Red’s Recommendations: CrossFit Bytown
CrossFit. One simple word, and the fitness camp divides.
I’ve always been a really active person. Growing up I played a variety of competitive sports at Regional and Provincial levels, and in CEGEP and University, despite my 5’4 stature, I played basketball. During this time, there was all sorts of training involved. Most of it sports-specific drills, lots of running, and a bit of weight training here and there. It wasn’t until I graduated form University that I realized I needed to find a new way to stay in shape. No more coach to yell at me every night and keep me fit. So I began to dabble. I worked with a couple of trainers, I bought a few books, I’d look up workouts online, did a few Body Pump classes and I even got my personal training certification. (Mostly out of personal interest, I’ve never really done much with it.) I liked to workout out, it made me feel strong, kept me fit, and kept me healthy, but I didn’t love it. I missed that team dynamic. That feeling you get when you walk into practice, the feeling of camaraderie, and knowing that everyone on the team has got your back and wants you to do well.
I started hearing about this thing called CrossFit when I still lived in Toronto in 2010. It was still relatively new, but I thought it was interesting, so I started looking up workouts online and I would try then out on my own at my local gym. It was a little confusing at the beginning; there were a lot of girl’s names and a lot of acronyms I didn’t understand. Telling me to do Grace, Angie, and Annie, all the while doing a WOD, AMRAP, RFT, DU, C&J, HSPU… and the list goes on. It was confusing, to say the least, but looking back it was probably part of the intrigue.
In 2011, I moved to England and eventually decided that I was going to give this whole CrossFit thing a real go. I was nervous, and excited and I joined this amazing box only a few blocks from our place; Train Manchester. In my first class, I was so nervous to embarrass myself and anticipating a bunch of British people to chirp the un-fit Canadian. Oh boy, was I ever wrong, and I was instantly hooked. The CrossFit community it one like no other. I have never been in any other gym, bootcamp or fitness class where people are so positive and encouraging, and empower each other. Looking back I laugh at the fact that this was the first gym I joined. If you know CrossFit, you’ll find it funny to learn that Train Manchester was owned and opened by Sam Briggs. I remember the days she coached me, teaching me proper technique, only to go on to be named the World’s Fitness Women at the 2013 CrossFit Games. Hilarious – if I had only known at the time.
So when we decided to move to Ottawa, I knew right away that I needed to find a local box to join. I found CrossFit Bytown, and John and I signed up the week we landed.
I find when most people hear the word CrossFit, it seems to conjure up an image of beast-like men throwing around obscene amounts of weight, doing crazy lifts, eating raw beef off a carcass, injuring themselves, and then repeating the the process. Fortunately, I am here to clarify that is 100% NOT the case. CrossFit is a workout, that when well programmed, is scalable functional fitness that applies to any individual regardless of age or skill level. It’s a combination of bodyweight movements, weight lifting, cardio and gymnastic that are combined to create and an effective workout. The key word in all of this – scalable. The load, intensity and frequency of the movements are all adaptable to your skill level and ability, not anybody else’s. Can’t do a pull-up? No problem, there is a scaled version for that. Can’t do rope climb? No problem, there is a scaled version for that. Can’t snatch 150lbs? Me neither, but it’s not problem. You’ll start where you can, learn the skill, repeatedly over time, and with days and weeks of practice, you’ll steadily improve. There is no rush. There is no pressure. And nobody is judging you. That is what CrossFit is.
CrossFit ByTown is a community that I am happy to be a part of. For 2 years I have been hanging out with the same group of absolute beauties at 6:00AM. Men and women of all different ages, backgrounds and fitness levels, who are there to stay fit, push each other and have some fun. I truly look forward to going to the gym, working out and seeing these people every morning; even when it’s -40 degrees in January, it’s dark and the gym is freezing. I truly do. I have made friends, and met people that I otherwise would likely never become friends with. I am constantly surrounded by people that encourage me, push me when I am slacking and laugh with me when things are (and aren’t) going well. These people support me in the gym and in my life. When I launched my business, my CrossFit family had my back, and were present at the very first public talk I did. How many people can say that about their fellow gym members?
I’m not writing this Red’s Recommendation to make you join a CrossFit gym, that is truly not my intention. My intention is simply to share with you why I like CrossFit, and why CrossFit Bytown is my recommendation. The team at CrossFit Bytown may be full of jokes, laughs and good times, but they are also knowledgeable and have your health and best interest at heart. They coach you, give you pointers, adjust your form when its off, push you when they need to, and slow you down when you are getting ahead of yourself.
Recently, I chatted with owner Everett Sloan, as well as coaches Taylor Stewart and Dan Shrum, who shared a little about the CrossFit community, themselves and this amazing box – check out our brief interview below.
The 6:00AM Motley Crew with Coach Taylor.
Describe what you are looking to create in your community in 3 words?
Everett: Healthy, happy people.
What is your ultimate goal for the business?
Everett: To have every member leave us with more knowledge than they came to us with and to better prepare themselves for a healthy lifestyle.
What do you want people to experience at their first class?
Taylor: I want people to experience hard work, uncertainty and at the end, enjoyment. I want someone to walk in, not knowing what they’re doing, feel like shit during a workout, and leave wanting to come back. If that’s not the case than I feel that I didn’t do my job correctly.
Dan: A fun atmosphere and comfort. I want a person to come in and feel like they can trust us with there fitness venture.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about CrossFit?
Taylor: I think that ONE of the biggest misconceptions about CF is that you already have to be fit to join a gym. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. This sport is for everyone, whether you’re a pro athlete, or you’ve just decided to get up off your couch and try something new. CrossFit is for EVERYONE, just don’t be afraid to try.
Dan: You need to be already fit do it. And that it dangerous.
What do you think makes your coaching style unique?
Taylor: My old coach used to tell me I would be a good coach because I am a “right-brain thinker”. I think I understand what people can and can’t do. I’ll always encourage everybody and stay involved with the class, however I find it very important that people learn skills on their own. I’m not there to hold your hand, but more to push you in the right direction.
Dan: My bad jokes.
What makes CrossFit Bytown unique compared to other CrossFit gyms?
Taylor: The community. The community at Bytown is outrageous. Everyone is so friendly and accepting. Everyone is always willing to help and push one another.
Dan: We give a shit, someone walks in everyone says hello. Also we’re engaged with all our members, we actually want our member to all succeed.
What’s your 2nd favourite way to sweat?
Taylor: Rough, hot, sweaty sex. That, or organized sports (soccer, hockey, flag football, etc).
Dan: Crossfit, and afternoon delights.
What’s your favourite food treat/indulgence?
Everett: Paleo brownies my wife makes.
Taylor: Healthy choice = steak. Unhealthy choice = Pizza (Specifically from Louie’s in Vanier.)
What’s your favourite restaurant in Ottawa?
Everett: Hy’s Steakhouse
Taylor: Mello’s on Dalhousie. THE BEST BURGER IN OTTAWA.
Dan: The Red Apron makes some pretty decent food.