Late last year I started a new job in the Chicago area and, although it took some time to drop in during one of my monthly visits, I was finally able to workout in the area. The first place I visited was CrossFit Salire in Westmont, IL.
Honestly, I had looked at a different box a little closer to my hotel, but I was having shoulder issues at the time, and they were going heavy on the shoulders that week. How fortunate I was to find CrossFit Salire. This is a relatively small gym but great all-around environment.
How did CrossFit Salire rate? Let’s find out. Remember, all ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
Sometimes I wish I had separated out this category. I’ll be honest, their website isn’t the greatest but the communication I received more than made up for it.
Most of the navigation of their website is from the hamburger menu on the top right. If you go to schedule, there’s a URL but it’s not clickable. I had to copy and paste it into another window to see it. To find details on dropping in, go to FAQ’s and scroll down to the second to last FAQ. You’ll find pricing and other details. Just above FAQ’s in the menu is some details on their coaches, which I always like to look at. Overall, the site has the information you’ll need but it’s just not very intuitive to navigate.
The good news is I emailed them (located at the bottom of all the pages on their site) and got a very quick response from their owner, Melissa. She told me who would be coaching and gave me details on how to locate the facility. I received info about the workout so I knew what I needed to bring with me. I actually visited them a second time a couple of months later and Melissa sent me the workouts for that visit as well.
No real issues here. The first time I visited was an early morning class and the second time was in the afternoon. The floor was in good shape. The afternoon class showed signs of the day’s use more so than the morning, which was expected but nothing bad. There was a little chalk on the rig and even less on the bars. It was nothing that raised an eyebrow. There’s spray bottles and rags and the members used them. The bathrooms looked clean each time I visited.
CrossFit Salire is a small-ish facility but doesn’t feel cramped at all. They have one rig along the side wall and some free-standing squat racks on the other side. They’re well equipped and quite organized. I liked their rack for wallballs. It was almost like a display. Everything seemed to have it’s place. They use the wall space to hang equipment like their benches. They even have racks to hang their rowers.
There was no shortage of bars and plates and, although things showed signs of normal wear, it all seems to be in good shape.
I mentioned I’ve been there twice, each on a different trip. Both workouts were equally challenging in different ways. The lifting component of the first one included a front quat at 85/90% of your max, followed by a 3-minute EMOM of a front squat at 60% x 3 reps. Then the fun began with descending sets of 40-30-20-10 wallballs and 10-8-6-4 deadlifts (225# RX). It got real tiring real fast. But it was a good challenge.
The second workout started with a lifting component of a E2MOM of a 3x push press. The workout was an EMOM of a 45 second row on the first minute followed by a pushing component of 30 seconds for the second minute. I chose bench press but people did push ups as well. It was slated as a 10-minute workout but the coach asked for votes to double it, so we ended up doing a 20 minute EMOM. Fun!
I really enjoyed the coaches here. On my first visit, Haley was the coach. She’s very personable. She introduced me to the modest size class (of 3). And had the others introduce themselves. There was a thorough warmup and she walked us through all the movements. She stayed focused on us and encouraged us throughout the workout.
On my second visit, it was coach Karen. And for the record, it was her idea to turn the 10-minute EMOM into 20. She was also personable, attentive and encouraging. So, I guess I’ll forgive her for that idea of hers.
Each time I’ve visited, the classes were only 3 people (including myself). I like small classes but it’s harder to gauge the culture with fewer people. However, there’s three things that motivated me to score this so high. First, there was an earlier class in the morning of my first visit and they were very friendly and welcoming to me. Second, when I returned 2 months later, one of those people from the earlier class was in my class and he remembered me and where I was from and immediately engaged me in conversation. Third, everyone I interacted with was very nice. I didn’t feel like an outsider at all.
Drop-In Cost and SWAG
Really standard fare here. The drop-in fee is $20 and you can charge it or pay cash. Shirts are $25. There are no package deals that I’m aware of. I didn’t get a shirt honestly because I have so many now. But this is what you can expect to pay these days.
CrossFit Salire is one of those good things that comes in a small(ish) package. It’s not a huge facility, it’s a little out of the way and the classes are small (which isn’t a bad thing). But it’s really got it where it counts. Their workouts are well programmed and well coached and you feel welcomed the minute you walk in the door.
