Why Your CrossFit Gym Needs An On-Ramp Program
CrossFit is a fitness system which combines strength training with cardio exercise. It’s popularity has grown tremendously over the past few years, and it has become one of the most popular fitness programs in America. However, there are many people who have never tried it before or don’t even know how to get started.
If you’re like those people, then this article might not be for you. But if you’ve been thinking about trying out this newfangled fitness craze, then read on!
What Is A CrossFit Gym?
A CrossFit gym is basically a place where you go to train. You do your workouts at home or in the comfort of your own home using equipment provided by the gym. Some gyms offer classes too, but they usually consist of just a couple of exercises and don’t include any weightlifting or other types of lifting movements.
There are two main reasons why people choose to start their own CrossFit gym:
You want to get fit without spending a fortune. You want to work out at home and save money. You want to keep up with the latest fitness trends.
You’re bored of going to the gym and want to try something new. Your home values are plummeting and you need to find an alternative way to make money.
The first reason is pretty straightforward. Most people these days don’t enjoy spending money on a personal trainer or joining a fancy gym with lots of different machines and classes. CrossFit gyms are usually a lot smaller than the average big-box gym, so you won’t have to spend as much money on rent or equipment.
The second reason is a little more complicated. A lot of people think that starting your own business is the way to go. It’s true that you can save money by joining a CrossFit gym instead of a regular gym, but you’re going to need a lot of money to start one!
Before you know it, you could easily blow your savings and end up broke. It’s best to do your research and weigh all your options before taking the plunge.
What You Should Expect From A CrossFit Gym
Most CrossFit gyms have a similar layout and look, but there are some things that make each gym unique. The first thing you’ll notice is probably the smell. It smells a lot like a basement.
If you’ve ever been in someone’s home and walked into their basement, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
The walls are usually covered with old school bumper weights, yellowed posters encouraging you to “feel the burn,” and more motivational quotes than a high school classroom. Most of the lights are turned off, and only a small lamp lights the front desk area.
If you get cold easily, then you might want to bring a sweater or jacket with you because most CrossFit gyms keep their temperature at a chilly 68 degrees.
The staff is usually really friendly and welcoming. Expect to be asked lots of questions about why you joined, your fitness goals, how experienced you are, etc. It’s a great opportunity for the coaches to get to know you on a personal level and make you feel more comfortable during your first couple of sessions.
Most CrossFit gyms require new members to take a skills test. They need to know what your fitness level is and what you can and can’t do so they can design a program that’s best for you. The test usually takes about 15-30 minutes and involves some sort of weightlifting movement like squatting or dead lifting.
After you’re done with the skills test, a coach will spend a few minutes going over some form pointers and giving you some tips. They’ll also explain some of the basic concepts of CrossFit and what you can expect during your first class. For example, they’ll tell you not to leave any of your belongings behind because you won’t have time to go back and get them.
You may also be required to watch a 10-30 minute video. Most of these videos feature either a man or woman talking to the camera or scenes from a CrossFit competition.
The last thing you’ll probably have to do is sign a waiver. Even though CrossFit has been notorious for their bad treatment of members, lawsuits have increased the liability of the company. The waiver protects them just in case something happens to you, like rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdo is a condition that can be brought on by excessive and/or improper exercise which can causes the kidneys to fail. The release also protects you from possible injury, which allows you to try really risky exercises without your mom coming after the gym after you break your neck.
What To Expect During Your First Class
Now that you’ve been through all the formalities, it’s time to get started on your first workout. You’ll quickly learn that you won’t be learning how to lift weights or perform complicated movements. The first couple of classes will be focused on learning the basics and doing a lot of reps.
It’s sort of like memorizing the order of cards in a deck. The first time you try to name the cards you’ll probably mess up on number three, but after a couple of sessions of repetition, you’ll have the order memorized.
The coaches will start with the weightlifting movements that you learned during your skills test. The first couple times they show it to you, they’ll go really slowly so that you know exactly what you’re doing. For example, if you’re learning how to do a deadlift, they’ll have you start with an empty bar and tell you exactly when to pull the bar off the ground, when to stop pulling, and when to finish the movement.
After you’ve learned the movement pattern for one exercise, they’ll have you do it without their guidance. This is usually where most people start messing up. This is the reason why they make you learn the movements slowly at first, so that you have a chance to get them down before they increase the weight.
Most CrossFit gyms have between 10-20 different exercises that you need to learn in the first day or two. It’s an overwhelming number of movements to remember and most people can’t do them perfectly right away. This is why it’s very common to make mistakes during your first few sessions.
The coaches will usually correct you immediately and have you do it again, and again, and again until you get it right.
Once you’ve learned a few of the movements, the coaches will start combining them to form a workout. Let’s say that you learn the movements for the front squat, push press, jumping pull-ups, and deadlift within your first couple of classes. Your coaches might have you start by doing a set of 15 front squats, then rest, followed by a set of 15 push presses, then rest, then 8 jumping pull-ups, then rest, and finish up with 5 deadlifts.
