Starting a new exercise routine can be nerve-wracking, and for many people getting to the gym is often the most difficult part. This may be especially true for those starting CrossFit for the first time. In a gym where members seem to speak their own language, demonstrate intense strength and endurance, and casually walk around on their hands, it can seem intimidating for a newcomer. But don’t worry, we truly are a “judgement free zone.” You will feel comfortable and encouraged by the amazing community of coaches and members at CrossFit Recreate.
CrossFit has become a popular form of exercise within the fitness industry. Whether you have learned about CrossFit through an online source or from a CrossFit devotee, you are sure to find a wide range of opinions surrounding the topic. Avid CrossFitters will tell you all the ways it is sure to benefit you, while CrossFit critics will tell you all the ways it is sure to injure you. With over 15,000 affiliate locations in over 162 countries, there is no doubt that CrossFit is making its mark on the world.
With all the controversy and prejudices surrounding CrossFit, it can be difficult for a curious new member to know exactly what to expect. That’s why we’ve created this everything-you-need-to-know “Beginner’s Guide to CrossFit.”
What is CrossFit?
CrossFit is defined by CrossFit.com as “A lifestyle characterized by safe, effective exercise and sound nutrition.”
CrossFit was created in 2000 by former gymnast Greg Glassman. It’s programming incorporates movements from various competitive fitness sports such as: Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, high-intensity interval training, plyometrics, calisthenics, gymnastics, and more, offering a specialty in not specializing.
Constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity. CrossFit is designed for everyone. It is scalable in all aspects making it the perfect fitness regime for any committed individual, regardless of experience. All of our CrossFit workouts are based on functional movements, the core movements of life. We combine movements such as running, rowing, biking, jumping rope, weightlifting and various bodyweight exercises. We use barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, medicine balls, and plyo boxes. These elements are mixed in endless combinations to form our daily workouts. The classes are an hour long and typically include a warm-up, skill and strength development, conditioning and mobility.
CrossFit is performed at thousands of affiliates worldwide. It is often times attempted to be imitated by regular globo gyms- they’ll offer classes such as “X-Fit”, “CrossTrain”, or just blatantly call their class CrossFit. These classes might give you an OK workout, but they are NOT CrossFit. CrossFit classes at an affiliate are coached by certified CrossFit Level 1 (or higher) coaches, the workouts are programmed to build on each other over weeks and months- this programming is going to give you progress unmatched by the imitation classes. The coaches’ eye for correcting your movement patterns, knowing how to modify movements to help you get the most out of the programming, ensuring you are moving safely… these are the things you will get at a real affiliate. One thing that CrossFit provides is also a COMMUNITY, unlike any regular gym you go to. The coaches and members have a camaraderie that you’d be hard pressed to find outside of the CrossFit box.
Can Anyone Do CrossFit?
CrossFit aims to forge a broad, general, and inclusive fitness. What the heck does this mean exactly?
Well, according to Crossfit.com “The CrossFit program is designed for universal scalability, making it the perfect application for any committed individual regardless of experience. We scale load and intensity; we don’t change programs.” “Our understanding is that the needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind,” said Greg Glassman, CrossFit founder and CEO.
Instead of creating multiple different workouts each day for people of varying degrees, one WOD (Workout Of the Day) is prescribed (RX) to all, with scalable options based on your each individual’s capability and skill level.
For example, if a WOD calls for front squats with the RX weight at 100lbs, but you are only able to front squat the barbell’s weight (45lbs), then this will be your starting point.Or maybe you aren’t ready for weight at all, then you coach will advise you to possibly do an air squat or other appropriate modification. In the same sense, if a WOD calls for toes-to-bar, but you have not yet mastered this skill, you have the to option to scale down to either toes-to-ring, hanging knee raises, v-ups, etc. Your coach will guide you to the appropriate stimulus based on the intent of the days WOD.
Scaling also applies to those who have a limitation due to an injury or movement restriction. If you are unable to do a certain movement, another similar movement can be substituted in its place. Volume, intensity, speed and repetitions can all also be reduced on a case by case basis, given that each individual is able to preserve the stimulus of the WOD. Again, this is where your coach comes into play, assisting you in choosing the appropriate modifications for your ability and goals. We like to think of CrossFit as “small group personal training” here at CrossFit Recreate.
What is a CrossFit class like?
Almost every CrossFit gym will offer you the opportunity to try out a class for free (WE DO! https://www.crossfitrecreate.com/how-to-join/). This will give you the opportunity to get a feel for what CrossFit classes are like and what they have to offer.
As many other CrossFit gyms, at CrossFit Recreate we offer classes specifically structured classes for different populations. This can include, but is not limited to:
- Introductory/Fundamental classes
These classes are meant to introduce the fundamental movements of CrossFit to beginners and newcomers. This will allow you to understand what the intention of the movements are and how you can execute them safely. It also allows the coach to get to know you and become familiar with your strengths or areas for improvement, and what modifications you will need to make when you transition into regular classes. https://www.crossfitrecreate.com/fundamentals/
- Classes for various age groups (Kids, Teens, Seniors)
These classes are specialized to the needs and learning developments of specific age groups. At CrossFit Recrete we offer Kids Fit, Teen Strength & Conditioning, and Elevate to cater to our clientele of varying ages.
