CrossFit is intimidating to many — especially those that are only observing from outside the box. But when someone is brave enough to give it a try, there is often an immediate obsession that occurs and can last years. Just google You Tube CrossFit parodies and you’ll understand.
A CrossFit beginner is generally easy to spot. They innocently wander into CrossFit 101 classes wearing running shoes (gasp) and flinch every time a heavy barbell hits the floor. This post provides guidance to newcomers, so that you may avoid the common pitfalls of the CrossFit beginner.
5 Pieces of Advice for a CrossFit Beginner
1. Beware of “New Relationship” Obsessive Behaviors
Being a CrossFit beginner is all hearts and flowers. Well, by hearts and flowers I mean gasping for air and being afraid of everything from the barbell to the box jumps. We all vividly remember the sweaty palm, butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling that used to (*ahem…sometimes still does) come from the 3-2-1 countdown clock.
The early days of CrossFit hold a lot of anticipation and elation. What starts for most as a really humbling experience often results in mastering new skills or RXing a prescribed WOD — that’s workout of the day for the newbies. With that comes a huge sense of accomplishment, as it should.
Of course, this is almost always paired with the evangelization that every new CrossFitter feels to talk about nothing else. As the saying goes, “The first rule of CrossFit is that you must always talk about CrossFit.”
Be proud! Celebrate with fellow CrossFitters, but try not to fall into the habit of working CrossFit into every conversation you have. You will annoy friends and family who don’t understand that words like snatch and jerk are not, in fact, dirty words.
2. Trust in Your Coaches and There is No Limit to What Can Be Achieved
Perhaps the biggest value of CrossFit comes in the form of talented coaches who meet athletes at their current fitness level — whatever that may be. They will challenge you to be the best athlete you can be today and they will push you to set new goals for tomorrow, next week, next month.
At some point in almost every CrossFit journey, you will find yourself frustrated by roadblocks. Coaches are there to provide feedback and cues, progressions and specific exercises so that you can make progress once again.
Being held accountable for your own actions is the key to success and there is no one like a good coach to give you blunt, honest advice. Want to get better at stringing pull ups together? Then you need to work on pull ups every day, not just every time they are programmed in a WOD…
These people are the experts. They tell it like it is. It may take some getting used to, but the honesty can be both refreshing and necessary if you want to improve.
They are also, I have found, the biggest advocates for their athletes. Like a proud parent they cheer the loudest when goals are met, personal records are set, and every ounce of effort has been expended. Fist bump, anyone?
3. There is Much to Be Gained By Embracing the CrossFit Community
While the widely-viewed images of CrossFit athletes on ESPN are beautiful human specimens, the broader CrossFit community includes a variety of athletes: old and young; elite and average; good looking and better looking.
It’s like a cult, they say. Bonds are formed; friendships are made; meals are shared. But I promise no Kool-Aid is sipped (as that stuff is mostly toxic sugar anyway). A lot of CrossFit boxes will host many events to bring the community together. Team building is helpful in a variety of real world applications and CrossFit is no different. You often get more out of it than you put in.
Get to know your fellow athletes. Allow them (whether younger, older, stronger or weaker) to encourage, inspire and motivate you, because your CrossFit experience is also inspiring them. There is no one better to challenge you and keep you accountable.
Together, you will celebrate getting the most out of your fitness throughout the process.
4. The Pursuit of Fitness is Made Both Easier and Harder With the Passage of Time
For every athlete, it is important to know yourself. Accept that, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of CrossFit beginner to box elite, there’s always room for improvement.
Don’t take this time of discovery for granted. You will only get older from here and all too soon the next crop of younger, stronger, better-looking athletes will be walking through the door ready to crush box records. It’s just the nature of things.
Some of us (most of us) are just looking to improve our health and fitness for the game of life. The muscle soreness that never goes away is actually evidence of getting stronger and you should embrace it. Never being comfortable can be a really good thing.
5. CrossFit, Like Life, is Full of Ups and Downs
While the newness of CrossFit is exciting, you’re most likely to find success if you view this as a long-term commitment – with all the ups and downs that come with it.
You will have good days and bad days. You will hit new milestones and then struggle to regain certain PRs that once seemed easier. You will let yourself down, but come back the next day to try again. Be inspired by others and cheer for your fellow athletes every time. Listen to coaches and continue to push your body to try new things.
Welcome to the community. Enjoy the journey.