Crossfit is a lot like cilantro or Keeping Up With The Kardashians—you either love it or loathe it. Throwing barbells in the air, doing hundreds of pull ups, loud grunting, and a paleo diet—it’s not for everyone. But to the legions of committed Crossfitters hitting the rings right now as I write this, there is no better way to sweat. And the truth is, many who loathe it often just haven’t tried it yet.
Crossfit isn’t as frightening as you might think. In fact, it’s a great way to become stronger, lose weight, and yes, it can even be fun!
The heart-pounding workouts, sense of community, and amazing results are what keep people coming back for more, but you can’t truly know if it’s right for you until you give it a go and see for yourself. If you’re thinking about coming over to the other side, here are 7 things you should know before you take your first Crossfit class.
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Anyone can do it, but not everyone should do it
Crossfit is hardcore. It is a high-intensity style of working out, and while anyone can do it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. At the end of the day, the only workout program you’ll stick to is one that you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy Crossfit, then don’t force yourself to do it. Keep trying until you find something fun for you.
Crossfit might as well have it’s own dictionary. Like learning a new language, it’s easiest to learn when you’re immersed in the environment, but we’ll give you a head start with this cheat sheet:
Box: Crossfit gyms are called “boxes.”
WOD: Stands for Workout of the Day. This changes daily and is typically posted on a white board before class or on the Box’s website.
AMRAP: As many rounds as possible. This is a workout style that means you’ll complete as many rounds as possible of a series of exercises in an allotted time that is given by the coach.
Various names of people you don’t know: There are several benchmark WODs in Crossfit that are named after women (Helen, Fran, and Mary, for example). The creator of Crossfit did this because he said they “wreak havoc.” There are also another set of WODs called Hero WODs that are named after fallen soldiers (like Murph and McCluskey).
How to find a good coach
Do your homework before joining a Crossfit box. Not all are created equal and having a good coach will make or break your experience. Read their reviews, ask friends for referrals and see if you can try a class or two before you join to make sure it’s a good fit.
Injuries are rare, but they do happen
While a lot of hype has surrounded Crossfit and the potential injuries that can occur, as long as you’re in good hands and have a good coach, the risk is minimal. A good coach will know how quickly you should be progressing and will pay attention to your form to make sure you’re moving properly. Especially because you’ll be doing AMRAP in many cases, you have to listen to your body as well. Never push past your limit, and always stop or take breaks when you need.
With that said, expect a few blisters and bruises. Crossfit workouts are tough and it’s nearly impossible to come out completely unscathed. The good news is that these minor issues will likely go away within your first few classes. In the meantime, feel free to show off your battle wounds!
Most Crossfitters are women
Surprised? While Crossfit may seem like a man’s world, over 60% of the Crossfit population is comprised of women, according to numbers from The American Council on Exercise.
Your classmates will become your friends
One of the best aspects of Crossfit is having the opportunity to be a part of a tight-knit community. Crossfit classes are a great way to make new friends, cheer on and be cheered on by your fellow athletes.
It can be pricey
Crossfit is fairly expensive when you compare it to a regular gym membership. However, unlike a regular group fitness setting, Crossfit classes are meant to be coached, not taught. This means that your coach should be going around to each person in the room and spending some one-on-one time with them in every class. The value for what you’re paying for (expect $100-$300 per month) can be worth it for those who can afford it when you look at the type of attention you’re getting from your coaches.
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Jennifer Cohen is a leading fitness authority, TV personality, entrepreneur, and best-selling author of the new book, Strong is the New Skinny. With her signature, straight-talking approach to wellness, Jennifer was the featured trainer on The CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, mentoring the contestants to lose hundreds of pounds before their big day, and she appears regularly on NBC’s Today, Extra, The Doctors, and Good Morning America. Connect with Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and on Pinterest.