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.
You know what they say about first impressions.
Whether you’re looking for a place to drop in or maybe even your new CrossFit home, more often than not that first impression comes from a web site. There’s loads of components to a web site and, when done well, it can make a huge influence on where to go (and sometimes where not to).
You know I like to break things down to examine each element in more detail. I’ll point out some sites that I think are doing a particularly good job with a web site feature and why. As an owner/affiliate, you don’t have to be a master of web design or even lay out a bunch of money to make your web site more effective. There’s loads of tools that help get it done pretty inexpensively. It’s really the content that counts. When I look at a site, I want to know if it’s easy to find all the information I need to make a decision. The more convenient it is to find what I want to know, the better.
Web Site Organization
A site that is organized, intuitive and easy to navigate, is a big key to keeping people clicking on the site. If I can find everything that I need without hunting, it just makes the experience so much easier. That doesn’t mean I mind clicking to get to something. If it’s obvious I’ll find the sub-category under a main navigation that’s fine too. For instance, I know I’ll generally find coaches bios under About.
https://www.newcovcrossfit.com/ NewCov CrissFit has nicely laid out site. Hovering over the main categories on their navigation bar will take you to what you’re looking for. You can generally get to everything withing a couple of clicks.
https://blackbirdcrossfit.com/ - Similar with Blackbird CrossFit. You can hover over the main navigation bar to find the categories you need and then get to your destination within two clicks.
If I’m dropping in, I ask myself how easy is it to get the information about dropping in. Is it easy to find? Maybe on the main navigation bar? Is all of the drop-in information in one place? What about info on multi-day drop-ins or combos with swag? How about language to make people feel welcome?
In my research, I found a location (not going to name names) that’s pretty sparse on drop-in details. Finding their drop-in information, while not super difficult is not obvious and there’s only a drop-in button once you scroll a bit to click to a schedule and pay the fee. No other language around drop-ins. Not too terribly welcoming. While it’s probably not the intent, it feels like “yeah, you can drop in here but we’re not all that interested in having you.”
https://www.crossfitforthepeople.com/ - Right on CrossFit For The People’s home page, after a few seconds there’s a pop-up for drop-ins.
https://www.crossfitotg.com/drop-in-visitors - CrossFit OTG has a couple of ways to get to drop-in information.
Honorable mention to Stay Classy CrossFit http://www.stayclassycrossfit.com/. Although removed for the moment, undoubtedly due to the pandemic, they had a banner on the main page that was very welcoming to drop-ins. I’ll keep an eye out for when it returns.
The next think I look at is staff and their bios. Are their certifications listed? I have a friend who looks specifically for that when he drops in. What does it tell me about their coaches? Is there a little bio on them? Things like what drives them as a coach. It helps build familiarity for someone who is dropping in or looking to join.
http://crossfitnewengland.com/about/coaches/ CrossFit New England has a short but sweet bio on each coach and all of their certifications. You can quickly get a sense of who they are.
https://blackbirdcrossfit.com/crossfit-coaches/ Blackbird CrossFit also has all of the coaches certifications plus a couple of paragraphs on each coach.
Most sites have a schedule that’s pretty easy to find. While it may be easy to find and what information can you see? Are there reservations? If so, does it show how full a class is? Is there a link to class sign up? Does it indicate who the coach is?
https://www.crossfitcrosscheck.com/schedule-location I like CrossFit Crosscheck’s schedule because it has the number registered for the class and the coach listed on the schedule. You can sign in as a member for a class with a password. Drop-ins would contact separately.
https://crossfitfairmount.com/schedule CrossFit Fairmount has links off the calendar schedule where a regular member can sign up and another link for new/drop-ins.
https://www.crossfitstthomas.com/schedule Reebok CrossFit St. Thomas has a calendar too. Click on the class you want and you can either register for class as a drop-in or a member.
Personally, I love knowing what the WOD is ahead of time. Having the a week’s schedule in advance would be ideal. If I’m somewhere for multiple days, I can select 1 or 2 workouts that appeal to me.
https://www.newcovcrossfit.com/workout-of-the-day-1 NewCov CrossFit has a great setup. They have the WOD listed in detail and can advance to the next day for the entire week.
https://www.crossfitotg.com/workout-of-the-day CrossFit OTG offers the workouts for the week all in one place. It doesn’t give the rep schemes but at least you know the movements.
