Stepping into a CrossFit gym for the first time can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming…
Fear not newbie, we won’t bite. We’re actually pretty darn friendly and overly supportive once you get to know us. It can be a lot to take in at first glance, especially if you’ve had limited exposure to CrossFit prior to stepping into a “CrossFit Box”. But don’t worry – we’ve got your back. Following are 10 things to keep in mind as you begin your CrossFit journey.
You’re Competing Against Yourself, Not Others
When it comes time to throw down on a WOD (CrossFit Workout of the Day), don’t feel like you have to do everything Rx’d (Prescribed Weight) or be able to do 28″ Box Jumps right off the bat. Go at your own pace. Let the intensity find you. You need a solid foundation of strength and flexibility in order to progress into more demanding workouts. Start light, get your form down, and don’t worry about the mother of three who is Deadlifting 250 as you struggle with the bar. Chase your own capacity before chasing the person next to you.
Don’t Be Too Proud To Scale
As we mentioned above, it’s important for you to find a solid foundation of strength and flexibility, and to do that you have to start with manageable amounts of weight and expectations in the beginning. Don’t try to be all Chuck Norris and come out your first week like you know how to roundhouse kick 16 bad guys straight in a jail cell, ya dig?
Your first month is all about nailing down the movements and perfecting your technique so that you CAN scale up. Don’t worry, even without heaps of weight, you’re going to get a good workout… we guarantee it. If you still feel like you want more, please oh please oh please ask one of the CrossFit Anaerobic Trainers… it is probably one their favorite questions to get asked. Wondering why? Give it a try.
What You Eat Is More Important Than What You Lift
Nutrition is the key to every aspect of your life. It affects your energy levels, your recovery, and your overall defense against disease. To quote the late Jack Lalanne, “You put junk in, junk comes out. You put good in, good comes out.” When you’re first starting out, the quality of your food is far more important than the quantity. Call it whatever you want: Paleo, Primal, Hunter-Gatherer, Pretentious D-Bag Diet… just eat clean. Consult our Paleo Nutrition Page if you want more information on eating clean. Your body is a Ferrari. You wouldn’t put regular unleaded fuel in a Ferrari, would you?
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Clarification, Over and Over and Over Again
It’s your time, money, and most importantly, your health we’re talking about here. If you don’t fully understand something during class, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the class will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time… they probably have the same exact question. We were all newbies at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the kip, squat, deadlift, or any of the Olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.
CrossFit Isn’t Everything
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness (GPP). It is quickly evolving into a sport of its own, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. A majority of people CrossFit so that they can do whatever they want: Go out, play sports, learn new things, etc. Having that GPP allows you to take on new challenges. CrossFit doesn’t have to be your life. Many people CrossFit so they can have a life… and be awesome at it.
It Doesn’t Get Easier, It Just Sucks Less
The longer you immerse yourself in the suck, the less it sucks. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough. All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can attack each workout to the best of your ability. Soon, you’ll come to love the beat downs. Much like Kevin Bacon in Animal House, you’ll be screaming, “Thank you sir! May I have another?” Well, maybe not. But you get the point.
You Won’t PR Every Day
Don’t mistake intensity for hard work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through hard work. Intensity and hard work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned session just because you don’t think you’re going to kill it and leave everything out on the table. Not feeling too strong that day? Something is always better than nothing.
Let’s face it, some of the workouts are not fun. Frankly, some of them just plain suck. I’m looking at you, Hero WODs. But when it’s over, you feel a sense of accomplishment and maybe a little queasy… possibly followed by a great love for your workout mates (endorphin rush anyone?). You shouldn’t be pissed that you didn’t get as many reps as the person next to you. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile. Laugh. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. If you’re not having fun, why are you here? Do you enjoy your overall time spent at CrossFit? Do you enjoy the people, the community, the knowledge and support that it provides?
The things you’ll learn at CrossFit Anaerobic are fun: gymnastics, Olympic lifts, new “angry” music, new words, wods, etc. You can’t do this stuff in a “globo gym” where no one is going to get in your face and cheer you on as you knock out those last five minutes on the elliptical. And the feeling you’ll have the first time you get an unassisted Muscle-Up or a Full Squat Snatch is an amazing sense of power and accomplishment.
You Are All Firebreathers
The term “Firebreather” is defined as:
Firebreather –Fie-r-bre’-th-er:(n) 1. One who faces the triumphs and tribulations of great physical opposition with an indomitable spirit. 2. An optimistic energy associated with the heart of an athlete.
You don’t have to be an “elite” CrossFitter to embody the essence of a true Firebreather. It’s not your Fran time, it’s the spirit you bring to Fran that makes you a Firebreather. Don’t forget that.
Respect Rest and Recovery
Too many newbies (and even those of us who have been doing this a while) get caught up in overtraining. Don’t be afraid to schedule in a recovery day, or a recovery week every 4-6 weeks where you cut the weight, rounds, and intensity in half. You have to think about this from a longevity standpoint. If you’re killing yourself every time you step foot in the CrossFit gym, week after week, month after month, year after year, you’re going to eventually break down. You need to respect your time outside of the gym. There’s an old weightlifting adage that goes something like: “You don’t get bigger and stronger from lifting weights, you get bigger and stronger from recovering from lifting weights.”
Proper nutrition, hydration and sleep all play their part in recovery, but you also need to listen to your body. If you continuously beat yourself down, you’re going to get hurt, injured or worse. Stay on top of your mobility work.
So, what now? You’ve started your OnRamp classes. You’re going to start eating like a caveman soon. And your vocabulary will soon include words like burpee, thruster, and snatch. Welcome to CrossFit Anaerobic! Have you tried the Kool-Aid? Don’t worry, it’s Paleo.
Thanks to the great people at CrossFit Deleware Valley for help with these well-worded tips