New Yorkers always like to be ahead of the game. Whether we’re talking about fashion, food, or fitness, the city that never sleeps prides itself on spending all those waking hours learning about the newest fad before everyone else. It should come as no surprise then, that NYC is one of the best places to learn CrossFit, the workout craze that is taking over empty garages and warehouses everywhere.
Founded by Greg Glassman in the early 2000s, CrossFit now has about “11,000 affiliated gyms” across the world. According to Crossfit.com, “CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness (constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity).” Many CrossFit enthusiasts like to say it trains you for the unknowable; everything from picking up a heavy box at home to sprinting and pulling up your own bodyweight.
Because of its varied movements, CrossFit is popular among those in the military, as well as with people training for police and firefighting work. But you don’t have to be a natural athlete to enjoy a daily “WOD” (workout of the day). Most gyms have a wide variety of members, from stay-at-home parents to students, CEOS to even those with mental and physical disabilities.
After a week or two of Introductory classes (where you learn proper form), a typical workout is an hour long with stretching included. Most WODs include some kind of bodyweight exercise, some kind of cardio, and some aspect of weightlifting. Some of the bodyweight exercises you might encounter during a workout include pull-ups, push-ups, handstand push-ups, rope climbs, sit-ups, and pistols (which is basically a one-legged squat). Cardio usually comes in the form of sprints, weighted lunges, double unders (which is when you flick a jump rope under your feet twice per jump), and box jumps. The weightlifting aspect of each workout often seems the most daunting to new members, but is surprisingly fun once you get the hang of it!
Most of the lifts you’ll encounter in CrossFit are squats, deadlifts, bench presses, push presses, snatches, cleans, and jerks.
Almost every movement can be scaled, so weekend warriors and those who feel slightly out of shape shouldn’t be discouraged!
New York was one of the first places to embrace CrossFit, with CrossFit NYC (located at 50 W 28th St.) being the sixteenth affiliate ever created. While bigger gyms in Manhattan like the incredibly successful Reebok CrossFit 5th Ave (which is located below the Reebok store on 5th Avenue, and counts SharkTank’s Daymond John as an investor) and the fancy, almost spa-like CrossFit Solace (which boasts beautiful bathrooms and even Yoga specialty designed for lifters) can sometimes feel crowded during the before and after-work rush, smaller neighborhood affiliates are popping up almost every day.
While it might seem a little intimidating at first, the best way to find out if CrossFit is for you is to check out an affiliate either around your neighborhood, or one of the more successful ones in the city (CrossFit 212 and Crossfit Union Square are two other booming Manhattan affiliates). Most CrossFit gyms allow people to take a free intro class, and you can always talk to the coaches to get a feel for their particular style.
If you’ve been thinking about getting in shape for summer, CrossFit is definitely a fun, social option, and with so many resources in and around New York City, it’s very likely that there’s a gym right under your nose!