Originally Published in the Saratogian: December 11, 2011. Click here to read online. 


SARATOGA SPRINGS — College friends Noah Milstein and Jayson Ball went from workout buddies to business partners in September when they opened Feral CrossFit, a unique strength-training facility.

Although the atypical gym has been flying somewhat under the radar, Milstein and Ball have seen their client base build steadily as more people in the area come to learn and understand what the CrossFit philosophy is all about.

“This is the same training and methodology that the actors did for the movie ‘300,’ ” Milstein said. “The goal is to create people who are maximally fit, so in theory, they should have the capacity to perform any given physical task.”

Founder Greg Glassman opened the first CrossFit gym in 1995. Since then, affiliates have been popping up around the country and the CrossFit regimen has become one of the principal strength and conditioning programs for police agencies, military personnel and professional athletes.

CrossFit gives its franchise gyms flexibility in programming, exercises and class offerings, so it’s rare any two are identical.

Unlike the Albany CrossFit, which owns multiple gyms, including one in Clifton Park, Feral CrossFit in Saratoga Springs is independently owned and operated by Milstein and Ball, certified coaches who pay a fee to use the CrossFit name.

“There’s no guarantee the quality, programming or character will be the same at each gym. There are great CrossFit gyms and there are crappy CrossFit gyms,” Milstein said. “We’re focused here on health, longevity, and we cater to all skill ranges from not being able to do a push-up to trained athletes. You just have to be motivated.”

And you don’t really have a choice but to be motivated when you come to CrossFit.

“You’re not allowed to come in and do your own thing; you’re under our direct coaching


and supervision,” Milstein explained. “We do everything. We want you to work in a way that’s hard for you. It’s all about relative intensity.”

Specifically, CrossFit offers two programs for two basic types of members: the general athlete — someone looking to gain all-around maximum fitness and have fun — and athletes with sport-specific performance and strength goals.

The local CrossFit currently has a group training to become a competitive power-lifting team.

With 3,000 CrossFit-affiliated gyms now established in the country, the program’s popularity has to do with having the supervision of a coach and access to an ever-changing mixture of fitness tools, including power lifting, aerobics, gymnastics and rowing. Milstein and thousands of others have found the variety more exciting and effective than the everyday gym routine.

“I was doing the regular gym thing without any direct coaching or training, which is normative in most gyms,” he said. “It became a chore. I wanted to do something more interesting and it sort of took off from there.”

Milstein and Ball insist that once gym buffs get over the learning curve and understand all of the various exercises and motions, they too will become CrossFit converts.

“Our clients are totally ecstatic about us,” Milstein said. “We haven’t had a lot of visibility, and the people who do know we exist don’t have a concept of how what we do is really different from other gyms and isn’t just a fad fitness thing.”

To get acquainted with the gym and learn the motions, members begin with the $80 “Elements” package, which includes four one-on-one sessions followed by a week of free classes to find out what works for them.

From there, customers can choose monthly memberships for $175; six-month packages at $155 per month; and 12-month memberships at $135 per month. Prices include individual training, unlimited classes and access to the gym outside of class for stretching or other activities.

“Most people like having a prescription and it’s intentionally designed to offer a measurable, scalable prescription based on what people can handle,” Ball said. “Saratoga Springs is a great place for the gym, and the community we’ve got building here is a lot of fun.”


Feral CrossFit is located at 165 High Rock Ave. For more information, rates and schedules, call 774-4880 or visit feralcrossfit.drupalgardens.com.

For more business news, check out reporter Suzanna Lourie’s “In the Biz” blog atinthebizsaratoga.blogspot.com. Lourie can be reached at slourie@saratogian.com.