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
A couple of months ago, I was contacted by RecoverFun asking if I’d be interested in reviewing one of their massage guns. I had never heard of Revcoverfun before. They didn’t have a recognizable name like Theragun or Hypervolt or LifePro Fitness. I did a little research online and based on the reviews I saw, I decided that it was worth giving it a look. I responded to let them know that I’d be happy to review their gun with the understanding that I would give it a fair and honest review. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.
RecoverFun only has a couple of different models. I saw that one of them is a mini massage gun. As a traveler, I thought this would be a great opportunity to try something that I could take with me on the road and would hopefully be beneficial to all travelers. It has been a while since I had done a review on a massage gun and there’s been a number of mini massage guns introduced to the market since I last looked. So, I was really looking forward to seeing what I would receive.
What I found when I received the gun was a pleasant surprise. This is a solid little gun that feels well-built and has excellent travelability qualities. Additionally, you can’t go wrong with the price tag. This gun retails for $79 and I’ve even seen a $5 online coupon. It comes in 3 colors – black, red and pink.
I found this gun to be a really good value and, although it has a few small drawbacks, it more than does the job. Let’s break it down.
Out of the Box
In the package, you’ll find the massage gun, a drawstring bag, a USB cable for charging and a user manual. It comes with 4 attachments; a flat (more convex) head, a round ball, a bullet and a fork attachment.
Everything appeared to be well-packaged. When opening the box, nothing appeared to be out of it’s designated spot. There’s a foam insert that holds everything in place. The gun itself was in a foam bag for additional protection. That bag for my unit had a small hole in it but did not affect the protection of the gun at all.
Most other guns I’ve seen come with a rigid case instead of a drawstring bag. To me, it’s really a matter of personal taste. The bag is a space saver. A case is more protective.
The USBC charging cable is 18”. It doesn’t come with a plug. It’s meant to plug into a computer or a USB charger. I’m sure that’s a way to keep costs low. I really don’t miss having the plug, as I have many options to plug into for charging.
The user manual is printed with a very small font. I had difficulty reading it with my reading glasses, but I was able to read it in good light. It appears this manual was written by several people because the level grammatical correctness varied from section to section. For the most part, I was able to follow the messaging, but it wasn’t always 100% clear.
Effectiveness and Functionality
This is a mini gun, so it stands to reason that it’s not going to be as powerful as a larger size gun. If you compare the settings level-for-level on the RecoverFun to a larger gun, you’ll find it’s not quite as strong. That doesn’t mean it’s not effective. But if you want a massage gun for deep tissue, this may not be the gun for you.
That said, I took this gun to both my chiropractor and physical therapist, and they were both impressed. They both recognized that the power was a little lower but saw that it could get the job done. They liked the build (which we’ll get to in a moment) and thought it would do a good job, certainly for the average user. So, unless you’re built like a tank and need deep tissue massage, the RecoverFun Mini should suit most needs.
They really like (and so do I) the flat head, which is kind of rounded. It’s made of metal instead of plastic and glides across muscles really nicely.
Additionally, this gun is nice and quiet. It’s one of the quietest guns I’ve worked with. If you try some other guns they can remind you of a jack hammer. Not here. This may not be a big deal to some but it’s a definite nice-to-have.
Ergonomics and Build
This gun has a metal casing, rather than plastic and it’s got a surprising amount of heft to it. To me, it feels substantive. I think a plastic gun in that size would feel toy-like and cheap, so I really like it. It’s compact size really does classify it as “mini”. It’s not just a slightly smaller gun that has mini printed on the side, which I’ve seen on a couple of other guns.
When I gave it to a couple of people to try they took a minute to find the power button, which is on the bottom of the gun. Most people are expecting to find it on the top or the back, but I wanted to get an uninfluenced first impression. Of course, everyone found it.
Holding the power button for a couple of seconds turns it on. It starts at the lowest power setting. The power indicators are clear. There are four blue LED’s to indicate the power level. They’re easy to see. Changing the power setting is a quick press of the power button. Once it gets to the highest setting, the next press drops it down to the lowest setting. Pressing and holding the power button will power it off.
