Back in the day, I would spend every summer in Ocean City, NJ.
I was very lucky to have great parents who could afford a summer rental at the shore. Each summer, I would play at the basketball courts at 34th street, in pick up games. I wasn't some super star talent, but the games were fun, and I remember at the start of each summer how my lungs would burn after just one game, and i'd be gasping from running up and down the court. I'd get home and have blisters on my big toe, and my legs would be sore from the game.
Weeks would pass and my legs would get stronger, my endurance would grow, I could run multiple games in a row without a major problem. By the end of the summer, I was definitely in real good shape for basketball, and fall would come, i'd be back at school...and it would repeat the next summer.
When I went to Villanova I enrolled in NROTC. Both my brother in laws were Naval Academy graduates, and this motivated me to join the military. My first six weeks of college weren't about partying every night, but getting to bed early to be at PT by 5:45am - Monday through Friday. It was brutal stuff. Pushups, situps, jumping jacks, and pullups. Running until you are about to drop and finding that last burst of energy.
Why do I mention this now, when i'm supposed to be writing about Crossfit Hoboken?
Well, I was thinking of both of these things when I was gasping for air last Saturday. When the instructor towered over me saying "Lift up the medicine ball...higher. Higher. HIGHER!" When an extremely cute brunette girl was watching me do situps and motivating me with "Come on! Push! Do 1 more...1 more..." When I was done, and feeling like a weakling and would have a complete stranger pat me on the back and say "Good job, man".
At one point of time I wondered what the hell I was thinking by doing this. It was almost too difficult for me, I hadn't worked out in months - and even back at my days at Club H, most of my "lifting" was at a pretty easy pace. I would lift, rest two minutes, lift, rest two minutes...and just work out building up muscle but not a ton of endurance.
Crossfit is definitely different. It's hard, but good. What the trainers did with our group of about 30 people was divide us into six teams of five people. Then we had teams pair off until we had three groups (two teams to a group). We then had a competition where we had to do the following:
Row for 250 meters - Teammate #1
Box jump - Teammate #2
Shoulder Press - Teammate #3
Sit up Press - Teammate #4
Rest - Teammate #5
We had 8 minutes. The goal was to get the most number of reps in 8 minutes on whatever station you were on, and would ROTATE to the next station when the rower reached 250 meters. So the rower would go to the box jump, the box jump would go to the shoulder press, the sit up would rest and the guy resting would row for 250 meters. Rotate. Repeat. Rotate. Repeat. After 8 minutes, the second team would start and we would rest, counting their score up and tallying what they did.
Then when they were done - we did it again.
Lets just say for someone like me, it was a quick slap in the face for how out of shape I really was. Plus, you had people watching me barely able to do 10 situps (especially in the case of the cute brunette, only added to the humiliation) - but there was a key difference.
In many ways it reminds me of those days playing basketball at Ocean City and NROTC at Villanova. I can't sit here and tell you I was enjoying myself necessarily at the workout - I was really looking forward to it being over. But what did make it a bit more enjoyable was the camaraderie by the trainers and the other participants.
Working out at Club H over the years one of my biggest complaints were about the staff and the people who went there. Everyone had an attitude at Club H. My friends and I would laugh about it, but it's true - the trainers walk around like they own the place and wouldn't say a word to you unless you were in their way. Never a friendly smile. Always the "I'm the quarterback" smug look on their faces. Same was true with nearly everyone who worked out there. Nasty people, with a nasty attitude. I always, always, always asked permission and said "Please" and "Thank you" and never heard that in return except from the people working the front desk or the juice bar.
I think Crossfit brings to the table something different, fundamentally different, not only in the way they train people, but also about motivating people. This isn't the Marine Staff Sergeant yelling "YOU ARE A WORM! YOU ARE WEAK! YOU ARE WORTHLESS!" - but more of a team oriented group that definitely made a good impression on my first visit.
Much like everything else I write about on here, I think it would be disingenuous for me to write up a glowing review on one visit. But as first impressions go - score one for Crossfit Hoboken.
I plan to sign up for the fundamentals class. You can't just join Crossfit and go right into the classes, you first have to learn their calisthenics, and build up the energy and muscle over 8 classes, which are spread over a month long course. I'll take that course and write more on that later. But if you are interested in this, I would suggest trying out the free beginners class every Saturday at 10am. Crossfit Hoboken is located at 38 Jackson Street, you can't miss the entrance it has a nice blue banner over the doorway and it's located on the 2nd floor.