While not on every CrossFit site, if there’s a statement on their philosophy or their culture it’s an opportunity to get a feel for them, or at least a first impression. Do they talk about a community environment or helping you reach your goals based on your specific needs? A short statement can say a lot. Are there testimonials?
https://www.hunterscreekcrossfit.com/testimonials/ Hunters Creek CrossFit has several good testimonials, including a video testimonial.
https://www.crossfitforthepeople.com/ CrossFit For The People has a short but strong mission statement and a button right below to take you to team bios, which seems like the next logical thing to look at.
This one sounds obvious but I’ve seen some sites where contact info is not as easy to find. This is more of an appeal to my owner friends. Is there a preferred contact method? Most of the time that’s not listed but if it is, it might help owners to receive a request and people to get a response more quickly.
Is the phone, email and location address listed? In my research, I saw a place that had none of those. They had a contact form to fill out, which I’ve seen on many other sites. However, I’ve filled those out and received no response more than once. If I don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time (a couple of days), I usually move on.
If a facility is difficult to find, a description would be super helpful for someone who hasn’t been there before. Something like “the entrance is on the left side of the building” or “use the path between 326 and 328 Rogers Street and you’ll find us in the back”.
https://altitudeathletics.com/contact Altitude Athletics has a page for their contact info. The phone number is up top and a form is on the right. The email is further down. It’s possible that phone is their preferred contact method. There’s also a map that clicks into Google maps to easily locate them.
https://crossfitrocksteady.com/contact/ CrossFit RockSteady has a dedicated page for contact as well. It has a phone number and email front and center. There’s a map with an address. Clean and clear.
Keeping Things Up to Date
There’s a pandemic going on. Is it clear how that’s being handled? Are drop-ins still welcome? Are there special rules or conditions in effect?
Also, any simple things like changes in schedule, new coaches and blog updates. The schedule will be very important, of course. One of the things that makes a CrossFit shine is their coaches. If you see coaches listed with pics and get there and someone you didn’t see on the site is coaching the class, it could be a new addition. But if you ask and they say “I’ve been here for a year” you know not everything is kept up to date on their site.
These are just some of the observations I’ve made. In many ways this is just as much for owners as athletes (this blog is for everyone). Prior to a visit, the first experience someone has with a CrossFit is what they can find from their research. That’s why a well put together web site is so important.
As always, I invite your opinions (preferably constructive), ideas and additional input. Please feel free to respond to this post, email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on my socials.
Please stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong in mind, body and spirit!
Special mention to CrossFit Cayman for the top photo - https://www.crossfitcayman.com/
You've dropped in. Your workout is over and you want to share your thoughts on your experience. So, what next? Most people use Google reviews to leave their feedback. And those reviews are important. It’s the means by which I research places to work out and I believe it’s important to share those experiences so others can learn from what you found. But is it always good to publish a review?
Here’s the part that you may disagree with, and please feel free to do so. It is my belief that if you don’t have something nice to say, Google is not the place to air your grievances. It’s definitely important to share your feedback, even if it’s negative. However, if it’s negative, a well-worded, detailed and constructive email to the owner with your concerns will be much more helpful for all involved.
Why do I say this? A number of reasons, really. First, I believe not all comments need to be public. A flat-out negative review may get something off your chest but may accomplish only that. Second, most CrossFit owners put their heart and soul into their business on which they support their families and are trying to do good for the community. They have a passion for helping people find a healthier path and helping us achieve our goals and that’s a pretty darn good thing. Lastly, and you’ll hear me say this many times; A drop-in is a moment in time and one experience does not necessarily represent what it’s always like at a particular place. Everyone has off days.
It could be argued that a negative review warns others to stay away. But wouldn't it be better to help an owner improve the experience for everyone? If a place is consistently poorly rated, you'll see fewer ratings or more negative ratings before you get there and that's a place you probably won't visit to begin with.
