18 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting CrossFit

Published: 11/14/2021

By Malia Warren

You know when you get SO excited about something? Your first reaction is to tell everyone you know who might be interested right? 

Well, in the life of a CrossFitter, we don’t usually discriminate on who we tell about it. If you’re a CrossFit athlete, you’ve likely posted about it so all your friends and family on social media know but you’ve also probably told your hairdresser, your kids’ teacher, the mailman, and the elderly woman at the grocery store who stares in awe as you carry 10 bags of groceries rather than putting them in a cart. 

If you’re anything like me, you’re talking about it and inviting people to come try CrossFit.

I found myself inviting so many of my friends to join in and it inspired me to come up with a sort of Beginner Guide. And with the help of a community of amazing athletes, I was able to put this together! I hope it helps, inspires, and motivates you to try CrossFit, lifting, or any functional fitness type of exercise❤️

1. Most Gyms Offer a Free Trial

My gym, BackCountry CrossFit in Littleton, Colorado, offers newcomers a 1 week trial period for free. This means that you can try out their gym, for free, for a week. If you’ve never tried CrossFit before, you can try it for free in a no-pressure intro class offered during your week trial. This is a great way to get introduced to the sport without jumping into a huge class. Some gyms offer 1 or 3 classes, while others last a week – best to check out the gym you’d like to try and see what they offer 🙂

“The hardest part is walking in the door.” Megan, @maemae5288, Mobtown CrossFit, Mobile, Alabama.

2. Start with the Intro Class

Like mentioned above, many gyms offer an intro class. “I tell everyone to take the fundamentals class,” says Taylor (@itsflee) of CrossFit Grafenwöhr in Germany. Intro or fundamentals classes are great for newcomers to learn the movements they’ll see in workouts and how to properly do them so they will feel a little more comfortable in group classes.

Don’t stress if you don’t *have* the movements mastered during this intro class. You have plenty of time to improve on them, as well as many modifications available.

3. Learn the Acronyms

As part of the iniation to become a member of CrossFit, you will be quizzed on all the associated acronyms.

Just Kidding.

But truly, there are quite a few! “Crossfit has a unique language (amrap, ttb, soh, du, etc.) it was so difficult at the beginning to comprehend all of this and understand what was happening during the wod. After 5 years, I finally get most of them” 😅😀💪 Anna, Crossfit Jolt, in New Jersey.

4. Go Slow at First

Valerie from Stroud CrossFit in Arlington Heights, Pennsylvania says she wished she would’ve known when she started that she didn’t have to worry about keeping up with everyone else. “I just had to do my best and eventually I would improve,” she says.

5. You Don’t Have to Do What Everyone Else is Doing

“Don’t be intimidated. You’ll watch the ‘good people’ who can RX every workout, high weights, etc. But not everyone is like that and they’re all very open to mods (modifications). Even if you can’t do push-ups from your knees or a sit-up, they got you. Don’t be intimidated or think you’re not good enough,” says Nancy from Kensington Valley CrossFit.

6. Focus on Form

“Focus on you and put in the work and watch all those little wins add up. Soon enough you’ll be doing your first RX workout.” Paige (@paigee_rrr) Bar Path CrossFit, Wilmar, Minnesota

“Make sure your form is correct before adding weight to the barbell. We will naturally want to add weight to keep up with everyone else, but it takes longer to fix horrible form than to learn it correctly the first time.” Cara (@penny_mcgee), CrossFit 219, Indiana

7. Don’t Take the Easy Way Out

“Don’t take the easy weight so you can finish faster or first take a weight that will challenge you so you can be better tomorrow.” Aries, (@kindafit_kindathic)

8. Don’t “Cherry Pick” a Work Out

“If you avoid workouts with movements you don’t like, you’ll never get better at those movements. I’ve learned that from experience, lol!” Hannah, (@hazel_and_hickory), Rich City CrossFit, Richmond, Kentucky

9. It’s Time to Be a Student Again

“As adults, we forget that it takes time to learn a new movement. You have to do it over and over and over again to get it right. Don’t be frustrated if you can’t do something the first time, or the first week.” Anna, 8th Day Gym, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

and on that note…

10. Listen to Your Coach

Surprisingly, there are a lot of adults who don’t like to be coached. Sometimes it’s hard to hear critique, but if you go in with the mindset that you are a student first, you’ll gain SO much more from the student/teacher-like relationship of an athlete (you) and coach.

