Box Review: CrossFit Amplify

20150611_085524_resizedAs I posted yesterday, Chicago gave me the opportunity to visit two different CrossFit boxes. The second of those two boxes was CrossFit Amplify.

My initial thought as I walked into Amplify was how big it was. The second thing that caught my attention, but I don’t recall how it caught my attention (if someone told me or I read it somewhere) was that they had an athlete compete at the Central Regional and finish 12th! That is amazing. Making it to Regionals is amazing and finishing that high is tremendous. Something Amplify should promote the heck out of.

Tons of room - including a nice area covered in turf.

Tons of room – including a nice area covered in turf.

Anyway, the first thing that sticks out in my mind from Amplify is that the warmup was tough and that we did partner carries…someone had to carry me, sweat and all. Poor guy.

During the CrossFit class Amplify also had a boot camp class running at the exact same time. The space was big enough that the CrossFit class of about seven individuals didn’t run into the boot camp class that had at least 10 of their own. This was at 9:30am – the perfect time for a boot camp class full of stay-at-home moms.

The warmup was two minutes of rowing, then a variety of drills like high knees and butt kicks and ended with two rounds of eight lunges and six burpees.

The fun part to begin class were heavy sled drags. We paired up and each team had to pull the sled 30 times in 10 minutes. After the sled pulls we did six evil wheels every two minutes for a total of five rounds. Then the WOD was, with a partner: 60 burpee box jump overs (switch every 6 reps), 12 partner carries (about 100 feet) and 120 HRPU (switch every 10 reps). The pushups were surprisingly difficult after the evil wheels and burpees.

Once again, I was a soaking mess in the midwest.

20150611_085520_resizedEveryone was super nice, especially my partner for carrying me. Even after class a few folks from the boot camp class introduced themselves to me. The only downer was that I couldn’t get a t-shirt – they were out.

The space itself is amazing and if you live in the area I would highly recommend joining. I am guessing they have a ton of different class times and different class types. Would be a lot of fun.

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Box Review: CrossFit 630

20150610_050837_resizedWhile the family was in Chicago we stayed on the very outter edge to the west of downtown Chicago in Naperville. There weren’t many CrossFit boxes really close to choose from, but I decided to visit two different ones while in town. The first one I visited was CrossFit 630.

Their space was a bit smaller than expected. It was in an “L” shape and the ceilings were super high as they were in an industrial space, but a decent chunk of space was used for restrooms and an office – or so it appeared. I still think they probably had plenty of space to hold two classes. There was an area that could be used for warming up when you first entered through their bay door and around the corner there was their rack and weights where they could do their metcons.

It was pretty apparent that they were in a state of transition in terms of where their front desk was located and other general furniture type moving. The coach that morning couldn’t find what he was looking for – which is OK, really, and it is understandable as all gyms at some point are going to move things around to better their member experience and when this happens it is bound to be a bit bumpy. As long as in the end their member experience in better it is all good.

This class was by far the smallest of my trip. It was their 6am or 6:30am class (only class in the morning) and it was myself and three other individuals. We went through the warmup together and then went over the Burgener warmup as the WOD for the day was “Randy”. It was a pretty good warmup and I like to see time set aside for instruction, especially as the three members working out with me were fairly new to CrossFit and needed the instruction on the snatch.

Love this quote by Sherwood

Love this quote by Sherwood

After the warmup we walked back to the rig, got out our bars and got ready for Randy. I finished well ahead of the other members and even had the second best time according to their record board (which, at just over 4 minutes for my Randy tells me that the gym is still fairly new because a 4 minute Randy isn’t THAT good).

After Randy we got out the bench and found our max bench. If you know me you know I LOVE this. As a guy who did a TON of “chest and tri’s” at 24 Hour Fitness for years I love a good chest day.

All and all I wasn’t super excited about my experience at 630 or disappointed. It was a good class and the coach was nice, but the overall energy was a bit low. Could have just been the class size. I know I have plenty of days when I am coaching and the class is smaller and running around pumping everyone up is a struggle.

Box Review: CrossFit Establish

20150609_063344_resizedAs my family was making its way from Colorado to Wisconsin we had an overnight in northern Kansas City, Missouri. There is a hotel in Liberty with a pretty solid water park inside of it that is included with your nights stay. When you have children that are 6 and 3 that is a HUGE win on a long road trip.

For a guy like myself I have to search for CrossFit boxes nearby. There were three or four boxes pretty close to the hotel, including CrossFit NKC which I visited a few years ago (and apparently didn’t review?!). However, this trip I needed as much time as possible to get the family to Wisconsin and the closest box was CrossFit Establish. In looking at their website and Facebook it looked like a solid place to train. It was.

I arrived early in the morning before most everyone else except the coach and owner. Both introduced themselves and made sure I felt like I was at home.

I wish we had turf like that at my box. Would be a lot of fun.

