Like a lot of people, I need to find a gym to workout at when I’m traveling. All sorts of different factors play a role in figuring out where you’re going to workout when you’re on the road – location, length of stay, available equipment, the program you’re on, etc.. While I’m not an every day Crossfitter, I’m open about the fact that my home gym in NYC is Equinox Park Ave, when I travel I actually prefer dropping in at Crossfit Gyms. When you visit a regular gym in a new area, like a Gold’s or an LA Fitness, you simply never know what equipment they are going to have, what the atmosphere is going to be like, or how hard they are going to try and sell you a membership (even though you hand them an NYC Driver’s License and you’re visiting DC). You don’t have time for all that bullshit when you’re traveling, you just want to get in your workout and get back to whatever you’re doing on the road. Crossfit boxes tend to have a foundation of the same equipment at every gym, and, for the most part, always have an atmosphere that at least forces you to get in a good workout. Also, I won’t lie, I also love judging the shit out of Crossfit gyms, because while the concept of Crossfit is phenomenal, so many of the actual gyms are run by idiots who have no business calling themselves “coaches” or “trainers”. However, last week, my experience at Crossfit DTR in Maryland reminded me how great Crossfit can be for “dropping in”.
I ended up at Crossfit DTR, which is in the middle of no where Maryland (about 45 min from DC and Baltimore), because I was visiting friends from College and was just looking for any gym near by to workout at. I had no car, so the fact that DTR, 1 of 3 options locally, had good reviews online and was under 5 miles away made my choice for me. I called and spoke to one of the owners to make sure they accepted Drop-In’s, which they did, grabbed my pack. and took off on the 4.2 mile run over to the gym.
Now the essentials for a good Drop-In visit are the following:
- Equipment Condition: You just want to make sure everything is maintained and in good condition.
- Coaching: Good coaches set the tone for a gym. They can be motivational and knowledgable or they can be idiots and arrogant.
- Team: A good team can make the whole experience. A group that really welcomes you in combined with that positive peer pressure to excel.
While I normally preach a ton about programming and crossfit, for a drop-in visit this is much less of a concern. You’re only there for a couple days, their programming won’t effect you in that time frame at all. HOWEVER!!, if you’re picking a crossfit gym for your home gym, pay attention to programming as your number 1 factor.
Crossfit DTR, was the perfect example of the type of gym you want for a Drop-In (and from what I can tell, even for your home gym). First off, their box is in stellar condition. The equipment was new, but they also had a ton of non-essential crossfit equipment, including powerlifting benches and atlas stones. This, to me, signals a coaching staff that was a much broader fitness knowledge than the basic “crossfit” certification. I was right.
The coach for my two days at DTR, was Matt Griffin. Matt is a former US Marine, who after leaving the marines, immersed himself in fitness education. He’s always looking to learn, and, like a marine would, make his technique perfect and his approach as up to date as possible. With every certification you can imagine, Matt turned himself from a meathead to a coach. Throughout my 2 days dropping in at DTR, Matt, was a kick ass coach. In addition to just being super knowledgeable, he really knew how to motivate and cue movements with only a couple words. He always made sure to teach the movement, motivate the workout, and then cue proper technique throughout the workout. This type of coaching makes you not just want to compete but to compete properly. No rep shorted. No rep done improperly.
The last component of a good drop-in visit, is the team. It can be really demotivating when you end up at a gym that’s lacking a strong team. A team that’s closed off, arrogant, has bad technique or is negatively competitive, can really effect your own workout. You’re looking for a team that is welcoming, positively competitive, and hungry to learn. People that can take criticism and cueing in a competitive environment are always the people who succeed the most. NONE of us do everything perfectly, but being aware of that and able to accept coaching, makes the environment so much more open and engaging. The team at Crossfit DTR was absolutely stellar. From ex-military to current new moms, these people all had one goal – to see the person next to them succeed just as much as themselves. This feeling came across from the moment I walked into the gym. This not only brought out my best competitively, but also brought out my coaching instincts as well. I wanted to see each of them succeed. I wanted to see each of them not quit, and finish each workout strong. In 2 days I feel like I made some real friends, who I could drop in on at the gym or the bar any time. THAT is a great team environment.
Overall, my experience at Crossfit DTR, was exactly what I wanted. It had the 3 essentials for a good drop in, and put me through 2 MetCon workouts that really tested my abilities. When I’m back down visiting my college friends in a couple months, you can be sure that I’ll be dropping back in to DTR, although hopefully this time, I’ll at least have a car to get me back and forth! Ha.
Thanks for the time Crossfit DTR. You guys rock.