This would be one set. You will usually do 3-5 sets and rest 2-5 minutes between sets. Once you have completed this, you’ve finished one workout. You will usually do these within the first couple of hours of your first class.
If you think that this sounds easy, you’re probably right. The first couple of times that you do one of these workouts, it probably will be pretty easy for you. However, the coaches will be gradually increasing the weight that you’re lifting over the next few weeks.
After a couple of months, the workouts will get a lot harder, but you’ll also get significantly stronger and more fit.
Now you’re probably wondering why they have you do all these various movements and workouts. The goal of CrossFit is to improve your fitness level across the board and not to turn you into an elite athlete in any particular area. For example, a long distance runner will be extremely good at running long distances, but probably won’t be too good at much else.
This is why you will be learning all these various movements. If you get stuck behind enemy lines and have to travel by foot, you’ll have the endurance of a long distance runner but also the strength to defend yourself if needed.
You’ll notice that in the first couple of sessions there wasn’t any running involved. This is on purpose. Most people are out of shape and need to strengthen their bodies with basic movements before doing anything more strenuous like running.
This is just the very basics of what you can expect in your CrossFit classes. There’s a lot more variety that you will be experiencing as you move forward with the program.
Chapter 3: The Workout
By now you should have had at least one session of CrossFit and have an idea of what to expect in the workouts. In this chapter, we’ll be looking at each component of a typical CrossFit class in greater detail. The goal of each class is to improve your general fitness level by having you work at maximum capacity under safe conditions while also working on correct form.
In order to continually challenge yourself and force yourself to adapt, CrossFit instructors will have you increase the weight that you’re lifting, increase the number of reps that you’re doing, decrease the amount of rest that you’re taking, or sometimes combine all three. This is why it’s so important to pay attention during workouts.
The warm-up is a very important part of every CrossFit class. The coach will have you do a series of movements and stretches to get your body ready for the more intense exercise that is to follow. When you first start, the warm-up will consist of simple movements such as jumping jacks, sit-ups, and even running for a few minutes.
This is to get your body used to moving again after being in a seated position for the duration of class.
During the warm-up, the coach will usually has you do a pre-workout weightlifting button, which will be used during the workout portion of class. This can consist of anything from curls with light weights to squats without any weight at all. The point is to get you loosened up and ready to start working out before reaching your maximum heart rate.
The actual workout can last anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour depending on whether or not you’re doing a tri-set, which we’ll discuss in a bit. During the workout portion of class, the coach will lead you through a number of different types of physical challenges. These can range from lifting weights to aerobic activities and everything in between.
The goal of each class is to improve your physical well-being by making you work at your maximum heart rate in a safe environment. You’ll start off with something relatively easy, like jogging or using a lighter weight for the first exercise, and then move on to more complicated and strenuous activities. The coaches will have you moving from one exercise to another with only a few minutes of rest in between.
This is where that whole “stop thinking, just move” mentality comes into play.
A tri-set involves putting three different exercises back to back without any rest in between. For example, a tri-set might have you do a set of push-ups, followed by a set of squats, and then finished off with a set of pull-ups. You will repeat this three times before moving on to the next tri-set.
This is a very efficient way to work out and get the blood pumping.
The cool down period of class isn’t considered essential, but it’s a great way to end your workout on a positive note and help prevent soreness in the days to come. During the cool down, the coach will have you perform some stretching exercises and have you do something called “mobility.” This consists of movements that will help increase your range of motion and give your muscles some extra blood flow.
A lot of people are under the misconception that you need to stretch before working out in order to prevent injury. This is not true at all. Research has proven that doing some light mobility moves and then stretching after your workout is better because your muscles are warmer and more flexible.
This concludes our introduction to CrossFit. Now that you have a better idea of what to expect, let’s check out a CrossFit Workout of the Day, known as a WOD.
Sources & references used in this article:
The benefits and risks of CrossFit: a systematic review by J Meyer, J Morrison, J Zuniga – Workplace health & safety, 2017 – journals.sagepub.com
Shoulder injuries in individuals who participate in CrossFit training by RJ Summitt, RA Cotton, AC Kays, EJ Slaven – Sports health, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com
Injuries in Novice Participants during an Eight-Week Start up CrossFit Program—A Prospective Cohort Study by RT Larsen, AL Hessner, L Ishøi, H Langberg… – Sports, 2020 – mdpi.com
CrossFit by AF Vidal – Sports-related Fractures, Dislocations and Trauma, 2020 – Springer
Coming out of the Crossfit Closet*-A CrossFit experience by a Physician, for Physicians by R Oh – Unif Fam Physician, 2013 – robertohmd.wordpress.com
EXTREME CONDITIONING ON CAMPUS: Cracking Open a University Box by ME Sanders, JA Fitzsimmons – ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 2012 – journals.lww.com