How to Succeed in Your First CrossFit Open:
The first thing you need to do is make sure your body has the right amount of time to recover from training. You don’t want to go into a competition with sore muscles or even worse, injured ones! If you’re not already doing so, I would highly recommend getting yourself some quality rest days during the week.
Also take advantage of any free day that comes around. There are many things you can do to maximize your recovery time.
If you have a family, then it’s best if they aren’t around while you train. They’ll probably complain about how tired you feel after just going out and trying to get something done. So if possible, try to schedule your workouts together when there isn’t anyone else around.
That way everyone gets enough sleep and doesn’t have too much stress on them at once (which will only make matters worse).
Another option is to just train alone. If you have the luxury of doing so, then that’s what you should do. However, if you don’t have that luxury, then you might as well share the load with someone else.
It’s up to you though. Personally I like having my own space and time to myself when I’m working out because it allows me to focus on my goals without distraction. Just remember to treat your training sessions as sacred and not something that should be interrupted!
Also remember, you don’t have to work out every day of the week. You might be tempted to since you see others in the community doing it, but that’s not necessary or even healthy for you. Listen to your body and rest when you feel you need to.
It’s better to have quality training sessions than having an entire week of mediocrity because you’re burnt out.
There is such a thing as taking a rest day too. You don’t have to be working out all the time. In fact, that’s a great way to get yourself injured!
When you’re new to CrossFit and in the middle of your first Open, it’s best to space out your training a little bit. Don’t overdo it and remember to listen to your body each time you go into the gym. There will be some times where you’ll feel great and ready to go all out, while other times you’ll feel like absolute crap and just want to lie in bed all day long. It happens to everyone so don’t let it discourage you. You’re human after all.
If there comes a time when you do have to take off from the gym because of certain circumstances, then make sure that you stay on top of your nutrition. It’s usually the first thing to go out the window when you don’t have access to a proper gym, but it’s important that you don’t fall off from your nutrition too much while you’re away.
If you have to play catch up when you finally get back in the gym, then that’s great! You’ll be making up for a lot of missed time and that’ll give you some extra motivation to do better when you come back. It’s not the worst thing that can happen!
Weighing the Risks
I hope by now, I’ve convinced you to join the CrossFit community. Still, I’m guessing that there’s a few concerns that you still have about doing so. This is only natural and I would be worried if you didn’t have them!
Here are some of the most common ones that people ask me and my answers to them:
What if I get hurt?
This is a concern for everyone, but it’s important that you don’t let it scare you into not doing CrossFit. The biggest risk in CrossFit is getting overzealous and doing too much, too soon. This usually happens when people are trying something new or their first competition approaches. If you start going to a box and training with a coach though, you’ll have someone there who will be able to assess your skill level and limitations. They’ll also be able to keep you from doing too much too soon.
If you do get hurt, it’s important that you don’t panic and immediately quit. Minor injuries are going to happen no matter what and all you need to do is take a few days off from the activity that hurt you, especially if it’s a major joint. Most CrossFit injuries are strains to things like your pecs or bicep muscles and most of the time it’s because the person didn’t have a strong foundation of general fitness.
Usually if you rest and condition your weaker areas, you’ll be fine in no time. The best thing you can do if you’re worried about getting hurt is to start going to a coach so they can help you with your form on the movements and get you prepared before throwing weights at you.
What about weight-loss?
I don’t want to get bulky.
This is a common misconception that a lot of people have when they first start CrossFit and see people like me who do it. We’ll get into this more in the nutrition section, but for now just know that you won’t bulk up from doing CrossFit alone. You’d have to be on some serious steroids along with doing heavy weight training in order to do that, and I doubt you’re taking either of those.
What you can expect is to lose weight if that’s your goal, and you’ll also gain some muscle during that process. This is because CrossFit focuses on building up “broad” fitness versus just “short burst” fitness. Broad, in this sense, means that you’re doing a variety of activities that will force you to be better conditioned in the long-term.
This kind of fitness is great for things like walking up a flight of stairs doesn’t completely kill your lungs and allow you to maintain a conversation at the same time. It’s also great for running a short distance without collapsing afterwards. It’ll also help with things like lifting weights because you’ll have the stamina to lift more and more often.
In other words, you won’t get bulky from doing CrossFit, but you’ll gain a solid base of fitness that will benefit you in all aspects of life.
Doesn’t CrossFit make you more prone to injury?
This is probably the second most common concern I hear. The answer is both yes and no, it really just depends on the person and how they approach CrossFit. I’ve been doing CrossFit since 2010 and I’ve never been seriously injured doing it. I have had minor aches and pains here and there, but I’ve also had those from doing things like walking or running.
