Unless you live in a very small town there are probably many CrossFit gyms to choose from. Here is a step-by-step process that will help ensure you find the right gym for you.
All CrossFit Gyms are not Created Equal
It is an absolute fact that not all CrossFit gyms are equal in quality of training, equipment and coaching.
CrossFit does little to regulate training styles or qualifications of the affiliate gym owners. This does two things that can be both good and bad.
1. It allows for a very large amount of diversity in training styles based upon the vision of the owner of the gym. This can be a very good thing as it allows different gyms to focus on different styles of training.
2. Lack of regulation means that some gyms will be absolutely outstanding, while others will be run poorly and can even be dangerous.
That being said, the responsibility is on you the consumer to find the highest quality of gym for your training.
Step 1. Check out the website and look at photos, bios, and schedule.
Sounds like a very simple step, but looking at the website of the gym you are thinking of going to can give you tons of important info. First, do they have classes that will fit into your schedule? If not, you can scratch that gym off the list. Typically, you can find a ton of information about the style of gym and the people who run it.
Does the gym look like a place that you would like to train? Do the people in the photos seem like the type of people you would want to surround yourself with on a daily basis? Do they offer the styles of training you are looking for? Do the trainers have any special qualifications such as certifications outside of CrossFit, years of experience training, prior sports and coaching history outside of CrossFit?
Before going any further make sure you can answer most of the questions above and feel confident with your choice.
Step 2. Make the call
Once you have found a few gyms that look like they would be a great fit for you give them a call. Ask any preliminary questions you might have on the phone call, let the person know you are new to CrossFit and tell them a little about your athletic history. This phone call should give you a little deeper insight into the feel of the gym and if it will be a good fit.
Step 3. Visiting the gyms
Once you have made the call it is time to actually go out to the gyms. Pick more than one gym to visit so you have some contrast. While you are there make sure you grab a workout or at least sit down with a coach or trainer and watch a class in action.
Things you should look for at the gym:
1. Do you feel comfortable walking in the door?
This is going to be the biggest thing right from the start. Is this a place you feel comfortable? If the answer is no then the gym is probably not the right place for you to train. People should be friendly, welcoming and give you the attention you need while challenging you with the right style of workouts given your athletic ability
2. Is There Enough Space?
The gym doesn’t need to be massive but the gym needs to have enough room where people can workout safely. A gym could be perfectly fine if it is only 1,500 square feet but limits the class size to 12 or under. So look to make sure that people have enough room so that you are able to work out with a comfortable amount of space around you for all your lifts
3. Is There Enough Equipment?
Almost nothing is more frustrating than being in the middle of a CrossFit Workout (WOD) and having to wait for a piece of equipment to open up while you time ticks away. In a good CrossFit environment you should almost never have to wait on a piece of equipment while the clock is ticking mid WOD
4. Is the gym clean?
In general CrossFit gyms are much more rugged in look and feel than a typical gym such as LA Fitness or Gold’s Gym, don’t let that put you off. But, check out the equipment and the floors are they cleaned regularly by either staff or a professional cleaning service? Are the members required to spray and wipe down their equipment after every workout? IF not there are a wide variety of problems that can arise from un-cleaned equipment that all involve serious healthy issues.
5. A better athlete is not necessarily a better coach
Just because a gym has a coach who is an outstanding athlete does not necessarily mean he or she is an outstanding coach. Coaching is a skill set that is not always directly correlated to athletic ability or performance. It is certainly great to have a coach who is in great shape and practices what he preaches but just because a coach wins every WOD doesn’t mean that he is the best at teaching.
6. Is there a warmup and a cool down?
Jumping right into a workout without a warm-up can be a dangerous proposition. Make sure your gym has a warm-up to get your body loose and the blood flowing before you start your WOD.
7. Are the coaches paying attention?
A coach should have his/her focus on the clients not a cell phone, or a cup of coffee. You are paying to be trained so make sure they are giving you the attention you deserve.
Step 4. Price
The price of training at a CrossFit gym is typically going to range between $125 and $250 for a month of unlimited training. You are not paying for a gym membership but you are paying to be coached by a highly competent instructor who is going to mold your body over the next days/weeks/months/years.
Don’t go for the cheapest gym simply because you are trying to get a bargain.
You are making a major investment in your time and body here so don’t choose your gym solely based on price; make sure you are getting the best value for your money. Obviously, the gym price must remain within your budget but realize that you are paying for a quality service and many times you get what you pay for.
Step 5. Don’t be afraid to switch
Just because you took all the right steps to find what you believe is the perfect gym for you doesn’t mean things won’t change. Sometimes, you will find that the community or training is not what you hoped that it would be. If this is the case don’t be afraid to switch to a different CrossFit gym that feels more comfortable or offers the types of classes that you enjoy.
If nothing else find a place that is safe, fun and gives you a great workout. After all that’s what you are there for.