Saturday, February 7, 2009

Making CrossFit Work In Globo Gyms: Adapting To Your Surroundings

"So you're telling me I'm only allowed to stand next to the weight...?"

It's a very common thing for people to start CrossFitting in globo gyms. They discover the wonderful world of CrossFit and finally eliminate the 'chest-tri, back-bi, legs-shoulders' routine for good, but they are stuck with the burden of having to get their money's worth from their globo gyms.

I was lucky enough to have CrossFit Mississauga situated in my globo gym during its first few months of operation. I had access to both worlds, which allowed me to make a smooth transition into CrossFit. Many others have to make due with the available equipment and space that is available to them at their regular operated gyms, which can be a little frustrating when trying to complete any CrossFit workout; but there are definitely ways to work around this problem.

I have heard quite a few stories over the past year about people's experiences of working out CrossFit-style at a globo gym and I've even got one of my own. My friend Aaron and I were downtown one day and had planned to visit his gym to do a CrossFit workout. He was just getting into CrossFit, so naturally he did not have full access to the proper space or equipment for what most CrossFit workouts require. We had decided to do CrossFit Total, which seemed to be the most globo gym-friendly workout. I had brought some chalk (apparently a big no-no) for us to use during the deadlift portion of the workout because I wasn't sure what kind of bar we'd be using; I thought I'd come prepared.

Well, as soon as we whipped out the chalk, it was game over. Here we were in the middle of the workout, our blood is pumping, we're putting up some good numbers, and someone comes along to put a complete halt to it and says, "Hey man, you can't use that stuff in here." What a piss-off! He may as well have said, "Hey man, you're not allowed to get fit in here." Kudos to Aaron though, he put up a good fight - so good of a fight that when Aaron threatened to cancel his membership [after being treated like %*#$ by the trainer] he ended up getting a free gym bag! After receiving the free gift, Aaron decided not to cancel his membership. I don't blame him; it was a damn nice bag!

I think for the gym's part, it was more a case of power-tripping than anything else; the employee saw two people who knew what they were doing, and decided to put a stop to it simply because the chalk was "making a mess." Classic case of 'dude-afraid-of-feeling-emasculated.'

Not every gym may be this strict, but it is inevitable that you will come across a workout that is just not doable because of the lack of equipment, space, and most of all, safety concerns due to our "unconventional" training.

A lot of CrossFitters who train in globo gyms would leave their regular gym and jump straight into CrossFit if it were that simple; but some people pay up front for as much as one year, which is a problem if they wish to transfer gyms. In that case, the best solution they can come up with is to continue training CrossFit but keep it globo gym-friendly.

Here are some globo gym-friendly CrossFit workouts and exercises you can do if you are not yet able to train at an affiliate:

1. Angie - 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats

2. Cindy - As many rounds as possible of 5/10/15 of pull-ups/push-ups/squats

3. 12 rounds for time of 15 deadlifts @135/95 and 10 push-ups

4. As many rounds as possible of 5 BW squats, 25 air squats

5. Annie - 50-40-30-20-10 of double unders and sit-ups

6. 150 burpees for time

7. Sissy Test - 20 burpees, 1 kettlebell swing @1.5 pood/1 pood...down to 1 burpee, 20 kettlebell swings (use a dumbell to substitute if there are no kettlebells)

8. 3 rounds for time of 1000m row, 50 push-ups

9. Row 5k

10. Tabata sprints on a treadmill

11. CrossFit Total (leave the chalk at home!) -3 efforts each of max 1-rep back squat, max 1-rep strict press, max 1-rep deadlift. Add up for a total score

12. 30 deadlifts for time - find a good heavy weight that you can rep out; drop the weight if it becomes too heavy

13. 800m row, 100 squats @135/95, 800m row

14. Tabata Something Else - 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for 8 rounds each of: pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, and squats. The total time for the workout, including the 10-second rest periods, is 16 minutes. Here is a song you can drag onto your iPod to make it easier for you to keep track of the 20 second/10 second work/rest time. Keep track of how many reps you are doing for each exercise, and total it up at the end.

15. Lynne - 5 rounds, 3 minutes rest in between each of: max reps BW bench press, max reps pull-ups without letting go of the bar. Add up for a total score.

Some of these workouts are bodyweight workouts, consisting of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups and squats. These workouts are pretty transferable seeing as you are not required to use any equipment, except for a pull-up bar which should be accessible. The rest of the workouts that do require equipment are completely globo gym-friendly; and if they still complain, tell them to harden the %*#$ up and carry on with your workout!


  1. Melissa you read my mind.
    Crossfit had totally changed my life as far as a good workout is concerned. A few temporary circumstances keep me from attending regularly, forcing me to enlist the services of the dreaded global gym.
    After speaking with one of the managers at one of the said global gyms, he reassured me it was ok to pick up weight and drop it. Im almost tempted to join his gym just for that. I cant wait to see the panic on his face when im slammin down a heavy Fran, or even just trying to do 250 heavy thrusters for time. But that is nether here nor there, most important is finding a temporary solution for this brief hiccup in my workout routine. Anyhow, I cant believe how well timed this post was placed, it just reassures me that there is still lots I can do even though I have to go global for a little while.
    Thanks Melissa!

  2. Kris, I'm so glad you found a gym to slam your weights in! Hopefully you won't scare the %*#$ out of that manager! :P

    And thanks to Coach we have become some of the fittest people on earth, and we look damn good!

  3. Melissa, playing the Devil's Advocate here, but, were you making a mess with the chalk? It's known in the CrossFit world to get a tonne of chalk on your hands and clap'em together making a nice big cloud of dusk. Sure, it looks cool to have this chalk all over your hands and the bar, and your clothes and the floor...but, who's cleaning it up afterwards? Chalk should be used sparingly. It's used to dry the hands to ensure good purchase on the bar. It does not increase work capacity. Sure, I've been known to make a mess with the chalk in the past, you grab it half-way through a WOD and the bucket falls over or a chunk comes off in your hands and falls to the ground, sure it happens. But, there is a sure-fire way to spot an amateur...and that's by following the trail of chaulk dust.

  4. No, no, no! We stayed in one area the entire time. We barely even had the chance to use the chalk before they came over and spotted the little bag of it. I use chalk sparingly, I'm not a "chalk abuser!" Just enough to dry up the hands, that's all :)

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