RPM’s are comparable with other guns. The settings are as follows:
Let’s look at the attachments.
Flat Head: This is by far my favorite attachment. I mentioned it’s got a slight curve to it and it’s metal, not plastic. The combination of shape and material allow it to glide smoothly as it moves across muscles. It’s also a little wider than some other flat head attachments I’ve seen.
Ball: The ball is like many others I’ve seen. A foam material so it has a little give. It’ gives a more concentrated contact than the flat head. There’s nothing in particular that stands out about this attachment but, when comparing it to ball attachments from other guns, it’s quite comparable.
Fork: The fork attachment is made of plastic and it’s a little cheaper plastic than some other fork attachments I’ve seen. I don’t use this attachment often and I don’t think it makes too much of a difference. The fork on my other gun is a little more rounded and might glide a little more smoothly.
Bullet: The bullet is similar to other bullet attachments I’ve seen. The bullet attachment I have on my other gun is made of a little better-quality plastic and has a more rounded tip. Depending on your need at a given time, a narrower tip may be more useful.
Battery Life and Charging
RecoverFun advertises a 5-hour battery life and my rough guess is that’s about right. The battery status indicator isn’t my favorite. According to the user guide, to read the level of charge the small green LED on the bottom of the gun just below the charging port will blink once when the battery level is 0-30% charged, twice when it’s between 30-70% and three times when it’s 70% or above. However, what actually happens is when you turn it on is it will blink green once, presumably to indicate that it’s powered on. That kind of threw me off because I first thought that the gun’s charge level was below 30%. After that first blink, it will then blink every 5 seconds based on the power remaining.
I’ve charged the unit twice. Once after I first got it and used it a few times. It took several hours to charge and I don’t believe it charged completely because the charging LED was still red. The battery had completely run down before I charged it, which I’m sure contributed to the lengthy charging time.
The second time, I charged it after quite a bit of use. The charge indicator suggested the battery was below 30% (but based on the above I’m not completely sure). It took about 2 hours to charge this time. The charge indicator turned from red to green. I will continue to test the charging time and amend this post if needed.
My other gun has a power indicator and a separate charge indicator that always indicates the power level, which makes it much easier to know when charging is necessary. It would be nice to have something like that here.
The RecoverFun Mini comes with a 12-month warranty. Given the price tag, I wouldn’t expect much more. If you want a better warranty, go with a product from LifePro Fitness. They’ve got lifetime warranties on just about all of their products. You’ll pay a little more for them and I can’t speak to how their mini gun performs, as I haven’t tried it. If you’re comfortable with a 12-month warranty, the RecoverFun Mini is a great option.
I mentioned earlier that this gun has a little heft. It’s about a pound so, for it’s size it’s pretty significant. But it’s still only a pound. Its size is perfect for travel. The upside to it only coming with a drawstring bag is it’s easier to pack. However, the downside without a more traditional rigid case is it lacks protection. The user guide specifies keeping it protected. That’s a given.
In most cases, you’re going to pack it in a suitcase or a bag with clothes or other items that can protect it. So, with all that considered I think it’s great for travel. I’ve travelled with it and it takes up very little space. I can fit it in lots of places in a bag or suitcase and I really don’t notice an extra pound.
I’m really glad RecoverFun approached me to try their mini massage gun. It was a very good experience. I love the size. It’s great for travel and well built.
The power is more than sufficient. I’ve not tried other mini guns so I don’t know how it compares within its class. The true test is does it bring the muscle relief that I want when using it? Based on my experience, absolutely.
There’s a couple of small downsides. I wish the charge indicator was a little more intuitive. Also, the user guide leaves some things to be desired. However overall, this is an excellent value.
It’s important to note I was not paid by RecoverFun or anyone else to write this review.
I’m always happy to share more details on my experience with this or any product. Please feel free to ask any questions by commenting on this post, over social media or email me at email@example.com.
For details on RecoverFun products, go to https://recoverfun.com/.
