In the past few years, CrossFit has exploded on the scene and has become a household name in fitness. Whether you love it or hate it, CrossFit’s presence in the market is here to stay. From the middle-aged stay-at-home mother to the hardened professional athlete, more and more women are starting to incorporate CrossFit into their training for individual sports and overall fitness.
However, not all CrossFit gyms (known as boxes) are created equal. So before jumping into a membership, here are some steps to follow.
Step 1 – Location
When moving to a new area or thinking about joining the CrossFit community, the first thing to do is find boxes in your area. Once you have located the boxes, ask friends, coworkers or others in the community about their experiences at certain boxes. Word of mouth is the best advertising and can give you insight into a boxes’ programming. Another resource is searching coaches and owners in the CrossFit Journal.
Step 2 – Visit
Before diving into a membership, give the boxes in your area a call. If they do not pick up or do not return your phone call in less than 24 hours, that should be a red flag. Set up a time to visit potential locations. A visit allows you to check out the facility, see what the class sizes are, and start to get a feel for each location’s culture. Do the coaches seem to know everyone’s names and are they actively engaged during a workout? Each box will have its own feel and flavor; CrossFit Boxes are not like large chain gyms— each one has its own feeling.
Step 3 – Ask Questions
• Do they have an intro program often called on-ramp or foundations? How long is the intro program? If they do not have a mandatory introduction program, skip that box. Boxes with introductory programs show a real focus on form and technique. If a box does not have an introductory program, keep searching.
• What was the background or education of the coaches prior to their Level 1 certification? What is the owner’s background? Do they require continuing education for coaches? Most coaches and owners are more than happy to tell you their experience. This gives you an opportunity to get to know their background and who they are prior to even going to a class.
• What are their pricing policies? What else is included in the membership? Do they have open gym time? Do they offer nutritional coaching as well? CrossFit can be expensive compared to typical gym memberships. Oftentimes boxes offer several membership types based on your needs.
• What does their programming look like? Ask how they do modifications to WODs (Workout of the Day). Most boxes put their programming online for all to see. Check out their programming prior to joining. Ute CrossFit— where I train— has four versions of every workout and additional modifications from there if needed.
• What is the average class size? Are the trainers engaged with all the athletes while training? Owners and trainers should be able to tell you the average class size for a given time of day. If the class sizes are more than 15-20 people at a time, that’s a red flag.
Step 4 – Try it out
Most boxes will let you try out their classes or at least an intro class. It’s important to feel comfortable with the coaches and the programming. When you’re starting out, coaches should be very involved in making sure movements are performed properly and that you are adjusting weight to your capabilities. If a coach is not willing to modify workouts for members, it might be time to move on. Ultimately, you are paying for the membership and should feel comfortable and happy with the coaches. Each coach will have his or her own style and finding the style that fits you is the most important thing.
Step 5 – Make the Commitment
The final step is making the commitment and joining the box of your choice. The important thing to remember once you are there and in the classes are that you are there for you! It’s easy to get dragged into the one-upmanship among others in a class. It’s important to remember to lift weights that are at your capability and capacity and continue to improve for yourself!
Overall, CrossFit is a great way to get into and stay in shape. It can be great cross training for runners, triathlete, cyclists and almost any other sport with its approach to programming. The important part is finding the box that works for you and finding a box that will help you reach your specific goals. You will meet a bunch of great people who are all trying to improve themselves to be the best version of themselves. For the hardened athlete, check your ego at the door; the first couple of WODs can be a humbling experience!
That’s the dirt for this week. Check out our other articles for more information to keep you in shape and training for your next event.