CrossFit Mokotów will wear you out; prepare to stretch in ways you never thought possible. Seriously.
I had the good fortune to take my first workout in Warsaw, Poland at CrossFit Mokotów. In the several weeks since I visited this gym, I still haven’t quite figured out how to actually say Mokotów(Polish pronunciation: [mɔˈkɔtuf]) but what I can pronounce is “awesome”. This is a great facility, with a pair of large floor areas and even a small annex dedicated to Olympic lifting. And there is this mad scientist of mobility there to; by the name of Michal Surdej.
Poland is an interesting country; one that I have enjoyed traveling to thoroughly. Warsaw supports a very diverse population from across Eastern Europe. My first week in Warsaw I was invited out for dinner to a restaurant specializing in Balkan cuisine. Didn’t even know there was such as a thing as Balkan cuisine; but I can tell you that you get a lamb cutlet pounded flat to the size of a hub cap. A truck hub cap. Good eats – but not quite the topic at hand.
The facility has a strong Reebok affiliation; which explains the enormous posters of Rich Froning and Annie Thorisdottir in the greeting area (probably the closest I’ll ever actually get to Rich Froning – but I did meet the original Rich Froning once – different story for a different day).
The locker rooms are globo-gym worthy, which I find to be a rare amenity in most of the CrossFit boxes that I visit. The primary gym floor is rubber matted and had a very large rig on the far end leaving a healthy wide open area for movement. I find something to be pretty amazing about the Polish people. A high degree of national “do it yourself” pride. Rather than a big Rogue set up, Crossfit Mokotow worked with a Polish company called SteelStorm to build their rig and it is a beast. 3×3 and 3×4 support posts and a lot of room to lift, pull and swing.
Another unique characteristic of equipment I’ve found, particularly in Eastern European boxes is the flooring material. Think 40 grit sandpaper. If you are used to the trusted and true “Made in Canada” horse stall mats that dominate US gyms – these aren’t anything like them. You will grind of some flesh on these mats; but consider it your genetic contribution to the gym. It did help me to heed Michal’s advice on 45lb overhead lunges “pop up, don’t stay down in the lunge” – a technique I quickly adopted to save myself from blood loss.
Regrettably I didn’t record the WOD; I remember box jumps, plate lunges and running around the gym. Common to almost every WOD, I remember embracing the suck. So it was good programming. What I definitely remember was the pre-workout and post-workout stretching. I thought Michal was going to kill me; that I would literally snap in half like a sad, brittle little starfish. I’ve found this interest in stretching and very unique calisthenics to be common in Warsaw boxes and I wouldn’t be surprised if I experience it in future stops at other gyms in Poland, Romania, Hungry and Croatia. Frankly, I was skeptical the first 10 minutes of what felt like floor gymnastics until I started to lift. Then I realized – this stuff works!
What I found even more impressive was that Michal rattled off the official names for these stretches; always doing me the courtesy of asking if I was familiar with them. I wasn’t. The closest I came was a series of stretches I had done before without knowing the official name; The Ultimate Stretch. I wish it was a cool pro-wrestling move. It wasn’t, but it is a great stretching routine; particularly for lower body. We did a pirifomis foam roller stretch. And we did this stretch that I simply cannot describe; lay on back, right leg over left with arms flat on ground in a flag type position, raise left leg over right and grab toe and pull leg towards body, roll shoulders….see, told you I couldn’t describe it. I use it every day I’m in the gym now. It makes people stare. It works.
Couple of things I would recommend if you plan to visit this gym. First, it is a little bit buried between some high-rise buildings. Your cab driver might, at best, get you within the vicinity. So you’ll need to hunt a bit. Second, if you read my “lost in Warsaw” post you’ll already know. If you aren’t driving, make arrangements with your hotel concierge to have a cab take you there AND pick you up. Otherwise you will get your cardio in along with your strength and WOD sessions.
And the last thing I’d recommend is, come prepared to stretch and work. Two things that I personally seek in my CrossFit Hobo journeys are great coaching and great community. CrossFit Mokotow has both but the coaching is exceptional.
- Great facilities
- Fantastic coaching; you will be challenged
- A box worth your effort to get to, find and sweat in
- You’ll need to hunt for the location when you get on the block