Last month my husband and I decided to take a road trip up the East Coast. We rarely travel, and I have never had the opportunity to drop in at a CrossFit box. My goal was to visit three boxes during our trip, but I didn’t anticipate on how tiring being a tourist can be. I figured I completed the equivalent of three WODs just with all the walking we did.
But I couldn’t go back to Tennessee without experiencing at least one drop in. Luckily, I found a box right around the block from where we were staying that had a class at 7am (6am on vacation for a definitely-not-a-morning-person would have been pushing it).
I was so excited about getting to do a drop in, I kept waking up all night thinking I had slept through my alarm.
It was cool and foggy as I pulled into the parking lot at CrossFit Prowess, in Seekonk, MA. The box is located in a warehouse area, and I could see a few people hanging around outside and talking. I took a deep breath, grabbed my gym bag and made my way towards the door.
Being on the shy side, I usually avoid situations with a lot of new people. We CrossFitters take a lot of crap about our obsession with our sport, our refusal to discuss any other subject other than CrossFit, and our snotty opinions about Zumba. And occasionally the crap is deserved. But it’s fascinating to me that I can be 1089 miles from home, walk into a CrossFit box and feel an instant camaraderie with strangers.
Which is how I felt when I entered CrossFit Prowess.
The owner Jason handed me the necessary release forms, and as I filled them out, two more people arrived for the 7am class. I fit in my usual stretching and lat activations before Jason called us together to introduce me to Kim and Neal, and to explain the dynamic warm-up. We did a small collective groan at the 20 burpee broad jumps (or maybe that was all me), followed by sledgehammer swings, slam balls and inch worms.
I’d never worked with slam balls before and it took me a few minutes to get the rhythm of the slam, drop and catch. I really liked these.
Next up – strict pull ups. I can do three pull ups, so Jason suggested doing a few max effort sets before starting to add weight. I ended up adding 12 lbs, which was pretty cool since I hadn’t done that yet at home.
Then the WOD – a 12 minute AMRAP of 30 wall balls, 30 cleans at 95 lbs and 30 double unders. My personal goal for this workout was to make sure every wall ball actually hit the wall and to avoid the weird spinning-straight-up-throw-thing that usually kicks in after 20 or so reps. My other personal goal was to refrain from the part laugh/part grunting thing I do when the weird spinning thing happens.
I did not meet either personal goal. But, to Jason’s credit, I didn’t hear him laughing (then again, the music was pretty loud).
Having survived the wall balls, I moved on to the cleans. After a few reps, Jason made the suggestion of raising my chest to bring me in a more upright position to receive the bar. Since I have a tendency to drop weights that are perfectly high enough for me to drop under and catch, this was good advice, and something I’ve started thinking about in both my cleans and snatches.
It was a fun WOD with some great people. Afterwards I joined Neal and Jason at the rowers for a cool down and we talked. Jason opened CrossFit Prowess in 2012 after leaving his career as a Project Engineer for a large construction company in Washington DC. “I wanted to do something I loved and felt I could make a difference and help people,” he said.
CrossFit Prowess has since grown to over 100 members. As with most CrossFit gyms, the feelings of community and family are strong. “One of the biggest struggles of owning a CrossFit box is being able to separate the different roles of friend, coach and confidant with my members and my responsibilities of a business owner,” Jason said. “You have to balance the day to day responsibilities as a business owner and coach while staying on top of the continuing education with the strength and conditioning industry. Education allows me to provide the best service possible to my members.”
When I asked him why he chose the name CrossFit Prowess, he laughed. “All the other good ones were taken. Actually, I applied for affiliation in November of 2011 at and felt the definition of Prowess – skill or expertise in a particular activity or field AND bravery in battle – fit very well to what we do.”
Effectively sweaty and with my new CrossFit Prowess t-shirt in hand, I got ready to leave. For a little over an hour I had become part of a CrossFit family other than my own, and I was a bit sad to go knowing that I may never be back.
When I asked Jason what he saw as the future for CrossFit Prowess, he said “Simple really, a larger version of what we have already established where it still feels like a small box while being the best gym in New England.”
Well, maybe my future travels will allow me another visit to the best gym in New England.