The title is reminiscent of one of those reports you had to do in grade school; “what I did with my summer”. But, as with so many things in life, the decisions we make can send us down many new paths. My first ever drop-in was definitely one of those decisions.
I mention in my bio that I’ve always traveled a lot and early on in my CrossFit experience I felt like I would get back to the gym after being on the road and it was like I was starting from scratch. Pushups, sit ups and air squats in my hotel room was helping but not enough. I was looking for a more complete workout. Doing a lot of CrossFit-type workouts in hotel fitness centers wasn’t always easy due to lack of space and equipment. And, not that it was a big deal to me, but people looked at me as though I was nuts.
If you ask my immediate family or close friends, you’d know I’m a researcher. I like to know exactly what to expect in order to have a level of comfort. It’s one of the principles that Drop-In Diary is based on.
So, research I did. Many of my travels bring me to upstate New York. I asked a couple of my coworkers, researched online and made calls. I settled on CrossFit Beyond in Albany. I called and spoke with owner, Joy Smolinski. She spent a few minutes on the phone with me and gave me her background and shared the upcoming workouts with me, which made me feel more comfortable coming in.
I was definitely nervous when I arrived. This was new territory. I knew no one. However, everyone was friendly and I was quickly greeted by Joy. I signed the waver and paid my drop-in fee. The rest is below in the usual format. All ratings are on a scale of 1-5 barbells.
Keep in mind, it’s been a while since my last visit there. So, some of this is to my best recollection. Also note that some things may have changed since my last visit. I’ve been there a few times so, this based on my collective experiences.
Joy is very good about responding to voice mail. I haven’t contacted them by email to date. I would more likely email ahead these days and give more notice than I did back then. But the number is on the site so it’s whatever you’re comfortable with.
Their web site is fairly basic in design but gives you all the essentials; class time, contact information, drop-in costs. It also has information on all their coaches, including their training credentials and a little background.
You can sign into classes online but it’s not super easy to find. You’d have to go to Join CrossFit Beyond in the top navigation bar, click on the link provided and it takes you to another page, click on SIGNUP/VISIT and select DROPIN.
When you walk in, you might think that it’s not a super shiny facility and it’s definitely an older building (more on that in the next section). However, there’s a difference between the age/condition of the facility and cleanliness. I’ve never really noticed any issues here.
I thought about this one for a little bit. Again, your first impression is this place is old or not the prettiest. However, it’s a CrossFit gym, not luxury a car showroom. It looks like it may have served as an auto shop in a previous life. Honestly, at the time I had only been to a couple of other facilities and it’s kind of what I’d expect a CrossFit facility to look like; a place to lift heavy stuff and work hard. Subsequently, I’ve learned in my travels there’s so many different looks and feels to places and there’s not one proper setting.
It’s a medium-size facility (not too big but not tiny at all). There’s plenty of room for everyone. There’s a main area in the rear and an area in the front that has a couple of pullup bars and bikes/rowers. The front is a little bit disconnected from the rest of the facility but it’s useful.
The main area has a wall lined with pullup bars. There’s a small free-standing rig outside. The floor is open and roomy. The equipment is a bit of a mix when you look at the dumbbells and plates. Some pieces are older and more weathered than others. There’s metal and rubber plates. However, there’s plenty of equipment. Also, keep in mind it’s been over a year since I’ve been there and they may have upgraded some of their hardware. I’ve seen this happen more than once on return visits.
They also have soft boxes, which not all places have, plenty of squat racks and a good amount of machines.
I can’t recount the specifics of each workout for you but I do recall a good amount of variety.
In my visits, I’ve done barbell workouts, dumbbell workouts, partner WODs, pull ups, sit ups, box jumps and running. There’s been cash-outs on some as well. So, they’re pretty thorough. There also is a warmup at the beginning of each class.
I will say I once had to do a workout there exclusively to music of Britney Spears. Funny…but not terribly fun. I appreciate the sense of humor.
Again, I’m going to best recollection. I’ve worked with a few coaches there. There was maybe 3-4 months of CrossFit under my belt when I first dropped in. Everyone worked with me on scaling and was very patient. I received feedback on my lifts. It always felt like the coaches were attentive, which I was especially tuned in to as early as it was in my CrossFitting days.
The culture here was one of the big factors that kept me coming back. As a first place to drop in, I distinctly remember my sense of comfort was naturally tied to my sense of how welcomed I felt. I was made to feel as I was a part of the class rather than a visitor.
The coaches introduced me at the beginning of each class. People introduced themselves to me each time I was there. On the evening of a partner workout, one of the members approached me to be his partner. There was plenty of congrats after each class as well as the occasional post-class chatting. This is a really good group of people.
Drop-in Cost and Swag
The cost to drop in on their web site is $15. It specifies you must have CrossFit experience, which is reasonable. My recollection is my cost was $20. It’s possible they’ve changed their price on the web site since I’ve been there or the listed price isn’t accurate. Either way, it’s a fair price. However, you might want to get that clarified. Joy also said I could take a class and just purchase a shirt as a drop-in fee. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything in my size at the time. Perhaps on my next visit.
It’s said that first impressions are lasting impressions. This was definitely the case with CrossFit Beyond. I may not have continued with dropping in without the great start that I experienced here. It's very well run. The workouts are thought out and the people here are fantastic. I’ve visited several places in this area but I definitely want to make my way back to CrossFit Beyond.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.
Albany, NY 12207