Inside The Strong Room – Home of CrossFit Chadstone

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As one of the elite facilities in Australia, there is no doubt The Strong Room, home of CrossFit Chadstone is the product of a significant amount of work and sweat. The WOD Life caught up with Murray Ballenden to learn more about this premier facility, it’s coaches, community, programing and goals for 2014.

Can you tell us more about the Strong Room and CrossFit Chadstone?

THE STRONG ROOM is a dream come true. It’s a space to call our own. It’s a vehicle through which we get to share our philosophies on training, nutrition, and health, and how to bring it all together to make to most from our programs. It’s a state of the art facility that allows us to emphasize our fondness for Olympic Lifting. Importantly, THE STRONG ROOM is home to CrossFit Chadstone, the lifeblood of our facility, our passion, and purpose for existing.

Where are you located?

We are located at 14 Dalgety St, Oakleigh. Amusingly, like all the other businesses around us, we’ve chosen to adopt the name from one of Australia’s shopping mecca’s, Chadstone Shopping Center. Being so close to such a sort after destination, so close to two major arterial routes, we can’t complain!

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As soon as you walk in, you get the feeling that this is an elite facility. How long was this in the works for?

THE STRONG ROOM has been in planning for a little over a year. Not that long when you think about it but it felt like an eternity! Sometimes we have to step back and let ourselves take it all in. When setting up a box, your gymnastics needs to be better than it does for a WOD. The amount of red tape and hoops we needed to clear has made it all the more rewarding. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Setting up THE STRONG ROOM has been a mission, but it’s worth every second when we see the look on peoples faces when they walk through the door. Jaws drop!

 How long have you been open?

We’ve been running CrossFit and Olympic Lifting classes now for eight weeks, and are in to our ninth. We have a fantastic bunch of foundation members, who from a culture perspective, we couldn’t be happier with. Eager to learn, a desire to do things right, taking it at their own pace, and making sure they put in the best effort they can each time they walk through the door. More like you guys please!

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You mentioned this has been a dream come true for you. Can you give us some light as to why you wanted to open this facility?

Our reason for opening is no different to anyone else who has started a business based on a passion. You want to share it with others and hope to affect them in a way that makes them feel more alive, like they have more to give, aspire to, and be. CrossFit is an inspirational paradigm that allows all of this and more.

How about your name ‘The Strong Room’?

In terms of our name, would it disappoint you to hear we just thought it sounded good? J Honestly though, all of us here love the strength arts, and wanted an emphasis on this within our CrossFit program and extra classes from the outset. We hope to make a point of difference with that. The name portrays that desire.

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How about a run down of the people behind The Strong Room and CrossFit Chadstone. Who are the owners, coaches and people involved? Can you give a quick run down of their background, skills and experience?

Pete and I (Murray) are the two owners, and Lester is our handsome Olympic Lifting Coach. Our skills and personalities are very complimentary and well suited here. We’re also lucky to have such similar thought processes and approaches to training, and are all comfortable with our roles. Pete is definitely the visionary behind the place and without his organizational skills and tireless research we’d be The Mediocre Room for sure. He also has a great eye for correct movement and is great at picking up flaws in technique. Always impressed with how he gives the young guys a run for their money in WOD’S!

My own background is Martial Arts based, mostly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu where I was heavily involved in coaching and competing for a decade. I’ve run my own PT business for a decade and spent the last few years as the S&C Coach at Dominance Mixed Martial Arts. I enjoy identifying the true cause behind people’s inability to move well, approaching things holistically, and giving lasting solutions. Close enough isn’t good enough, I want our members to nail it!

Lester is a ninja. His PhD is on the Snatch, it goes without saying he lives and breathes Weightlifting. But he’s not just a geek J he’s a geek who lifts, does it very well, and passes on instruction beautifully. We couldn’t be happier to have him on board. For a more detailed profile of our coaches, please visit our site.

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What classes and sessions do you offer? E.g. Fundamentals, Mobility, WOD, Olympic Lifting etc.

Right now we offer a relatively full timetable of CrossFit classes and Olympic Lifting classes. Whilst these will be our mainstay, as we expand we aim to include kid’s, Yoga, and strength classes where Powerlifting, Strongman lifts, and Gymnastics strength movements will be taught. We also plan to host regular specialist sessions where experts, from our already developed network, will be brought in to enlighten us on all things health and well-being related. Being a new box, it’s just a matter of time, but this’ll give you an idea of where we’re heading.

Can you give us a feel for the programming and focus?

Our two main programs, CrossFit and Olympic lifting, are run independently, but in a complimentary fashion. Focus in both areas in on technique. Form is paramount.

