Crossfit: The Good, Bad, and Tips to Find the Right Box for You

crossfit1Some of you know that I work at a Crossfit gyms three times a week.  I absolutely love it and I know some of you reading this may stop reading right now, but press on!

Having been a collegiate athlete in a sport that requires technical perfection (or as close as you can get to that) in order to reach your full potential, it is engrained in me to focus on the little things.  Having been a swim coach for 4 years though, has taught me that my level of focus and ability to constantly think about my technique is more of a talent than it is a common trait of swimmers.  With that being said, I believe the higher the level of athlete, the more focus they have (unless they are just super talented).

But no, this post isn’t about how awesome I am at seeing things that need altered with someone’s technique, it is about the importance of technically proficient coaches.  I also provide a little guide for how to find the right Crossfit box for you!

I was first a swimmer, followed by someone who just liked to lift and workout without a sense of direction, then became a figure competitor.  This past summer was my first experience with Crossfit and I loved it.  Everything from the team-like feel of a box to the feeling of complete exhaustion while being competitive with others in the class (oooor maybe that is my competitive nature).  No wonder people young and old are flocking to a “box” in order to get their “fix”.

So why do some fitness professionals hate Crossfit?  Well it could be because they have never done it and refuse to because it is the big new trend, it is basically circuit training that has been around for decades and some guy just decided to label it Crossfit, or that the original model of Crossfit (pick out of a bucket the 3-4 exercises we will do for the next 15 min) is a dangerous and stupid idea–hence why I hope a lot of boxes have a method to their madness and program instead of just randomly due exercises!  But it could also be  because it’s as simple as paying thousands of dollars to become an affiliate, another grand to partake in a 2 day seminar with a test at the end that allows you to be certified to coach, and the lack of safety requirements or guidelines.  Now I don’t think gyms need guidelines on how to run their gyms because that diminishes creativity and it does help sift the good from the bad (with the hopes that the bad go out of business).  And what we can’t forget, is that in every field, there are people who shouldn’t be allowed to do their job due to their lack of performance or their inability to do it properly in general.  Think of all the personal trainers and nutrition coaches that put their athletes on 1000 calorie diets and suggest they do hours of cardio to burn fat!

My point isn’t that every coach needs to be a great technician!  But each coach should have their area of “expertise” if you will, or something to bring to the table…or box in this case, as well as be proficient enough in all other areas to know how to coach the movement or fix technical aspects of it.  There are coaches that have a specialty in strongman, olympic lifts, recovery/injury prevention, triathlons, or are just simply awesomely motivating!  However, you can have the most motivating coach ever, but if they are unable to do a proper squat, deadlift, or snatch, how are they going to be able to teach it to someone else?  Obviously the bigger the gym, the easier this will be since since you will need more coaches.  The main take away, is that each coach should be technically proficient in all areas of Crossfit (no they don’t have to be able to do all skills like muscle-ups or be able to squat 2x their bodyweight, but they should be able to perform most of the movements, and know how to teach them–and even better if they are B.A. in something).

Now to step off my technical horse, I have made up some questions to ask yourself as you are looking for the Crossfit box that is right for you and your needs:

1.  What are their coaches backgrounds?

  • Do they have an athletic background (not a make or break)?  What are their specialties?  What makes them a good coach to take a class from?  

2.  What kind of classes do they offer, and when are they offered?

  • What classes are you interested in taking, and are they offered?  Do they offer triathlon/marathon/strongman training..if this is important to you?  Do they have an olympic lifting coach, oly lifter, or host seminars to help members with their lifts?  Do they offer classes when you can take them due to your schedule?  Is finding a gym that offers open gym important?

3.  What are their WODs like?

  • What do they work on before their workouts?  Are their workouts more lifting base, more metcon oriented, or do they involve a lot of running?  Is there something you like/need that one box will provide over the others?

4.  How big is the box?

  • I am not talking size, but how many members?  Are you looking for a huge box, or a smaller community?

5.  Do they have what you want?

  • What is important to you?  Every gym has a specialty of sorts (check out their schedules, coaches bios, programs offered).  

6.  Drop in and get a feel for the environment, coaches, and the workouts!

  • There is no better way to get a feel for a gym then to drop in!  Give it a test run and see how you like it.


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