Get After It!

An email made my ordinary Monday extraordinary.  I nearly jumped out of my seat when I read that I would be attending the grand opening of...

 Reebok's new Fit Hub concept store in New York City.

It's located directly above Reebok CrossFit Fifth Ave, bringing to the facility fitness, nutrition, and product experts to help you find the perfect gear for your health, workout, and performance.  An experience like no other!

Fit Hub

But that's not all.  Before the Grand Opening event, five FitFluential ambassadors -- Alfonso, Tina, Katelyn, Erika, and I -- would have the honor of taking a CrossFit class with the winners of the 2012 (and 2011CrossFit Games: athletes Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir.

CF Games 2010 and Christine's Interview


For a year, I've been wanting and wanting to try CrossFit.  I read others' first experiences.  I learned about the functional movements and tried to incorporate some into my workouts.  I understood its greatness and the power of the community, but didn't belong to a box.  Now, suddenly, my very first CrossFit workout was not only happening (many thanks to Reebok and FitFluential!!!), but was being led by the crowned Fittest Man and Fittest Woman on Earth?!!??!

I was positively giddy for the rest of the day.  And then on Tuesday, I realized what was in store.  I was in trouble.  A noob among pros?  A fish out of water!  Sure, I know what a WOD is (workout of the day), and I can do "AMRAP" (as many reps as possible), but when they write on the board or shout things like "Fran", "Snatch," and "MU," .... I will be completely out of my element.

But!  I'm Meredith!  This is a challenge!  I dare myself to!  Ahhh this is going to happen!

And it did.  Read on to see how it went...


I arrived at the Fifth Avenue location at 2pm and immediately found Katelyn inside trying on her gear. Reebok outfitted us for the day: Reebok Crossfit shirt, sportsbra, pants or shorts, socks, CROSSFIT socks, some nogii Paleo Bars, and  sneakers.  It's plain to see that they really are making CrossFit-specific apparel.

When I opened the bag and saw HOT PINK, I smiled. My first pair of bright, colorful, in-your-face sneakers! A fun departure from my usual grays, whites, blues, and blacks.

Downstairs in the lobby area of the CrossFit 5th Ave. box and near the locker rooms, all the athletes and media were hanging out, gearing up for the workout. "Rich and Annie" were both down there, along with other CrossFit elites. The box itself was huge--10,000 square feet of space and equipment.

And, of course, the whiteboard.

I changed into my new Reebok fitness clothes (nice fit; true to size) and met up with Katelyn, Tina, and Alfonso.


The ladies!
Photo from Tina's Recap

We caught up and took some pictures before returning upstairs with everyone for the introductions.

The president of Reebok Brand, Uli Becker, began the introductions. He explained the mentality behind Reebok and why they decided to enter into collaboration with CrossFit.

He told us what Reebok is all about...
"We called it 'the sport of fitness has arrived,' which in a way summarizes how we view fitness, not just as an isolated solitary journey, where everyone is about the outcome 'everyone be fitter' and in a way disliking the journey to get there, because it's boring. You know, you've got the iPhone earplugs on, and you listen to music, and you hope the treadmill is over soon. Which is great because it reaches the result you want, but it doesn't create the fun you wanted to enjoy the journey more than in the past.   
That's why we looked around and we also teamed up with the fastest growing grassroots fitness movement, which is CrossFit. Many of the things CrossFit stands for are actually we we believe fitness should be about. It's not just about a physical result at the end; that certainly is part of the occasion, but it is also about comraderie, social aspects, that do one thing: they make the journey toward the fitness result far more enjoyful. We believe that means that fitness is not just a category, an activity that qualifies you to do something else, which, in a way, is what the traditional defintion is. This, actually, we believe makes fitness a sport in itself."
Wow. Fitness as a sport in itself. From everything I've learned about CrossFit until now, that makes Reebok's stance and CF's perfectly in line. It's not just about the end result. It's about the process, the joy, the fun that can be had along the way.

He wrapped up by saying, "We believe fitness is the sport of the future, and we are committed to bringing that to you." #Reebok.

Then we learned about the partnership between Reebok and CrossFit: How far CrossFit has come, from its grassroots roots to now, championing fitness over sports, and the types of people who are attracted to CrossFit--those with a 'never give up' mentality that creates camaraderie.

Next up was Chris Spealler, CrossFit elite athlete and Masterflow Trainer. He commented on the teamwork between Reebok's designers and CrossFitters, expressing how amazed he was at "how much they listened to US." Then then went on to put things into perspective:
"I just want to let you know for us, as athletes, for those that are a bit more in the limelight and athletic people, we are not CrossFit. The three of us do not represent CrossFit. We are representatives of it. We don't drive the community. The people that drive our community every single day are people who go to a box, that will never do a workout as prescribed. They'll never see the open, never see regionals, will never step floor at the games. Those people that pour their heart and soul into workouts day in and day out, who lose 50 lbs, who get up out of the chair, they can pick their kids up now, maybe they get off a diabetic medicine. Those people are what drives CrossFit, and I encourage you guys as the community and media to never lose sight of that, because that is what fuels our community."

