Pablo of CrossFit Eixample talks about culture and CrossFit in Spain

This is Peter from Fringe Sport and I'm here with Pablo, a coach at CrossFit Eixample. Am I pronouncing that correctly?

Pablo: Eixample. CrossFit Eixample.

Is that Catalan or what is that?

Pablo: Yeah it's Catalan, it's the name of the district we're on.

Awesome, I love it. So I'm here in Barcelona on a little bit of a holiday, working holiday and I dropped in at a couple of boxes here, but CrossFit Eixample, Eixample is that better?

Pablo: Very good.

What is absolutely my favorite, and Pablo's one of the coaches who's coached a lot of classes that we've had and I really enjoyed the coaching. Was talking with him a little bit after class and he has a really interesting story. Pablo first of all I don't even know your last name, what's your last name, man?

Pablo: Reyes

It's kind of funny I had taken some Instagram pictures of Pablo, I don't know somebody was like, oh is he an American coach? I was like, no way, he's not an American coach, but honestly in my ignorance I was like no, no, he's definitely Spanish. But then I talk with you and you're actually from Mexico.

Pablo: Yeah, that's right.

Where you from in Mexico?

Pablo: Monterrey, North of Mexico, from the north.

What brings you to Barcelona?

Pablo: Same old boring story. I met a girl in Mexico and I just followed my heart.

I love it, I love it. We were talking, you know so I'm from Austin Texas, if people didn't know. You've also spent a good bit of time in Austin right?

Pablo: Yeah, my brother lives there so I go every year to visit and I'll just stay for maybe a month, couple of months.

Where do you train when you're in Austin?

Pablo: Well when I go to Austin, Austin Bouldering Project, but before that I used to train CrossFit Central.

I love it. Do you know any coaches from CrossFit Central? Actually I know a lot of them over there.

Pablo: No, it's been a while sorry man.

No worries man, I'll introduce you next time you come to town.

Pablo: Perfect.

After one of these classes I was talking with Pablo and he was talking about being a trainer in Barcelona, being a trainer here at the Box, and just how it's a really great life. Like a good quality of living, gets to travel a lot, I thought that was really interesting. Pablo tell us a little bit about that.

Pablo: I started Cross fitting because well I'm a rugby player by heart. I started doing Crossfit to help me get better at my sport, and after a couple of injuries I had to stop playing rugby, but I fell in love with the Crossfit methodology, and the training. Just the feeling all around it, so I was working as a marketing analyst actually, and I was like I don't want to do this. I want to keep doing sport, so I opened CrossFit Eixample.

Sorry, you're the owner?

Pablo: Yeah.

I didn't even realize it when we were talking, I thought you were a coach. Oh wow that's great man. From nationality, you're Mexican.

Pablo: Yeah.

Are you able to share with us what it's like for a non Spaniard to come to Spain, come to Barcelona and open a box here?

Pablo: At the beginning its super hard because they have a lot of different things they require, and they ask for you before you can open. Especially since we're downtown Barcelona, and they ask you to have a lot of things in the building because they want to keep the ... How do you call it? Facade of the building, so you need to fix that before opening, before doing anything. It was kind of weird because there was a lot of things we had to do and fix that wasn't related to the box itself, so that was a bit of a hassle.

But then, then I mean it's good. People are very relaxed, with sometimes it's a problem. Starting the work and the construction and everything, if you're near summer then everything stops because they want to enjoy life, I get it. But when you're in a hurry and you have a deadline it sometimes can be a headache.

What about, I guess, like bureaucracy wise and you're not a Spanish citizen is that correct?

Pablo: Correct.

As a foreigner opening a business in Spain, what does that look like?

Pablo: Well it's not hard, I mean if you live here and you're a resident here, it's not hard. What they want is for you to pay your taxes to be here, so since I was living here. I was living here for three years before I decided to open this, then it was good, it was okay. I just bid an LLC and hired myself, basically. It was not that difficult, I mean as long as you prove everything's going to be invested here and the money invested here comes from Spain and the taxes are going to stay here then it's easy.

I love it, I love to hear that. When I've been working out here maybe I've come to four or five sessions at this point. It seems like there are fewer foreigners, maybe, than I would expect. I don't know it seems to me just from my somewhat ignorant point of view that it's at least 50, 60, 70% Spanish people who are working out here, and then maybe the remainder is foreigners. Do you think that, that's correct or am I off?

