Contact Us page. It took a few days to get a response but the response was very enthusiastic. “So awesome to hear you will be visiting us!” I love that kind of welcome.
After that, the information flowed easily. He gave me the cost to drop in and for t-shirts (more on that later). Jamie also shared their safety policies like having a picture of my vaccination card and wearing a mask until I got to my workout area. As we got closer, I asked for the workout and Jamie sent it over. Knowing what to bring reduces overpacking.
The website covers all the basics. You have to click around a little bit to find things. It has a Drop-In selection in the header. However, there’s no way that I can see to set up your drop-in online. Jamie reserved my spot in the class and I paid in cash when I got there. They have several programs there in addition to CrossFit and they’re illustrated on the site.
An important note, particularly with COVID is class sizes here are very limited. Given the size of the facility, which you’ll read more about below, and the rules in the Bahamas it’s a good thing. But you’ll definitely want to be sure you communicate when you want to take class so you can get a spot reserved for you.
Nassau is an island, of course. So, there’s lots of sand, and not just on the beach. When you first walk into Happy Hour CrossFit, there’s a shallow tray with water in it for you to step in to get the sand off your shoes. The floor looked clean. There was a little bit of chalk visible on the rig but I didn’t see any on bars. Everyone in class wiped their equipment down after class was over. I did not have the opportunity to inspect the restroom.
This is a small facility. It may be the smallest CrossFit I’ve ever been to. You walk directly in on the main workout floor. There’s a small rig on the left that’s about 4 positions wide. There’s a few pull up racks on the wall on the right. It’s pretty open along the length of the floor. Opposite the front door, there’s a short, wide hallway with some bikes and ski ergs. It leads to a room in the back with several rowers for their Rowfit program.
As a small facility, they use their space well. There’s a rack for everything. Barbells are racked on the walls. There’s stands for their plates, a rack for wall balls and benches are mounted on the walls as well. Most of the equipment is in good condition. Some of the plates look like they have gone through their paces but nothing terrible. There was plenty of equipment for everyone so no worries there.
We started with an AMRAP warmup, followed by a strength metcon on a 15-minute clock to build to a heavy set of 2 power cleans and 1 hang clean. We had the option to squat clean, which I elected to do (I know, crazy).
The remaining workout was a partner WOD. There was an odd number of people so I was on a team of three where they went/I went. It was 5 x 3-minute rounds of 3 power cleans, 6 push-ups and 9 air squats. There was a 1-minute rest between each round and you picked up where you left off after the rest.
I like this kind of workout. It’s varied. It has strength and sprint movement and the warmup really warmed us up. It may not have been overly complex, but it kept us moving and it worked out multiple muscle groups. Sounds like CrossFit to me.
Jamie is the owner and head coach. He’s CrossFit Level 1 certified. However, from my travels and experiences, he presents himself beyond that level. He’s quite attentive. There’s athletes of all skill levels in his class and he worked with all of them based on their needs. I saw him offering feedback to the beginner-level athletes and the more experienced ones. He shared a tip with me for an adjustment as well.
Jamie has a lot of enthusiasm. You can see his passion for what he does. He’s encouraging. During the workout he made the rounds and checked with everyone. He took advantage of the rest periods to communicate and keep us motivated.
As I mentioned above, there was a big mix of skill sets. There’s lots of different backgrounds here as well. It’s a nice blend and a good dynamic. People weren’t overly social, but I wasn’t there before the workout started and that can make a difference.
There was plenty of congrats after the workout and I got to chat with a couple of people. All quite nice. There was no negative vibe at all.
Drop-In Cost and SWAG
This is an interesting one because this is a different country and costs are different. Everything costs more on an island, whether it’s in the US or abroad. The drop-in cost was $25. Relatively speaking, not terrible.
The shirts are $35, which is more than I’ve seen anywhere else to date. However, value is in the eye of the beholder. If you’re a drop-in shirt hound and you're good with the price, grab one. The name and logo are pretty cool. I wouldn't have minded one but they didn’t have one in my size, so the decision was made for me. Either way, the shirt is not my primary objective so I wasn’t worried about it.
Happy Hour CrossFit is a small place, but they really get the job done. Jamie is a great coach, and did a great job with the variety of members. I felt welcomed. The facility is in good condition and things are well laid out for the small size. A very good overall experience.