As with anything, you just need to remember proper form when doing the movements and listen to your body. If something hurts, stop or change what you’re doing. You’re the best judge of your own limitations.
If you don’t have a coach, get one! They’ll help you a lot and teach you proper form. If you’re still not sure, there are lots of free videos on the web showing proper form for each exercise and if all else fails, you can always find someone at your box that looks like they know what they’re doing and ask them.
The other thing that leads to injuries is going too hard, too fast. It’s definitely tempting to want to push yourself, but you need to build a solid foundation before pushing to the limit. If you start off running 5Ks without ever running a mile, you’re going to get hurt.
It’s the same thing with lifting weights. You have to build up your muscles, bones, and joints to be able to handle that increased weight.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start. It doesn’t matter if you’re 30, 40, or 50 when you start doing CrossFit, you’ll see the benefits if you stick with it. I’ve seen people in their 60’s and 70’s do CrossFit and they kick my butt.
So is CrossFit only for young people?
Ha ha ha no! I actually have more people in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s in my classes than I do in the 20’s and 30’s. The main reason for this is that many of those in their 20’s and 30’s have a lot more time to spend at the box, but that doesn’t mean that older crowd isn’t trying to squeeze in workouts whenever they can. The dedication is there, it’s just that their schedule doesn’t allow it to be as consistent.
There’s also a mental aspect of being in your younger years. Many in their younger years have a lot more disposable income and don’t mind spending $60 a month on a gym membership. Many in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s have families and mortgages and can’t necessarily afford to spend that much.
It’s still a financial commitment, but it’s not as much and they can manage it a lot better.
Will CrossFit make me bulky?
This is the other most common concern I hear from women. The answer is yes and no again. It really just depends on the person and their genetics. Some people workout and get nothing but skinny fat, other work out and get a solid muscular build.
First of all, if you’re a female that is already muscular, CrossFit probably isn’t going to make you much bulkier than you already are. It’s possible, but unlikely. Having been in the fitness industry for over a decade now, I can tell you that most women that have muscular builds actually don’t do anything to get that way.
It’s just their genetics. If you have that female athlete build, don’t worry about doing CrossFit, it probably won’t make you much bulkier.
Now if you’re a regular female that isn’t very muscular, do CrossFit and you’ll get muscular.
Again, it depends on your genetics, but if you work hard and eat right, you’ll definitely notice a difference in how you look. I’ve seen it happen a lot. It’s pretty cool actually.
Here’s my advice for women that want to get muscular, but don’t want to be too muscular. Do the strength training workouts, but not the intensive ones like MetCon or Cindy. Do the occasional workout, but focus mostly on the strength training.
Throw in the occasional MetCon if you want, but for the most part, stick to the strength training.
What if I’m busy on a day that we have a class?
It happens, but in the grand scheme of things, you really only miss out on a few minutes of the workout. For example, we might be running for 10 minutes and that’s it. I usually mention to my class that if you’re late you’ll miss jumping over the computer and you’ll just have to do it when you get here next time. So if you’re only missing 10 minutes of a 1 hour class, I wouldn’t worry about it at all.
What if I’m sick?
Sickness happens, but the thing is, you really shouldn’t be working out when you’re sick. Your immune system is already weakened and you could end up doing more harm than good. Now if you’re really feeling up to it, I say go for it, just be careful not to spread your sickness around to others. Remember that there’s no shame in calling in sick.
What if I have to miss a week or two?
This is more of a concern than being sick, but I still wouldn’t worry about it. Some weeks you’ll have things come up and you won’t be able to make it in. It’s fine. The key is to not make a habit of it and try to make up for the classes you missed if possible.
What if I’m injured?
Okay, now this is a big one. I have a few suggestions for you. First, I would highly encourage you to STILL come in and at least watch the class. You’ll be able to see what you’re missing and when you’re ready to come back, you’ll know what to expect.
Second suggestion is to find an injury prevention routine that you can do at home. Try not to do anything that aggravates your injury and focus on exercises that help it. The key is to not do too much, but also not do too little.
This will take some finesse on your part and you may have to adjust as you go, but if you can find that happy medium, you’ll be able to get a good routine going that will help you recover.
If all else fails, ask a trainer at your gym for advice on how to proceed. If they don’t know, they should be able to get you in touch with someone that does.
What if I miss too much training that I fall behind everyone else?
This question always comes up. The answer is, it depends on how long you were gone and what you did to try to stay in shape while you were away.
If you took a week off and tried to stay in shape by doing a few body weight exercises, you should be fine. The key is not to let too much time pass before getting back into the swing of things.
