Review: CrossFit Birkenhead

I hadn’t expected much from CrossFit Birkenhead given it’s location in the southern North Shore suburb of Birkenhead.  But I should have known better than to pre-judge.  A sexy web page, a good name or a prime location certainly don’t guarantee good coaching or cool people.  CrossFit Birkenhead was a pleasant surprise.

I found CrossFit Birkenhead to be a friendly, homely gym, mostly free of attitudes and egos.  The athletes were keen for a chat, to help with equipment and gave support during the work outs.  I loved the diversity of the athletes there – young, older, fit and not-so-fit, and even one lady who was tall, slim, very fit, and who could whip out consecutive pull ups while boasting silver hair and the face of someone who was well over 55.  She was an inspiration and must be a great asset to the CrossFit Birkenhead community. This is a box where anyone could walk in the door and fit in.  In fact, I liked the vibe there so much that I managed to get back to the gym a few times. 

I mostly liked how the classes at CrossFit Birkenhead were run, with clear explanations and demonstrations of movements prior to the WODs.  I wasn’t convinced about the warm ups being self-directed, however.  Athletes were to arrive and do some rowing on their own and then complete a standard list of stretching and mobility movements that were written on a white board.  These movements didn’t appear to change much from class to class.  When I asked why warm ups weren’t done as a group, CrossFit Birkenhead owner Paul explained that because people tended to trickle into classes, on time or late, it worked better this way.  I would say that this comes down to expectations and leadership.  If something like a burpee penality was handed down to members arriving late (a common system in many boxes) punctuality rates would surely increase.  In addition, a more flexible warm up routine would also ensure that specific muscle groups that were to be worked in the work out would also be hit in the warm up.



3×5 Thrusters

8x pull ups
12x dumb bell push press
8x dumb bell lunges


Paul wasn’t the dynamic, out-going CrossFit box owner and coach that I was used to, but he was kind and welcoming.  He was quick to answer my drop-in request and invited me back for subsequent sessions.  His side-kick Richie (currently coaching at Functional Strength CrossFit) was a great asset and a good balance to Paul.  Always with a big smile on his face, Richie was friendly, enthusiastic and gave great encouragement during WODs.  They got me to fill out a health and fitness form upon arrival, which is something that very few gyms seem to require.

I dragged a friend along to one of CrossFit Birkenhead’s Saturday morning free trial classes.  There were quite a few people trying out the class, proving that CrossFit’s popularity continues to grow in New Zealand.  The class was well-structured, including pull ups, push press and lunges, allowing both the newbies and regular members to work out together.

Paul and Richie had attended Carl Paoli’s Gymnastics course held at MaD CrossFit in late 2012 and put some of the scaling techniques to good use in one of the work outs when handstand push ups were scheduled.  It was great to be taught something new and to reap the benefits of a visit by an awesome coach to New Zealand.

CrossFit Birkenhead´s blog role on the website celebrates achievements by various members, which is a lovely way to encourage community spirit.  In fact, members often hang out and have meals together which I think is nice!

Other classes and services offered by CrossFit Birkenhead include CrossFit Kids, pilates and massage.

The location of the box is actually pretty decent, tucked behind the Birkenhead shops, it’s not far from the motorway and is just a 15 minute drive from Takapuna.  The space is relatively large, but narrow and broken up by various pillars which makes the place seem smaller and a bit difficult to move around when there are a lot of people.  It is also easy to get lost amongst the people and poles, and sometimes you don’t even know who’s at the other end of the box!

Although there are a few things that could be changed at CrossFit Birkenhead, this box is a great option on the North Shore, especially for beginner and intermediate athletes.  It’s friendly, comfortable and you’re sure to get a good work out in.

More info:


About Josinta

I am passionate about travel, CrossFit and writing and have combined all three in my blog - boxjumping. A Level 1 certified CrossFit trainer, I am visiting as many CrossFit boxes as I can during my travels. This has opened many doors - I´ve been to random parts of cities, met awesome people and seen the myriad of ways a CrossFit box can be run. I also CouchSurf - another awesome way to meet locals and end up in areas you never expected. I like hidden corners, local flavours, sitting in a cosy café with my journal, lying on a hot beach with a book. I like flexibility. I like freedom. I like learning about myself, other people, about the world. Life is a journey, they say, but it is also short and full of the unexpected. I am making the most of mine.

Posted on 08/10/2013, in Boxes, New Zealand Boxes and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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