It’s that time of year again. Lots of people are starting to think about ramping up their training or trying something new to make real increases to their fitness. Pursuing those nagging fitness goals typically gets put on the back burner during the holiday season. So you’re ready to dive head first into Crossfit (or some type of high intensity training), but you’re not sure what gym is right for you. Good thinking…NOT all Crossfit gyms are created equal! So here’s a few things to (heavily) consider when thinking about finding a gym to call home.
1.) Are you getting the opportunity to meet with someone at the gym one-on-one to discuss your goals? This step is critical to your success. How can anyone help you get to where you want to go if they don’t know where you want to go? The power of CrossFit is that it can serve just about any fitness goal one could desire to achieve, but that doesn’t mean that the gym’s program can’t make some adjustments for each individual within their program to help target specific results and training outcomes. Whether there are desired training effects, specific injuries or any other precautions that need to be taken during training, it’s absolutely vital to the integrity of the program that every athlete has the ability to be screened and ask questions. If you’re missing the opportunity to discuss your personal goals, limitations and concerns with one of the coaches on staff, that should raise a big red flag!
2.) Evaluate the systems that are in place for beginner athletes. Hopefully, all coaches and professionals in the fitness field understand the value of movement quality. Well, the systems in the gym should reflect that! Is there a system in place to evaluate movement quality and proper mechanics before you’re being thrown into a potentially overwhelming group setting? A good gauge for this is if the gym offers a beginner’s program to properly prepare new athletes for the demands of high intensity training.
Having an on-ramp program or a foundational on-ramp program for beginners IS a positive thing, in fact, a RESPONSIBLE thing to offer. That isn’t to say that on-ramp programs need to be a blanket requirement for everyone, but those who are unfamiliar with the majority of the core movements in Crossfit should be given an opportunity to learn them in a controlled setting under the watchful eye of a seasoned professional.
Beyond an on-ramp program, there should be systems in the gym that are executed automatically for athletes of all levels. Scaling options, intensity options, etc. should be part of the regular program. If they’re lacking, you’ll be safer finding a place that values athletes of all levels (and shows it)!
3.) Beware of the discount trap! Yes, we are in the DC Metro area where cost of living is ridiculously high, so money is most definitely a consideration, but “discounts” are NOT synonymous with “better value.” This is true with any product or service, but even more the case when it comes to selecting a high-intensity fitness program.
When gyms are differentiating themselves exclusively on lower membership fees, this should be a red flag.Why? Because when rates are “cheap”, the box has to rely on volume to thrive as a business. And being concerned with high volume memberships can rarely co-exist with high quality care and instruction. Rates should be a reflection of the level of service that is being provided and in the context of CrossFit, they should also reflect the expertise, education and experience of the coaches.
It’s always wise to ask questions about the education level of the coaches on staff and their level of experience, time in the saddle, etc. The more investment the coaches have made in themselves, the more knowledge they can pour into their athletes and the level of coaching they provide should reflect that, which means your investment in the process should be in line with the service you’re getting.
4.) Are the workouts being coached or simply being hosted? Yes, there IS a difference. When you attend a class, is there a coach simply explaining the workout format or is there detailed and meticulous teaching, evaluating and correcting going on? If you’re experiencing the latter, awesome!!
Encouragement is awesome, and in fact, necessary. That said, if all you’re getting is cheerleading, you’re missing what you’re paying for, and that is good quality coaching.
5.) Look for FUN!! Crossfit has its moments of absolute misery. After all, its basis for effectiveness is intensity, and intensity is uncomfortable. Even for the best of athletes, the misery can outweigh the benefits if the atmosphere of the gym doesn’t feel positive and exciting. The coaches, while providing quality instruction, should also be paying close attention to making the environment FUN! If it’s not fun, find another way to do it!
Hopefully these serve as useful tools as you explore your training options for the new year. Of course, we’re confident that Origin Fitness, Home of Crossfit Burke, passes all tests with flying colors!