Our Manifesto, which can be found on our site, will give you all a great idea of what we stand for and how we approach training. That being said, the core belief that drives all programs is that technical efficiency and perfect practice will get you results. So the belief that drives the CrossFit is a mirror of the Olympic Lifting philosophy and vice versa . People often talk about creating mobility, stability and then strength, but don’t deliver. We believe in strength as a foundation. To build proper strength in the movements required in CrossFit and Olympic Lifting, mobility, and stability are a must, yet we continue to come across experienced athletes moving to our box who’ve never had their issues addressed. With the number of PR’s that have been set here by various people already, it’s obviously working!

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How about an example of a WOD and an Olympic Weightlifting Session?

As an example, a recent WOD went like this:

  • Skill: Sot’s Press
  • Strength: Back Squat 1×5/5×5
  • Supplementary: BSQ 4×8/s otmem
  • WOD: HSP, T2B 10-1 for time.

Coaches Call: This section is often left intentionally blank, so that coaches can pick on issues that were highlighted during the WOD – Were there control (stability) issues? Were there force generation related issues? Once identified, if time permits, exercises will be picked based on findings. This ensures people’s weaknesses are regularly assessed and developed.

With shorter WODs like the above, we often involve a second, though this gives a good idea of general structure.

Today for Olympic Lifting we did the following:

  • Work up to a heavy Snatch (what ever you’re able to reach with good form)
  • Then drop set of 8 singles at 85%
  • The same for Clean and Jerk, but only 6 singles for the drop set.
  • Back Squat1x5/3×5

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The great thing about CrossFit is that every box and training facility is different. What sets The Strong Room and CrossFit Chadstone apart from other facilities?

None of the following may necessarily be differences, they are just points of focus that we have and that drive our actions.

A few people surprisingly haven’t actually taken kindly to us prefacing CrossFit Chadstone, with, THE STRONG ROOM. Possibly they see it as a distancing effort. They couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s merely an effort to express our core values and intention. If you leave us stronger in body, mind, and spirit, we succeeded! You reading this all know CrossFit is a superb way to achieve this! As we said at the beginning of the interview, CrossFit is an inspirational paradigm. It’s a vehicle for change, and development, and the one we’re passionate about utilizing to its full effect.

One of our main points of focus, is our skill in not just teaching you how to move based on your current abilities, but in identifying why you can’t move the way you should be able to. And more to the point, giving you valid and effective solutions to take care of it. Our members are visibly better off because of this approach.

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Culture is hugely important to us, and again is driven by Our Manifesto. At least 50% of our members have never tried CrossFit before, some have never exercised! This is nice in a way because we get to set the culture early on with very impressionable people. Helping us with this are the amazing attitudes of the experienced athletes who’ve joined our ranks. We’ve been very lucky, they’re helping mould our new members and setting the tone for other experienced athletes who join in too.

Importantly, the purpose of our trial sessions is not a one sided affair. It’s not solely so potential members can try out THE STRONG ROOM and decide if they like what they see, hear, and are offered. It is also gives us a chance to do the same with you. We need to be as sure as you do, that you’ll benefit from our coaching and what we offer as a package. We only want the best for you, if we don’t think we can help you with that, we’d rather suggest another team better suited.

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What are your plans for the future? Next 6 months, 12 months?

As a way to continue the type of recruitment we mentioned above, we plan on holding some Bootcamps for the locals, and any beginner who’d like to try CrossFit, and we aim to have a weekly trial session suitable for and aimed at beginners, but open to all levels. As we said before, this is important, because it gives athletes the chance to decide whether they will fit in at THE STRONG ROOM and whether they like what we offer, and it gives us a chance to make the same decision too.

Obviously we can’t wait for our grand opening, or likewise, to begin holding competitions where the greater community can come and christen our equipment and hopefully enjoy our space! J We, like most boxes plan on developing a competition team. This is one of the best ways in our eyes to further the sport of CrossFit and give back to the community as a whole.

At the end of the day, there is no rush. These early stages are allowing us to iron out many kinks, so we are thankful for that, and want to take it one step at a time.

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Where can people get in contact with you if they want to learn more about The Strong Room, CrossFit Chadstone come and check out the facilities, hit a drop in WOD or sign up for fundamentals?

The easiest way to contact us is through our site:

www.thestrongroom.com.au

All and any information you’d like is on there. Otherwise you can check out our FaceBook page: www.facebook.com/CrossfitChadstone

We advertise all our seminars and free trial session dates on FaceBook, so keep an eye out or drop us an email. We’d love to have you come and test drive THE STRONG ROOM!

…If you would like YOUR box featured, drop us a line at info@thewodlife.com.au