Belal didn’t actually work in the restaurant he coaxed us in to. He’d been watching as we wandered slowly through the town square, gazing non-committedly at menus. We’d been looking for our first Moroccan meal and an escape from the 40 degree heat that was beating down on Chefchaouen, a small village tucked in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco. Suddenly standing up from a table, Belal invited us to sit down, waving his arm backwards, putting the restaurant on display. Seeing doubt on our faces, he turned to pick up a menu and assured us of the great range available – tagines, kebabs, fruit juices…”anything you want!”. We didn’t need much convincing. All the restaurants looked much the same and this guy had made a non-aggressive effort to talk to us. We sat down.
We scanned the menu. “Do you have hummus?”, we asked, sure that hummus and bread would be quite the typical start to our Moroccan adventure. Belal looked at us blankly. “Hummus?” I repeated. He turned and shouted to the kitchen. The owner came out. This was serious. “Yeah, yeah”, the owner assured us after more to-ing and fro-ing. “And a tagine?” I requested. He looked pained. “Mmmm. A tagine would take too long to make”, he apologised. Right. We’d arrived in the middle of Ramadan and the only people sitting in the surrounding restaurants were fellow tourists. The place was mostly empty for a reason and food hadn’t been pre-prepared. We asked what our options actually were and the owner shouted down to the kitchen, with Belal standing nervously by, his narrow frame moving from one foot to another. Read the rest of this entry
MyLeo CrossFit in Berlin was such a solid box that I walked out absolutely raving about the place. Whether this was because I had been gagging for a CrossFit session after 10 days of cheese in Holland, or because the coaching and box itself really were that good I don’t know, but I loved my session there.
With my creative travel itinerary [read: non-existent] and priorities to catch up with old friends in the fascinating city of Berlin, organising CrossFit sessions had become a last-minute task. All the same, I got a quick reply to my drop-in request from MyLeo CrossFit’s Lea, who said she would fit me into any of the classes, despite the website saying they were full. Now that’s welcoming!
In true Berlin style, I jumped on a funky old bike and rode from the east to the west of the city, past funky wall art and welcoming cafes, the House of Parliament, and the beautiful green expanse that is the Tiergarten Park. The ride was a good warm up for a body that had become more accustomed to beer than burpees. I stuck my head through the door and into the massive, black warehouse that is MyLeo CrossFit. Leo himself was taking a PT session at the time, but took a moment to say hi and tell me where things were. Also very welcoming! Read the rest of this entry
Given that Oslo, Norway’s capital, had surprised me with its small size, green suburbs and quiet atmosphere, I hadn’t expected much from a CrossFit box 500km to its north in a random town called, Trondheim, especially given that the only reason I was there was to visit an amazing friend.
I better straighten out my misconceptions quickly. For starters, Trondheim is beautiful. It has bars, restaurants and quirky streets hugging the long arm of one of Norway’s 1,190 fjords. Secondly, this is no sleepy hollow; but a city bursting with students and many tourists. And thirdly, the CrossFit box up that way is totally legit.
When the owner of a gym looks around himself with pride, and says that he’s standing there as a result of a hobby that got out of control, you can be sure of a few things – he’s going to be a passionate coach, the gym will have a good vibe, and he’ll do all he can for his athletes.
Jan, the energetic but “mature” owner of CrossFit Twente, still holds down his normal day job and started out as a rowing coach. When he discovered and began to dabble in CrossFit, his strength and fitness gains spoke for themselves. He noticed that this new sport helped to reduce injuries and improve weaknesses, and so decided to use the training method as part of his rowers’ training programme. Read the rest of this entry
Jorge never asks to see my CV. Apparently it’s good enough to know that I am from New Zealand and have four years’ experience in the country’s biggest market research company (probably a fact one shouldn’t be too proud of). After only a brief chat about who I am he seems satisfied and promptly offers me an interviewee position in his call centre. He promises that I will be made supervisor should the other candidate pull out. It appears that my being recommended by a friend of a friend of my boyfriend was sufficient for me to not only be offered an interview, but also a job.
Tired of talking about his soon-to-be new employee, I find that I am about to learn some personalised facts about Argentina’s history. “You see Josie, I fought in the war of the Islas Malvinas” (go around Argentina calling these the Falkland Islands and you won’t be making any friends fast). Read the rest of this entry
The reality of trying to combine travel and CrossFit was starting to hit home. Getting to the gym frequently was a piece of paleo-approved cake when I was swanning around Madrid for a week and cruising Alicante for over a month. But hitting the road with a friend in tow proved to be a whole different kettle of deep-fried fish. Spontaneous travel, stays of only one night in cities and the desire to actually see the places I was visiting required some reprioritisation on my part. Was mine a CrossFit journey? No. Mine was a personal journey, which combined both CrossFit and travel. I had to push CrossFit sessions aside (shocking, I know) and went six days without seeing the inside of a box. And then I started to go crazy. It was time to find me a box.
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. Read the rest of this entry