Fresh out of Foundations, the world of CrossFit can seem a bit overwhelming, full of jargon, percentages, and acronyms only a government employee could love. (“This is an AMRAP WOD of T2B and DUs!!!”) While things can seem to move pretty fast, there are some specific strategies and considerations that will make your daily hour of fitness better spent. Equally important, it will make for a more pleasant experience for your fellow members, and allow your coaches more time to spend doing what they love (yelling “Knees out!” for instance) and less time in an administrative or cat-shepherding function. To be fully awesome, do this:
Read the Blog
Aside from inspiring/funny pictures of your fellow members and links to Prancercise videos, your gym blog or Facebook page contains some very important information—the daily programming. At almost every CrossFit gym the coaches take time and care to write out the lifts, WODs, and accessory work you will see when you get to the gym, often with some editorial comment, helpful links, or videos related to their execution. Taking a few minutes to review your expected toils will let you plan your approach, think about possible scaling or substitutions, and save everyone time when you get to the gym. Also, if your gym allows for it make sure to comment or add your voice to the community in a way that’s appropriate.
Know Your Numbers
The more experienced members at your gym aren’t writing in =their dream journals after class, they are keeping notes in their training logs, and you are encouraged, nay, expected, to keep one too. Dutifully logging your numbers will allow you to track progress over time, so you will know when to give yourself pats on the back (assuming you have to mobility to do so, see below). At any affiliate worth its chalk bucket the programming will be at least somewhat referential in nature—it is based upon work you have done before—whether that’s last week’s squat numbers, a bench press 1RM, or your time and scaling on a benchmark WOD. Even days that seem self-contained—a novel WOD or a lifting day where we “work up to a heavy 5”—can be better understood if you have the context of similar WODs or previous lifts. If you are following more advanced programming, this is especially important, as much of the programming is percentage-based. You will earn the undying love of your rackmates and coaches if you have worked out your percentages or loads before you lift, trust me.
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Have Your Gear Ready
Shoes, wraps, belts—somewhere along the line CrossFit evolved from the hobby of sweaty dudes in Chuck Taylors and board shorts into the sport of spandex-clad meat robots (props to Kelly Starrett) sporting enough neon-colored accessories to make Jem jealous. With some exceptions, good gear can be a true boon to your performance, and as such we encourage members to take advantage of it. That said, at the very least you should have your gear within immediate arm’s reach when it comes time to use it. Having to dash to your bag to grab your jump rope or switching shoes during lifting time eats into everyone’s time. Part of the blog review mentioned above is to make sure you know what gear you need to bring, and when you will need it. Be prepared.
Be a Good Barbell Partner
So now you’ve read the blog, prepped your numbers, laid out all your sparkly fitness gear, and it’s time for *gasp* actual human interaction! The biggest difference between CrossFit affiliates and a globo gym is that ours is a communitarian fitness experience, and our conduct at the gym can enhance and embellish the experience of our fellow members. So when paired with someone to lift, introduce yourself, chat for a bit about what you have planned for the next 15 minutes of training, and then be an active and encouraging partner. Watch your partner’s lifts, offer kind words and feedback, and be ready to lift when it’s your turn. Nothing is worse than waiting around for your bar partner, who has unexpectedly disappeared to go pet a dog.
Before and after class make sure to say hi, to everyone (!) but especially the people you tend to see a lot and work out with. Forging these relationships is what makes a CrossFit affiliate special, and the encouragement and accountability will help you stay on track. Exchange numbers, emails, and social media handles, and celebrate each other’s accomplishments, push each other, and check in when someone disappears for a while. This might be the most powerful tool for continued success in CrossFit and it’s free!
Show Up Early, Stay Late
We pack a lot into an hour at CrossFit, but we can’t do everything everyone wants to do within the relatively short time we have allotted. If you are feeling beat up, have specific mobility concerns, or want to practice a specific skill, feel free to come before class—or stay after—to work on your goals. The coaches are always happy to point you in the right direction to get you started. Incorporating your gym’s specialty classes, be they skill, mobility, or recovery-focused will give you tools and ideas to address your problem areas and work on your weaknesses. Making sure that you are physically prepared for class will reap immediate performance benefits. Our most successful athletes make sure they are properly warmed up and mobilized before class and make sure to cool down and work on skills afterwards.
At the very, very least, be on time. Running into a class late is disruptive for other members and the coaches, but more importantly you are gambling your personal safety by coming in cold and underprepared. A good rule for most affiliates is a rough five-minute grace period for class attendance. After about 5 minutes I’d make sure to personally ask (maybe even beg) your coach to join. If you show up 10 or more minutes late start planning your extended warm-up before the next class, or ask your beloved coaches how they like their coffee!
That’s it, kids. Print this list out, tape it to the inside of your eyelids, and we’ll see you at the gym!
Originally published on Inside The Affiliate. Noah made a few tweaks and re-published it here.
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