Have you ever had to travel for work or vacation (or any other commitment) and had the desire to get your CrossFit fix away from your home box? Of course you have, you beautiful CrossFitter. Thankfully, one of the great many things about our community and the affiliate system is that one can simply sign up for a class at a ‘foreign’ box and literally ‘drop-in’ for a class—as long as you have passed foundations, but you already knew that.
But this isn’t always as easy or as pleasant as it sounds. There are unspoken rules, a certain etiquette if you will, that athletes dropping-in, box members and coaches receiving these travelling athletes should all follow. Regionals are fast approaching, and with it a host of athletes (including Games hopefuls) will be moving across the country and inevitably dropping-in at different boxes—maybe even yours! Here are some tips on how to be a good host—and a great guest.
For the drop-in athlete
1. Pick the right gym
Although there is something to be said for jumping into the unknown and taking the road less travelled, it’s always smart to do your research on a box you want to visit. Check the reviews on Google and Yelp, try to gauge class sizes if that’s important to you, and look at past workouts and the type of programming implemented at the gym. If you’re only going to be dropping in for a day, and you have several boxes to choose from, then pick the one with the most attractive WOD for you. You don’t often get to pick and choose which workouts you do so make the most of it!
2. Let the box know you’re coming
There’s nothing worse than having someone gate crash your party uninvited. Same goes for dropping in unannounced at a box—it’s disrespectful to the coach and the athletes at the gym. Simply call or email a couple of days in advance and let the box know when you’ll be coming, how long you’ve been doing CrossFit and if you have any pre-existing injuries the coach should know about. If you want to be extra-courteous and have flexibility in your schedule while in town, you could offer to come workout during the less-busy class times—whenever they may be. Boxes will usually say to come whenever (if there is availability), but they will certainly appreciate your understanding of their schedule.
3. Arrive early and introduce yourself—but pay attention
We’re all guilty of turning up to class slightly late now and again, and it’s not too disruptive when you’e a regular at the box. But when it’s a random stranger strolling in 5 minutes late, that can really annoy a lot of people. Again, this goes back to being respectful. Arrive 10 minutes early and introduce yourself to the coach and get familiar with the gym. Arriving early will also give you the time to sign the waiver and pay the drop-in fee (if there is one). During the class itself, engage with the regular members of the box, but refrain from being too loud or talking while the coach is, yelling during the WOD etc. This is basic common sense stuff people—remember that you are a guest in someone else’s ‘home’.
4. Clean and wrap things up
Make sure you put all your weight and equipment away, and wipe down your equipment—just as you would at your own box. Pay the drop-in fee (if you haven’t already) and thank the coach for their time and for having you at their box. As a drop-in, you are an unfamiliar face and coaches won’t know what your best lifts are, how you handle certain movements and what your general fitness level is like. If you had a good experience and appreciated the level of coaching you received, tell the coach and let them know you’ll return in the future—you could even leave a positive review online to encourage others to try out the box.
5. Buy a t-shirt!
Some boxes will give you this option in lieu of paying the drop-in fee, but I think you should get a t-shirt regardless. Why? For starters, you are supporting a local business—and by extension, the greater CrossFit community. CrossFit tee’s are also pretty cool, and you can never have enough CrossFit swag, right?
For the home box
1. Welcome the drop-in and show them around
Hopefully the travelling athlete will have contacted you in advance to let you know the date and time they will be dropping-in. When they arrive, welcome them warmly and introduce yourself, taking the time to show them your gym, where they can change, and ensuring that they sign the liability waiver. Hopefully you have an option for non-members to pay a drop-in fee online, but if not make sure that they do so before class starts—or at least before they leave.
2. Introduce them to the class!
I’ve travelled to a few boxes where the coach makes no effort to introduce me to the class—when it’s quite obvious that I am not a regular at the gym. It made a world of difference when I was introduced and made it that much easier to feel like a part of the class. I didn’t have to worry about any awkward requests to share a squat rack or ask about a new element of the warm-up that I wasn’t familiar with, and generally meant that I had a much better experience. Take the extra 30 seconds before you start the warm-up to introduce a new face and let your class know where he or she is dropping-in from—it’s good customer service.
3. Treat them like one of your own members—but keep an eye on them
As I mentioned above, a drop-in is a complete stranger to your box, and you don’t have much to go by in regards to their level of ability in CrossFit except for their word. Watch how they move during your warm-up and early stages of the WOD, and make sure they know that you are available for any questions they may have so that they are comfortable coming to you if the need arises. Otherwise, treat them as you would any other member of your gym—the last thing you want is for a visiting athlete to feel like they were being coddled in front of the rest of the class. They’re there to work out, just like everyone else.