Review: CrossFit Manukau
I spent more than three hours at CrossFit Manukau working out, hanging out, lifting, running, sweating, chilling. The vibe at this box in South Auckland was so cruisy and welcoming, the only reason I haven’t made it back yet is it’s so far away from where I live (well, I’m in Poland right now, it really is “rather” far away).
I struggled to find CrossFit Manukau, set in an industrial area past Rainbow’s End, but knew I was close when I saw a bunch of big guys running (trudging? dying?) down the street. Turned out the boys were from the rugby team of a local high school doing pre-season training. I stuck my head in the door of the large box and was immediately greeted by Coach Sam.
Following a big handshake I was taken to one of the big comfy couches at the back to watch the current class while waiting for my own, and was even offered a cup of coffee. Sam was incredibly welcoming so it was no surprise that the other members were too, making an effort to smile and say hi when they sat down for their pre-session gossip. The friendly culture at CrossFit Manukau is an excellent example of how the attitude of coaches and owners of a box will trickle down to the members. A constantly-updated website and a Facebook page that is heavily contributed to by members are further examples of this. The website even has a forum for members!
Our session started off with a good solid warm up, with useful stretching, mobility and agility work, including running (dancing?!) around cones, getting us ready for a sprint session. There was plenty of laughing and jokes as some of the athletes weren’t quite as nimble on their feet as others, but Sam pushed us through, keeping us on track without affecting the relaxed vibe. I always appreciate a solid warm up as various boxes seem to rush through them to jump into a WOD, but I don’t believe you can expect people to be sitting on their bums all day at work and then jump straight into exercise. Hello injury!
3×5 strict pull ups.
6x46m sprint under 60secs, rest 5mins. X3.
The strength portion of the work out wasn’t particularly structured and we pretty much just did our own thing with Sam standing by. I would have liked more tips or help as my pull ups are pretty weak! Strict pull ups for strength work is an exercise that I haven’t seen programmed much. I don’t know if this is luck of the drawer or if coaches don’t programme them because they’re not as sexy as kipping pull ups or olympic lifting? I totally rate them. I believe you should have the ability to execute strict pull ups before moving on to kipping, and they require specific training.
Quick aside: this article on breakingmuscle.com notes learning strict pull ups is important in building strength, and reminds us that performing negatives is a good place to start building that strength. CrossFit Virtuosity in NYC even has a nice little plan for building your strict pull up strength quickly.
The speed WOD was HARD! Man, those sprints hurt but they were good, especially as it was a WOD I would have struggled to work so hard at by myself. Everyone encouraged each other throughout the work out, and athletes arriving early for the following session stood by to also cheer us on.
We finished the session with a good, thorough cool down, pulling out yoga mats to stretch on. I really value the time taken by a coach to include a cool down. It so helps to avoid muscle soreness in the following days and, unfortunately, people are often “too busy” to remember to cool down by themselves, especially following the hour class limit.
My early-afternoon class had been a small one, but the following class was big and the “Firestarter” introduction class was an indication that this box is growing strong.
As I packed up following my class I had a chat with some of the guys, including Garry Jones who placed second in the Masters 60+ group at this years’ CrossFit Games. What an inspiration to have a guy like that around the place!
It soon becamse clear that the girls from my class weren’t going anywhere and they invited me to join them to do some deadlifts. We took the barbell and some floor pads outside to lift in the summer sun and they explained that they often stick around after class to work on their weaknesses, the box is their second home and it’s not like they had anything to do anyway! I loved this attitude. Hanging out, playing, having fun and practising extra things is a really good way to improve and most of us don’t do it enough! Athletes are too busy rushing off to work and coaches are too busy running gyms with large athlete numbers and strict timetable to encourage this.
By the time I finally left CrossFit Manukau I had missed the after-work rush-hour traffic back to the North Shore, had pushed myself hard through a good WOD and had made some new friends – all due to a session organised around an airport drop-off. Not bad.
More info: crossfitmanukau.co.nz