I wish we had turf like that at my box. Would be a lot of fun.

As I was stretching my shoulders because we were going to start with snatches I started to notice a trend in what the other athletes were doing as they slowly showed up for the early morning class…I realized that all of them were doing the same stretches. As more people kept arriving, and eventually doing the same pattern of stretches I initially thought that the box must have a basic set of stretching everyone does before class. The stretches were popular, yet effective stretches like the ever favorite couch stretch and some pigeon stretching. But then I noticed what looked like a warmup on the board, some of it in lingo I wasn’t familiar with. While I like to consider myself well versed in CrossFit lingo or exercise lingo in general I am always amazed how I run across terminology I don’t recognize all the time. Some gyms refer to things differently. Even things as common as PVC pass-throughs.

Anyway, I soon realized I wasn’t doing the prescribed warmup for the day. This was the one thing I didn’t like about Establish: they didn’t keep me informed on what I should be doing, class schedules, patterns, how it would be run, etc. When I have visitors attend one of my classes I make sure they know I will start the warmup and the class will warmup together, what to expect for the WOD, cool down, etc. In this case I had no idea what some of the movements were in the warmup or that it had even started. Thankfully I know what I like to do to get warmed up for snatches so it turned out OK, but for a newbie this could be a real turnoff. Continue reading

Box Review: SouthWind CrossFit

20150608_053859_resizedThis review is a long time coming. I first visiting SouthWind a few years ago while visiting my mother-in-law in Victoria, KS. Victoria is a town of maybe 1,000 and about 10 miles east of Hays, KS. Hays is a bit bigger and has one of the better breweries I have ever been to – Gella’s. Look it up. It is well worth the 15 minute drive south off of I-70 as you drive through Kansas. But that is off topic.

Hays is also home to SouthWind CrossFit – the only CrossFit gym within who knows how many square miles.

Now one might think that if you run a gym without any real competition for miles you could half-ass it, SouthWind does not. They have a solid space, not overly large, but plenty big for their client base (the class I attended while in town most recently had about 12 athletes and there was plenty of room). Their equipment is top notch with high quality Rogue bumpers and bars. A Nice rig, climbing ropes and even a space that can be use for sled pushing or dragging in the colder winter months. My wife tells me that the building they are in used to be a furniture store and they did a good job changing it to a CrossFit box.

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Strength class prior to the 6am class

When I got there early for their 6am class there was a few athletes, including the owner working on a strength program. They were doing some heavy squats, lunges and strict pullups. In looking around their Facebook page it appears they have a pretty competitive atmosphere and the weight being moved that morning was pretty impressive.

As the time moved closer to 6am most athletes showed up of all different shapes and sizes. Exactly what you expect for a typical 6am class and what I like to see – people there for all different types of goals.

The workout had a strength portion to begin, a nice quick WOD in the middle and a decent finisher. If I recall my previous visit correctly their classes last time were like this. They make the most out of of an hour.

They were in the middle of a 5/3/1 program and the day I attended was a “3” day for the push press. After the strength the metcon was 21-15-9 of burpees, KBS and double-unders – a very short WOD. Finally, the “cool down” or “cash out” for class was 100 lunges. Due to the humidity I took this portion outside. A theme whenever I go to the midwest to workout is how soaked my shirts get. Sweaty.

As I remember from my last visit the owner is super nice. The members were awesome and many introduced themselves to me before class. One of them gave me props on my time for the metcon. The class was fun, the athletes were lighthearted and it was a good time. Just what I want when visiting a box. I highly recommend SouthWind if you ever find yourself in north western Kansas.

Box Review: CrossFit Julia and the Tough Pumpkin

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Me during the farmer carry

This post is well overdue. It has been over three weeks since I competed in the Tough Pumpkin at CrossFit Julia. I competed in the “Rookie” competition with three other members from my box. It was a two male, two female competition aimed at CrossFit competition rookies. I know one of the girls on my team was a rookie and it was her first comp, the other female has been in a few competitions just this year, but her range of motion is just barely adequate and she is still working on a few of the basic movements (pullups, for example). This was my third competition this year (and my third ever) and the second male was a college swimmer, but I am not sure if he has competed in a CrossFit comp before.

Julia is a fairy small box located in pretty much the exact opposite corner of the Denver metro area from where I live. I live in Southeast Aurora and Julia is in Louisville or what could be considered outside the Northwest corner of the Denver metro area. While the box was small they appear to do a great job with storage of equipment and have adequate floor space. I would guess that if they have a class of 15 individuals they are pretty tightly packed. But, hey, so are we at my box.

Julia does have a nice entry way with a desk and seating area and a decent sized room for children. They have some cabinets where I’m guessing some members might keep post-workout nutrition along with other basic eats.

I heard really good things about this competition from last year and was looking forward to the WODs. Last year I heard they included some sort of football toss, catch and run into a WOD. Continue reading