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