The early days of CrossFit drew a lot of ire from the fitness establishment. The Olympic-style lifts performed to exhaustion (something that increases the risk of injury) and the cult-like exuberance some CrossFitters exhibited made it an easy target. However, today CrossFit is mainstream and CrossFit gyms continue to pop-up everywhere.
When done properly, and with guidance from the right trainers, CrossFit is an excellent way to get in shape. Moreover, there is a sense of community at a CrossFit gym that you won’t find anywhere else. A good gym will have a genuine team feel, and nothing brings a group closer together than suffering through sweat, exhaustion and occasionally some blood, together as you strive for common goals. It’s similar to experiences many of us have had playing high school and college sports.
Here’s our list of things to look for when joining a CrossFit gym.
Layout and Appearance
While some may consider it to be superficial, we believe function is a direct result of layout and appearance. Are things neatly organized? Is the floor clean? Are there big whiteboards/chalkboards, leaderboards and a properly sized and placed timer? Is the facility well lit? Is it clear where to walk, leave your bag, and where the lockers and restrooms are? Basically, is the space comfortable and inviting for a hard workout?
A gym that takes care of its equipment will take care of its clients. In general, there are two things to look for in the equipment. First, is there enough equipment, and second, is it well organized? You’ll want to be able to find everything quickly, and you’ll want to make sure there is enough to meet the needs of each class. The bars, weights and racks should be well organized and placement should facilitate your workouts. When you’re looking at the equipment and questions begin to emerge like why is the equipment over there, is there enough gear to go around, or is the condition of the equipment acceptable, it might be a sign you should check out another gym.
No one should expect a CrossFit gym to be pristine, but there is a difference between looking like an old-school, hard-core gym and just being dirty. I look at the floors, the bars and kettlebells for chalk (or blood) remnants, and for general dustiness. Having a clean bathroom and shower goes a long way, as well.
You’ll want a gym that has a class structure. Every CrossFit gym will be unique, but having a regular class structure allow you to have some general expectations. Knowing the flow of events is extremely helpful for beginners as well as for establishing a cohesive community. You’ll also want to check to see if there are dedicated times for lifting, beginners, or competitive training.
Checking the background of a CrossFit Coach’s resume is more important than when you’re just looking for a personal trainer. CrossFit training is intense, and you will be pushing your body to its limits. You will want an intelligent and experienced coach when you’re training. Check out their certifications, what they’ve done outside of CrossFit, whether they’ve been athletes themselves, how they got into CrossFit, and definitely ask around to understand what their reputation is in the fitness industry.
Beyond your coach’s background, the next thing to look into is what sort of coaching you will receive. 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? Is there nutrition and lifestyle coaching included in the curriculum? The coach will be your leader in training, and you’ll want to be sure you’re comfortable taking direction from them.
This may be the most important part of CrossFit, and it’s what sets it apart from other types of fitness training. The challenge of the workouts brings out a unique camaraderie amongst CrossFit gym members. Every community is going to be slightly different and different communities are a proper fit for different people. A good rule of thumb is to look for people who are at or above the fitness level you’re working towards. Aside from that, you’ll need to ask yourself what you’re looking for. Do you want other people to drive and motivate you? Are you a Type-A looking for other people to compete with? Or are you a beginner looking for other newbies to learn alongside? Are you looking for the community to extend outside of the gym? Many CrossFit gyms will have extracurricular activities.
What About You
In addition to the considerations above, you’ll want to think about what you. What are your goals? How much are you willing to spend? How much time are you actually willing to commit? Are you willing to give up anything to add CrossFit to your Life?