I’ve been here twice and I fully plan to return. Hope you get the chance to check it out if you’re in the western Chicago suburbs.
As we celebrate the second year of Drop-In Diary I look back and it’s been another year of challenge. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been fruitful. Doing a very social thing in a time where social things are not always encouraged means you must take extra measures and give extra consideration.
As you know, it was a year of ups and downs in terms of safety and the effect of the pandemic. While the global situation ended the year on a down note, there were definitely positives. Many restrictions were reduced, allowing drop-in visits to occur, and they certainly did.
So, let’s focus on those positives. That’s where I like to live and there were a lot of blessings to count. While I wasn’t able to travel as much as I would have liked, I was able to get to several new locations, including 3 islands. What’s not to like about that. I was also able to stop in on some old friends like CrossFit for the People and CrossFit OTG; Two of my favorite places.
I changed jobs at the end of 2021. Sadly, Drop-In Diary doesn’t pay the bills…none of them. This job change means that I won’t be getting to the upstate New York area nearly as much. But now I get to the Chicago area frequently and there’s lots of places to visit there.
As I reflect back, I also think about the original mission for Drop-In Diary, which I remain focused on. There’s lots of people that travel and many that don’t feel comfortable with the unfamiliarity of dropping in. By visiting places and trying to provide a comprehensive picture of what it’s like at a given location, my goal is to provide some familiarity and comfort so that athletes can maintain a better workout consistency and better overall health.
The unexpected and tremendous dividend for me has been getting to know athletes, coaches and owners, finding new friendships and getting a better understanding of the CrossFit world. It has made me love this venture even more and has motivated me to keep going.
What’s in store for 2022? We’ll have our first guest drop-in review, which is very exciting. I can’t be everywhere and if we can expend our coverage through the feedback of others, I’m all about it. I’d love that to be the start of a trend. Safety protocols have become a relevant consideration so, I will include more information about them from my drop-ins. Also, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So, more pics when I drop in to give you as complete a picture of a place as possible. I’m also lining up more gear reviews and want to include a couple more nutrition pieces as well. And, of course, as many drop-ins as possible!
So, I want to thank my growing following and anyone who has supported me. I hope you’ve found Drop-In Diary to be a useful tool. If you can, I’d love more feedback so Drop-In Diary can be even more helpful.
I look forward to bringing you more in 2022. As always, wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
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
It’s a hot, humid July afternoon in Columbus, Ohio and I find myself standing in front of the large CrossFit box that is CrossFit Bexley. I showed up for the 4:30pm class and was greeted by one of their coaches, coach Amy, who was actually taking the class with me but was nice enough to get me a waiver to sign and check to see what my swag choices were (more on that later).
CrossFit Bexley is a place that I’ve been wanting to get to for a while, as I travel to Columbus frequently enough, at least before the pandemic. Now that travelling has started ramping back up I had another opportunity. The timing was good, so I was able to take advantage. I typically stay by the airport and it’s less than a 10-minute drive so, it’s quite convenient.
Let’s break this visit down into the usual categories. And here’s your regular reminder - all ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
I sent an email out expressing my interest in dropping in the week before I travelled and within 6 hours I received a response from one of the owners, Patrick Woods. He let me know he’d be happy to have me and gave me details on the cost and where to sign up. I asked for any information on the workout and he didn’t have it yet, which isn’t uncommon at all. I was looking for 2 days of workout information, as I wasn’t sure which day I could make at first. The day before I left, Patrick sent me the next day’s workout, which I ended up making.
Looking at their website, it’s easy to navigate with a clear calendar schedule and a drop-in option under rates. There’s a section for trainers that gives a picture and a full bio, including certifications, for each coach.
Overall, CrossFit Bexley was pretty clean. The coach asked us to wipe down our equipment after our workout. There’s plenty of spray bottles and rags. However, I did notice that several of the bars had a good bit of chalk on them. There was a little chalk on the rig but it’s almost not worth noting. I did not have an opportunity to inspect the bathrooms. No big issues here.
This category is a little more difficult. CrossFit Bexley is a big, beautiful facility. It’s stocked with equipment. There’s two large rigs on either side of this very open space. There’s loads of rowers and bikes. There’s plenty of dumbbells, kettlebells, and bars. I saw a fair amount of rust on several bars. That can be harder to keep up with in the humidity between all the perspiration and cleaning solution. The space is really nice.