Chris then introduced the winners of the 2011 and 2012 CrossFit Games: Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir.  For video of the Q&A, click here.

Rich's advice to newbies is that "CrossFit is infinitely scalable", and that the community helps. "If you're the last one to finish, it doesn't matter. The community aspect of CrossFit drives what we do."

Annie told us how she dragged her mom (who was present) to CrossFit. Her mother first said, 'I can't do that stuff!', but after first workout exclaimed, "That was so much fun!" With modifications (such as a smaller jump box), her mom was doing things she never thought possible.

"You're competing with yourself!"


And with that self-competition in mind, we went back downstairs to the box.

Before beginning, Chris spoke again, giving us the basics behind the CrossFit philosophy. His words really resonated with me, and I'll paraphrase/summarize here:
Why CrossFit? What is fitness about? You look at marathon runners, and they're like this [holds up pinky finger]. They can run 26 miles, but if you give 'em a barbell, they can't lift it. Then at the other extreme you have body builders. This dude might be as big as a house and can deadlift a thousand pounds, but if you ask him to run around the block, he'll have to stop for a snack. Neither of those guys are fit. It may be criticized as the moderate view, but CrossFit views fitness as the whole package.
It's true. And that's what attracts me to CrossFit; it's about all-around fitness. The goal is to be able to move and lift in ways that are natural to the human body and essential for survival and use in daily life. CrossFitters can run, row, climb, pull, push, squat, and jump. They can do the "functional" movements that lead to success. And THAT is fitness.

With that goal in mind, we prepared for our WOD (workout of the day). It would be one minute each of rows, air squats, kettlebell swings, and rest, AMRAP for three rounds.

Great! Chris explained while Rich and Annie demonstrated each movement for newbies.  Check out these VIDEOS of their demonstrations!

Air squat:

Kettlebell swings:

Then we mediafolk did a rehearsal round, ensuring that everyone had the movements down pat. Then we teamed up into groups of four, one person at each 'station', for the WOD, and we would add up our scores (reps + cals on the rower) in the end. Alfonso and I teamed up and then combined with the partners next to us. We got in position as the countdown began.

Ready? Set? ....GO!

First, I rowed. Back and forth: legs, arms, arms, legs. Next: Air squats. "Keep those knees out!" "Try turning your toes in more." Third: KB swings. "Chest up, look up." "Elbows to ears!" The trainers gave us helpful pointers and corrections every step of the way. It was incredible having professionals at my side to help improve my form and cheer me on. It was a rush, working on getting the movements, pleasing the trainers, and getting as many reps as possible. Focus, focus!

When I finally got my "rest" minute and had a chance to look around, I was struck by what I saw: CrossFit. The moves and superset were not complicated, but in such succession, with such ENERGY, with others cheering and instructing, the room transformed into a game, a community of enthusiastic individuals. Ohh, I understood: This is what they're all talking about.

WOD complete! Good job team :)  with The (not so angry) Angry Trainer

Three out-of-breath rounds later, the quick 'n sweaty WOD was over all too quickly. We added up our scores, although no one asked for them. Guess that was never really the point, anyway :)


We were led in some stretching and then had a short break. I made sure to thank all the trainers for their guidance, especially Iceland Annie, herself. What an honor to train with such an elite! She is an inspiration to all women seeking strength and power. Fitness?  She is IT.

I also chatted with Rich, not only about the workout and box but about the concept behind "Dare You To."  Dare me to CrossFit?  Mission Accomplished!


Then we all went back upstairs, where suddenly, the store was PACKED for the Grand Opening!

The line was out the door to come in, see the store, and meet Chris, Annie, and Rich. Incredible!

Katelyn, Tina, and I wanted to do some shopping, but the opening day crowds made it awfully difficult!

The clothes were all SO appealing and soft. I saw a dozen bright-colored T-shirts I wanted, as well as long-sleeve tops, zip-ups, and athletic shorts that I really want to try out, but I'll come back when it's less crowded. So, I started off with just a headband. I shall return! Especially when there's purple involved...

We listened to another introduction to the Reebok-CrossFit collaboration and the stars in our midst. We also chugged some water and shopped around before heading back out into the hot August air, where crowds were waiting.

I had such a blast and can't wait to get back to Reebok 5th Ave. I want to shop, I want to learn, and I want to CrossFit ! Can't wait for more, and am so thankful to Reebok for the opportunity to do my first WOD with the world's fittest athletes.

So that's how it went down! My first CrossFit experience complete, and I'm looking forward to many more. Starting this weekend! (Details to come...)

[Edited: Apologies for the original awkward formatting and photo quality of this post! I was blogging via mobile, but have gone back to correct for format errors.]

For all of those following on Twitter yesterday (thank you #ReebokNYC and #FitFluential!), thanks for all your support! And thank you again to Reebok, FitFluential, and these elite CrossFit athletes for making this day possible. I had a blast and am ready to get hooked! 

Have you tried CrossFit? Checked out Reebok's latest CrossFit-inspired apparel? 
If you haven't given the workout or the brand a try, I dare you to...

See you next time at Reebok NYC!

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