by Coach Vanessa Dickens
As a coach, when I travel to a new city, my favorite thing to do is check out the local CrossFit gyms. It leaves me with the impression of community that comes from being a “CrossFitter”. No matter how far away from home you find yourself, you’re always welcomed with open arms. I love seeing how they run things, I discover some unique coaching cues that helps me improve a movement I’ve been struggling with and get inspiration for new warm ups, plus it’s always beneficial to be observed by a new set of eyes and being exposed to different opinions.
Here is my mental checklist when visiting a box:
1. Look for boxes closest to your location, try to narrow it down to 3-5. CrossFit boxes are like Starbucks, there is one on every corner!
2. Research their website and social media pages, get a feel for their community and overall vibe of the gym. For me, I’m looking for a fun group of people, not very competitive. I don’t care if they have coaches or athletes that have been to the Games.
3. Find out if they post the workout online or even a week of workouts, this way you can get a feel for the program and if it’s a good fit for you.
4. Review their drop-in policy, some boxes have a health waiver to fill out online, others require you to pay a fee or just buy a shirt—if you’re like me, I love buying a shirt!
5. Contact them ahead of time. As a coach, it’s a bit unsettling to suddenly have a drop-in. I have to quickly assess their fitness level, if they have any injuries, and sometimes have a delay in class in order to accommodate them. Save the coaches and gym the hassle and shoot them a quick email before popping in.
6. Give yourself some buffer room, time to get lost, to find parking, to introduce yourself to the coaches and members. I give myself at least 30 minutes because I always get lost and take forever to warm up.
7. Take a class, even if a gym has “open gym” you’ll get the best experience. The mutual suffering and victory high fives are the best. I love meeting cool people and learning about the city I’m visiting.
8. Introduce yourself and be friendly. I go out of my way to smile and meet everyone, I like to listen to other CrossFitters’ stories.
9. Respect the box. Get a feel for what everyone else is doing, are they slamming down bars? Are they neatly stacking plates? Is chalk everywhere? I am messy. I tend to leave piles of gear everywhere, so when I visit a box I do my best to be neat and tidy.
10. Take a picture. In our social media driven world, it always helps to give free publicity, and you can share the happy moment with everyone.