After receiving more nominations than any other box this year, November's Box of the Month is CrossFit Napalm - based in Stoke-on-Trent. Here's what their head coach, Mark Williams, had to say...
What's the story behind CrossFit Napalm? Why did you open the box?
We opened September 13th 2013, so we’ve not long had our 2nd anniversary - we celebrated with a throwdown with CrossFit Nottingham and an epic box after-party!
I’d been working as a personal trainer for a few years, out of a big circuit training facility that had started to try and implement things like Oly lifting and rings into the classes. The 2012 CrossFit Games had just been on, so I started playing around with WODs on my own and with a few mates.
After the buzz from the Games, the place I was working at started talking about running CrossFit classes from their facility, so I booked myself on the L1 course to make sure I could be involved. By the end of the first day, I had fallen in love with the methodology, the application and - as cheesy as it sounds - the community.
Almost immediately after the course, my employer decided they wouldn’t be able to turn the same profits - as they were running hugely successful and jam-packed circuit training classes, so decided against affiliating.
I was gutted, because I had my heart set on teaching CrossFit so, 18 months later - after A LOT of planning and psyching myself up - I sold my house and opened the box!
What makes the box so special today?
Our members. From day one, they’ve been amazing. Our first members were 20 or so of my mates (and PT clients) who gave up their entire weekend to gut the unit, paint it and stay up till midnight - laying flooring and putting the rig up. We only got the keys 3 days before we were due to open!
In addition to that incredible core, we’ve been very fortunate that the people who have joined us since have all added to the community we have - I got married last year and 90% of our guests were members, many of whom we didn’t know until we opened!
Also, Napalm is special to me because it's my hobby and my passion - and I get to be involved with it every single day. Having worked many jobs that were just jobs, I appreciate how special that is.
Top box with great coaches and a great community of people. I have learnt so much since joining and my improvements have been massive. Would not have been able to do it without the support of the great community of people at crossfit napalm that push you to bigger and better things.
- Alex Garner, CrossFit Napalm Member
What have been the biggest highlights since you opened?
So many! The buzzing atmosphere during our Friday night CrossFit Games Open workouts are an annual highlight. We try and encourage everyone to have a crack at it, so this year we had around 80 members take part, and the atmosphere was insane!
Personally, sitting around in a massive camp-fire circle with the 20 or so Napalmers who went to Wild West this year - to compete or support their mates - was a bit of a moment for me.
Sitting there, watching everyone laughing, giving and receiving massive amounts of banter and knowing that most of these guys (who are now great friends) didn’t know each other before they wandered into the box was a highlight for me.
What's your coaching philosophy?
Always be happy with your progress, but never be satisfied!
We have test weeks, every 12 weeks, where we hit benchmarks and lifts. This is great for everyone to be able to quantify the improvements they have made, and its always got a great vibe.
It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, or whether your have competitive ambitions or not: you come to the box to have fun and improve - progress is addictive!
This extends to our coaching staff - I personally make sure I attend at least one CrossFit certification, or related course, every quarter. None of our coaches just have the standard L1 qualification - they are always encouraged and helped to go and do more.
What are your members like?
Mental. The enthusiasm they show in daily classes, during the Open, at any competitions they attend (whether as competitors or as supporters) borders on the manic! I’m very lucky that when I opened, this particular group of nutters decided to turn up, and it seems to infect others who join!
What happens in a typical day at CrossFit Napalm?
We start at 6.15am with the first class and have 5 more throughout the day and evening. Whenever there are no classes, our members can come and use Open Gym.
In a typical class, we get warmed-up - and often incorporate some basic skill-work into that warm-up - before hitting either a technical or strength piece. Then our met-con is pretty classic for the most part: couplets, triplets, constantly varied, functional and high intensity is the order of the day.
We also run a SWEATNapalm class a couple times a week, which is basically a mash-up of multiple WODs or a nasty-ass chipper.
From being a coach potato, since starting CrossFit napalm I am absolutely hooked - going 4-5 evenings a week. Mark, Marie, Joe and Carl create a community box that is just awesome.. The members are focused, fun, banter-fuelled and encouraging. It's a great place to spend your spare time.
- Kathy Stubbs, CrossFit Napalm Member
What does the future hold for you guys?
In the next 12 months we’ll either move to a bigger location or extend the one we currently have so we can offer more services to our members.
Recently, Joe Cowen came on board fully at Napalm, and together we plan to continue to develop all aspects of Napalm, to make sure we continue to provide the best facilities and coaching in the area.
And, if we can sneak a team into Regionals in the next 2 years, that would be great :D
Do you train at CrossFit Napalm? Let us know what you think of the box in the comments!