Tuesday evening I showed up at the Gansevoort Park hotel on Park avenue to meet the Reebok CrossFit crew and get briefed on a media campaign for the week. The athletes involved were: Annie Thorrisdottir, Rich Froning, Jr., Graham Holmberg, Ben Smith, Nathan Forrester, Michael Alfaro, Lindsey Smith, Stacie Tovar, Elizabeth Akinwale, Lee Knight and Denise Thomas. The plan was to show up to at the Empire State Building at 4am on Wednesday and do a workout on the observation deck. We were not told what the workout was other than it would be a 20 minute AMRAP. We were also briefed on the events for Thursday that would involve the press. Then we were taken to dinner at Primehouse for giant steaks. When they announced the teams at dinner Annie said, as she gave me a high five and a smile, “We are going to win. I don’t lose.” One of the best things about Annie is her positive attitude. I was already nervous about the fact that I was going to be working out with the top CrossFit athletes in the world and do it on film. But her confidence was infectious and calming.
Wednesday morning I woke at 3am put on my new Reebok clothes and took a car into the city. We met in the hotel lobby and proceeded in cabs to the Empire State Building. Theere was a film crew with us from the moment we stepped out of the taxis. We were led in through the loading dock and taken up to the observation deck. When we arrived at the 86th floor, Chris Froio of Reebok greeted us and told us we were about to do a workout. We went outside and saw that they had a Reebok shipping container out on the deck and several workout stations set up. Andy Stumpf of CrossFit HQ was there to tell what the workout would be.
Each team member would start at one of six stations: walking lunges, handstand push-ups, kettlebell swings (24kg), double unders, thrusters (95lbs) and rest. When the athlete finished the walking lunges we all rotated through the stations. Annie’s team consisted of Annie, me, Graham, Lindsey, Denise and Michael. We had about 10 minutes to warm up after the workout briefing. I was really impressed with how seriously all the athletes took the warmup. There was blur of activity as everybody started mobilizing, stretching, doing handstands and rolling on lacrosse balls.
It was freezing but the view was breathtaking and the atmosphere was electric and that made the whole event seem so surreal. I was out there doing lunges next to Stacie Tovar and Lindsey Smith was in the station in front of me and Graham Holmberg was behind me. It was like a CrossFit fantasy camp where I got to workout alongside some of my favorite athletes. Amazing. I was on a high for the rest of the day. I gave myself a little time to beat myself up for my performance, but our team won just like Annie had predicted and even though I was the weakest link on the team I felt like I belonged.
Thursday morning we went down to a giant loft space in soho where we put a bunch of media people through a workout. My friend Denise Thomas briefed the people on the workout and we went around and coached them on their movements. Then it was go go go. As you can imagine, taking absolute newbies through a workout can be quite challenging, but we made it work and nobody got hurt. The workout was 3 rounds of AMRAP 1min burpees, 1min KB swings and 1min box jumps.
Then for demonstration purposes we did one round of the workout. I started on the kettlebell swings and out of the corner of my eye I could see Annie blasting through the swings super fast so I tried my best to keep up. As we moved to the box jumps I need two seconds to get my legs ready because they felt shaky and I didn’t want to miss a jump. Then I started jumping and felt really good. You can see on the video about half way through I lost focus and missed a jump, but then I got right back into it. I tried my best to keep up with her on the burpees too and I think I was able to move pretty fast. I think I got a total of about 81 reps in 3 minutes… I’m not sure how many Annie got but I feel good about my score.
Afterwards, the press was interviewing Annie and Rich and some of the celebrities that were there: Elizabeth Banks, Paula Patton and Chase Crawford. Meanwhile I kept myself busy with Lindsey Smith doing back squats. I ended up doing sets of 10 to her sets of 5. I think we went up to 235lbs.
After a huge lunch, we boarded a giant double-decker bus wrapped with the giant Reebok logo and drove around the city. We went to 3 different parks around town and did workouts. First, in Soho we did a partner workout that consisted of 6 rounds of wheelbarrow race approximately 50ft and fireman’s carry back. I was partnered with Graham and we did alright.
Then we went to Union Square park and I paired up with Nathan and we did 3 rounds each alternating of 5 horizontal rows and 3 burpee box jumps, then we both had to run around the park. That was the worst part.
Finally we went to Madison Square park and did a boys vs. girls wow where we had to rest in plank side by side and do an Indian run of sorts where the last person had to jump over each person in succession and then get down into plank at the end. We did this for about 50ft and then each did 50 air squats and then had to leap frog back to the start. The boys won. Then we found a scaffolding where we did a 3 min AMRAP pull-up contest with 2 teammates working at a time. I think we that too.
Then when we returned to the hotel the idea was thrown out that we should do handstand walks across Park Avenue. That was the first time in 40 years that I voluntarily touched a New York City street. Yuck!
It had been drizzling all day and I was wet and cold and tired. I came home and took a long hot shower and got dressed again to go to a party that Reebok threw in the same soho loft for all the New York area affiliates. It was a really well-done event and I got to see a lot of my crossfit friends.
As much as people are upset by the Reebokification of CrossFit, I haven’t seen anything really bad come out of it. I think more people knowing about CrossFit is better.
Here’s a brief article about the event.