Choosing A CrossFit

If you are considering CrossFit, how do you choose a “box” that will be right for you?  When we first started CrossFitting there were few boxes to choose from. We drove 30 minutes and enjoyed the coaching and community.  The Reebok partnership has lead to CrossFits opening up everywhere. Therefore, an educated consumer can do research and find more to choose from including experience, equipment, quality and size.  All CrossFit boxes (gyms) are independent of one another, but we are all part of a much larger, worldwide fitness movement, CrossFit.  What do you look for when deciding which box to join? Here are some tips you might want to consider.

Tip #1: Price: Obviously this is a big factor in your decision making process for anything.   There is an old adage that still rings true, “You get what you pay for”.  Our experience, quality of training and in depth knowledge of CrossFit simply warrants that.  We do not cut prices to match or beat competitors.  If you are simply looking for the cheapest product, we’ll be happy to refer you to the most inexpensive facility in the area.

Tip #2Goals: Make a list of your goals, and use those goals during your conversations with coaches.  Ask lots of questions primarily about how CrossFit could be used to meet your goals. Coaches should be patient and ask more questions about you than they tell you about themselves.

Tip #3Coaching: Ask about the training staff.  How long have their most experienced trainers been certified to coach CrossFit and involved in fitness?   What specialty certifications and other fitness related experience do they have?  What have they done outside of CrossFit?  Do they have other certifications? Have they been athletes themselves? Did CrossFit transform the coach’s life somehow?  What is their reputation amongst other people in the fitness industry and community?  Find these things out and take from it what you will, but do some research.  CrossFit Synergistics (CFS) coaches have extensive experience in coaching all types of people, and are certified  in Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, kettlebell training, endurance training, mobility, kids & teens as well as holistic backgrounds in yoga, message, physical therapy and nutrition.   What sort of coaching will you receive? Do you have access to the coaches outside of class? How much time do they spend on skill work? Are they able to coach beginners as well as advanced students? Do they seem to have good communication and class management skills?  Do they write blogs that are interesting and edifying?  Is there nutrition and lifestyle coaching included in the curriculum?  Look for coaches that understand that it’s about the athlete.  Coaches must remember that the first order of business is do no harm and make you more fit tomorrow than you were yesterday.

Tip #4Affiliation: How long has the box been affiliated with CrossFit?  Did they open as a CrossFit gym, or are they an existing gym looking to offer CrossFit?  Why did they open a facility?  CrossFit Inc. does not franchise; they don’t grant territories; they operate on the basis of licensing the CrossFit brand name to “affiliates.”  CrossFit does not specify anything about how an affiliate should run their box.  Thus, each CrossFit box is different.  Each has a different vibe.  It’s not a franchise like Planet Fitness.  Some will let you bring your kid or dog, some won’t.  Some won’t allow chalk.  Some will allow you to take your shirt off during the workout, some won’t.  Boxes that are dedicated to CrossFit only have a totally different feel, a very different culture, than franchise gyms.  In many gyms the people working out are alone: focused inward with their headphones or watching TV.  At CrossFit boxes there are no mirrors, and everyone is talking, interacting with each other, encouraging one another, having fun and making friends. So choose one that suits you, one where you feel comfortable.

Tip #5:  Newbies & Fitness Level: : How does a gym handle beginners to the program?  Is there a formal gateway into becoming a member, or do they just take you in at any time and try to get you up to speed along with all the others?  At CFS, we have developed a 2-week FOUNDATIONS course for those who are new to CrossFit.  This prepares them for the rigors and intensity of our group classes.  This also allows our coaches to get to know you mentally and physically and keep you safe while reaching your goals.  Look at the fitness levels of the athletes.  Is the entire box filled with elite athletes or is it filled only with fitness beginners?  At CFS, you’ll find a wide mix of athletes modeling the CrossFit methodology of universal scalability for everyone from your grandkids to your grandparents.  We coach kids, teens, college athletes, competitors preparing for the Opens of the CrossFit Games, the weekend warrior, people who have never worked out a day in their life to rehabilitating clients working to get back into shape after an illness or accident.  We have experience with and welcome all levels.  Those who are stronger or faster help those who are not.  Elitism is a great goal yet we all play on the same team.

Tip #6:  Programming: Ask about the methodology behind their programming and read over the older posts of the blog or website.  Is there a balance of Strength and Met Cons in laymen’s terms, short and long workout of the day or (WODS)?  Avoid boxes that do long wods every day because it leads to elevated cortisol and stress levels.  Who programs the workouts and do they follow that particular style?   Look for boxes that discuss all aspects of a healthy lifestyle – sleep, nutrition, recovery, warm-ups and cool downs.  Check out their Nutrition info.  Do they walk the talk or survive on or dispense out dated nutrition concepts?

Tip #7:  Facility & Equipment Part of CrossFit requires proper layout and appearance or flow of wods and easy access to the outdoors to run and have outdoor events.  Simple square footage does not make the facility.  Is there enough equipment neatly organized with big whiteboards and leader boards and a proper timer?  While it is not common to expect a CrossFit gym to be pristine, there is a difference between looking like an old-school, hard-core gym and just being dirty.  Having a clean bathroom and shower goes a long way.

Tip #8: Culture & Class Structure: Visit a facility when there are classes going on.  Take a look at the athletes,  are they happy?  Are they working hard or simply hanging around?  Are they being actively coached and are the coaches engaged?  Do they appear bonded and supportive?  How do the members interact with each other?  Do they say hello and help new people with equipment and movements?  Do they cheer for each other?  Avoid boxes that overemphasize competitiveness with each other without first emphasizing competing against one’s self.  Do they attend to top athletes over everyone else?  Talk to their members to get some good feedback.

One big reason to train at a CrossFit affiliate versus training on your own is for the community.  The challenge of the workouts brings out a unique camaraderie amongst CrossFit members.  Every community is going to be slightly different and different communities are a proper fit for different people.  Community can extend outside the box as well. Does the affiliate have extra curricular activities, seminars, paleo dinners, hooverball tournaments?  In addition, check to see if there are ever times for “Open Box” to practice lifting for beginners or for a competitor to train. Try a “Free Class” out and see how it goes.

Tip #9:  Membership options: A CrossFit box should want you to be there because you love the workout methodology, intensity, variety and the community vibe.  People need to start at their own pace and may have other recreational sports or activities.  Beginner CrossFitters may need to start with less frequency and flexibility.  Offering month to month membership shows confidence in the service provided.  Many boxes may only offer 3x wk or unlimited and long term memberships. AT CFS we allow you to embrace CrossFit at your pace and believe you will migrate to unlimited membership when your mind and body are ready.  “When the student is ready the teacher shall appear.” Buddha

Tip #10:  You: Take a Free Class and/or Foundational prep class before entering into regular workouts (wods).  Your intuition will tell you if this is the CrossFit box for you.