Review: Reebok CrossFit BCN. Barcelona, Spain.
Reebok CrossFit BCN is a good example of how a box can be decked out with all the bells and whistles but, if the vital factor of good, focussed coaching is missing, the whole work out experience can be compromised.
Let’s start with appearances (because the first ones count, right?) and work our way down. CrossFit BCN, a big, light, clean box right in the center of Barcelona, was the first air-conditioned box I’d been to, and thank God for that – Spain’s late-July heat was a killer. Motivational phrases, CrossFit rules and the box’s name bombing made for awesome wall art, although more personal touches, including a post-WOD score board, were missing. There were couches, a reception area, showers and large changing rooms. In fact, this box had all the style and trimmings of a “normal” gym, and that made a nice change. So far, all good!
My initial welcome to the gym was hurried. I must have interrupted something at the reception desk. I was directed to the bathrooms and left to my own devices. “To my own devices”…no, I don’t mean that I wanted help in the bathroom, but more that I felt that I had been diverted there quickly, merely to “occupy” me.
Marcos, one of the CrossFit BCN owners and actually a friend of a friend of a friend (complicated, I know) subsequently came over to say hi and told me a little about the gym. I’m pretty sure that, at the time, CrossFit BCN was the only CrossFit box in this beautiful city of 3 million people, and the owners were considering opening another. This couldn’t have come soon enough – the CrossFit BCN classes were already huge. Unfortunately, Spanish bureaucracy was hampering the expansion efforts of CrossFit BCN in just the way it had those of CrossFit ALC – finding a space and then obtaining permission to open a box are not easy tasks. Marcos appeared to be passionate and switched on. Although things weren’t yet coming together in what I would consider an ideal way, he and his business partners weren’t just jumping blindly into things either. As an example, while we were chatting a weightlifting class was finishing up and I had the chance to observe the good form and strength of the athletes in the class. Marcos explained that CrossFit BCN offered special weightlifting classes, taught by a former Olympic coach, as the CrossFit BCN owners didn’t have weightlifting experience themselves. Very good idea.
My class kicked off without me knowing the name of the coach (it was Pablo, I later found out) and without the other drop-in and I being introduced to the rest of the class. I consider this to be a lack of manners and have wondered before if boxes get too used to (or tired of) having random drop-ins always appearing in their classes. Or maybe it’s a big city thing? Compare this attitude to that of Entreno Cruzado CrossFit in Mallorca where I was closely looked after and welcomed by both the athletes and coaches.
Max pull ups – prone
Max pull ups – supine
Max rope climbs
WOD: 18min AMRAP in pairs.
15x pull ups while the other does max burpees.
HSPU (scaled to knees on box)
The class appeared to get off to a rushed start with Pablo quickly explaining the warm-up and WOD. The warm-up was a good, long one. However, I found the strength portion of the work out to be hurried and disorganised. No time-frame reference or much instruction were given, meaning that you kind of finished when you finished. I had never done prone and supine pull ups in the same work out before, which I found interesting. Nor had I done them as part of a strength routine since CrossFit Manukau. Doing pull ups with your hands both ways certainly works different muscles. We were to finish with two rope climbs but with no initial instruction given and the coach busy amongst such a big class it was easy to feel a little lost. In fact, I ended up giving tips to a girl who had no idea how to do them. And I’m no expert! On the plus side, not all gyms programme or even have ropes for climbing. But if you’re gonna do it, do it good.
The WOD itself was a good, tough one and certainly had us breathing hard. I love working out with a partner as I think that it always makes you work out that much harder as you don’t want to let them down. It was also a good way to utilise the gym’s space with such a big class. I felt sorry for my partner – an attractive Swedish tourist, who had to do a whole lot of burpees as I struggled through my pull ups! This wasn’t a very coachable WOD but Pablo stood by the whole time shouting encouragement, which I appreciated.
Other athletes who had arrived early for the next class also cheered us on, demonstrating that there’s a good vibe here. After class, there was no writing up of scores or much of a farewell at all and I felt like the session had ended rather abruptly. However, some athletes did stick around for a stretch and gossip, and there appeared to be something of a community atmosphere.
I congratulate Reebok CrossFit BCN on opening and thriving in what I would consider to be a difficult market – I don’t believe that Spaniards are naturally sporty (at least compared to New Zealanders and Australians) – and one where CrossFit is still relatively unknown. But something is working for them – perhaps it’s the handy location near the Arc De Triomf, or the non-grungy style they’ve gone for (I certainly liked it). But, while I don’t believe that all aspects of the CrossFit style and methodology need to be adhered to closely by all boxes, I do believe that some basic factors are vital. One is good coaching. And you simply can’t coach effectively with one coach to 20+ athletes. I know that CrossFit BCN will be struggling to balance demand and possibly resources (are good coaches hard to find there?) but this needs to be addressed fast.
Drop-in date: 29/07/13
More info: reebokcrossfitbcn.com