Are there places I won’t return to? Yes. Not because it’s a horrible place but it may not have been as suited to me as others and I might want to explore other options. Although I haven’t had a “bad” experience yet (doing the homework helps, including reading reviews), if I did I would either move on or write the owner with the details of my experience. I would provide the facts of the experience and leave the emotion out of it. The approach would be something along the lines of “I thought you would want be aware of my experience at your CrossFit…” Most owners look for feedback. It allows them to make adjustments and improvements because they want people to have a great experience. If I were in their shoes, I would certainly appreciate it. Constructive feedback (provided it’s constructive) is a good thing.
That said, leaving good feedback is important too. A Google review is a little different than my write-ups because they don’t go into every detail. My suggestion is to give enough details to give a sense of the place. Be sure you say that you were dropping in. How nice/helpful were the coaches? Was there anything that stands out about the facility? How friendly were the members? How did the workout challenge you? Perhaps a few sentences and a 4- or a 5-star rating. If you don’t think the experience is worth the 4- or 5-star rating, I would recommend the approach outlined above.
This is what I base my decisions on. As a result, I’ve had many great drop-in experiences. I think it’s good to share that positive experience because it not only helps a hard-working owner but people like ourselves who are looking for an excellent place to work out.
If you do write the owner, they may not respond. At that point, I personally would count it as a learning experience and move on. However, don’t be surprised if you receive a response thanking you for your feedback. Owners can’t always know everything that goes on and your feedback may be a big help in pointing out something they can address and improve. And that’s a place that just might be worth a return visit.
If you have any questions about leaving a review or any other drop-in related items, please comment below or contact me directly at email@example.com.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll notice a running theme of communicating with the places where I might want to drop in. This will help both you and the CrossFit you are looking to visit. And there is definitely a give-and-take to the transaction. So, here’s some thoughts on communication.
Let's start with the obvious – As of this posting, places are just starting to open back up now. Different states have different rules and different CrossFits are moving at different paces. Most places won't be ready for drop-ins for some time but as things improve, you'll definitely want to find out what an individual CrossFit's stance is on dropping in. They will almost certainly have limited class sizes for a while.
Let them know you’re coming – While you can drop in unannounced, it’s definitely good etiquette to let your host to know that they’ll have a drop-in and give a reasonable amount of nitice whenever possible. In a recent interview with CrossFit owners (more from that in an upcoming post), I was told the ideal notice before dropping in is to contact them the week before. This gives them time to respond.
There may be something special going on that’s not mentioned on the schedule. For instance, they could be preparing for a special event which may affect their ability to accept drop-ins at that time.
It's also a good opportunity to let them know if you have circumstances they should be aware of like a mobility issue.
You’ll know what to expect – There’s many places that don’t list their WOD on their web site. It may be on an app that you don’t have access to it. Also, per the above special circumstance scenario, you have the opportunity to learn if there’s anything you need to expect. Calling ahead is a very good opportunity to ask any other questions that may not be addressed by their web site. For instance, some sites don’t list their drop-in fees.
Getting a hint of the culture – It may sound odd that you can get a sense of the culture from a phone call or an email but if you pay close attention, you can learn a lot from how the person responding to you communicates. Do they sound welcoming? Do they say things like “we’d love to have you”? Do they have a few minutes to answer your questions and give you details? Are they willing to help you if you need to scale a workout? If so, these are good signs. If they sound like it’s an inconvenience, you may have caught them at a bad time or it also might be a sign that you want to keep looking.
Bringing the right gear – As many of us are flying to our destinations, it can be helpful if you can pack lighter. If you know there’s not going to be double unders or heavy lifting and you can leave the jump rope and weight belt at home, that’s always a plus. If there’s going to be a run as a part of the workout, you can decide if you’d prefer to bring running shoes.
Finding the right workout – I recently called a place and they had a WOD scheduled that was very similar to what I had done the night before at my home CrossFit. Two days in a row wouldn’t have been a great idea. So, while the CrossFit checked off all the boxes for the type of place I wanted to visit, the workout wasn’t right on that day and I kept looking. (Don't worry, I'll be back.)
You may have certain things that you want to work on or want to avoid because it might exacerbate an injury. That communication will be important for you. If the workout isn’t right for you on that day, maybe you go on a different day or at least you'll know to have a scaling option or, if there’s other drop-in options in the area, perhaps you want to look further.
