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The Parking Lot WOD: A Growing Trend at Affiliates Around the World

May 14, 2020 by

While the majority of affiliates are still closed, many have started taking advantage of the ability to host outdoor group workouts in areas that are permitting them to do so.

A quick reach out to the affiliate community led us to quickly track down 35-plus affiliates who have been offering — or are about to begin offering — group classes in parking lots or public parks.

Hailing from all over: We found gyms all over the United States, from Virginia — where the law states you can train a group of up to 10 people outdoors — to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas who are offering outdoor classes to their members, as well as two gyms in Hamburg, Germany and one in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Almost all of them reported that outdoor group classes are a great option for their clients right now, many saying they’re helping ease their clients’ apprehension about getting back to the gym.

In Alabama: Candace Rape hosted curbside workouts all of last week for her CrossFit Trussville community. She used them as a soft opening in preparation for opening up her indoor space this week, she explained. The outdoor classes “filled up every single day,” she said.

In Illinois: Andres Schwartz has also had a positive experience running workouts for his CrossFit FTX community outside in a public place in Wheaton.

  • “Police have come by and broken up teens gathering in the park, but they have just smiled and waved at us. We’ve had no problems or issues from anyone,” he said.

In Ohio: Patrick Heringer is another whose members have been enjoying their group classes of no more than 9 people in several parks in their neighborhood.

  • “Folks love the workouts, but more so just getting out and seeing people. We plan to continue offsite workouts even when we get back indoors,” said Heringer, the owner of CrossFit 513 United in Cincinnati.

A warning to affiliates: One affiliate owner, however, shared a story about a friend who received a $1,000 fine in the Houston, TX area for hosting an outdoor workout with just four clients.

Fairmont CrossFit gym owner Andy Sodersten, who has been successfully hosting outdoor workouts to his community in Fairmont, MN, offered this advice to any owners looking to begin outdoor workouts: “If you are considering outdoor workouts, just ask your local government. They want you open and are willing to work with you to make it happen,” he said.

He did this and hasn’t had any issues, he explained.

  • “(My) members are very inline with all of the new protocols, as they know this is what it is going to take to be open. The mayor stopped by to see how it is going, and she was very impressed and thankful we went through the right channels to re-open,” he said.

Choosing not to hop on the parking lot WOD wagon: Though dozens of gym owners are making use of their ability to run workouts outdoors, Mike Warkentin of CrossFit 204 in Winnipeg has chosen not to offer outdoor classes even though his city is now allowing it.

  • “We’re not holding outdoor classes because we believe we can offer a better service online right now. Weather concerns, government-dictated class capacity limitations and a lack of bathroom access make heading outside less than ideal. Members would also be required to bring their own equipment,” Warkentin said.

Instead, Warkentin is continuing to send customized workouts to each of his clients on a daily basis and is continuing to offer Zoom workouts, so his clients can train at home with their own gear and the equipment they borrowed from his gym.

  • “This plan makes the best use of their equipment and allows them to keep training when many have increased child-care responsibilities and work stress,” he said.

Overall, the sense in his community is that people just aren’t ready to rejoin a group.

  • “We know some members aren’t ready to get into a group at this point, and some in the general public just aren’t ready to see group fitness yet either,” he said.


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