Apart from visiting the popular tourist attractions in Kyoto such as the Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu Temple, I’ve made my way outside the tourist the loop to workout at Crossfit Kyoto, which is owned by Russell Trott.
The first thing I noticed about CF Kyoto was that it was not located in an industrial park on the outskirts of a city like most CF affiliates. Instead the affiliate is located close to the center of Kyoto as a garage type gym converted from a bamboo stock room.
Like all garage gyms, I find them unique and inviting because they all manage to exhibit a bit of creativity by making the most use of their space. At least for me, the basis for this feeling was that fact that I started Crossfit at a garage gym that grew out of its space. I find that CF Kyoto is no exception to this creativity and inviting characteristic.
In one half of the box lays an interlocking faux tatami flooring (Japanese straw flooring) where warm-ups and demonstrations of the movements are performed without shoes.
Tatami is often found in Japanese homes and traditional Japanese hotels called Ryokens. If you’re ever in Japan, try staying at one of these Ryokens to get a sense what real tatami looks like.
The other half of the gym where shoes are worn boasts a lifting area with a well-rounded selection of weights typically compared to what’s found in most CF affiliates. Russell explained his future idea for a pull bar system spanning across half of his gym to replace his one-man pull-up bar.
The mirrors around the walls do create an illusion that makes this box more “open.” You normally don’t find mirrors in a CF box, but it does provide a view of your movements to self correct yourself, which is something I kind of liked.
Lying in the mix of weights in the lifting area of the box are Indian Throwing Clubs. These are basically weighted clubs to develop strength in the fore arms and shoulders. My workouts didn’t involve any WOD’s with this specific equipment, although I would have liked to try them out. Perhaps next time Russell can throw together a WOD with these clubs.
I loved how Russell incorporated a gymnastic centric approach in the warm-ups with hollow rocks, L-sit, and hand stands emphasizing the importance of balance and core. For one of the warm-ups I practiced L-sits to handstands. It sounded much harder than it sounds, but with the assistance of Russell’s enthusiastic coaching, I completed a few while maintaining form or at least trying to maintain form.
The WOD’s during my visits involved running 400 meters, which was done in the streets of Kyoto with locals going about their daily lives. Although I mentioned Russell’s box is in the middle of Kyoto, I can assure you that you won’t be negotiating through busy traffic and stop lights, but rather light pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
When I was completely gassed and not thinking much more of the movements at hand to complete my WOD, I forgot all that goes on including that fact that I’m in Japan. But running the 400 meters in the streets amongst locals riding their bicycles or going for an early evening stroll, I was quickly reminded that I’m in Japan.
I guess it’s the familiarity of movements puts my senses at home (in addition to the state of being completely gassed).
The first thing I did before visiting this CF affiliate as I do with any other affiliate is to inform them that I’m dropping.
I was especially glad I did so because it’s difficult to find even with well-marked directions.
So, to make matters easy for a first time visitor, Russell was kind enough to meet me at the subway stop so that we can walk over to his box together. Otherwise, I probably would have a hard time finding his box and would probably be still be looking for it instead of writing this post.
Even with Russell, walking me over to his affiliate, I still managed to get lost on my second visit.
If you ever find you’re self in Kyoto, stop by Crossfit Kyoto to get a sense of what a garage type gym in Japan feels like and a chance to meet Russell’s enthusiastic coaching persona.
The convenience of his box being located with a few minutes walk from the Imadegawa stop gives you no reason to drop in.
Lastly, as of this post, I was honored to be his second visitor. Will you be the third visitor?
Russell mentioned that one of the best bathhouses in Kyoto is located minutes away from his box. So if you plan things right you can have a unique way to recover after a workout. I personally didn’t have a chance to visit this bathhouse, but have visited bathhouses in South Korea and would definitely recommend it for the experience.