Communication is an important tool in finding the right places to help you stay fit in your travels. There’s a lot you can learn from an email or a 5-minute conversation that will not only help you make the best choice for you but to better assure that the place you select will get you a result you'll be happy with.
Please contact me if you have any questions on this or other drop-in/travel topics at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
It’s pretty much a given that no one is going anywhere right now. It’s our new reality, at least for the moment. This is a blog about travelling and staying healthy, right? So, what’s a traveler to do? Continue to stay healthy, of course!
This is really a blog about staying healthy, oriented towards travelers so we can remain consistent and maintain our regiments. We can still do this. We just don’t happen to be travelling right now.
You’ve surely heard the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” I see lots of CrossFits getting creative, posting home workouts and even holding classes online. This is great news, as we need this consistency for mind, body and spirit. The same principles as working out while travelling.
This is a bit of a case study of my home gym, Blackbird CrossFit and how they have approached the situation. I’m not in the business of promoting a product or a particular CrossFit. My goal is to report what I encounter that might benefit you. However, I can honestly say they’ve done an excellent job of programming and adapting to the online environment. Here’s what they’ve done.
First, Blackbird has lent out equipment to its members at no charge. This is a big deal and I expect many CrossFits are not in a position to do this for various reasons. There’s certainly some risk to this on their part. We had to sign an equipment lease agreement, which is reasonable. Speaking for myself and my wife and several members that I’ve heard from, this has had a massive positive impact.
Next, they have programming each day to keep us going. And this isn’t just burpees and air squats. Many of these workouts are pretty darn tough. I’ve seen many CrossFits offering this as well, which is great. Because they’ve lent our equipment, Blackbird offers options and adaptations for those who have a barbell, or dumbbells or no equipment at all (i.e. backpack shoulder to overhead) with each workout.
They have three live online classes per day (two on Saturdays) where you have a coach to help you warm up and go through the movements with you. They will also suggest any corrections to your form, start your clock, cheer you on throughout the workout and discuss feedback with everyone once the workout is over. You can also see your fellow athletes for community and encouragement. They record the morning session each day if you can’t make one of the live classes. I’ve used the recordings and they definitely help. Other CrossFits are also holding live classes in varying frequencies. I’ve even done a virtual drop-in (look for an upcoming piece about that). Please check with your preferred CrossFit for details.
Blackbird, as well as other CrossFits are offering virtual memberships. This is fair and reasonable, considering they must pay their coaches for their time and are offering good programming. Another very important point is we want all of our owners, many who are like family to us, to make it to the other side of this. Blackbird’s online unlimited monthly membership is $95. And the nice thing is you don’t have to be a regular member to have a virtual membership. If you’re interested in learning more about their program, please contact them at email@example.com.
I’d love to hear from other CrossFit owners to let us know what kinds of things you’re doing. Please feel free to comment on this post. If you have a preferred CrossFit, I encourage you to reach out to them. I also encourage you to pass this along, whether it’s Blackbird’s program or another one.
These are unusual times. We need to stay consistent for our physical health and, quite frankly, our sanity. Now more than ever. We also can’t do this without our CrossFit owners. We need to help each other through the storm so we all emerge from this a healthier and stronger community.
As my usual closing remark of wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels does not apply these days, I will instead wish for all of you to stay safe, stay healthy and stay strong in mind, body and spirit.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels!
You’re on the road. You’re busy. There’s lots on your mind. So, why spend time to drop in?
There’s plenty of reasons. Not the least of which is it will help you both physically and mentally, thereby increasing your opportunities for success. It’s not easy being on the road, work the whole day and then work more in your hotel room at night. Lots of times the work we would have otherwise done in the office piles up, leaving us with little choice but to work in our hotel room at night. While you want to keep on top of things, it’s just plain unhealthy for your body, mind and spirit taking the all work and no play approach. It’s a different kind of stimulus.
I get it. It’s easy to get cooped up in the hotel with your work; a personal size pizza and the TV as your only company. But what if you got out there and spent just a little time doing something for yourself? From personal experience, I can tell you there’s tangible payback. Let’s count the ways.
What about if you’re on vacation? It’s a great idea to drop in if you can while on vacation. There’s lots of reasons. But that’s a topic for another day.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.