Think Outside Your Box


“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes, that way when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.” – Jack Handey

This quote appears in chalk on the walls of a box in Phoenix, Az. Among the typical inspirational tid-bits and motivational mantras that appear scrawled on box walls, I questioned its relevance. Maybe it’s about not taking yourself too seriously during crossfit. You are there to get a good workout and have some fun with others– not to compare yourself to anyone else or undermine the accomplishments of others. Or maybe, whoever wrote it just wanted a good laugh. Who knows?

Last week my dad and I headed to Arizona, where he recently accepted a new job. While he’ll be working from home, he had to head to their main offices for in-processing and such. Since I’ve never been out to Arizona (his homeland), and since I could really use a  good vacation, I decided to tag along.

I love visiting new places, but the excitement is always coupled with apprehension. I hate being away from my kitchen and my gym. I hate the possibility of losing any part of the body or health I have worked so hard to achieve. Because, let’s face it, if you go from cooking all of your own, clean meals, to eating out everyday or go from two workouts a day to maybe a brisk walk, you may have a hard time maintaining your current status.

To combat some of these dilemmas, I researched in the Phoenix area and planned a couple of drop ins. I ended up checking out two boxes on my trip: Crossfit West Valley and Crossfit 623. Both offered free first time drop-ins, and you know I love a good deal.

West Valley

First, I tried out Crossfit West Valley. I arrived pretty early to sign waivers and have a look around. The box was located in a scantily occupied strip mall development. The space, being in a strip mall, was a bit small. The box was, essentially, a long rectangle with a small rig on one side, a  whiteboard on the other, and a stack of plates in the back. However, that is part of the beauty of crossfit, it doesn’t take a huge gym with tons of equipment to get a kickass workout– and a kick ass workout is just what I got.

We started with one rep max deadlift. While I had just PR’ed my deadlift at 250 the week before, I didn’t want to push too hard and strain myself on my vacation, so I left off at 235. Then, our workout was an 8 minute AMRAP of 10 front rack lunges and 10 shoulder to overhead at 65 pounds. While it seems short and light, you would be surprised just how long 8 minutes can feel. Not only that, but whenever I visit new places, I gotta show them what I’ve got. So, all that extra pump and competitiveness got me to six rounds, beating everyone else’s scores. Worth it.


The next day I headed over to Crossit 623. This box is located in a small air park. The facility was much larger than the strip mall box. You enter into a small welcome room with an office, food, and merch. Then, another door takes you into the box area. The box was probably three times the size of my home box. It had rigs on both sides and plenty of space in the middle to throw down. I was greeted by Coach T (she told me her full name, but I instantly forgo). The woman herself is not as easily forgettable, though.  Her impressive quads are highlighted by the majesty of her rainbow pony tail– she was clearly a beast. She informed me that this day was their recovery and mobility day, so the workout would be light. She lied. The workout was all about the abs. 75-50-25 of abmat situps, flutter kicks, and leg levers. While I love working core, my tailbone was utterly destroyed, forcing me to complete the last two rounds balancing on one butt cheek. My booty is still trying to recover from that one. However, I finished the workout in record time, and Coach T graciously encouraged me to return the next day, an offer I happily accepted.

The next day’s workout was even more intense. We started with a “fun” little warm up game called “Hot Potato Burpees” (as with anything with the word “burpees” in it, it was clearly designed by the devil, himself). Here’s how it goes: everyone stands in a tight circle and passes around a 10 lb wall ball. When the ball leaves your hand, you do a burpee. Once the ball returns to the first person in the circle, everyone takes a step back. This leads to everyone being forced to launch the ball to make it to the next person. If the ball drops, everyone returns to the center, and the game begins again. (I have since introduced this game to my box. You can imagine, everyone loves me for it ;)). We then moved into strength of one rep max back squat, which I will discuss further in a bit. Our WOD was a 20 minute AMRAP of 20 kettlebell swings at 35 pounds, 10 goblet squats, 10 handstand pushups, 5 kb lunges, and a rope climb. I absolutely loved the intensity of it! I may have bitched a little bit about the fact that their ceilings are higher, and therefore, their rope climbs, longer.

The Best Part

I mentioned I would talk about the squats more, and that is because the squats were my favorite part of my drop-in experience. Apparently, everything I knew about squats was FALSE. Yes, I have been living a lie. While, I have known my squats could be lower, I had no idea how much I was truly cheating myself. Coach T quickly called my bullshit. She went through step by step on how to get serious depth on the squats– heels in, knees out, and squeeze the butt on the way up. Sounds simple enough, but it was truly a revelation for me. I have never squatted that low in my life! Although, I did sacrifice 20 pounds on my PR (going from 195 to 175), Coach T wrote a big “Form PR” next to my name, and I know this is only the beginning of my gainz in the squat department.

The Takeaway

So that is what is truly great about getting out of your own box and popping in somewhere else. Sometimes your own coaches are busy with others or don’t notice you are struggling, but if you get in front of a new set of eyes, they can better address your issues. Also,  other boxes may have coaches who are more experienced and more knowledgeable. While I was ecstatic to get back to my Gorilla family, I am greatly appreciative for the fam at Crossit 623 who welcomed me in, kicked my butt, and gave me some great advice.

The next time you take a trip, be sure to check out the local boxes! You can get a great workout in, which isn’t always easy while traveling, and you may also gain some great insights! If you are ever in the Macon area, we would love for you to drop in at Gorilla Crossit.


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