The one downside is the flooring. The padding is quite thin, which I don’t necessarily mind. We did several warmup movements on the floor and there were burpees in the workout and I had no issues. The level of protection seemed sufficient. However, thinner flooring is more susceptible to expansion and contraction. In my opening I said it was a hot, humid day and I noticed in several places that the flooring rolled up, which could be a tripping concern. It wasn’t widespread but it was in more than one or two spots. So, I’d say be aware and watch your step.
The workout was “Lyon”, which was challenging. It’s 5 rounds for time of:
I had to scale, of course. However, to me it’s about the quality of the workout. I’m not looking to prove anything.
Coach David introduced himself to me prior to the class and introduced me as the class got started. He reviewed the workout prior to class and then ran us through a full warmup. He noticed a couple of things for me to correct and pointed them out to me. We also discussed how best to scale prior to the workout.
Coach David kept an eye on all of us and was encouraging. He communicated well during the workout, rest and cash-out to keep us motivated.
It was really difficult to get a sense of the culture only because there were just two other people in the class with me. It was 4:00 on a weekday so that didn’t surprise me. There were a few athletes working out independently, but they were in their own space.
I want to give them the benefit of the doubt because the few people I did get to meet were very pleasant. The two people in my class were supportive. Based on what I saw, I believe this was a sample of larger cultural makeup here.
The cost to drop in at CrossFit Bexley is a mere $15. A bargain. If you want to add a shirt, it’s only $10 more, which is also really good. However, swag availability was extremely limited. They didn’t have anything in my size. This isn’t uncommon. You usually can find plenty of small and medium in most places. After that, you need a little bit of luck from the CrossFit Gods. We’ll see how things look when I swing back around to Columbus.
CrossFit Bexley has a lot going for it. It was a positive experince. The communication and the coaching was very good. Although I only got to meet a handful of people, they were all friendly and welcoming. The facility was huge and well equipped. Yes, the flooring was a downside but I would still recommend CrossFit Bexley as a good place to workout in the Columbus area. And, I would ask the owners if they address the flooring issue to please contact me and I will gladly ammend this piece.
2903 E. 4th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43219
I didn’t realize how significant my first post-pandemic drop-in would be until I got there. Just to have that familiar feeling of the unfamiliar again; visiting a new place, getting in the flow of how they might do things differently. I’ve come to appreciate that in my drop-in experiences. What was familiar was the process in doing my research, reaching out to let them know we would be there and get details about the workout.
So, my first official drop-in since last year was at CrossFit Mousetrap in Orlando, which is really right around the corner from Disney World. And that’s where we were on our first post-pandemic vacation. You can’t really beat the convenience of this CrossFit if you’re visiting “the mouse”.
So, on a Saturday morning before Epcot opened, my wife and I grabbed an Uber and took the 8-minute ride over for a long, hot, yet rewarding workout.
There’s lots to get to on this one so, let’s review the details. In case you’ve forgotten, all ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
I reached out to CrossFit Mousetrap way ahead of time; three weeks before we would be there. I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and got a very quick response from Ryan (the owner), who sent me a link to schedule our visit. He told me when to contact him to get the workout so we’d know what gear to bring. So, a couple days before the trip I reached out again and Ryan got right back to me with the workout…and it was a memorable one but we’ll get to that soon.
In looking at their website, at first it appeared to be offline but that might have been a glitch because a couple of days later it seemed to be fine. There’s a banner right at the top of their home page which will take you to a form to let them know you’re interested in dropping in. Under About, you’ll find a bio on the owner and details on their coaches with all their certifications, backgrounds and specialties.
Their schedule is under More Info. It conveniently shows how many people are signed up for a class. It looks like their capacity is 15. We’ll say it’s “15ish”. Their pricing is there but doesn’t specify the drop-in costs (which is $20). Another way you can view pricing is when you go to sign up at https://mousetrapfitness.wodify.com/OnlineSalesPortal/Home.aspx. I will advise that if you know when you want to go you should sign up early because you’ll see on the schedule that classes can fill up quickly.