You’ll have to make your choice for you on your best mode of transportation to get there but I did not feel unsafe on my walk there. And, it’s a very short cab ride from the port if you prefer to go that way.
When travelling to St. Thomas, there are certain essentials you must bring with you: a swimsuit, sunscreen, sandals, sunglasses and your CrossFit shoes….Because if you don’t drop in while on St. Thomas, you’re missing an experience.
On this trip I visited Rock Life CrossFit, which is in the capital town of Charlotte Amalie. You’ll definitely want to get there if you can. I’ve actually been to a CrossFit on the island before but this time the schedule worked out where I could go to Rock Life and I really wanted to drop in here.
My wife and I got an Airbnb with our good friends and there was plenty of time, so I had the flexibility of being selective of my class. When I saw the opportunity to train with their level 3 CrossFit coach, I jumped at the chance. I’m told they currently have the only L3 CrossFit coach in the Caribbean.
Depending on where you’re staying, getting there might be a little challenging. If you’re in Charlotte Amalie (which I was), it’s generally a quick cab ride. If you’re further east, in a place like Red Hook, it’s a longer trip. St. Thomas doesn’t have Uber or Lyft so, that’s not an option. Cabs or rental cars are your main choices. They do have some public transportation as well if you want to explore that and save a few dollars. I recommend a cab.
As I was on a vacation schedule, I didn’t have to select the earliest class (hey, sleep is a great vacation activity too). Did the drop-in live up to my expectations? You’re just going to have to read on to find out. You know the scale; 1-5 barbells.
I filled out the online form to let them know when I would be in town and that I’d like to drop in. I received a response within a couple of days from their Director of Operations, Rachel. She started of with “We would love for you to WOD in paradise with us!” Pretty inviting.
Rachel shared their location , their proximity to key landmarks and instructions on how to register for the class. She also gave me details on steps they’ve taken to keep safe and sanitized. Any follow up questions were quickly responded to.
The website is easy to navigate. Drop in details are easy to find under “SIGNUP/VISIT”. Just click on the class or classes you want to take and fills in the price for you. The details on their coaches, including certifications, are under “ABOUT”. The only thing that’s not there is the day’s workout, as you need a sign-in for it. However, I was able to ask in my email communications and Rachel sent it to me ahead of time.
If you’re contacting them from the States, this is a US territory so it shouldn’t cost you any extra if you want to call them. The same rule should apply if you’re on a US calling plan while on the island. However, their email responses were very punctual so that might be your easiest method.
As you walked in, there's a sign detailing Rock Life's safety guidelines. They were limiting class sizes when I was there and encouraged social distancing and the wiping down of equipment. There was a big bottle of hand sanitizer as you walk in the door.
There were two classes in direct succession before mine so, it was a good opportunity to see how everything held up for my class. We were using rowers and barbells. True to their guidelines, everything from the prior class had been wiped down. After our class, we were asked to wipe everything down as well. Spray bottles and rags are easily accessible.
This is a pretty good-sized facility and, while there was dust in some of the far corners off the main floor, I really saw no cause for concern. I had a look in the restroom and things seemed to be in good shape there as well.
Rock Life CrossFit is located literally across from a huge bay where cruise ships dock (none in town that day). You can look out the window and see clear blue water and sail boats. A workout with a view.
It’s not a small facility. It’s also not a huge, cavernous warehouse like you see in some places but there is ample space. The main workout floor is an “L” shape with the rig in the middle. The rig is unique, at least to my travels so far. It’s two positions deep, meaning there’s a section that comes out of the wall with uprights like you’d expect to see and then another section with uprights in front of it. It’s kind of like double parking. It’s a little less social distanced but a good use of space. Overall, there’s plenty of space. It didn’t feel cramped at all.
There’s plenty of hardware and everything is in generally good shape. There are good amount of barbells, a rack with dumbbells, a separate rack with slam balls and kettle bells and a third with wallballs and more kettlebells. Some bars had a little rust but you can’t help that being in such a humid environment. There’s about seven or eight bikes and an equal amount of rowers.
There’s additional workout space on the right-hand side when you come in just beyond the reception area and a warmup area in the back.
