I ended up getting there for a late night open gym time, but showed up a little early to catch the tail end of a class so I could see what the fun was all about. Right off the bat you could tell things were serious here. The gym is separated into two parts, with a stairway taking up the center console allowing a good path on either side to get to the second half of the gym. The front half has some wonderfully fabricated squat racks fixed to the wall, and a sweet double-shelved plate rack along the right side. The left side has a few benches and a ton of bars as well. Straight ahead you’ll see a massive white board hiding behind a string of rowers. Walk through to the back and your eyes instantly turn to the massive graffiti logo across the back wall. Above that you see the complex pull up rig, and there are a bunch of additional pieces of equipment along the walls. Overall the space is sneaky big, and to add to it there’s a huge outdoor space out the side door, and a great upstairs.
When you get up to the top floor you’re met with a huge open space with a desk along the wall, a big TV with a couch and a few arcade games. Yep, arcade games, sweet. There’s another little workout space behind all that, then, move to the other side of the upstairs and there’s a whole separate room where a massive jiu-jitsu class was going on. My respect for this place raised a few notches with the knowledge that they house jiu-jitsu classes. If you have read back through my old blog at all, you’ll see I was crazy into that for about a year, and I miss it so much now!
As class winded down I was able to chat a few people up and I felt very comfortable with the style of people I was meeting there. It’s pretty clear they have an incredibly diverse demographic there, but the overriding feel is pretty competitive. People seemed to be moving at a pace and level that would make you assume everyone there was a serious, competitive CrossFitter, and for me, well, I like that!
After people shuffled out (and a large handful of athletes just stuck around, awesome!) I was able to meet the creator of this gym. For any of you who know anything about CrossFit, you’ll know the name Jason Khalipa. He’s the winner of the 2008 CrossFit Games and a regular staple around the mainsite videos and such. It was clear the second I began to talk with people that he is a pretty highly liked dude around there. And yeah, he is a pretty damn cool guy. I personally had to wait a few hours after my visit to fully appreciate him as he absolutely destroyed me on our workout. The last time I have beat like that was back when I thought I could hang on a bike ride with a group of professional riders. Basically, the second we took off I was lost behind them trying to figure out what happened! I’ll get into our workout in a second, so, yeah…
Clearly, and I have seen this countless times, the feel of the gym comes from the top. If a head coach hangs out in jeans and flip flops while he/she trains, the feel of the gym is most likely going to be pretty chill and super laid back. If the coach stand there without a smile and drill you like crazy, the place probably won’t feel all that fun. When a coach has the proof of upper level athleticism, yet still is completely approachable, goofy, and incredibly helpful, you’ll get a gym like CrossFit Santa Clara. I have seen a collection of places similar to this through the 30+ affiliates I’ve visited, and it’s a beautifully unique aspect that really stands out. Jason clearly knows what he’s doing, not just because he’s a good coach and knows how to get people motivated, but because everyone knows that what he asks of you, he can do it, and most likely do it a lot better. I have been around a large amount of people who have established a sort of celebrity in their specific fields (it’s the baseball background), and inevitably you end up finding a lot of these people responding to that by being a bit arrogant and so on. Jason does NOT have that one bit, and it adds an enormously welcoming feeling to his gym.
So, on to the workout. We started off by working the snatch. It being open gym we had people doing cleans, snatches, squats and deadlifts; just working on what they needed working on. I chose to work my weakest link with the barbell, and Khalipa concurred that that was his as well. We stayed pretty light (I worked a few reps at 155# to perfect the form) and I have literally never felt as good as I did. I felt fast and solid, two words I can honestly say I have never felt with the snatch. Sweet. Then came the metcon:
5 rounds of:
200 meter run
5 man makers 35# DB (push up, row, push p other arm row, push up jump forward squat clean and thruster. That’s one rep…)
10 front squats 135#
I hung not too far behind Jason for the first couple rounds, but it was round 3 he just took off. Or, I just crashed. Going into the last round I had broken up my front squats into 3 sets and I was feeling about as close to dead as I could. I heard him drop his bar just a bit before I entered back into the gym and all I could do at that point was finish. Those last reps were torture and I finished in 14:28 (assuming about 2 minutes behind Jason). That was everything I had for that workout. It made me realize the benefits of heavy strength training. Think about it, if 135# is an easy front squat, then a workout like this would be much easier. Same concept for Fran. If you have decent conditioning, but 95# is a slightly tough weight for you, you are going to have a much harder time than if that weight feels like a toothpick. Jason is strong (a 240# strict press if I remember correctly), and that helps him a ton on those weighted metcons. Another weakness revealed on my road to the Games!
Either way, I had an awesome time during my visit with Jason and CrossFit Santa Clara. I intend to get back there a handful of times over the coming months to get to workout with a harder core group of people. It will do nothing but push me and make me stronger. I felt at home there, honestly, and I am excited with the idea of returning and getting after it with Jason and the rest of the guys!
1731 N. 1st St.,
San Jose, CA 95112
So many visits and workouts for the rest of the week! Let’s see if I can get though it all without breaking!
Never Stop, GET FIT.