If you took a month off and did nothing to stay in shape, you’re going to be a little behind everyone else. Don’t worry about it too much though because we’ll work you back into the routines slowly. You might be a little sore for the first couple weeks, but that’ll pass.
If you took a month off and sat on your butt eating ice cream and watching Gilmore Girls, you should be concerned. No matter what, you’re going to be a little behind everyone else and it’s going to take some extra effort on your part to play catch up. I’m confident that if you work hard, you’ll get there, but it’s going to take more effort than the other guy that took a week off.
How do you suggest I keep up on classes and still work out at home?
I suggest that you have several training books. I’m talking about the big hardcover kind that has hundreds of pages. These books are specifically written for people training on their own and have tons of pictures and descriptions of various excises. You can get by with just these books if you don’t have internet access or can’t make it to a gym.
Include a book about stretching. Stretching is very important in order to prevent injury and speed your muscle recovery after working out. You don’t want to be that guy that holds everything up because his muscles are tight and he’s unable to perform the exercises.
Having a book or internet resource on proper form is also important. I can tell you all you need to know about how to lift properly, but it’s up to you to make sure you’re doing it right. The books or internet resource will give you pictures and descriptions on how different exercises should look so you’ll know when you’re doing them correctly.
Lastly you’ll need something to keep track of what you’ve done and how many reps you’ve done. You don’t want to waste time wondering how many sets of what exercise you’ve done when you can just look in your book and know instantly. A simple notebook will work, but there are also books dedicated specifically to this.
What if I have a question about my training?
This is exactly why I recommend having internet access. Since you’ll be training at home, you’ll be alone most of the time. This can lead to questions that you won’t have immediate answers to. Having internet access will allow you to look up your question rather than waiting for me to get to you and help.
Now that we’ve got all this covered, I need to know what your emergency contact is so I can fill out the proper forms and get you started on your journey to a better life!
What if I don’t want to be a superhero?
Okay, that’s fine too. This guide can still be helpful to you if you want to get in shape, but aren’t particularly interested in being a crime fighter or something similar. If this is the path you’ve chosen, then I’ll walk you through a few different options for getting in shape without having the burden of saving the world hanging over your head.
The first thing you’ll need is a personal trainer. I know that sounds expensive, but this is really the only time when it’s acceptable to spend money on getting yourself in shape. This is your one time deal, so don’t worry about it later!
A good trainer will run you anywhere from $50 to $100 per hour. This may seem like a lot, but at that price they better get results and not have you drop dead in the middle of the session. You’ll need to interview several trainers and be very specific with what you’re looking for.
A trainer who’s had proven results with other super powered individuals would be best, but they may charge more.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself and the trainer:
Does the trainer have prior experience with non-powered individuals?
If not, they may not be used to people who aren’t “super” and could give you a routine that’s too difficult for you.
What is their training style?
While you don’t want to waste time, you also don’t want to hire a trainer that gives you a routine of just crunches. You need to do full body workouts if you want to get in shape fast.
What is their cancellation policy?
Training sessions are usually kept on a strict schedule and if you need to cancel you need to give the trainer at least a days notice.
If you decide to bail on your trainer, are there any penalties?
How often do you progress a routine?
A good trainer will change your routine every 4-6 weeks. While some individuals may be able to stick with the same routine for longer periods of time (depending on their goals and conditioning level), most will need to see progress at least that often.
You’ll need to exercise at least 3 times a week with at least one day of rest between sessions. You should also warm up before each session and always stretch after each session. It’s also a good idea to have water during your training and a healthy meal within 60 minutes of finishing.
Most trainers can just watch you for the first session to see what your current conditioning level is and make suggestions as to how you should proceed. During this time, you should tell the trainer exactly what your goals are so that you can be evaluated properly.
Now that you know what to look for and how to prepare, it’s time to find a trainer. I found one that I like using (I’ll include a few extras in the next section for those of you who don’t like his choices), but if you don’t like these then just use the questions I gave you and do some research of your own.
Now you’re ready to get in shape! Good luck with your training!
Optional Trainer 1: Tom Johnson
Tom prefers to be paid monthly, rather than per session. He also requires a 2 month payment upfront.
Tom trains at his local high school which is why he requests that you do not wear perfumes or other scents as to not mess up the smell of the place (and please don’t throw anything away in the trashcans).
What is most surprising about Tom is that he doesn’t charge that much compared to other trainers I researched. His methods are a little bizarre, but I guess that’s why his clients stay with him.
He is very willing to work with your schedule and will let you make appointments ahead of time online (which is on his website).
