Doing My First WOD at Reebok CrossFit One

Reebok CrossFit One, Canton, Mass. front desk
What’s inside this box?

Note: This is the second of three posts about my recent visit to Reebok Headquarters in Canton, Mass. To read the first post, click here.

I’ve never participated in a CrossFit workout. Sure, I’ve seen WODs on blogs and even set foot inside boxes, but actually doing a CrossFit workout? No. So I was really, really excited when Reebok arranged for CrossFit C (who took these photos!) and me to do a WOD at Reebok One in Canton, Mass.

Reebok opened its CrossFit One location after it partnered with CrossFit in 2010, and 30 employees were doing WODs at the time, according to Dan Sarro, Corporate Communications Manager at Reebok. To hire its coaches, Reebok went to CrossFit headquarters and asked them who the best coaches in the business were – then hired them. In 2011, the company started offering an on-ramp course that attracted 20 people each week, and by May 2011, the box had 400-500 members. Some of Reebok’s employees did their first CrossFit workouts at the box. At one point, Reebok headquarters hosted regionals here, but because of the growing popularity of CrossFit, can’t any longer because of space limitations.

Inside the Canton, Mass. Reebok CrossFit One box
It was a little intimidating.

Our workout was led by Denise Thomas, one of eight female coaches who certifies others as CrossFit Level 1 coaches. Kelley Jackson was also coaching, and we met Austin Malleolo, the head coach at Reebok CrossFit One. Olivia Rotenberg, Assistant Manager of Corporate Communications, joined us for the WOD, which looked a little scary:

  • 3 deadlifts
  • 2 power cleans
  • 1 jerk
This was for 15 minutes, on the minute. I could deadlift, but I’d never done a power clean or a jerk with a barbell. Denise started the class by asking about injuries – and that meant twinges, pains, whatever. After warming up, Denise instructed everyone to grab a PVC pipe and an unweighted barbell, which probably weighs 25 lbs or so – in other words, pretty light. That made me a little nervous, so Denise got right in my face (in a good way) and asked me if I trusted her. (Yes, I did.) We went outside, and I learned form (and everyone else warmed up with the pipe and barbell), with Kelley watching me very closely, first on the PVC pipe, then on the unweighted barbell.

When we went back inside, I started off with the 2.5 lb plates on each end, which Denise deemed appropriate for me. After a couple of rounds, she increased the weight, well within my abilities. By the last round, I had two 10 lb plates on my barbell, which was just challenging enough – but not so challenging that I was struggling. (I regularly do kettlebell deadlifts with 52-lb kettlebells, for 8-10 reps, and overhead press with two 15-lb dumbbells for 8-10 reps, so this wasn’t anything outside my range, considering the low reps for each round.) I didn’t care that I had the lightest barbell in the room, and I didn’t feel any pressure to add an amount of weight that would have made me uncomfortable or that would have been unsafe. That’s particularly important; CrossFit is not about getting injured.

And I won’t lie; the jerks were tough at the end, because I had to get that barbell over my head, but Kelley was right there to make sure I didn’t drop it on my skull. And I did need the resistance to really focus on form, snapping my elbows out and pulling and pushing through the lifts. Kelley and Denise were definitely watching me closely since it was my first time; they’re great coaches, and they want to make sure CrossFit is a fun experience. But I made it through the workout; I didn’t hurt myself; and I was completely exhilarated afterward. It was like how I felt after any good workout, but amped even just a bit more because a) I had a nasty cold, but I still did the workout and b) there is something extremely empowering about hefting a barbell.

My first CrossFit workout, and I got to ring the bell, because technically it was a PR.
Your first workout is always a PR.

(Side note: Reebok provided me with the awesome CrossFit tank, sports bra, ass-to-ankle shorts with the Carson, Calif. print from the CrossFit games – which makes me wonder if they know how much I miss L.A. sometimes – knee socks, and Nano 5.0s. I loved every single piece. The tank was super-soft; the bra had just the right amount of support and a cool motivational saying on the inside; the shorts provided awesome coverage while showing off my runner’s legs; the socks protected my shins from the barbell; and the Nanos gave me the right support and stability for lifting.)

After the WOD, we went outside for some ab work. I was feeling it the next day in my abs. I was also feeling the community vibe: no one there was competing against each other, just themselves (kind of like how I feel when I’m running – I’m not racing against anyone, just my last PR). Denise teased one of the participants good-naturedly. It seriously was a great atmosphere, and doing a WOD at Reebok CrossFit One has convinced me that I need to investigate boxes this fall.
Reebok CrossFit One camaraderie - the best part of CrossFit is the atmosphere
Smile! You just crushed your WOD!
One of the myths surrounding CrossFit is that you already need to be fit. This is not true. CrossFit C regularly says that if she can do CrossFit, anyone can (although she’s putting some serious plates on her barbells). But Olivia confirmed this: 70-year-old employees are in classes, doing modified exercises. Denise and Kelley also confirmed this: you’re not going to get pushed to lift 200 lbs on your first day. A good coach will work with your strengths and limitations to help you get in the best shape of your life – and functional shape. Like, that deadlift is picking up a heavy carry-on bag; the power clean is getting it to your shoulders; the jerk is getting it into the overhead bin.

But that’s not all from my visit! Stay tuned for Wednesday, which is all about Reebok’s running strategy.