First Impression Means Everything – My Visit to CrossFit NYC: The Black Box

It is said that during the first 7 seconds of a first meeting, people have already made their first judgements about you.  Then after 30 seconds, the judgement is finalized.

I’ve talked about my Beef with CrossFit in an earlier post where I shared my questions and thoughts on my personal experience dealing with CrossFit and Crossfitters.  But during my trip to New York, I was on a look out for gyms to check out and I came across CrossFit NYC: The Black Box .  I never been in an actual CrossFit Box, so I signed-up for a Free Intro Session that is designed to give a taste of what CrossFit is.

I walked down 28th Ave after catching the subway. It was only the third day in New York and I’m kind of getting down the whole subway catching thing. There are so many businesses and signs in the city that I always find myself walking back and forth between a block looking for a place.  Plus it doesn’t help that Google Maps likes to play jokes with you and sends you going in circles.

But fortunately, I was able to find The Black Box with ease because I saw a couple guys walk out from a door, one with a CrossFit NYC shirt and a beard that I envied, and the other was in business attire but still sweating – signs of a tough workout and the body still trying to cool down.

I made my way up the stairs and entered into a large open space and checked in at the front desk.  While I was the Fitness Center Director at the University of Redlands, I always told my staff that from the greeting you can make or break a person’s day, especially if you are the first person they interact with.

No one likes to walk into a business where people aren’t friendly or give you no attention because they are too busy acting like they are working on the computer clicking from tab to tab.

That morning, my wife asked if I was going to tell them what I do and my background.  I figured that I would just go in there like a Secret Shopper and go with the flow.  I’m very open minded when it comes to training and don’t like to make other people on edge when it comes to something they do.

You know what I mean right? It’s like when a chef finds out another chef is coming to eat their food.  Yes the chef is confident in his cooking, but he’s still going to be wondering and hoping that the other chef will agree with his food.  With the many different training styles there can be huge debates on what is right or wrong.  Most of the times it’s so ridiculous because neither side is going to budge, that’s why it’s always good to go in to something with an open mind and ready to learn.

But I digress..

Back to the introduction.

When I entered the facility, I immediately saw how much open space there was which instantly made me more relaxed.  As I stepped up to the reception desk, it was pretty obvious that the front desk workers were a bit tired and were probably there before the crack of dawn since the first class starts at 5:40AM.  But still yet, they were friendly and helped me sign and showed me the location of the lockers and showers.

After checking in, I sat in the front area and waited for my Intro Class to start.  There was a class taking place where a group learned how to do Split Jerks with PVC Pipes while another group performed Overhead Presses.

I was impressed to see a couple coaches on the floor doing what they are supposed to be doing, coaching movements. I listened to the coaching cues come from the Split Jerk group, the coach sounded very experienced and was able to explain and breakdown the movement for the whole group to understand, it was music to my ears.

I can’t deal with coaches who try to be so technical in their explanations just to show off how much they know.  If you can’t simplify it, then you don’t know what the hell you are saying.

Meeting the Coach

Then it was time for my Intro Class.  I didn’t know what to expect and whether or not I was going to be lifting weights.  I was more curious about what CrossFit is all about and I felt that going through the intro class will give the essence behind CrossFit NYC, because like I said, it’s all about the first impression.

Coach Erica led the introduction class.  She looked the part and was obviously an athlete, probably a soccer player.  The group introduced themselves and I shared that I enjoy working out and heard a lot about CrossFit but never visited a CrossFit box, all true.

We started with a jump rope warm-up where we jumped for 2 rounds of 1 minute, and then tried 1 minute doing double-unders.  It may seem so small, but when was the last time you jump roped for 3 minutes or actually did double unders.  Even during something so simple, Erica still gave some coaching cues that I thought were great – Keep you arms relaxed, shoulders pulled and held back, and it’s all in the wrist.

I never focused much on my shoulders but it did make a difference and kept my body a little more rigid.

After, we moved onto basic movements – Air Squats, Push ups, and Pull ups (Still my nemesis). I was happy to see Erica coach up each person individually and offered variations that were easier or harder.  For instance, she had one of the female participants perform push ups on an incline rather than on the ground and she also told me to try and hollow out my body during the pull-up which was definitely harder but showed that it was something I need to work on. When she was done introducing the exercises, she showed us what the Workout of The Day, or in CrossFit terms – WOD.

1/2 Cindy – 10 Minutes AMRAP
*All named WODs are used as Bench Marks so you can test them later to see how you’ve improved

5 Pull ups
10 Push ups
15 Air Squats

It was straight forward.  We began and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for me.  Not because of my strength but because of my endurance sucks.  10 minutes of constant work? I can’t remember the last time I actually did something like that.

I was able to finish seven full rounds and did four pull-ups of the eighth round.  Not bad.

Final Thoughts

If I lived in NYC, I’d recommend and probably even join CrossFit NYC: The Black Box.  The majority of the gyms I came across in New York are heavily commercialized with bulky weight stations and mind numbing cardio machines.  I really liked the lay out of The Black Box that covered two floors and a lot of open space. But that’s not the only reason…

I went into this visit with an open mind and didn’t want to be all like “I’m a strength and conditioning coach too and I’m watching you.” That’s just irritating.

Most of my past interactions and views of CrossFit have been on the negative side.  The Black Box showed me that there are places that still focus on proper coaching.  It was something so simple that Coach Erica did by giving another variation of an exercise.  A coach shouldn’t make an athlete do an exercise they can’t perform properly just for the sake of it.  It’s the coach’s job to follow a different approach and help the athlete work towards where they need to be.

For my first experience checking out a CrossFit Box, I’d say it was a double Shaka (like a two thumbs up) and most of all, I appreciated that the WOD didn’t fully kick my ass.

Mahalo for that Erica, you just showed me how crappy my endurance is.  It’s all good.

Aloha. and A hui hou.

To find out more about CrossFit NYC: The Black Box , click HERE .

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