So you’re sitting there, Googling your local CrossFit affiliate with questions in your mind – “Should I try it? Is it worth it? How do I choose the right box for me? Will I get hurt? “
I admit my initial impressions of CrossFit weren’t that great so I can understand why people would be hesitant about trying it. For one, not all CrossFit affiliates are created equal. As explained by Coach Angela at CrossFit Salus, CrossFit is not regulated in the sense that all box owners must follow the same rules and methodologies. Once you receive your Level 1 Certification, you technically have the freedom to open up your box regardless of your experience. While there is a degree of uncertainty regarding CrossFit, I believe it’s in anyone’s best interest to at least give it a try first before forming opinions. However, there are a few things you should look for in a box before joining.
For the past 3 months, I was able to try CrossFit and develop my own opinion based on my experience. While I’m no expert, I do recommend observing some of the suggestions below if you’re still on the fence about CrossFit.
1. What does the box look like? Is there a sufficient amount of space and equipment?
Not having sufficient space and equipment can make WODs more challenging than they already are. Also, without the proper amount of equipment, you may not get the best results. Just think about the many times you were at the gym and all the machines were taken and not one piece of cardio equipment was available. Waiting 20 minutes just to do your workout is never ideal. Also, consider how the equipment looks – does it look beat up and old? Any one of these can affect your experience and your safety.
2. What are the coaches’ backgrounds?
Do they have a background or education in fitness? Because of the lack of regulation in CrossFit (aka there’s no CrossFit police), practically anyone who pays and attends a weekend seminar can become certified in CrossFit. With that being said, you may walk into a box and find coaches who do not actually have the proper background in fitness and are trying to capitalize on CrossFit’s name. Bottom line, do a little research on the coaching staff before you sign up.
3. What are the people like? Are they welcoming? Do they SMILE? (just a small sign they’re enjoying it).
No one wants to join a gym and find that no one talks to each other. Even worse is when they don’t offer to help or guide you when you’re new. CrossFit is different from a typical gym because of the family vibe that’s created. If you don’t feel that vibe when starting CrossFit, you may want to search elsewhere where the people are more welcoming.
4. What are the WODs like? Do you feel like you’re being pushed too far?
WOD’s are meant to be challenging. Even more, there will always be something to improve on. However, as Coach Gino would emphasize, proper form and technique should come before a PR and putting yourself at risk for injury. If you feel like you’re being pushed too far (either from yourself or from the coaches) and WODs’ aren’t being scaled down to your level, you may want to take a step back.
5. Do you feel like you’re learning and improving?
CrossFit is designed to continually challenge you so that you keep improving and progressing. Workouts are constantly varied and target different areas of one’s fitness simply for this purpose. Basically, if you’re committed to CrossFit, you WILL see results. However, if you find that you’re not improving within the first few months of starting, you may need to re-consider if something is incorrect with that box’s programming and instruction.
In the end, I have to admit that I was blessed to stumble upon CrossFit Salus in Middletown, NJ. With over 7 different CrossFit affiliates within 10 miles of me, I wondered how I was going to choose between them. Thankfully, they exemplified everything that is RIGHT with CrossFit and these five tips were based on the example they had set. Since then I have come across many other affiliates who have set the same example.
Therefore, I’m confident that anyone looking to try CrossFit will find the right affiliate for them if they take into account a few of the tips above.
Keep in mind that CrossFit is more than a fad; it’s a revolutionary way of doing fitness. If you come into the box with an open mind and a desire to learn, it just might end up being one of the best decisions you’ve ever made.