CrossFit has become a cultural phenomenon — its own little community within itself. And like any community, there are a certain set of gym rules and etiquettes that gym members follow, whether they realize it or not.
Learning the names of your lifts are important, but learning proper CrossFit protocol will help you quickly assimilate into your new gym.
Now, CrossFitters are generally a pretty jovial bunch. No one expects you to be elite right out of the gate, so we’ve put together a basic list of gym rules to help you get comfortable in your gym. Seasoned members could also stand to glance over the list, as I know I myself am sometimes guilty of number four and number six!
Remember, you should always feel comfortable asking your coaches for clarification or reminders when it comes to ANYTHING in your gym, including these age-old rules. If you don’t, reevaluate the gym you’re attending — life is too short not to have fun at CrossFit!
12 Gym Rules for CrossFitters
1. Never Drop an Empty Barbell
This first rule of CrossFit is never stop talking about CrossFit. The second rule of CrossFit is never, ever, under any circumstances drop an empty barbell.
When you start attending a box, you’ll see people dropping weight all the time. It may bother you in the beginning — the noise is loud and seems violent, but you’ll adjust to it quickly.
Barbells are pretty expensive — a men or women’s bar can run anywhere from $150 all the way up to $600. They require a lot of behind the scenes care from your coaches and box owners to spin and function correctly so that you can nail new PRs without any equipment trouble. Dropping a barbell is a sure fire way to cause damage to the equipment that is often irreparable. So be careful with your barbell and treat it with respect.
2. Don’t Put Up Your Equipment Before Everybody is Done Working Out
I’m not sure if this is a rule at all boxes, but it should be. At my gym, we don’t begin the process of breaking down weight and putting up our equipment until every person has completed their WOD.
This is for two reasons — first of all, when you have people swinging their bodies and heavy weight around a gym, you increase the chances of injury and collision when you have people walking around (see number 3).
Second of all, if you’ve completed your workout and caught your breath, you should be cheering on those who are not finished yet. This is something that is SO important in CrossFit and that differentiates it from any other sport. It’s a community that prides itself on supporting all of our athletes, from the new CrossFitter who’s doing shrugs and HSPU modifications to Games-level athletes.
Even while watching the CrossFit Games, you will see athletes cheering each other on when they’ve completed their own workouts. Don’t be a jerk.
3. Don’t Walk Through The Gym During a WOD
This is disrespectful and dangerous. You’re distracting athletes during their workout and increasing your chances of taking a barbell upside the head for no reason.
If you find yourself early for a class, walk around the perimeter of the box to the waiting area. Don’t ever walk through people while they’re working out.
4. Don’t Show Up Late
Most, if not all, CrossFit gyms run on a class-type schedule. For example, I go to the 6:30 class, so at exactly 6:30 p.m., we begin warming up, followed by 15 to 20 minutes of strength or skill work and then use the remaining 30 minutes of class for our WOD.
Sometimes, being late can’t be helped. Trains, traffic and jobs are a real downer in this department. But, for the rest of the time, make sure you’re on time. Classes generally move at a pretty brisk pace and when you show up late, you force your coach to waste time repeating instructions and cause a disruption in the class.
Showing up late also again increases your chance of an unnecessary injury. Warming up your muscles and body for exercise is extremely important. Showing up late at my box means burpees, partially as punishment but mainly to get your blood pumping so you don’t get hurt.
5. Help Other Members Put Their Equipment Away
In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of these rules have one thing in common — be the type of person you’d like to work out with. Be respectful to the people you’re working out with as well as your coaches. Be nice!
Continuing along with that theme, help other people put their gym equipment away. There isn’t a solid, logical explanation behind why we do this besides that it’s a nice thing to do and we always treat each other well. It also expedites the clean up process.
Plus, equipment karma will come back to repay you later on. When you’re dead from a killer workout and finally pull your sweaty carcass off the floor, most times you’ll notice all of your equipment has mercifully been put away for you. Thanks guys!
6. Listen to Your Coach
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t whisper and giggle with your friends while your coaches are explaining things (I’m so guilty of this, sorry Coach Chad!) It’s rude and again, you waste precious class time later when they have to repeat things. You could have been working on handstands instead!
