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Barbells & Brooklyn

By 17th April 2014March 10th, 2017No Comments

Barbells & Brooklyn

By Grace Fox

If you told me one year ago that I’d be looking up local boxes to train in on my vacation I might have responded in one of a number of ways:


– Eh thanks but I’m more of a “prosecco over brunch’ kinda gal on my vacation

– I wouldn’t have time in the day, between applying sun lotion and swimming in the sea to fit the gym in

– I don’t think you can just invite yourself to someone else’s gym…

– Isn’t crossfit more aimed at the competitive/sporty kind of girl?

– what’s a box?


Yet here I find myself, with a growing list of 7 boxes in 4 destinations down and 7,993 to go.

Like most girls, I’ve spent six weeks out of every year since my mid-teens preparing for the dreaded ‘bikini week’. Typically this has consisted of 3-4 day spurts of extreme dieting (I’ve pretty much tried ‘em all) combined with a handful of treadmill excursions and the odd plank thrown in there.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been into sports and have never been without a team to affiliate with but no one ever told me there was a ‘sport of fitness’. And that anyone can do it, pretty much anywhere in the world.

Now back to my CrossFit vacation. Its really not as extreme or unpleasant as it sounds. My boyfriend and I, who are at very different CrossFit levels (I’m way better at double unders ;)), had been working out in CrossFit 353 on the lead up to our Florida vacation. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I wasn’t concerned about the size of my bottom, instead I was concentrating on reaching my personal best on deadlift and focused on nailing my kipping pull-ups.

So there I was, sunscreen and beach book at the ready to lounge by the pool when fate struck us. As we pulled around the corner to where we were staying in Del Ray there it was – CrossFit Del Ray Beach with about 10 – 15 sweaty CrossFitters mid WOD… I was home! We decided to stop in to say hi and the next thing I knew we were signed up for the 8am class the next morning.

CrossFit Del Ray Beach holds a special place in my heart since that trip. It was the first box I ever did a drop in with and I think the experience we had there helped us both get even more hooked on the community as a whole. Our coach Laura was incredibly down to earth and very approachable. She took the time to give us some new tips and help improve during our skill and strength phases. We did a partnered WOD that day and I got partnered with a lovely girl who was only just coming back to CrossFit after a one-year break. Peter partnered with an older gentleman who was 63 years old and his two kids were CrossFit coaches too!

After our WOD we both got the usual post CrossFit rush of endorphins and headed off for a whopper brunch on the beach followed by some an incredible day.

After the high we got from CrossFit Del Ray Beach, we decided we had to continue the trip in that vein; quick and dirty WOD in the morning followed by a day of endorphin-fuelled fun!

Next stop was CrossFit Blueprint South Beach Miami! We had tickets to the Miami Heat Basketball that night and were staying over for the weekend. We anticipated it being quite a heavy weekend so wanted to get our CrossFit in early. When we arrived to Blueprint I was absolutely blown away by the box. It was huge! All their branding was blue and pink which was very impressive to me, being your stereotypical ‘girl’.

Our coach could be described in no other way but ‘COOL’, she was wearing great chunky glasses and had a great, energetic attitude. Given that it was early on Saturday morning she got stuck straight into a quick warm up and WOD. The WOD was touch and left both Peter and I lying on our backs wondering what had just happened! After the WOD we got chatting with some of the other crossfitters and they informed us that there was a local CrossFit competition on just down the road in CrossFit Soul. So off we went. If you’ve never been to a CrossFit competition, which we hadn’t, you simply have to go to the next one on near you! The atmosphere was electric, the sound of barbells dropping, supporters cheering, clocks ticking, competitors shouting…thinking about it now makes me want to go back.

We had a fantastic time in Miami, between the openness and friendliness we received in Blueprint and the atmosphere and fun we had at the competition (and the Heat game) it was one of those weekends you don’t forget in a hurry!

So we hit the road again, back to Del Ray for the next week of our holiday. Although I’m an awful creature of habit, Peter suggested ‘we’re on our holiday and should be adventurous’! So it was with great reluctance that I agreed to try some of the other boxes that Del Ray had to offer. Over the course of the next week we tried three new boxes. CrossFit Hardcore, CrossFit Boynton Beach and Jaco CrossFit (home of the famed MMA team the Blackzillians).

As we pulled into CrossFit Hardcore there was a group mid WOD running up the street. You get those pre-WOD butterflies in your stomach when you don’t know what’s to come and contemplate whether you should just turn around and go home. I’m so glad we didn’t. The group we trained with at Hardcore was great and we got some cool recommendations for bars to visit in NYC from a really friendly Firefighter that was really psyched that we were Irish!

The last leg of trip was NYC. We were going to stay in Brooklyn with some buddies from home. We flew into JFK at around 6am already in our gym gear ready to go and were firstly shocked by the temperature drop between Florida and NYC (I know, pretty dumb right). We swiftly dumped our luggage and hopped in a cab to Brick NYC, which had only opened about 2 or 3 months at that point.

I don’t even know where to start – what a box! Firstly, let me tell you, I work in marketing and am a sucker for good branding. Brick, you’ve nailed it! When you walk into Brick you enter an orange and black jungle of coolness. The staff were all very friendly and we got the grand tour of the changing rooms and where to go. That day we did another partnered WOD and Peter and I buddied up. It was actually one of the only times we’ve been partnered together (the other time was on valentine’s day in crossfit353 by the way…!). We went straight from there to the bar to meet our pals from back home and got back to our Brooklyn vacation.

Last month I was on a work trip to Boston and made it my business to make time for a drop-in. I contacted CrossFit Reebok Back Bay and did a great WOD there on Saturday morning.

After what was truly an eye opening ‘CrossFit vacation’, let me revisit some of my earlier thoughts :

– Eh thanks but I’m more of a “Prosecco over brunch’ kinda gal on my vacation

This statement is still very true, in fact probably even more so now than before I started CrossFit. Any Crossfitter will tell you, when you workout hard on vacation, the reward of lying by the pool, cocktail in hand is even more enjoyable and rewarding….

– I wouldn’t have time in the day, between applying sun lotion and swimming in the sea to fit the gym in

False, I found that by starting our days with CrossFit we were both much more energized and ready for the day so we ended up getting more activities squeezed in

– I don’t think you can just invite yourself to someone else’s gym…

False again, that’s the absolute beauty of CrossFit. It’s a huge community and positive, energetic people who (in all my experiences so far) are more than happy to have drop-ins. Not only do the coaches and staff welcome you but also the other athletes are always delighted to have new faces down

– Ain’t CrossFit aimed more at the competitive/sporty kind of girl?

This can be true or false. I find that CrossFit is what you want it to be. You can compete with others in your class, you can compete with yourself or you can do your own thing and take your time and just enjoy it.

– What’s a box?

Visit one and find out!!


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