If you’ve never been to a gym before, trying to find the right one can be a stressful and intimidating experience. I’ve been working out since high school and it can still be hard to walk into a place full of strangers, no matter how in shape I am or how much I’ve learned over the years. I also know for me, walking into my first CrossFit gym was very intimidating. All I had seen were the people at the CrossFit Games with their huge muscles, rowing, running, jumping all over the place. I knew CrossFit was something I wanted to try but actually putting myself out there and going to a gym was still intimidating. However, I still went through with it. I still remember the sunny day I pulled up to my old gym to find music blasting, people running sprints and just so much activity going on. As soon as I walked in, I knew it was something I wanted to keep coming to. Lucky for me, I was very fortunate in finding the gym that I did. I’ve found that most people who don’t continue with CrossFit or write it off, are the people who went to a gym, had a bad experience or a bad coach and think that it’s not for them. For that reason, I’m here to offer some helpful tips to make sure anyone can choose the right CrossFit gym for them!
1. Do your research
Just like when you buy a new car, travel somewhere or move to a new area, you have to do your research. Don’t just look up the closest CrossFit gym to you and decide you’re only going to go there. For starters, go to the Affiliate Map on Crossfit.com to look up several gyms in your areas. Look at their websites, check their schedules, look at their programming and see if you can get a feel for the community.
2. Contact each gym before you try it out
As a coach and someone who deals with new members, things go much smoother if you contact the gym beforehand. It not only helps us be prepared for you but you’ll also be helping yourself. It may be surprising that sometimes you can e-mail a gym or call the contact number and never get a call or response back. If this is the case, then this is more than likely not a good gym to commit to. Also, most gyms provide a free Saturday morning class to try out the gym without fully committing.
3. Talk to the owner and coaches
Depending on the size of the gym, there may multiple coaches and/or multiple owners. Both gyms I’ve chosen had two owners who coaches along with multiple coaches under them. In my opinion, if you’re at a good gym, the owner is going to be there often and going to be very involved in the gym. Talk to them and make sure they are they for you, not just in getting your money. Ask plenty of questions and really get to know them.
4. Talk to the other members
I know it’s hard to put yourself out there sometimes but talking to current members is one of the best things you can do when choosing a new gym. Being at the gym should be a fun experience. One of the best things about any CrossFit gym I’ve been to is the community. Getting through a workout together, hitting new PRs with your friends and pushing yourself is a real bonding experience, as cheesy as that sounds! In the same way you ask the owner and coaches questions, ask the members questions too. Get their perspective on coaching, the programming, the way the business is run and all that good stuff.
One of the most important things when choosing a new CrossFit gym is paying attention to how they scale the workouts and what other options they give you. If you can’t do strict pull-ups, you shouldn’t’ be doing 50 kipping pull-ups in a WOD (Workout of the day). In that case, you’d be given a scaled movement to do the WOD. Or if you don’t feel comfortable with weight on a bar or using heavier weights, the coach isn’t going to make you do it. The great thing about CrossFit is that all the movements are able to be scaled!