What's your favorite type of food?
That's the introductory question you'll find CrossFit Manayunk owner and coach David Lee asking during your first visit to his gym.
It's not to make lunch plans for after the workout either. Instead, it's his way of being honest with you about what to expect from CrossFit.
"Someone might say Italian or whatever, and I'll say, 'OK, well, I guarantee you've eaten at a bad Italian restaurant, that doesn't mean your gonna stop eating Italian.' That's kind of how I see CrossFit," he said. "There's going to be bad ones out there, but if I'm your favorite Italian place, you're gonna keep coming back to me."
At 19 years old Dave was in a horrific car accident, breaking several bones below his waist. For the first three years he could only walk using some kind of assistance and slipped further into a state of misery.
"I was told I was never going to do any physical activity again. That I'd be lucky just to walk normally again," he recalls.
Craving a way to gain some sort of physical independence again, Dave began scouring the Internet and found a trainer in North Jersey who told him he could alleviate his leg pain with exercise. It was basically CrossFit before CrossFit became what it is marketed as today. The attention to movement patterns is what he loved most and the biggest component for getting him back on his feet.
Dave transformed his garage into a personal home gym so he could continue training without having to make the long trek up north. After about a year, his personal gym wasn't so personal anymore, and now about 30 people joined him for his boot-camp-like classes.
In 2007, a friend asked him to come check out this new fitness class he was taking called, CrossFit. Dave was instantly hooked. He continued to train and actually became part of their regional team. After competing he decided to get his CrossFit certification and open up his own gym.
"Initially I was drawn to the workout style, but now there's really nothing better than the community aspect of it. The community is really what keeps people going, the camaraderie," he said.
Some might think of CrossFit as an advanced, even intimidating, form of exercise. Their perception of the training style can lead to misconstrued interpretations.
"Workouts are always scalable. The people you're watching on TV, you won't be doing probably any of that stuff in here," he said. "If you come in and you give me 100 percent, you can't get a better work out than that. You never want to worry about the other person or what you saw on TV, as long as you stick to the plan and follow the coaches you're going to get an amazing workout."
So, I'll ask again. What's you favorite type of food?
"It comes down to the coaching. We are all independently owned. And I'll admit, I know some CrossFits that have really bad coaching. I wouldn't go to them myself," Dave warned.
But if you still don't want to judge a CrossFit gym by the cover, use this piece of advice.
"I always tell people go in and tell them you have an injury. It doesn't have to be a real injury, just tell them you have a knee issue because they're not gonna be able to give you an MRI on the spot. Ask them how you can modify a lunge and if they can't give an answer right away, that's probably not a good place to go."
Without further ado, Dave explains his CrossFit workout:
This workout should be cut off after 40 minutes if you're not finished. It is also designed for someone who has knowledge of the movements. Anyone interest in CrossFit is asked to go through a beginner class where coaches teach proper technique before any lifts are done.
If you fall into the beginner category or feel you might not be experienced enough for the recommended weights or exercises, substitute kettlebell swings for the hang cleans and lower the weight to something you feel comfortable with.
10 hang cleans (weight for the WOD: males 95 lbs/ females 65 lbs)
10 front squats
10 shoulder to overhead press (any of these styles work, but the push jerk will be best for beginners)
9 hang cleans
9 front squats
9 shoulder to overhead
7 hang cleans
7 front squats
7 shoulder to overhead
6 hang cleans
6 front squats
6 shoulder to overhead
5 hang cleans
5 front squats
5 shoulder to overhead
As an added wrinkle, any time the barbell you're using touches the ground (whether resting or switching weights) perform 3 burpees, jumping over the bar on your way up from each one. This is to ensure that people aren't cheating during the workout.
If you have any questions or comments, you can always reach Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.