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.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since Drop-In Diary launched. I also can’t believe everything that’s happened since then, as I’m sure most of us can’t. When I first set out, I wanted to help travelers feel more comfortable about dropping in as an overall way to help people stay healthy. A new location, new people, different styles of coaching and programming can be intimidating. I had to overcome that intimidation and knew if I could others could as well. As a pretty average CrossFitter, I found that sharing my experiences was a way I could give something back that would be helpful.
Who’d have thought that a couple of months later there’d be no dropping in? For a while we couldn’t even go to our own gyms, let alone try a new one. Fortunately, I had something to keep Drop-In Diary going…a backlog of notes and experiences I could share. I also had material for product reviews, nutritional information (with some help from my nutrition coach) and other general observations.
While I was still able to post, like everyone else has experienced, conditions weren’t optimal. Afterall, it’s a lot more useful to read about a drop-in experience when we’re actually planning to be in that area. Fortunately, these experiences will still be valid as we begin to return to relative normalcy…hopefully soon.
As an addition to the “conditions weren’t optimal” category, I had learned in the middle of the year that I needed hip surgery for a torn labrum. And, just for good measure, a couple of weeks before the hip surgery I learned that I needed hernia surgery. So, in three months I had two surgeries that didn’t allow me to truly do CrossFit workouts again for about four months.
However, lemonade out of lemons. It was an opportunity to share a different set of experiences, as I’m not the only person to need surgery so I started the Rehabin’ Diary to document my recovery process. Unlike Drop-In Diary, I was hoping I would run out of content in a relatively short amount of time. Thank goodness that seems to be the case.
Personally, I’ve felt very fortunate to have been able to interact with athletes, coaches, owners and experts in new ways and learn different perspectives. I’ve received great feedback from people who have read Drop-In Diary content. My most surprising discovery was how useful some of the owners had found my feedback and how it helped them make some positive changes.
What’s in store going forward? Believe it or not, I still have some backlog reviews and additional content that you’ll be seeing soon. I plan to continue to help those who have apprehension about dropping in to feel more comfortable. If it’s worthwhile content, perhaps I’ll even expand beyond dropping in. I’m passionate about giving back in the best way I can.
I particularly want to thank all of those who have read content on Drop-In Diary, shared their feedback, given my posts a like, contributed their knowledge, rooted for me during my recovery and supported me in even the smallest of ways. I encourage you to keep checking in and I would love nothing more than if you join the conversation. Your feedback only helps make the information more valuable to everyone.
Here’s wishing you a safe, healthy, happy and successful 2021.
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.
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 email@example.com 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/
With each day we find ourselves in new territory, not entirely sure what progress, challenges and setbacks we’ll encounter. We see this in our own personal dealings with the pandemic and how it’s being handled throughout the world. On the positive side, the pandemic has inspired creativity and innovation. New problems have inspired new ways to address them.
In the CrossFit world, we’ve seen online classes, daily programming to work out on our own and outdoor classes. One approach that I’ve yet to see elsewhere is from my home gym, Blackbird CrossFit. They’ve not just brought classes outdoors, they’ve moved everything needed for their classes outside.
Conditions were very well aligned to favor this setup, which otherwise may not have been possible. The landlord where Blackbird is located has a fenced area in the rear parking lot. In mid-May Matt and Rebekah Titus, owners of Blackbird CrossFit, struck a deal with the landlord to move items they had stored in the fenced area inside Blackbird so they could move the rig outside. To date, they’ve elected to keep classes outside to reduce opportunities to spread infection.
The setup is impressive. The “birdcage” as they call it, has a tent over the entire rig. They secured the rig to the ground and brought out mats from inside. There’s spaces marked for social distancing to accommodate 8 people under the tent and another 4 within the enclosure.
Inside the birdcage there’s two sink cabinets connected with a hose. People wash their hands both before and after workouts. After each workout, the athletes wipe down their equipment and spots on the rig. I’ve seen everyone doing this. No exceptions. The coaches cover their faces for the entire class and spray down the mats with a cleaning solution after each class.