This was my kind of workout – a chipper! It started with a deadlift building to a 1-rep max. I didn’t bring my belt, so I took it a little easier. I also may have received a small speech from my wife about how we we’re on vacation and I better not crush my back. I may or may not have had those words in my head when I was lifting. I actually mentioned that little speech to the coach before the workout and she may or may not have reminded me as I was building up. I’ll leave you to speculate on that.
The metcon was for time:
60/45 calorie row
45 chest to bar pullups
15 bar-facing burpees
One of the things I liked about the programming is they had an Rx and two levels of scaling posted. You could additionally scale from there, of course. But this made it easier for people to just select one of the levels to work on. They were all plenty challenging. It was a guaranteed good workout no matter which one you selected. I personally Rx maybe 4-6 times per year and this wasn’t one of them. It’s about getting a good workout and I had no complaints.
I mentioned earlier that I had the opportunity to take a class with a Level 3 certified coach – coach Megan. Why is this significant? I’ve taken plenty of classes with excellent L1 and L2 coaches. To me, an L3 coach goes into a much deeper level of detail on form and technique, at least the one’s have worked with. It also is a level of commitment that you really can’t have unless you’re passionate about health and fitness. I have the good fortune of having an L3 coach at my hometown gym and he has taught me so much about my form, staying fit and in good health.
Coach Megan shows that same attention to detail and commitment. She pointed out little nuances in my technique as I was working that I normally don’t have called out. She was also upbeat and encouraging throughout the class. A chipper calls for a little extra encouragement from the coach, as people need that push to help them through. I rarely give 5 barbells but it's deserved here. Megan did an excellent job.
This is a place that lends itself to drop-ins. It’s in the heart of a vacation spot. The coach introduced me to the class and involved me in the discussion. There was a range of skill level among the athletes and they all seemed comfortable.
One of the members asked me more about where I was from, as she had lived near Washington DC for a while. There was some light chatting among the athletes during the lift, encouragement during the workout and congratulations afterwards. This is a friendly place.
After the workout, I had the opportunity to chat with the owner, coach Cory. He was very cordial and shared some points of interest to check out while I was on the island.
Drop In Cost and SWAG
The cost to drop in is $20. St. Thomas is generally an expensive place so that’s a pretty good price. The shirts are $25 but if you purchase one when you drop in, it’s discounted to $15. An offer I couldn’t refuse.
They had a decent selection of shirts. My favorite was the “Deadlifting in Paradise” shirt, which they had in every size but mine, of course. Unfortunately, they only had one shirt in my size. At least my choice was clear. I would love it if Cory could contact me if they ever get the deadlifting shirt in again in a large.
I really enjoyed my experience at Rock Life CrossFit in St. Thomas. It was a great overall experience. It’s got great coaching, the facility more than does the job and the people are very friendly. I highly recommend it.
St. Thomas is one of my favorite places to visit so I’m going to bet this wasn’t my last visit to this beautiful island. I’m also willing to bet that this wasn’t my last visit to Rock Life CrossFit. I look forward to returning.
Rock Life CrossFit
1000 Beltjen Road, Suite 2
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands 00802
When you go on vacation, you think about things you’d like to see, activities you’d like to try and places where you’d like to eat. For me, it’s natural to also look for places to drop in. It’s not about having something to write about. It’s part of the adventure. I love to meet athletes in the CrossFit community and learn about the coach’s/owner’s stories as well.
When I went with my family to Key West this past July I was really excited to go to CrossFit Mile Zero. This is a well-reviewed place and, hey, it’s Key West! I was really hoping it would have that Key West vibe.
It was a short Uber ride from our hotel near Duval St. My wife and I got there early; almost 30 minutes before our class time (don’t ask why because I just don’t know). When we arrived, there was a class going on so we hung outside for a little bit so we didn’t interrupt. Coach/owner, Jeff popped out and said we don’t have to wait outside and welcomed us in.
I decided to stay outside for a few minutes and walk around the back. I discovered an interesting outdoor area that they have. More on that when I talk about the facility. I eventually went in and my wife was already chatting with Jeff. By then my friend Justin, who crossed paths with us on this vacation, showed up. Justin is an excellent athlete and coach in his own right, but I was especially happy to have him join us because getting him to drop in while on vacation is kind of like trying to spot a unicorn.
Time to share some details. You know the scale; 1-5 barbells. Here we go!
