At least once a day, whether it be in the gym or at school, I am asked abnout the constant openings of new CrossFit gyms. People are concerned as to how it’s possible to open multiple CrossFits in one town, how you can trust all of these new facilities, how it will affect the CrossFit name and our gym, and most importantly, how to know the good from the bad.
When our gym opened, we were the only CrossFit on 95 North until one reaches Rhode Island. Since then, a slew of CrossFit gyms have popped up all over the State. In fact, most cities have more than one CrossFit gym, and there are few cities that are remain untapped.
When I started CrossFit, I went to CrossFit Milford. To be honest, at this point in time, it was a monopoly. There wasn’t another CrossFit gym for miles. I had nothing to compare it to, and contrasted to Globo-gym, it was amazing. Fortunately, I stumbled upon one of the best CrossFit gyms in the State without even realizing it.
I was lucky.
Now, with so many gyms present, this situation may not be as likely. And unfortunately, CrossFit “virgins” have the potential of walking into an under-qualified gym, and leaving with a bad taste for CrossFit in their mouths. Or, worse yet, leaving injured, not able to workout. Period.
So what do you do?
Well, with so many options in your backyard, it becomes ever-so-important to do your homework. What are the qualities that a good CrossFit gym should possess before you make your commitment to joining?
Surprisingly, it has little to do with price. In fact, I’d venture to say that you should question a “cheap” CrossFit facility. Why are they devaluing themselves? What quality are they going to give you if they are willing and able to “slash the market”?
In addition to this, finding a qualified CrossFit gym has nothing to do with the actual facility. It doesn’t matter how big the facility is (afterall, they are called boxes, are they not?). It doesn’t matter how well it’s painted. It doesn’t matter how new the equipment appears to be, as long as it works. And to be quite honest, the amount of equipment present doesn’t even dictate what makes it a “good” gym.
So what does?
Well, this is entirely subjective, but it is coming from an individual that has been in the CrossFit Community for 6 years (which is long for a CrossFitter), and in the fitness community for 18 years. I’ve competed in small competitions, to the CrossFit Games, and I’ve been to CrossFits on every coast. Here’s a simple checklist divided into three categories that I deem efficient when searching for a qualified CrossFit gym:
1. PROGRAMMING – Is the program balanced or biased (i.e. all strength or all long cardio)? Does it have a “one size fits all” mentality? To be honest, this thinking can work when one first joins CrossFit, but as time passes, workouts will need to be tailored to athletes who have been present for some time, and others that are newer. This will promote growth and decrease injury. [Additionally, do the owners know how to program effectively? …ensuring that each metabolic pathway is hit and the programming truly is constantly varied and NOT random.]
Also, is there a sufficient warm-up in the programming? Is the coach insistent that athletes warm-up?
2. COACHING – Are your coaches experienced? What are their degrees and certifications? Do they have more than just a CrossFit L1 Certification and are they working towards continuing their education? This is not to say that there can’t be coaches with less experience and training, but there should be an “anchor” coach, a “go-to” person who can decide on crucial matters.
Are the coaches credible? Do they follow CrossFit methodology themselves? Do they look like they do (this does not mean they have to be ripped, but they should appear healthy or as if they are working towards this)? Can they demonstrate most movements well and adhere to CrossFit standards during workouts? Now, before you get crazy, I am not asserting that coaches should be CrossFit Games athletes; sometimes the best athletes cannot communicate this in a coaching environment. However, a GOOD COACH should know and understand the movement standards, and they should be able to demonstrate this, or a modified version, for his/her athletes. Are these movement standards explained, reviewed daily, and demonstrated before the lifting begins?
Does your coach have the knowledge to modify movements when you are injured, or does he/she push you to “work through” injuries?
Does your coach have a positive attitude with a blend of constructive criticism that will make you better? No one ever improves from being told that they are always doing a good job. You’re here to become better, not to be coddled.
3. COMMUNITY – Is there a motivational, positive atmosphere in the gym? Is there good rapport between the trainers and athletes? Is there camaraderie between athletes? Did you feel welcomed when you entered and inspired and accomplished when you left?
I realize that this may seem like a lot, but it is important to do your homework when making an expensive investment; no, I am not referring to the money that a CrossFit gym costs, but the investment that you are making in your greatest asset: YOURSELF. As the market becomes more and more saturated, on the outside it may seem difficult to differentiate the good from the bad. If an educated decision is made, I guarantee you that CrossFit can be the BEST investment that you can ever make.