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Tips for Starting CrossFit


It’s time! You want to get in shape, so you think about giving this “CrossFit” thing a try. You walk into the gym, and it’s a little bit intimidating: You see fit-looking people wearing t-shirts with words that you don’t understand (“What the heck is a pood?!”), joking with each other about things that sound sketchy and/or illegal (“Did you do Mary yesterday?” “Yeah, I killed her!”), and doing things that look like ninja stunt tricks.

Starting CrossFit can be scary, but here are some tips to help you get through those first few classes:

1. Remember that all of the badasses you see in the gym weren’t born that way

When you meet someone for the first time, it’s easy to think that the person you see in front of you is the same person that you would have seen if you met him or her a month ago, or a year ago, or a decade ago. But that’s simply not the case. Every confident, fit athlete you see in a CrossFit gym started out as an intimidated, out-of-shape beginner. It isn’t that CrossFit is only for really fit people — it’s that anyone can walk into a CrossFit gym and, with hard work and time, become a really fit person.

2. Scaling is your best friend

Scaling refers to the practice of modifying movements, loads, rep schemes, and other elements of a workout in order to render it suitable for an individual’s level of skill, level of fitness, mobility limitation, and/or injury. In other words, every workout we do is modified so that each individual in the class is doing a workout that is appropriate for his or her specific needs and goals. Don’t worry about what someone else is doing. Don’t try to keep up with the person next to you, or lift as much weight as someone else. Focus on learning good form, listening to your coaches (see below), and letting your body get accustomed to the rigors of CrossFit at its own pace.

3. Your coaches are your second-best friends

In CrossFit, we call the people who instruct the classes “coaches” instead of “trainers.” A trainer is someone who leads you through a set of movements, setting pins for you on the weight machines and telling you how many reps to do. A coach is someone who teaches you skills — how to move your body, how to push yourself, and how to do things you thought you’d never be able to do. As you begin your CrossFit experience, the best thing that you can do is be open, honest, and forthright with your coaches. We can fix movement problems and physical things we can see, but we aren’t psychic. We need to know how you feel, and when you’re feeling nervous about a particular workout or movement, when you’re sore, and when you’re tired — and the more open you are about these things in your first few classes, the better your coaches will be able to help you.

4. Have fun!

The best thing about CrossFit is that it’s different every day. You get to learn new skills. You get to hang out with other people who are also interested in improving their fitness. You’re always doing something new, something different, something interesting. It’s like recess for grown-ups. Yes, the workouts are hard. Yes, you’ll be sore. But all you have to do is show up and be willing to give it a shot — your coaches have programmed a great workout for you and will guide you through it while making sure that everything is appropriately scaled for you. Your classmates will encourage and support you. Ke$ha and Ludacris and AC/DC will blast from the speakers, and you’ll do things you never thought you would. You’ll find that your new CrossFit gym is a fun, friendly, and supportive place — so enjoy it!

Starting CrossFit can be intimidating, but if you stick with it, you’ll quickly discover that the people are friendly, the workouts are modified for everyone’s individual needs, and the results are amazing.

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