How I found my gym

Before I get to how I landed at CrossFit Rochester four years ago, I am going to go all the way back to when I first decided to improve my health and fitness about 19 years ago. Back then, I weighed probably 100 lbs more than I do today. I have no real idea because I didn’t get on a scale. But, I my regular scheduled events on most days were going to work and then going out for beers afterwards.

Once my main co-worker/party buddy moved out of town, I made the decision to stop drinking and replace my partying with going to the gym. So, I joined the YMCA near me and just started doing total body workouts starting with an empty barbell and kept adding weight as I got stronger.

In the years that followed, working out at the Y (or for a while a home gym in my basement), was what I did. Thanks to the internet, I found all sorts of different programs to follow. Most were by internet famous personal trainers that had programs built around compound lifts and solid methodologies. I never got into bodybuilding splits and bi’s & tri’s days. I played adult league or pickup ice hockey consistently and viewed my training goals as getting more athletic to be better at hockey.

One day, I’m not exactly sure when, I heard about CrossFit. I went to the website. I even subscribed to the CrossFit Journal. But, I never joined a box, largely due to the cost and the fact that I wouldn’t be able to have my kids in child care, like at the Y. I tried to talk my Y into starting CrossFit classes, but they didn’t bite.

Then four years ago, my life hit a detour when my divorce happened. I went through a bit of a mid-life crisis and instead of buying a sports car, I took the leap and decided to try out CrossFit.

How I happened upon CrossFit Rochester was really very simple. If you go to the CrossFit Website’s Trainer Directory, you will find that there is one Certified CrossFit Level 4 Coach in the Rochester, NY area. And Joseph Celso’s gym just happened to be not too far down the road from my dad’s house where I was staying at the time.

The Athlete Daily has a good piece about 5 things to consider when choosing a CrossFit box. A lot of them apply to any trainer or gym you can pick.

If you have a Level 4 coach in your area, I would suggest giving their gym a try first. Well, as long as they have classes that realistically fit into your schedule. Joe opens his gym every weekday at 5am. That is perfect for me and allows me to get into work early, especially on the days that I leave early to pick my kids up from school. But, I would probably figure out a way to make things work even if Joe wasn’t open that early.

The two biggest things I would stress would be the quality of the coach at the class you go to. Just because a gym has a Level 4 coach, that doesn’t mean that they will run the class you want to attend. Make sure that the coach you do get is good. It’s just like picking a doctor or a lawyer, not all coaches or trainers, even ones with the same certifications, are equal. The other thing I would stress is finding a gym with a culture that works for you.

CrossFit Rochester, especially at 5am, is largely about working parents that just want to be in better shape. It’s not a whole group of people that think they are getting to Regionals next year. That’s not who I am and that’s not what I was looking for.

I keep going back because of the community and because of the coaching I get from Joe. The biggest reason that the money I spend at CrossFit Rochester is worth it is because Joe coaches me so that I don’t get hurt due to either poor form or trying to lift too much weight. When I was on my own at the Y, my deadlift form was horrible and I would hurt my back on an all too frequent a basis. I haven’t hurt my back to the point that I miss time at the gym in my 4 years at CrossFit Rochester.

So, I’m not saying everyone should do CrossFit. But, if it has interested you, I would look for a Level 4 trainer in your area and email them about a trial class. It may just be the place you were meant to be.


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