So you want to do Crossfit, awesome. You saw the Games on ESPN or found a great Groupon online or hear your friends ranting and raving about their new obsession. I was a newbie once, totally intimidated and scared and wishing someone had given me a heads up of what to expect. So I can’t in good conscious let you get yourself into my favorite sport without a little bit of advice…
1. Be in decent shape before you go
If you are so out of shape that the idea of going for a jog around the block sounds impossible, you aren’t ready for crossfit. Seriously, for the amount of money, time and dedication required to call yourself a person who does crossfit, you better be prepared to make the investment. If you’ve lifted weights before, have a decent gym routine already in place, or play a sport, you’ll be fine. Not to say that a completely out of shape person doesn’t stand a chance, but you will have to have a very strong mental character and the self determination to push through the hard stuff, because crossfit will kick your ass. Crossfit workouts are designed to be competitive and it can be discouraging to come in last all the time. I mean, come on, with a tagline like “forging elite fitness” it’s clearly not a walk in the park.
2. Go to a legitimate box with good reviews
There are crossfit gyms, called “boxes”, popping up everywhere. Do your research. Read the reviews. Look at pictures. Don’t just compare prices or go to the closest location. The value is in the people running the show, not the stuff in the room. Give bonus points to a box that offers an “on ramp” or beginners course. You’ll know what you like and don’t like, and if something doesn’t seem right or makes you uncomfortable, run the other way. Not every box is created equal. You can find your legitimate local affiliates through the Crossfit main website here – I really enjoyed Crossfit BNI in here Brandon, on the corner of Causeway and Faulkenburg.
Want to do crossfit at home like me? Go to a box first and learn the basics. Then continue to do your homework, watch the how-to videos and invest in some decent equipment. I use an app on my iPhone that gives me the Crossfit Main Site Work Outs of the Day and then I use those as a starting point to make a WOD that will work for me.
3. Have Realistic expectations
Let’s be honest here. You’re not going to look like this, probably ever:
Yes, Crossfit will help you get in shape, lose some weight, build muscle and improve your physical endurance, but it will not chisel you into a world class athlete. Well, maybe it will, in a few years. Don’t expect to be able to do everything all the time and don’t expect to be the strongest, fastest, or most competitive person in the room.
4. Wear comfy clothes
Don’t be an idiot and try and get cute. You’re there to work, not flirt. Girls – you need a good sports bra, shorts that stay on and cover your ass, and shirt you’re not going to be uncomfortably tugging at while you work out. Crossfit puts you upside down, on the ground, and twisted inside out – the last thing you want to be is self-conscious.
And please, don’t think its ok to show up as a newbie in crossfit tank tops you found on the internet, brightly colored tube socks and bootylicious spandex shorts, especially if you’re not in shape or confident enough to pull it off. Those girls look silly, well, unless you’re her – then it’s hot.
When it comes to shoes a general cross training shoe will be fine. Running shoes, shapeup shoes, and anything with a high heel is a bad idea. If you get serious about crossfit, there are great shoes designed specifically for the sport, but they are pricey.
5. Don’t try and be the best (and know your limits)
Know that you are going to a place full of amazing athletes – people who have probably been doing crossfit for years, many of whom may be police officers, military, firefighters or professional athletes. Of course they are fast and strong and talented. And it’s ok if you aren’t that yet. Don’t push yourself beyond what you are capable of. Take comfort in knowing that all of these people were once newbies too. It takes time to be that good.
6. Listen to the coaches (and make sure the coaches listen to you)
If a coach corrects your form or gives you instruction, listen. Don’t think that you know better. Good coaches will try their hardest to give you feedback, keep an eye on you, and help you improve, but please realize that crossfit is done in a group setting. You have to look out for yourself and speak up if you need help. Tell the coaches about any injuries, weaknesses or medical conditions BEFORE your first workout. And if you ask for help and you don’t get it, you need to find a new box.
7. Don’t quit or say I can’t
You would think this goes without saying, but don’t quit in the middle of a workout. Always finish, even if it’s slowed or modified. A lot of crossfit WODs are team or partner events and, take it from personal experience, it sucks to be quit on. You also never want to say “I can’t do that.” Well of course you can’t if you never try.
8. Take nutrition information with a grain of salt
This is where the crossfit world and I tend to dislike each other. Know that the people who are your coaches are certified crossfit trainers but they are not (in most cases) certified nutritionists. Crossfit culture usually implies that you will be following a “Paleo” diet; if you haven’t heard of it, think Atkins with leaner protein, no dairy, and lots of veggies. Clearly, as a person who believes in a vegan diet as optimal for health, I’m not a fan of all that animal protein or eliminating legumes and whole grains from a diet and calling it healthy. Sure, the Paleo diet might make for nice looking muscles, but in 20 years you’ll care more about your arteries than your abs.
9. Know that there will be times you’ll have to do some things you will hate
Not every day at the gym is fun. Some things suck. You’ll find favorite exercises you wish you could do every day and others you wish were never invented. It’s the variety that challenges your body to become a better athlete. Embrace the process of learning new skills and try not to let one bad workout keep you from going back!
10. And finally, don’t become a douche about it
The last thing all of your non-athletic friends want to hear about is how awesome you are becoming at the clean and jerk. This took me a while to realize, but posting everything you did at crossfit every single day on Facebook does not result in very many likes. Unsolicited bragging makes you seem like “one of those crossfit douche bags” and seriously, there are plenty of those out there already.
So if you aren’t totally intimidated yet and you still want to go punish your body with some crossfit, go hunt the internets, find a box near you, and give it a try. I love the saying “you never regret a workout” and I promise you, you will never regret trying crossfit. It’s ok if it’s not for you, no judgment here, but if you love it, you’ll wish you had started sooner!