March 26, 2014
Have Fitness, Will Travel: San Francisco
By Kevin Daigle
The mild climate and beautiful geography means San Franciscans enjoy being active and outdoorsy. A perfect—maybe foggy—storm for CrossFit.
The mild climate and beautiful geography means San Franciscans enjoy being active and outdoorsy. A perfect—maybe foggy—storm for CrossFit.

The mild climate and beautiful geography means San Franciscans enjoy being active and outdoorsy. A perfect—maybe foggy—storm for CrossFit.

Photos by Matt Bischel

San Francisco, Calif., began its rapid growth during the California Gold Rush in the 19th century. The population of the City by the Bay surged again at the end of World War II with many service members returning from the Pacific theater through the Golden Gate.

On Thursday, March 27, the Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco will host the live announcement of 14.5—the final workout of the 2014 Open. Five CrossFit Games champions will be on hand to set the bar for the rest of the world. Rich Froning, Sam Briggs, Annie Thorisdottir, Graham Holmberg and Jason Khalipa take on the challenge handed down by CrossFit Games Director Dave Castro immediately after the announcement.

San Francisco was a key player in the dot-com explosion of the late ’90s and is now home to the ongoing social-media boom. There are lots of smart, forward-thinking people in the Bay Area. The exceptionally mild climate and beautiful geography means these people also enjoy being active and outdoorsy. A perfect—maybe foggy—storm for CrossFit.

Unfortunately, CrossFit didn’t arrive early enough for the Summer of Love in 1967. Otherwise those naked hippies dancing around in the Haight-Ashbury would’ve looked better.

The City by the Bay is packed with things (and people) to eat, see and do. It’s a very, very friendly place.

Boxes to Visit

There are more than 15 affiliates in the immediate area of the Kezar Pavilion. Visit them. Because, fitness. San Francisco CrossFit is legendary for its original, outdoor location in the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, and quirky, bendy founder Kelly Starrett. A descendant of fitness pioneer owns LaLanne Fitness CrossFit. I hope they have a Juice Tiger in there.

A few more gyms to check out:
Flagship CrossFit
CrossFit 415
CrossFit Golden Gate
Arena Ready CrossFit

Places To Eat

For health reasons, don’t eat anything handed to you by naked people who appear to be under the influence of a mind-altering substance. There are countless great places to eat in San Francisco, which are just as densely packed, as its 825,000 residents into an area of roughly 49 square miles. Dining options are as varied as the neighborhoods they’re located in.

Julian Marquez, of CrossFit Games Media, is a San Fran native. He suggests Cha Cha Cha on famous Haight Street for “Sangria! And more sangria, Cuban sandwiches with thick cuts of meat, Cajun shrimp, plantains and jerk chicken,” he said.

“Plant Café is my favorite,” said Andrea Holmes, an athlete at Flagship CrossFit. “Yummy juices and healthy food … also some fresh cocktails.”

Holmes added something that will catch any red-blooded CrossFitter’s attention: “Kitchen Story has millionaire’s bacon, so you should definitely try that out.”

Adrian Bozman, CrossFit Games Head Judge, has tastes in food and culture as varied and broad as his taste in music. He’s also spent a good deal of time no-repping things around San Fran. Here are some suggestions from Boz himself.

Ferry Building: Full of local shops and cuisines,” he said. “It is a foodie paradise. Lots of cool stuff here.”

TCHO New American Chocolate: "Local, independent chocolatiers,” Bozman continued. “(They) offer a cool tour, but even if you're not doing the tour, they have a great coffee/hot chocolate bar and local chocolate samples. Vesuvio Bar: Favorite hangout of the beats ... lots of San Francisco history here and a cool spot for a drink.”

Last but not least, Bozman suggested: “Urban Picnic at the StrEat Food Park. Rotating street (food) truck park. It rules. All kinds of food.”

Here are a few more suggestions:
Rosamund Sausage
Absinthe Restaurant

Things To See

Depending on the day, you could get an eyeful of more than you want to see in San Francisco—those pesky naked hippies still surface from time to time. Remember, what has been seen cannot be un-seen. Here are a few things to fill your eyeballs and other sensory organs that will leave you with pleasant memories instead of needing years of therapy.

The Golden Gate Bridge is unquestionably the most recognizable landmark in San Francisco. Completed in 1935 and spanning 4,200 feet, the bridge is a striking part of the landscape in the northern peninsula. There’s a plethora of things to do at the bridge besides just see the bridge. You can run across it, explore historic Fort Point, check out the Presidio and view the bridge from many different places, all with breathtaking landscapes. Biking or hiking to the top of Hawk Hill is a formidable challenge, and rewards you with one of the best views of the city.

The famous Haight-Ashbury District was the site of the Summer of Love. There is a lot to see here with rich history of the counterculture movement, shops and people watching.

Besides the Golden Gate, no other historical landmark says San Francisco like The Rock—Alcatraz Island—perhaps the most famous and infamous prison in history. A small, rocky island in the middle of the frigid waters of the bay, the prison was inhabited by the likes of Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and The Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Franklin Stroud.

CrossFitters: Although no one ever officially escaped from Alcatraz, please don’t take that as a challenge. There are tours of the island available through the National Parks Service.

The cable cars have run up and down the hills in San Francisco since 1873, and have been a symbol of the city ever since.

“I recommend going to the Ferry Building, and then hopping on the cable car right there on Market Street,” Holmes said. “You can get off at California and Hyde, and walk up the street toward Lombard and get the amazing view from there. Then continue down Hyde Street and you’ll be right in the heart of Pier 39.”

More Stuff to Check Out:
The Castro
Lombard Street
California Academy of Science
Buena Vista Pub: “First pub to offer the famed Irish coffee in the United States,” Bozman said.
Sightglass Coffee
Amoeba Records

Rice-A-Roni may have snagged the tagline, “The San Francisco treat.” The real treat, though, is the amazing breadth of character, diversity of culture and cornucopia of food and activities the city has to offer. After the dust settles on Open Workout 14.5, see the sights, get fit and get fed.