7. Listen to Your Body
With that being said, remember that your coach is a human just like the rest of us, and more specifically, a human that is not living inside your body.
Some days, you walk into the gym feeling like the Hulk. Somedays, you’re doing good to lift or squat at 60 or 70 percent of your one rep max. Listen to your body. Don’t push yourself to the brink of injury if you can tell something is off or that your body just isn’t cooperating with you that day. Your coaches should and will understand.
8. Do Cheer People On
When I first started CrossFit, I was legitimately MORTIFIED every time someone cheered for me. We live in a society where apathy is the ultimate go-to emotion and them cheering for me seemed insincere and to me, it only highlighted how bad I was doing.
I can remember members actually coming out and running with me during a particularly rough WOD in the beginning and wishing I could sink through the concrete with embarrassment. I remember thinking I had to finish simply so they’d leave me alone. It probably wasn’t the motivation they intended, but it worked.
Fast forward two years and I cheer without even realizing it. I encourage every person I pass on the mile run — or maybe I should say when they pass me, because I run slower than molasses.
I cheer for my husband. I cheer for my friends. I cheer for the new guy who’s name I don’t know. I cheer because encouragement and support is just as big of a part of CrossFit as olympic lifting or Dave Castro. It goes back to number 2 — cheering is just what we do.
So if you’re new and people are cheering for you, cheer right back. CrossFit is the only sport where the people who finish last get a standing ovation. Enjoy it while you can!
Number 8 leads nicely into number 9 — don’t get embarrassed. Ever. Whether it’s because people are cheering really loudly for you or you just fell straight on your butt during an awkward lift, don’t get embarrassed.
We’ve all done it. We’re all doing it. The fear of embarrassing yourself will hold you back a lot in CrossFit if you let it. Don’t be afraid to shoot for a heavy lift in front of people. Don’t be afraid to sign up for the Open because people will watch you workout. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed of anything because there’s no reason for it.
I find that fear has been my biggest limiting factor in doing CrossFit and it’s something I wish I would have realized sooner. How much did my snatch increase when I stopped being scared of dropping the bar on my head? How easily could I do a HSPU if I wasn’t scared of bending my arms? Could I finally nail toes to bar and knees to elbows if I wasn’t scared of flying off the bar?
Sometimes fear is healthy, but be careful not to let it hold you back from being the best athlete you can be.
10. Don’t Cheat Reps
DON’T CHEAT REPS. Seriously. You are only cheating yourself and for what? To be higher on your gym’s leaderboard for the day?
Good things come to those who earn them, not those who lie about them. It’s okay not to be the best. It’s okay to be in dead last. It’s not okay to lie to feel better about yourself. Don’t do it.
11. Don’t Talk About Other People in the Box
So, in case you can’t tell from the majority of this article, CrossFitters are seriously obsessed with one another. We love each other. We support each other.
When you start giggling because a woman in your class can’t do a proper overhead squat or making fun of someone’s form, you go against everything we believe in. This isn’t high school and we’re not impressed with your mean girl or mean boy attitude.
In CrossFit, we respect EVERYONE regardless of their abilities as long as they’re trying. Now, we might make fun of our friends who talk about how dangerous CrossFit is while sitting on the couch drinking diet soda, but we absolutely do. not. make. fun. of other gym members who are trying their best.
12. Don’t Bring Your Personal Drama in the Gym
If your box is anything like mine — and I really hope it is, because I go to the best gym in the world — it’s more than just a gym. These people are your family. You keep up with their kids and their jobs and what’s going on in their personal life because you love them.
However, sometimes when you’re really close with people, things happen. You get into fights or arguments. You disagree about Facebook politics. You really just can’t stand that one guy.
Don’t bring your personal drama into the gym. If you have a problem with someone in your box, don’t talk to them. Go to a different class. Or, put on your big kid shoes and get over it.
The gym is supposed to be a fun and accepting place for everyone. Again, leave the cliques in high school.
If you don’t feel like you’re being included at your box or if you do feel like there is a lot of clique-ishness or drama, I would again advise finding a new box. You should feel love and unwavering support when you’re at the gym and you shouldn’t be worried about who’s saying what or who’s hanging out with who.