“Check your ego. Accept critique with grace and humbleness and be coachable. The people that you admire and strive to level up with got there by working their asses off and learning. Nobody walks in knowing it all.” Heidi, (@hlmugler)

11. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

“What you see on TV and the internet is likely NOT what you’re going to see in your box. I had this misconception that most everyone were these elite athletes, and that no way would I fit in as a beginner. So totally wrong!” Joannah, (@northjaxfitness), North Jax CrossFit, Jacksonville, Florida

“Give yourself grace and compassion. Don’t compare because everyone is on their own journey.” Cheryl, (@Cheryls_journey), Tiltshift CrossFit, Seattle, Washington

“Scaled crossfitters are important, you are not invisible, keep going.” Krystal, (@Krystalskyra), CrossFit ENG, Cape Coral, Florida

12. Yes, You Will Make Progress

“I used to tell myself ‘there’s no way I could even do that, why would I try?’. Now I’m doing those things and then some! CrossFit gives every individual a chance to explore their journey differently and that’s my favorite part.” ❤️ Monika, (@oxmoniii), CF 405, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

13. You Don’t Need All that Gear Right Away

You’ll see a lot of people wearing gear like Knee Sleeves or Belts when you walk in, but that doesn’t mean you need it to start. While supportive lifting gear can be beneficial to your movements, such as squatting, deadlifts, etc., you likely won’t feel the need to use it until you’re a little farther on in your CrossFit journey and the weights start to get heavier or the reps start to get longer.

When it’s time and you feel like you could use some wrist wraps, knee sleeves, or a beltLifting the Dream has you covered. Click the links on the gear to find out more about their many uses and potential benefits.

14. You Will See Other Peoples’ Bodily Fluids

If this makes you squeamish, I’m sorry to say, but it’s going to happen. Some people will workout so hard that they vomit (in the trash 99% of the time, not on the floor). Others sweat so hard its dripping all over the floor in their workout space. You might even see some hand tears with high volume gymnastics movements like pull-ups, toes-to-bar, etc.

Lastly, you may hear about women experiencing incontinence during certain movements, like any that include jumping movements. If this happens to you and you are reading this – IT’S OK. You are in good company, really. While it’s definitely something that a Pelvic Floor Therapist can help with, you should never experience shame or ridicule because it happens to you. Read more on the topic here.

15. Change Up the Routine

I know we all love a routine of going to the same class at the same time every day when we get comfortable. But one of the best suggestions I can make is to try other class times. You’ll get used to going to your class time with your favorite coach – but attending another class time will give you an opportunity to meet more people from your gym and/or experience another coaches class. Maybe you love working out in the evening as opposed to your normal morning class.

16. Chalk is the New Black

Though not a coaches favorite, chalk will become your new favorite gym accessory. HA! Chalk is usually made from Magnesium Carbonate, which is a fancy word for sticks-to-your-hands-and-prevents-slipping Chalk.

Use as needed – don’t be afraid of the chalk bucket. Coat your hands with a thin layer to prevent slipping, usually caused by sweaty hands, on the metal equipment. But respect the chalk bucket and the mess created by white handprints everywhere. If you clean up after yourself (this goes for ALL your space and equipment, especially with Covid times), you’ll be just fine.

17. Stay for the Whole Class Time, or Until the Last Athlete is Finished

It’s hard to understand until you’ve been there but there is always a first athlete who finishes, just like there is always a last athlete who finishes the workout. If you finish and there is still an athlete working, the traditional CrossFit community thing to do is to stay and cheer them on before you put your equipment away.

If time allows, stay and cheer on the last athlete. I’ve been the last athlete to finish many times, and I love the community push to finish. It may seem small, but it can make the athletes day! It builds up comradery and moral, while also showing support for each other. Which brings us to our next point…

18. Say ‘Hello’ to Your New Family

“One thing I didn’t expect but absolutely LOVE is the community! The love, support, and push/pull for EVERYONE to be at least 1% better than before. We’re a big family!” Crystal, CrossFit Gallatin, Gallatin, Tennessee

Maybe it doesn’t happen right away, maybe you have to try a few boxes first before you find them, but just know that this is YOUR community. If I’ve learned anything about the CrossFit community, its that you will find the most amazing community of people in those 4 walls.

I hope these tips help you feel a little more at ease with starting your new fitness adventure!

If you’re looking for some more motivation and tips, join our Facebook group, Lifting the Dream Community!

If you have any questions or you would like to be a guest blogger, please email us at hello@liftingthedream.com

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