Pablo: No, well it's more like 50, 50 to be honest. Depending on the class but there's more people from outside of Spain. There's a lot of Latin people, a big Latin community and the reason being is that CrossFit is relatively new in Spain, especially in Barcelona since you have football, and you have MARCA. People rather play sports and play football than do something else, so people come from outside of Spain they already know CrossFit and they like it, so they just enroll.

Awesome, this is a very urban area. Like you mentioned we're in downtown Barcelona so I'm actually staying near the Arc de Triumph, I ran here this morning in four minutes, so I'm just like right around the corner. Are there some unique challenges to being in such an urban environment, compared to say Austin, which is more, even as a city is a little suburban?

Pablo: Yeah, the biggest challenge is to find a big enough space. The buildings are not that big, and just the places and the shops are rather small, because I mean everything's so crowded. The growth of the cities is vertical instead of horizontal, as opposed to let's say Austin like you have big houses, big buildings, big shops because you have a lot of space. Here in Europe everything's more tied together than other places. That was the big challenge to find a space that kind of meets the requirements for our Crossfit Box.

The space that we're in right now, you said you opened CrossFit Eixample, am I doing that right?

Pablo: No, it's correct Eixample.

Three years ago you opened the Box?

Pablo: Yeah, 2014.

Was it in this space three years ago?

Pablo: It was here yeah.

Okay, awesome.

Pablo: At the beginning I was training some of my colleagues and team players from my rugby team, I was coaching them in my house or in the park. Then when I started CrossFit Eixample I already had kind of a small group of people, and now I trained them for the pre season, and the off season. Yeah, so it started in my house and in the park.

I love it man. What position did you play in rugby?

Pablo: I was number two, which in the States it's called a hooker.

All right, so actually I played prop way back in the day. But you say you don't play anymore right?

Pablo: No, I don't play anymore I fractured my right shoulder and I dislocated my left shoulder, so I had to stop.

Being a hooker is a dangerous occupation.

Pablo: Oh yeah.

Well that's about what I've got man. I dropped in and just to let anybody know whose coming to Barcelona, I did try a few other Boxes in Barcelona. Actually even at the start of this recording I didn't realize that Pablo was the owner of Crossfit Eixample, which was just awesome and I just loved it. They offer a few different options in terms of month to month membership.

Pablo: Exactly.

What I ended up doing was a punch card essentially, and I've just been slowly working my way through that punch card. Pablo if people want to find out more, what's the best place to go to? Your website?

Pablo: Yeah, the best place actually either the website,, Facebook or Instagram, @CrossFitEixample we're very active there and we show ... Instead of showing the WODs like a lot of the boxers do, we show the community, which is kind of like one of the pillars we were based on. Instagram, Facebook and just come here.

Two things that I almost forget about. I think (1) is I did start out here as a "just drop in" and they were very open and welcoming for me to drop in. Although some classes do fill so if you're coming to Barcelona, thinking about dropping in make sure to come by either ahead of time or something like that, so you make sure the class is not booked up. (2) you were mentioning to me, which I even mentioned at the start of this interview was how easy and cheap it is to travel around Europe once you're here. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Pablo: Yeah, since I said before about Europe everything's so crowded and just packed together, it's very easy to fly to other countries. If you're not very picky about the date or where you want to go, you can fly for as cheap as 20 euro's. Like I was telling you, I'm going to Paris next week and it was only for 50 euro's round trip, Friday to Monday.

That's crazy.

Pablo: Yeah. That's a good thing, where it's only like an hour, which is like if you do that in Texas you're only on the other side of Texas. Yeah, that's what's good about Europe. Also, people are very relaxed here, especially in Spain, like we were talking about. It's more for lifestyle and people just want to enjoy life, so that's why we here, we try to make it fun for everyone so they feel welcome.

Awesome, and I wanted to ... I'm trying to remember if you were here, were you here I came by with that girl from Austin?

Pablo: No, it was Mickey.

Oh yeah, yeah, it was Mickey I remember now. Not CrossFit Eixample.

Pablo: Eixample.

I'm sorry I'm just having a hard time with it.

Pablo: It's okay, it's okay.

Not only do they offer WODs, I think you have an Oly class as well right?

Pablo: Yeah.

Also, they have some open gym times, so we came by and we did a little Atomic Athlete workout, or a GRID training workout from Austin during that open gym time, and really had a great time. Hey, this has been awesome, thanks Pablo you're the best man.

Pablo: Thank you man, yeah, I've really enjoyed having you here, and everyone that's listening you're always welcome to join us.

Love it.

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