It’s difficult to keep any CrossFit clean, especially in a hot and humid environment. This is a fairly small facility (which we’ll get to) and there’s a lot of people using it, so I wasn’t expecting it to be spotless. That said, it could have been a little cleaner. You can see dust build up in certain spots. It’s not offensive. Just noticeable if you’re looking. Their bathrooms seemed clean and I gave the warm up area in the back a quick glance and it seemed quite nice.
As I mentioned above, this is a relatively small facility but I will give them a lot of credit in making the most of the space they have. They organize all their barbells, plates and other hardware in a good location off to the side so it’s not interfering with the workout. There’s a decent-sized rig just to the left as you enter and a small rig out the side door on an artificial grass surface. The main area is NOT air conditioned but they’ve got plenty of fans. It was humid that morning but honestly, with the workout we did it didn’t really matter. The warmup area that also had lockers and restrooms does have air conditioning.
There’s plenty of barbells that have been well-loved but not in bad shape. The bumper plates appeared to be in good shape, with a home-built plate rack to help neatly stack them. . I didn’t notice any splits. They have 6 rowers and 6 Echo Bikes. Plus, there was enough equipment like dumbbells and wall balls, which were not used in this workout but I took notice.
We had a full class. I’d say there was 16 or 17 people. The workout included a row but people were flexible and the coach made things work. Some of us rowed, some of us were on the bike and others ran. They moved most of the rowers outside to optimize the space.
The warmup area in the back was spacious enough and there was also a space for lockers with plenty of space to sit post-workout, if desired.
Lengthy workouts seem to follow us wherever we go. But that’s okay. We’re there for the workout so let’s get the most out of it.
This workout was a couple of days before Murph so the weights were a little lighter with the goal of keeping people moving without taxing them too much. As you can see, it was 25 minutes with some significant rep counts. I think I only got a few full rounds in and, although the weights were light (but got heavier over time), I’m not ashamed to admit that some of that workout was spent with my hands on my knees staring down at the bar willing myself to pick it back up again.
Did we get our money’s worth? You bet!
Coach Sam Ayala was running the class that morning and I’ll cut right to it; he did a fantastic job! He immediately greeted us when we came in, gave us a quick overview of the facility and made us feel at home. He also introduced us during the warmup. When the next class was gathering they had another drop-in and Sam greeted them with equal energy. This is the type of place that gets a lot of drop-ins and you can tell they’ve got it down.
As I mentioned, he had a full class and he did a great job at making sure everyone had space and equipment for the workout. Sam was very attentive and made sure he checked on everyone throughout the workout. He was upbeat and encouraging. There was an athlete that was struggling with some mobility issues and Sam came around to him several times to make sure he was okay and made sure he wasn’t going to hurt himself.
Sam is the type of coach that you want to have when you drop in. He knows what he’s doing and has a great energy. A rare 5 barbells for coach Sam! I hope I can get back there for another class with him.
When you have a CrossFit that gets a lot of drop-ins, you can either have a group that’s either kind of to themselves or quite welcoming. It’s not easy when you regularly don’t recognize several people in your class. However, there were plenty of people here that introduced themselves and asked where we were from.
There was also lots of camaraderie among the regulars. You could see there were several strong bonds among the group and they had a good rapport with the coach as well.
Post class, there was a lot of acknowledgement and congratulations. Getting through 25 minutes of that workout was no small accomplishment.
As mentioned, a single drop-in costs $20, which is pretty average. They don’t appear to have a multi-session drop-in fee, like if you were going to be there for a week, which kind of surprises me but they may not get too many requests for that. They do have punch cards but they start at 12 punches. So, if you’re in that area for a longer time, that might work for you.
They have t-shirts, mostly of one style and a handful in a couple of other styles. The cost was $25, which is at the upper end of average but we liked the shirts so we each got one.
First off, it was such a great feeling to be able to drop in again. CrossFit Mousetrap was a memorable place to start things back up. Yes, it was hot and humid (it is Florida, after all). Yes, it was a little crowded. And yes, it put me through my paces. To me, those are some of the things that give CrossFit its character. It was a challenging workout in a good environment with good people.
I can’t say enough about coach Sam. He’s the kind of coach I can appreciate. Information ahead of the workout was easy to access and the folks at Mousetrap are quite responsive to your inquiries.
It just so happens I’ll be back in the area very soon. Will I stop back? I’m certainly going to give it my best effort.
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.
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.