Optional Trainer 2: Gladys Kravitz
Gladys trains at her home which is at the edge of town. While it is a little inconvenient, it also means that you can get in your training at any time as long as you don’t mind the drive (and as long as you don’t leave any identifying features in your car since Gladys also works as an Insurance agent on the weekends and sometimes investigates potential fraud cases, so she has a license to carry and knows how to use it).
Gladys is surprisingly less expensive than Tom. However, she requires that you sign a contract for 3 months of sessions (which gives her a deal with the gym she goes to so it’s good for both of you) and requires payment in full before the start of each month.
Due to Gladys working on fraud cases, she is very aware of many types of scams and will not hesitate to call the police if you attempt to steal from her or pay with a bad check. (And yes, someone actually tried to do that in the past).
Gladys also prefers if you keep the conversation to a minimum and will always listen to her before making any major decision. But other than that, she lets you do your thing.
Optional Trainer 3: Carter Hunt
What can I say about Carter?
He’s not exactly the most pleasant guy to be around. He prefers to work out alone and doesn’t like to be bothered while he is training. However, he also doesn’t mind working out with other people if they are going hard enough.
If you want Carter as your personal trainer, then you have to be willing to work your tail off. He’s not going to let you half-*** it and you’d better be prepared to keep up. If you’re the kind of person who pushes themselves in physical activities (and can handle the verbal abuse if you can’t), then Carter may be the trainer for you.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a little more encouragement and the occasional “good job”, then you should look elsewhere.
Each trainer has their own style; I’ve listed the pros and cons of each below. While Tom has more experience, you may not get along with him and Carter is harsh enough as it is. So it’s up to you to decide who you want to help you get in shape.
Chapter 3: The New Gig
So, what do you think?”
You look up from your menu and see a woman with her hair in a bun and surgical mask on standing next to your table. You had just ordered a small appetizer as you looked over the menu, but now you put down your menu.
“I’m listening.” You say.
So, you’re the new hired help Tom finally got around to getting, huh?”
“That’s right. I’m to work at the gym.”
The woman chuckles a bit.
You give her a confused look.
“I’m sorry…have we met?” You ask.
“No, but Tom’s mentioned you in passing a couple times. I just figured that since he was hyping you up so much that you were someone important or something.”
“Tom doesn’t know me that well, we just met for the first time a couple days ago.”
The woman looks surprised.
“Wow, he really does like you if he’s hiring you without making sure if you can even do the job or not. I figured he’d at least try to hire his girlfriend first since she’s been begging him for a job there for months.” The woman says.
You ask surprised.
You take a second to look at the woman and despite the fact that she has a surgical mask on you can still tell that she’s pretty. Though whether or not she’s as pretty as Jenny you couldn’t say since you didn’t pay all that much attention to her. You also didn’t know Tom had a girlfriend, but then again you didn’t know he had a sister either so it all comes back to him keeping secrets.
“Yeah, Tanya. She’s actually a nursing student at MGH. She’d think she’s hiding it, but she’s really not since every time Tom speaks about her its with respect and adoration.
Actually, he’s probably trying to turn her into another Alison if you ask me.”
You listen as the woman goes on about how Tom just uses people and how you’d be next if you got too close to him. You don’t know what her problem is, but its starting to get a little annoying.
“Look, I don’t know who you are…” You start to say.
“My name’s Claire.” She says.
“Okay, Claire, but I’m not here to try to sleep with Tom or steal from him. I’m here because he offered me a job and I need one. Now if you want, I can just leave because I don’t have time to hang out here listening to you bad mouth your brother or anyone else for that matter.”
Claire doesn’t look offended or even surprised by your bluntness. Instead she sits down in the chair across from you and smiles.
“Okay, so you’re not here to try to sleep with my brother.
Why else would you be here?”
“I already told you, I’m here for the job.
Is that such a strange concept?
Not every interaction between two people is about romance or intrigue you know.”
“Not in this city, no.
So you’re a stranger in our fair city then?
I didn’t notice you before, so you must not have a lot of friends or connections.”
I have some, but what’s this really about? Are you trying to find something to use against me in some kind of blackmail scheme or something?
If so, then I’m leaving.”
Claire begins to laugh a bit.
Who do you think I am?
I’m not some criminal! I’m a doctor! Well, currently I’m more of nurse at the moment since I’m still in training, but still…I’m not here to threaten you or anything.”
Then what is it that you want?”
Claire smiles and leans forward a bit.
Sources & references used in this article:
CrossFit: Fitness cult or reinventive institution? by MC Dawson – International review for the sociology of sport, 2017 – journals.sagepub.com
The Business of CrossFit by M Cej – CrossFit Journal, 2009 – library.crossfit.com
Organizing and conducting sporting events online: A study of the 2011 CrossFit Games by A VanHouten – 2012 – search.proquest.com