Matt Titus also got creative with transporting barbells and plates. He built several carts that can accommodate two barbells, plates of all sizes and collars. It even wheels out on a pair of 45 lb. plates that can be removed for workouts. Very practical and useful. The carts are wheeled back in at the end of each day and, although the fence is locked when the area is not in use, no equipment is left outside.
The birdcage has worked very well since it’s been set up. There’s still space inside if it rains. A dozen people can workout inside with sufficient social distancing, if necessary. They’re very good about following state guidelines. You work out in a designated space. While in that space you don’t need to wear a mask but outside of it you do. You also enter by one door and exit by another if the workout is inside.
Everyone is doing their best to stay safe. Owners have to balance creating the best workout environment while keeping risk at an absolute minimum. Blackbird CrossFit has done a great job of seizing an opportunity. It’s understood that many affiliates don’t have these conditions available to them. Most don’t have a fenced-in area or the ability to move their rig. I applaud Blackbird for their creativity as well as all other affiliates who are doing their best to help their members stay safe and healthy in the midst of the challenges we’re facing today.
Whether you’re travelling or not, the nutrition bar is a staple for many of us. But what makes a good nutrition bar? For this post, I’ve teamed up with coach Steve Wheatherholt, L3 CrossFit trainer, host of the podcast Let’s WOD About It and nutrition coach at Blackbird CrossFit in Eldersburg, MD. Steve has very strong nutritional knowledge and I wouldn’t write a piece of this nature without his expertise to offer a full picture.
We looked at several nutrition bars for this writeup. There’s some practical pros and cons, as well as some deeper nutritional details for you. We’ll look at different aspects including quality, ingredients, taste, travel-ability, nutrition – protein/fat/carbs and other important points.
We selected four bars to look at; Perfect Bar, Atlas Bar, RX Bar and One Bar. Here’s what we found.
The Perfect Bar is delicious. Their most popular (from what I’ve seen) is probably the dark chocolate peanut butter. There’s many flavors including coconut peanut butter, chocolate mint, chocolate walnut brownie and blueberry cashew, to name a few. Most of these bars will range from 10 – 17 grams of protein.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve’s Notes:
This is my personal favorite as far as taste goes. If I know I’m going to have a long stretch before my next meal, the perfect bar will get me through because of the higher fat content. Fat is a slow digesting macronutrient so it keeps you feeling full and energized for a long time.
The Atlas Bar is another very good-tasting bar with similar protein content to a Perfect Bar but with fewer calories. Atlas comes in six flavors including almond chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip and vanilla almond chai. Most bars have about 15 grams of protein.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve’s Notes:
These are also high on my list as far as taste goes, but the price holds me back a lot with this one. Another one that’s great to get your through a long stretch between meals.
The RX Bar is easily the most widely available in this group. They’re made up of just a handful of ingredients, all of which are natural. There’s too many flavors to count. From chocolate sea salt, to peanut butter, to chocolate hazelnut. They’re pretty consistent on protein (around 12 grams) and come in at around 210 calories.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve's Notes:
You really can’t beat the availability of the Rx Bar. This is my go-to on the road because it travels well and you can find them at almost any local gas station now for a great price. They are lower in calories than some so it’s my favorite choice before a workout. We want something that absorbs faster before a workout so your body can concentrate on exercising and not digesting food. As far as ingredients, I haven't come across anything cleaner than these either. Every ingredient is real food so you can enjoy a delicious snack and stay on track.
One Bars is an option that I’m starting to see more. There’s a decent amount of flavors including birthday cake, cinnamon roll, lemon cake and white chocolate truffle, which lean a little more towards those with a sweet tooth. They all pack right around 20 grams of protein.
Ingredients and nutritional content can vary from one bar to another.
Coach Steve’s Notes:
While this bar is high in protein and has some more appealing flavors, there are several unnatural and added ingredients in this bar. It’s a better choice than some snack foods, but with so many healthier bar options we’ve talked about, this one isn't at the top of my list.
Some other great healthy snacks to have on the road with you or at home:
As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment on this post or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to coach Steve Weatherholt.
Wishing you safe, healthy and successful travels.