What Should CrossFitters Call Me: First Steps


Above picture is Coach Jess Dean during her first weeks as a new CrossFitter.  We all start somewhere.  Bench dips and 25# on the bar:)

 So you signed up for your first CrossFit class?

Good for you!

You’ve officially taken the first step in a lifelong fitness journey that will provide you with not only an incredible workout program, but also a close knit community of caring and helpful people who all share a passion for fitness.

When you first signed up, you probably gave yourself a pat on the back for taking a proactive step towards a healthier life. However, as you lay in bed later that night, it is likely that feelings of regret washed over you, as you wondered how on earth you would be able to keep up with all the future Sam Briggs and Rich Fronings who would join you in your first crossfit class.

But, never to fear, What Should Crossfitters Call Me is here to break down all the crossfit myths you’ve heard and to give you a little bit of advice for your first crossfit class.

1. Focus on yourself. When you walk into the crossfit gym, you are going to see all kinds of people. From people like yourself who are just starting crossfit to the best of the best who have made crossfit their lifelong passion. However, in terms of yourself, the only person who matters in that crossfit gym is yourself. Because you are attending an intro class, I am going to assume that the person running the class will not force a bunch of beginners to complete a more advanced level crossfit WOD. WODs with advanced lifting and gymnastics skills, although they can be completed by beginners, are usually reserved for more experienced crossfitters. So you probably won’t need to worry about the classic WODs that we often complain about here on What Should Crossfitters Call Me, such as Fran or Murph. Regardless, in any group situation, it can be far too easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all and simply go with the crowd. Remember, the basic principles of crossfit is that it is scalable to any level. Therefore, just because the girl next to you is using a 14 pound wall ball or doing kipping pullups, does not mean you have to. Although crossfit is all about getting out of your comfort zone. That journey to the outside involves taking calculated risks, meaning that the level of risks you take are based on percentages of your capabilities. Think about it this way. An advanced crossfitter might be able to do 10 muscle ups unbroken, whereas an intermediate crossfitter may be able to do one. When these two crossfitters go to do the WOD, the advanced crossfitter is going to try to push themselves outside their comfort zone by perhaps trying to do 11 or 12 muscle ups in a row, whereas the intermediate crossfitter might try to string a few together, because although doing 11 muscle ups in a row would be pushing outside of their comfort zone, it could also injure them, because it’s just too far percentage wise outside of their capabilities. This will also apply to you when you go to your first class. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone and take risks, but do so based on your own capabilities, not the abilities of the person next to you.

You are the only person who matters in crossfit. You, your goals, and your own personal abilities is the only thing you should be focusing on as you begin your crossfit journey.

2. My second piece of advice to you, is to listen to your coach. Although it is fun to chat with all the interesting people you will meet in your class, listening to the coach will not only help you to become accustomed with the proper form to prevent injuries, but can also help you to get a feel for what crossfit is actually like. Coaches play a huge role in the journey of an athlete, and often times the coach will offer you advice about the WOD that will help you finish the WOD more effectively.

Your coach will be one of your greatest resources in crossfit. They will be one of your greatest resources and your biggest cheerleader as you begin and continue in crossfit.

3. Talk to the people in your class. Before and after the class, talk to the people you’ll be WODing with. Chances are, you’ll meet some pretty cool people from all walks of life. Not only that, but these will probably be the people who you will go through your introductory sessions with and who will probably be the people you’ll hang out with when you get thrown into actual crossfit classes after graduating from your box’s introductory program.

4. Talk to the advanced crossfitters in the gym. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone in a different way and go up to the toughest looking guy or girl in the gym, introduce yourself, and start talking to them (just make sure they look like they’re on a break from their training). Seriously, being a long time crossfitter myself, I can tell you right now that we love to talk to new crossfitters, especially about crossfit. There’s a reason why we spend 90% of our waking hours at the box, it’s because we love crossfit and we would love to talk to you and give you advice about the crossfit journey you are about to embark on. So seriously, don’t be shy! You may end up making a new friend in the process.

5. Show up at least 15 minutes early. The coaches at the box you go to will probably need you to warm up and sign waiver forms before you can work out. Crossfit classes are generally run back to back, so if you are late and set back the whole class, you could end up setting back other classes that come after yours. Not only that, but it will give you some extra time to ask questions of your coach and talk to other athletes.

6. Know that no one at the crossfit box really cares about what you wear. Trust me, we really don’t. I constantly see people showing up in fancy new workout outfits equipped, dresses head to toe in lulu lemon with their hair done up like they’re going to a photo shoot. Let me tell you that crossfit is the only place where I can neon spandex, high knee socks, and a sports bra and not be judged. Why? Because I can promise you that at the end of the day, people are more likely to be talking about your snatch PR rather than whose lulus looked the best.

7. Start slow. While it may be tempting to sign up for unlimited classes, start with 2-3 days per week. If you dive right into it and start WODing 5+ days per week with few rest days, you’re only going to end up injured and burnt out. So start small and add on when you feel ready.

8. Check your ego at the door. I am going to say this again, because it cannot be said enough times. Check your ego at the door. Whether you are going into the introductory program at your box or trying out a class for free, I can guarantee you that unless you are a superhuman or have been training in other serious exercise programs before this, you will not hold the top times on the board. Not only that, but you may not be as strong as you think. Crossfit is hard, and it is going to kick your butt. After many years, it still continues to kick mine on a daily basis (trust me when I say it never gets easier). Don’t go in expecting it to be easy, because you’ll only end up disappointed and probably a little more than sore.

9. Crossfit is not what you have seen on TV. Just like what you see the Olympic gymnasts do is not what you should expect to find in an average gym, the same holds true for crossfit. Far too many people tell me that they are too afraid to start crossfit, because they could never be like the people on TV. The men and women you see competing in the Crossfit Games on TV represent the pinnacle of elite crossfit as a sport and serve as excellent role models through their dedication and hard work, they are not a realistic representation of what you will find in your average box. Not only that, point of crossfit is not to end up like the athletes at the crossfit games. The real point of crossfit is to make a positive and healthy change in your life and hopefully find something that you love to do along with a group of people you love just as much.

Although these women represent the pinnacle of elite crossfit, they are not a realistic representation of what you will find in your average crossfit gym.

10. Crossfit is not for everyone. I know this sounds strange coming from someone who lives and breathes crossfit, but I can honestly tell you that crossfit is not for everyone. If you go to your first crossfit class and hate it, then you should by no means feel obligated to continue. As I said before, crossfit is not about going to the games, but rather finding a lifelong passion for fitness. If you cannot find that passion in crossfit, then get out there and find something else. Yoga, Zumba, Spin Class, Running. As long as you’re staying active, it’s all good.