People in CrossFit gyms around the world are all doing the same thing: moving large loads long distances quickly — in other words, building fitness.
They gather around a whiteboard for a pre-workout briefing, warm up, work out, high-five, and leave feeling better than before.
But while the “product” of most CrossFit gyms is the same across the board — better health, stronger relationships, and increased overall happiness — how it’s done can look a little different from affiliate to affiliate.
Here are some things to consider when choosing which CrossFit gym to call home.
BEFORE YOU GO
Make sure it’s the real deal. CrossFit has many imitators because what we do works — but that imitation is skin deep. For lasting results and true transformation — mental and physical — join a real CrossFit affiliate staffed by CrossFit-credentialed trainers.
Look for an “on-ramp” or fundamentals program. Even lifelong exercisers are likely to face unfamiliar movements in their first CrossFit experience. The best CrossFit gyms require new members — regardless of fitness level — to complete an introductory program before joining regular classes. Some gyms hold these classes at regular intervals; others may schedule one-on-one or small-group sessions for new athletes. Either way, a good fundamentals class will teach you the foundational movements of CrossFit and prepare you to safely join regular classes.
Consider convenience. Do the gym’s class times and location meet your needs? If your schedule is unpredictable, does the gym offer enough classes throughout the day that you can still get your workout in if a work meeting goes late? Is childcare offered during any class times?
Check the specialty class offerings. Any CrossFit workout can be scaled to meet anyone’s fitness level, age, and ability. Still, some CrossFit athletes find they enjoy classes even more tailored to their cohort, whether that be a “legends” class geared toward athletes 50 and older or CrossFit Kids classes for your little ones.
TRY THE VIBE
CrossFit affiliates are not franchises, but rather independently owned and operated businesses. That means no two CrossFit gyms are exactly alike, and what might be a great fit for one person might not feel like home to another.
- Some CrossFit gyms have large facilities in industrial areas; others are tucked into boutique retail spaces on busy streets.
- Some gyms attract more young, competitive athletes; others have more middle-aged members with children.
- Some affiliates may have a grungy, bare-bones aesthetic; others may offer more luxury amenities.
- Depending on location and time in business, some gyms have deeply rooted communities with members who’ve been there for years; others may cater to more transient populations.
- Oftentimes, the “vibe” of the class may vary even among class times offered at a single affiliate. If you’re not feeling the energy of the 5-a.m. crew, you might see what the 3-p.m. class feels like.
CONSIDER CLASS STRUCTURE
Good CrossFit gyms share a few things in common when it comes to what class looks like. Every session should feature a briefing, general and specific warm-ups, and the workout itself. But that structure leaves a lot of room for variance, and every gym conducts class in its own, unique way.
- Some gyms’ class structures feature a singular whiteboard briefing before turning athletes loose; others call their athletes back to the board to explain and guide each section of class as it happens.
- Some affiliates build icebreakers into their briefings and play warm-up games to build camaraderie; others take a more down-to-business approach.
- Many gyms have coach-led group warm-ups before the workout; others write warm-up instructions on the board for athletes to follow independently.
- Depending on programming, some gyms’ classes are divided into strength, skill, and conditioning sections; others choose one task to focus on for most of the hour.
- Some gyms encourage members to come early or stay late to practice skills before or after class; others prefer athletes come to officially scheduled open-gym times to do extra work.
GIVE IT A GO
No matter how closely you scour a gym’s website or social-media accounts, the best way to see if a CrossFit affiliate is a good fit for you is to try it out.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel at home right away. Like any new endeavor, it takes time to feel at ease in new situations. At the same time, don’t be afraid to try classes at multiple gyms in the search for your tribe.
Regardless of where you decide to go, one thing remains true: In walking through the doors of a CrossFit gym, you’ve taken the first step toward a lifetime of improved health and a more vibrant life.