Maybe you’re trying to find a CrossFit gym that just feels right, or maybe you’re testing out CrossFit for the first time. Whatever the case may be, make sure the boxes you’re visiting have what you want before you sign on the dotted line.
Are they clean? I’ve had personal experiences with CrossFit gyms that leave you with black knees at the end of a workout. White shorts have been thrown in the trash after several attempts to wash away the grunge. Clients would ask in advance if we were doing burpees so they knew to wear pants and a colored shirt to minimize the stains. No one should expect to pay $100 plus a month to workout in other peoples dirt and sweat. Gross! It’s really not that complicated, vacuum a minimum of once a day and mop a minimum of once a week. The time investment is minimal. The clients may never mention it, but that’s a good thing. When a client notices a gym’s cleanliness it’s usually due to a negative experience at one point or another.
True story: When I opened CrossFit ABF I was shocked that all it took to keep the knees clean was to vacuum once a night. I would constantly wipe the floor with my finger in disbelief of a simple vacuum being the “miracle cure”. And, my goodness, the difference in a gym matt that’s been mopped and one that hasn’t was eye opening. It took me about two weeks to break the finger test habit (sad really).
What about the coaching? Are you getting it? Drop in a couple different days or come in for a free Saturday class. Is the coach on the floor, engaging in the class, or is he or she hiding in the office or goofing around on the cellphone? CrossFitters pay for personal training and they deserve it. Let’s face it, CrossFit can be an extreme sport, and with any extreme sport there are inherent risks. Minimize those risks with proper coaching, especially if you’re paying a pretty penny for it.
Are the coaches making corrections, motivating athletes, suggesting scaled movements? Are they certified? I’m sure there are plenty of good coaches out there who don’t have a Level 1. Similar to there being plenty of good handymen out there who don’t have a contractor’s license. However, if I have the option of paying the same price for a handyman that I do a contractor, I’m going to go with the one who has a certification. That’s not to say all coaches with a Level 1 are good coaches, but they’re more likely better equipped to address a CrossFit class having training in CrossFit methodology. One aspect of the Level 1 cert is scalability, and CrossFit prides itself on being universally scalable. I would have serious apprehension about any gym that asks a beginner who just walked in the door to do the same movement as a seasoned veteran.
Is the gym family filled with genuine good people? CrossFit ABF is all about community and integrity. The majority of us hang out on weekends or text each other to make sure we’re going to class that night. Not all personalities get along like best friend, but I’d like to think everyone enjoys each other’s company and has a healthy-friendly competitive spirit. No one is shaving reps or posting bogus times. We all want to get in shape and have fun doing it. We all want to motivate our buddies and refuse to see them fail.
When you decide to lay your time and money on the line, like anything else, do you homework first. Make note of the important things. I encourage you to comment with your thoughts on what makes a great gym.