As I had been hoping to get to Key West for a while, (and was sitting at home during the pandemic with nowhere to go) I had time to become pretty familiar with the web site. There’s a nice big “DROP IN” button that always stays at the top of the page. You really can’t be much more drop-in friendly than that.
The site has details on the coaches, including their certifications, the schedules, WOD for the next day and rates. It’s quite simple and straight-forward.
As far as communication, I submitted an inquiry through their contact form on the site and Jeff responded to me promptly. I asked about any advanced info I could get on the workout so I knew what gear to pack. Although he wasn’t able to give me the exact workout, he gave me enough of an idea so I knew what I needed.
There’s really not much to report here, which is want you want in this category. My wife checked out the restroom and said it was fine. Equipment got wiped down by athletes after class was over. I did notice some chalk on a few of the bars sitting in the racks but the floors were clean and so were the rigs.
This is an interesting facility. It was formerly a post office. I’d say it’s medium/large-size (there’s no real scale to go by). There’s a large main room with a two rigs on opposite walls. Beyond the main workout area, you’ll find several little rooms here and there. There’s a warmup area in the front that may have been a former office. A short hallway off to the side with barbell racks mounted on the walls leads to a small room where they keep their swag (more on that soon). There’s another area in the far back that looks like it was the loading dock in a former life with some stand-alone racks, a bike and a bunch of plates.
And then there’s the outdoor area with mats and pullup brackets. Although I didn’t use it, I liked it. It seemed like you could hold a medium-sized class out there and have plenty of space. Maybe not the best in July after the sun comes up.
For equipment, there’s loads of bars, weights, at least 8 bikes and about the same number of rowers. I couldn’t see anything was really missing. Everything is in good condition.
The strength portion of the workout was a 7x3 back squat or front squat for 3 sets at 75%. I elected to do back squat, as did my wife. Justin went with front squats.
The metcon was 8 rounds for time of 5 burpee box jumps/step ups (20/24) and 10 DB hang snatches (35/45) with a 30 second rest in between rounds.
This was a really good vacation workout. It wasn’t too heavy, nor was it “soul-crushing”. It was perfect to keep us moving and worked off some of that vacation food. In looking at their historical workouts, they change things up plenty so there’s no guarantee you’ll get a similar workout but that’s really what CrossFit is – variety.
Jeff did an excellent job of explaining the workout and getting us warmed up. He demonstrated knowledge of form and movement. He checked on everyone throughout the class to be sure they were all set. I received several visits from Jeff while I was working on my back squat. He was encouraging to all during the workout.
In several ways, the culture was an extension of the coaching. Jeff is the owner, so it makes sense. Jeff made it easy to feel comfortable. When he introduced us to the class he had us tell everyone one thing about us. I was blanking so I did something I never do. I said “have a blog where I review all the CrossFits I drop in to all over the country”, which prompted Jeff to instruct his members to be “really nice" to me. Honestly, I don’t think it would have made a difference. I knew CrossFit Mile Zero had the vibe I was looking for before I said anything.
The members were very nice. Everyone said hello. My wife shared a space on the rig for the strength portion of the workout with one of the members who was gracious and friendly . A few members chatted with us and most of them gave post-workout congrats.
After the workout, Jeff spent some time to talk with us and sent us a list of places to see and things to do while in the keys. There was an excellent overall feeling of welcome here and if you’re the type of person that’s a little bit hesitant because of feeling out of place, this is a really good place to go.
Drop In Cost and SWAG
The drop-in fee was the standard $20. They also have a $60 weekly drop-in rate, which is pretty good if you’re in town for a while. The shirts were also $20. They had plenty of variety, which you don’t always see. That little room at the end of the hallway had a big set of shelves that were pretty stocked. There were ¾ sleeves, tee shirts and tanks. You should be able to find something in your size.
I was hoping to have a really good experience at CrossFit Mile Zero. Maybe because I worked it up in my own mind because of where it is and how long I was waiting to go there. The experience certainly met my expectations. What stands out to me was the overall feeling of welcome here and that’s huge to me. Big kudos to coach/owner Jeff for creating a great environment. My only regret is it’s not a place I can get to with any regularity. I will look back fondly.
CrossFit Mile Zero
3224 Flagler Avenue
Key West, FL 33040