My first experience with a Crossfit affiliate was at CF Rubicon. I knew about Crossfit (my hubby has been doing it for years), but had no personal experience until I came to this box. That was seven months ago for me. I tried it, was hooked, and have come back nearly every day since :). Rubicon is owned by David “Chef” Wallach — a great guy with a passion for fitness and nutrition.
WOD Schedule and Additional Offerings
Rubicon schedules up to six WODs a day on weekdays, as well as a Saturday WOD and an open gym on Sundays. Additionally, Rubicon offers specific strength training classes, free beginner WOD, and occasional paleo/nutrition challenges.
Rubicon is located in an industrial warehouse just outside of Tysons Corner, close to Rte 7 and the Dulles Toll Road. They recently expanded their space and now boast over 10,000 square feet. The space is not fancy or polished but well-suited for Crossfit. There are bathrooms and a shower on site.
There is ample parking on site. My only negative is that the Tysons Corner area can be a pain the rear to get through at times. Occasional congestion aside, it typically takes me 15 minutes to get there from North Arlington (a little longer in the afternoon/evening hours).
Rubicon uses a scheduling system to ensure classes are not over-enrolled. Class size is typically around 12 members, and the athlete to coach ratio is usually between 6:1 and 12:1. Early morning and evening classes are busiest, while mid-day class sizes tend to be smaller. With the newly expanded space, Rubicon can now accommodate even more athletes per class, but Chef never allows class size to exceed his coaches’ ability to observe and instruct.
Class begins with a series of exercises posted on the white board; athletes progress through the list at their own pace. The warm-up is designed to get you limbered up and get your heart pumping. The format also provides repeated exposure to elements that might need practice (i.e., pull-ups, ring dips, handstand push-ups, etc.).
The warm-up changes every so often to keep things fresh. When I first started, I thought the warm-up was intimidating and exhausting in and of itself. Now I pride myself that I can bang out legit push-ups and even dead-hang pull-ups (tho I’m still working on my double-unders and handstand push-ups).
After 10 minutes of warm-up, it’s time for the strength & skills portion. We usually spend around twenty minutes focusing on a particular lift (e.g. deadlift, clean & jerk, etc.) or other technical skill (e.g. turkish get-ups, kettle bell cleans, etc.). This portion of the class is definitely physically taxing but the emphasis is always on form and proper technique above all else.
WOD / Met Con
After the strength/skills segment, it’s time for the main WOD — Chef often calls this portion “Fortitude”. The specific WOD will vary from day to day and often incorporates the skill we worked on beforehand. The WODs are generally designed to be 20 minutes or less, typically 8-12 minutes long. Rubicon posts their WODs online — you can read through old workouts to get a feel for the programming.
Post WOD / Cool Down
Following the Met Con, Chef usually offers what he calls “Dessert” — some kind of ab/core-focused short exercise. It might be 40 GHDs for time, 30 Toes-2-Bar, or several sets of Good Mornings. It varies, it’s optional and is, like everything else, scalable. Some days the WOD is so grueling no “dessert” is offered, but it’s usually there and it’s nice to have one more shot at tightening up the core.
Additionally, Chef makes a point of reminding athletes to cool down and stretch post WOD. Foam rollers and lacrosse balls are on hand to ensure a good cool down.
Coaching / Instruction
I have always thought the coaching at Rubicon is top-notch, but until recently I didn’t have anything to compare it to. Now that I’ve dabbled at a few other places, I can say with certainty, that the coaching we receive is truly unparalleled.
[Side note/disclosure: my husband IS one of the coaches at Rubicon. But regardless of how awesome I think my hubby is, I trust and respect the entire coaching staff — and nobody is paying me to say that :)].
Chef is not only a stickler for proper form, but he takes time to explain WHY proper form is important. He also makes the connection between the exercises we do and their real life application (ex: pulling a loved one out of harms way). He is fond of saying, “These are skills that will serve you well, whether you are chasing down bad guys or navigating Costco.”
While my form still has a ton of room to improve, I know I have made great strides since starting and feel like I get a little better each time under the coaches’ watchful eyes.
Social / Vibe
I love the community at Rubicon. It’s one of the reasons I pay to workout at a gym, rather than spend time in my [boring] basement with my [talented] hubby. There are a range of athletes in the classes — everyone from fire-breathing twenty-somethings to moms like me who had never done heavy lifting prior to walking into the gym.
Despite our differences, everyone is there to improve themselves and exceed their personal best. Members cheer one another on and celebrate each others’ successes. We are encouraged to introduce ourselves to unfamiliar faces. There is a general sense of community and camaraderie. There are also fun social elements like Friday night cookouts.
When I started, I was intimidated by the “hardcore” people and felt inept in comparison. Now, I see newbies looking at me the way I looked at those crazy hardcore folks. I love to tell them how far I’ve come and how much stronger/faster/better they will be in a short time as well.
My Bottom Line Impression
Obviously, I am a huge fan of Crossfit Rubicon. Since starting, I have lost 30 lbs, dropped 4 sizes (from a 14 to a 6), gained muscle mass, gotten stronger, and overall feel so much better about myself than I ever have. The training and encouragement I’ve received has helped me change my diet and made me feel good about myself.
Rubicon isn’t perfect — for instance I’d love it if they offered childcare, and the bathrooms could be a little nicer, and dang it, if only Chef would post the WODs earlier (!), but the combination of the coaching and the people has made it a perfect match for me. Even though I’ve found serviceable boxes closer to my house, I wouldn’t trade Rubicon for any of them.
Up next: Patriot Crossfit!