The Drop In.

The Travelling CrossFitter travels for many reasons. Not least of which is to vacation/holiday with family or friends. Whatever the nature of the travel, be it relaxed or otherwise, there can often be a burning desire to continue to train while “on the road”.   Many affiliates have their own guidelines or rules to follow when it comes to accepting drop-ins (technical term for the travelling CrossFitter). Many affiliates will even have a section on their web site dedicated to Drop-ins. Outlining how to sign up and “drop-in”.

After travelling throughout the United States, Europe, New Zealand and indeed my home country, Australia, it is as become overwhelmingly clear that the general theme among CrossFit affiliates is that of acceptance and general open arms towards drop-ins.

That being said I believe there are a few Do’s and Don’ts that should generally be followed by both the “drop-in” athlete and the affiliate alike. These can help to ensure the needs of the Drop-in are met and that due respect is payed to the Affiliate, their coaches and indeed the members of that Box.

The following aren’t laws or rules that I have seen, they aren’t guidelines set out by HQ. No, these are things that I, in my humble opinion, believe can make the drop-in experience a more positive one for both parties. They comprise of things that I have experienced and thought were a good idea or not such good idea and some points that I have not seen implemented, however believe would be beneficial to all.

For the “Drop-in”:

  • Email / Facebook well in advance of arriving. Don’t just turn up on their door step. I know sometimes this cannot be helped. Your plans change or your better half suddenly gives you permission to go and train while they look after the kids etc but please try and make contact before showing up, it’s just good manners. Be sure to spell out who you are, what your experience in CrossFit is and which box you belong to. Some affiliates may require an email from your affiliate owner to confirm you are currently CrossFiting. I would recommend an email / Facebook message even if they have guidelines on their web site. As a travelling CrossFitter and as a coach I have found this to be a far more respectful way of reaching out.
  • Show up on time. As a coach I know how disruptive a late member can be to a class. This is even more so when that person isn’t a member and we have to get them checked / signed in and waivers signed. Turning up on time will allow you to have a look around and familiarise yourself with the box, meet new people and chat with the coaches.
  • Don’t just sit in the corner all by yourself. CrossFit is a community and it’s only by talking and meeting others that we grow this community. Even in foreign countries where you might not speak the language, you can still offer your name and they can offer you theirs. I have found that aside from the training the best thing about dropping-in is meeting new people in the community, creating that connection and learning about the local area through people that have a common interest. You can even find out the best places to eat (secretly my favourite reason)
  • Give your full and undivided attention to the coaches. When they start to coach and throughout the class, listen and pay attention. Having a member that is not paying attention is bad enough let alone a drop-in not listening to a word you are saying. You are in their house, be respectful.
  • Don’t be too dismissive of advice the coach may give. You don’t know the coach and they don’t know you however you have chosen to drop in on their class and out of respect allow them to coach you, you never know, they may pick up a deficiency in your push-up or get you over the bar for that first muscle up (thanks Kris). I’m certainly not suggesting you do anything you are not totally comfortable with or something you truly believe will cause you injury and unfortunately this may happen. I am however saying, show the coach respect for that session and use your better judgement.
  • Get involved with the members. You have introduced yourselves/been introduces to the other members now interact with them. It has been my experience that actively engaging with other members during the class i.e. giving encouragement or talking others through a WOD both enhances your experience and the experience of the members of that affiliate in that class. On a side note, you should be doing this in your box already, so no surprises here.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Always offer to pay. Some affiliates will have you sign up and pay online before coming to a class, others will collect money either before or after the class at the box, others will simply suggest you buy a shirt and some will even allow you to train for no cost. In any of the above always offer to pay. Remember that these are affiliates and business and all are trying to make a living aside from making the world a happier healthier place. They may not take it, but don’t be that guy/girl that doesn’t at least offer.

For the Affiliate:

  • Have something on your web site outlining the process for a drop-in. If you use an online booking system, then outline that. If you want an email, outline exactly what you want. Leave no doubt in their mind as to what they need to do. This will benefit you more than them in the long run. Don’t make it too complicated. Be sure to have somewhere they can outline their experience in CrossFit, be sure to always ask this.
  • Don’t (within reason) Turn them away if they just drop-in unannounced. I’m not saying get them in at all cost. I know, as a coach, sometimes if the class is full, then the class is full. If you can fit them in, then I beg you, please fit them in. (I had an experience a few years ago at a box in the US, I turned up thinking I was on time after having emailed the affiliate. Upon arrival I was informed that there was no next class at that location, that the next class time was at their second location and that I would have to go there. I was travelling without a car and the second location was on the other side of town some 20mins away. They didn’t offer me to stay and do my own thing nor really much help in getting to the other location. Fortunately I was able to hail down a taxi and get to the other location in time. All turned out well in the end)
  • Make it easy for the drop-in to turn up on time. Have your location clearly marked on your web site front page. If it is in an obscure location then give clear directions on how to get there. (Dropping in on a box in Europe on one particular occasion, my wife and I walked around for 20mins trying to find a way in to the box, sure the address was on the web site but more detailed instructions were needed to find the box for those that had not been before). Make it clear people.
  • Don’t ignore the white elephant in the room. If you have a guest, treat them as such. They may have just walking several KM’s across a busy city in freezing conditions to be there with you (again from my own experience). Greet them when they come in, find out who they are. then introduce them to your class. Tell the class where they are from and anything else you may want to mention about them. Again, include them in the class.
  • Treat them like you would the rest if your athletes. Include them in the class just as you would your members. If a language barrier exists use demonstrations by either you showing them or one of your regulars. Don’t let anything get in the way of including the drop-in in your class. Sure (delete) Make sure your own athletes are taken care off first but also make sure the drop-in has their needs met. Don’t be afraid or hesitant to coach them. No matter what level they are at. If Rich Fronning or Tia-Clair Toomey decides to drop into your box, make them feel welcome just like any other drop in, include them in the class and coach them. Don’t be shy, they are in your house. Have them leave with a good feeling and they will remember the experience forever and take the experience back to their box and spread the good word about you.
  • Make sure you have a clean box. Never have a messy box, ever. Especially if you are having guests. Be who you are as a box, and present your box the way it should be presented just keep in mind that the drop-in is going to go home with tails of their adventures and tell every CrossFitter they know about your box and how good/bad it was.
  • Outline somewhere how much the class is. On your web site or on the email/Facebook message you send back to them. Especially If they are travelling from another country. They may need to have correct change in your currency in order to pay you. Mention if you take credit cards or not. I have experienced all manner of scenarios. Some I have had to pay some I have been given a discount, some I have simply purchased a T-shirt (if I come home with another affiliate t-shirt I think my wife will lose it at me) and other times it has been on the house. My opinion and best experience is to charge for drop-ins or suggest they by a t-shirt. Nothing cooler than having your box on display on the other side of the world. Something that happens at our box is usually the first class is free then they pay after that. Have an option if they are staying for the whole week or a month where the drop-in isn’t paying too much for the service.

I have had many different experiences with drop-ins both as one and having them come to our box. It is truly a wonderful thing within CrossFit that we can travel all over the word and be accepted, creating a truly global community. As box owners and coaches it is important that we make each and every experience within our community a very memorable one, for the right reasons. And as Drop-ins we need to do our part to ensure the box owners and coaches are able to provide us with this memorable experience by showing respect for their house.

Keep the community ever more connected by allowing drop-ins in your box.

I look forward to seeing you when I drop-in next or you have you visit us at Nepean CrossFit, Penrith.

Coach Dan O

Nepean Crossfit.