CrossFit continues to gain in popularity as a great exercise program. CrossFit and its basis in programming functional movements, has helped many achieve their goals to move better and feel stronger in their day to day lives. The high intensity and compound movements allow people to see rapid results in both performance and body composition. However, with the growing trend it can be difficult to select an affiliate that ensures you are working with qualified coaches. Coaches who carefully monitor and evaluate their own programming in addition to their members’ progression minimizing the risk of injury. To help ease the complexity of selecting an affiliate, we’d like to take a moment to discuss what you should look for in a CrossFit box.
Deciding to become a member of a CrossFit affiliate, as well as choosing the right one, is a big decision. For some there are not many to choose from. The choice will be simplified by location. However, others will find many options to choose from (Think Starbucks).
There are are many things to think about when choosing the right box. Questions such as how many members do they have? What is the average class size? What equipment do they have? Is the equipment in good shape? And, probably the largest of them all, what is the cost? Regardless, safety and proper progression should be your top priority. Below is a list of the Top 6 questions to ask any affiliate owner and their coaching staff to ensure that you don’t regret your decision.
1) What are the coach’s qualifications?
This is a great place to start. Qualifications can tell you a lot about the focus of the coach. A coach that is passionate about training athletes will typically have many qualifications. This is a sign of someone who likes to stay up to date on the latest knowledge, data, and trends in fitness. Having the most certificates and highest degrees does not necessarily make the best coach, but it will show you their dedication to improving their ability to coach and ultimately you as their athlete.
2) How much experience does the coaching staff have?
Make sure the coaching staff has experience watching and developing athletes. Ask them how and why they got into coaching. Having a passionate coach is essential to developing your skills and reaching your goals. Ask about their coaching process and methodology. Find out if they have a program that makes sense. The last thing you want is a set of coaches that program workouts haphazardly. Their programming should take into account which muscle groups they are working and what modalities they are training.
3) What do they know about proper nutrition for your level of activity?
The largest factor in making progress with any exercise program is diet and nutrition. Find out what knowledge the owners and trainers have about proper nutrition and how they can help you so that you succeed in meeting your goals. Find out if they can help you layout a nutrition plan or point you in the right direction. Proper nutrition is essential to staying healthy as well as maintaining a fitness program.
4) What classes do they offer outside of standard CrossFit classes?
CrossFit contains a myriad of different movements and it can take quite a bit of time to become skilled at many of them. By offering different types of classes, an affiliate can help you attain proficiency in all modalities much faster. For example, olympic lifting classes can develop your weightlifting skills by teaching you how to move faster and be more explosive. Classes such as these are taught in a focused and controlled manner and often lead to new PRs.
If you are new to CrossFit you will want to find out if they offer starter courses for beginners. These are a great place to start if you are unfamiliar with the movements. Starter classes will help you learn the basics as well as offering more focus on form and technique.
Lastly, make sure the box offers an Open Gym class. No athlete is exactly the same. Often you will have strengths and weaknesses far different from you piers. Open gym classes will give you the time you need to develop skills in weak areas. You will have free reign to all the equipment and will not be limited to the movements contained in the workout for that day.
5) How do they help you achieve your goals?
One thing you need to do when beginning any fitness program is set goals. This will allow you to monitor and track progress giving you feedback on whether or not the program is correct for you. When you look around the affiliate, check to see if there is a wall dedicated to members’ goals. Does the affiliate encourage setting goals and help make sure that you meet them? Does the coach ask you what your goals are?
6) Are they looking out for your safety?
Safety is a huge concern with any activity and CrossFit is no different. Many workouts involve lifting barbells, swinging kettle bells as well as gymnastic movements on a bar or rings. All of these can lead to an environment that can quickly get out of control. Find out how the affiliate views safety and what they do to lessen the chances of injury. Ask what the average class sizes are, this will range depending on the size of the affiliate, but you should have enough space even when a class is full. Having more than 12 athletes per coach can make it hard for a coach to monitor all the athletes as they workout. Find out if the coaches know how to monitor proper form so that you are not injured by performing the movements. Ask about injuries, find out how often athletes get sick after workouts. Ask if anyone has ever had rhabdomyolysis after a workout. Deficiencies in any of these areas may indicate that the coaches are not paying enough attention to their athletes.
Finding the CrossFit affiliate that suites you best can be a tough process with all the options available to you. By asking these questions you can learn a lot about the affiliates you visit and make sure the choice you make is the right one. You should demand a lot more from an affiliate. More than simply a place to show up and workout. After all you are engaging in a commitment with them as a member as well as joining their community. Make sure it is the community that suites you best and will help you reach your goals as well as establish new ones.
Very well written Mark. I appreciate everything you said. Having visited many boxes, it always makes me appreciate the coaching/environment we receive at Reflexion.
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