- CrossFit Classes
These classes are the prescribed program of CrossFit, building functional strength and conditioning. This is our main offering at CrossFit Recreate with the widest variety of class time offerings.
- Recreate Bootcamp
No barbells or advanced movements, no prerequisites (such as fundamentals). At CrossFit Recreate we offer ReBoot 3 days per week. It can simply be described as high intensity interval training in a fun group setting, but under the supervision of a knowledgeable coach to keep you moving safely! Again, others offer bootcamp style classes, but our unique equipment, space, and programming are top notch. Often imitated, NEVER duplicated! Come to CFR for the real deal!
You CANNOT out train a bad diet. You can workout all you want but if you don’t clean up your diet you will not see all of the health and fitness benefits you desire. CrossFit Recreate offers 1:1 Nutrition Coaching to help you take control of your diet, become more knowledgeable about food intake, and to be held accountable to your goals.
Typically each CrossFit class is broken up into three parts: Dynamic Warm-Up, Skill/Strength Component, WOD.
The Dynamic Warm-Up typically consists of movements tailored to the skill/strength component and WOD. This will help prime the athlete for what is to come next. This includes functional movements, stretching and complimentary mobility work.
Skilled workouts are designed to develop and improve your ability in skill based exercises such as pull ups, handstands, or double unders. Strength workouts aim to build strength through weight training.
The WOD or the “workout of the day” is where you will be asked to perform a specific amount of exercises in a set time or rep scheme. This portion can last anywhere between 5-30 minutes.
Each portion of the class is explained and demonstrated by the coach. The coach will provide various modifications for those of varying degrees of experience or ability level. Our priority is each athlete’s safety.
Is CrossFit Actually Dangerous?
As with any form of sport or exercise, CrossFit poses the possible risk for injury. CrossFit can be dangerous, but so can driving a car, riding a bike… or sitting on the couch.
Anything and everything is bound to go wrong if you are placed in the wrong situation at the wrong time, with the wrong coaches and the wrong attitude. At CrossFit Recreate we pride ourselves on the positive atmosphere we have built and the knowledgeable coaching staff we employ to keep you safe.
According to Men’s Health Magazine, “Researchers at Kennesaw State University concluded that CrossFit is fairly safe compared to other types of training. After analyzing 3,000 survey responses of CrossFit participants, they found that people who are new to CrossFit or train less than three days a week are more likely to get injured. This is likely because these groups are unfamiliar with the movements.” This is exactly why we require newbies to take Fundamentals before diving into CrossFit classes! We also recommend you attend classes a minimum of 3 days a week so you can progress and become extremely familiar with the movements.
Here are some “Dos and Don’ts” on how to enjoy CrossFit, while minimizing your risk for injury:
DO know your limits & leave your ego at the door.
CrossFit often attracts people who push themselves both physically and mentally. While this can be a great attribute, the competitive and motivating atmosphere may cause people to push themselves too far past their personal limitations. Work with your coach to learn your personal limits and understand the best ways to push yourself. Focus on yourself and what will get you to your goals. Don’t worry about what everyone else around you is capable of. We are all at different points in our fitness journey, and your modifications should reflect that.
DO NOT sacrifice good form/technique for fast speed/large loads.
Often in a CrossFit workout you are asked to complete certain movements within a specific time cap or rep scheme. This often causes people to sacrifice good form/technique for quicker movements or larger loads. Work with your coach to find an appropriate speed/load to ensure you are able to maintain proper form and minimize risk of injury. Adhere to the intended stimulus of the WOD, and if in doubt- ask your coach!
DO prioritize post-workout recovery.
Many people seem to forget the importance of recovery. This means taking proper rest days, stress management, and proper sleep and nutrition. Utilize time after your workout to perform cool down movements and stretches (cool downs are part of our daily programming at CFR). We recommend incorporating mobility exercises and active recovery into your rest days. Chiropractic maintenance and massages can also help ensure your body is in top shape and loosen up any tightness you may be carrying with you.
Is CrossFit Right For You?
Truly, the only way to know if CrossFit is right for you is to try it out for yourself. The worst thing that could happen is that you decide it isn’t for you and you get a good workout in. Make sure to keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone!
Every class is different, so maybe try out a CrossFit and a ReBoot to get a feel for how classes run at CFR and to get a feel for the awesome coaches and members who make CrossFit Recreate a great place to optimize your health!
How To Join?
You can learn more about how to join our CrossFit community at: https://www.crossfitrecreate.com/how-to-join/
Not in our area? You can find a CrossFit affiliate near you at: https://map.crossfit.com/
Blog by Samantha McKain
(Edits/Contributions by Alicia Haller)