Advice

7 Ways to Get the Most from Every CrossFit Class

One of the issues with being a coach six days a week is that you forget what it is like to be an athlete. Coaches tend to see the world from one perspective, that of a coach. Recently I went home over the Holidays to see the family, while there I dropped into TC Total CrossFit, the gym where I trained when I was in high school. Switching gears from coach to athlete helped me regain an athlete’s perspective. Most importantly, it reminded me about some ways to get the most out of every CrossFit class.

  1. Arrive 15 Minutes Early

Arriving early will give you many benefits. First off, it will make your coach happy by coming in early and not at the last possible second. Secondly, and more importantly, it gives you a better opportunity to warm-up. Coaches do an awesome job of fitting in a lot of fitness into an hour, but no matter how you slice it, an hour is still an hour, and we can’t cater to everyone’s specific needs when it comes to a warm-up. It is on you to come in early and take care of yourself. If you are sore take time to roll out beforehand. If you know your overhead mobility is sub-par and there is snatches that day come in early to stretch out. Everyone is different and has different needs. Take time to address your needs.

  1. Leave 15 Minutes Late

Bouncing off the previous point, a proper cool down is extremely important to improve recovery, reduce muscle fatigue, soreness, and improve your performance the next day. Spend a few minutes to bring your heart rate down slowly; rowing at a real slow pace for 3-5 minutes is my preferred cool down. Then spend time to hit your main mobility points as well as rolling out the main muscles used during the workout. Please, if at all possible don’t finish a crazy WOD grab your water bottle and go sit in your car without any type of cool down. You’ll regret it getting out of bed the next day.

  1. Ask Questions

Let’s face it a lot of the movements we do are extremely complex. Kipping, weightlifting, hand stands, etc. If there is something that you don’t understand or want clarified please ask. When you’re in a class of 10 to 20 people in can be intimidating to ask a question because you don’t want to sound “stupid”. If you have a question it’s more than likely that at least two other people have the same question. If you are worried that the coach will think less of you because it might be a stupid question; don’t be. Coaches want to see you take an interest and learn as much as you can. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn and grow. So next time the coach asks, “any questions” pull a Pat Benatar and fire away!

  1. If the Coach is Talking you Shouldn’t Be

I am really guilty of this one. I think I am being quiet, but I tend to have a loud mouth and it is distracting to everyone. Be courteous to the coach and everyone else in the room (yourself included). If you are being a Louie loud mouth, you aren’t listening to the coach and could be missing some important information. So zip it, lock it, and put it in your pocket.

  1. Don’t Feel the Need to be a Back-up Coach

Sometimes it is important to take a step back and realize you are not the coach. It is easy to start correcting someone else in class and worrying more about what they are doing than what you are doing. For the most part however, try to focus on yourself. Obviously there are a few exceptions to the rule i.e. someone is doing something highly dangerous, the athlete or the coach asks you to watch them, or it is something quick mid-lift, “knees out”. Besides those instances let the coach handle it. It is better for everyone. First off, the coach sees and understands things that you might not and will give athletes very specific and relevant cues. Coming in right behind the coach and trying to give that same athlete more advice or contradicting advice is only going to confuse that athlete.

  1. Challenge Yourself

You get to the gym look at the workout on the board and realize the weight is heavier than you have ever done in a workout. At this point you are faced with an option. Go Rx, really challenge yourself and take longer or go with the weight you always do and get done quicker. I will say this if you are able to handle the weight safely take the challenge. There are few feelings quite like the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a workout with a weight you weren’t sure you could handle.

  1. Have Fun!

This is one of the most important points in my opinion. It is true we go to the gym to have a good workout and improve our fitness. This doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. If you are not having fun you probably won’t get after the workout with as much intensity or stick with it as long. Some of the best and most productive workouts I have ever had have been the ones that I decided to have fun with and enjoy.

Five Tips on Finding a Quality CrossFit Gym in a New Town

The holiday season, for many of us, is synonymous with traveling season. We leave our comfortable routines and cozy CrossFit gyms and set out into the unknown looking for a familiar comfort…a gym. However, just like anything in life there are good gyms, bad gyms, awful gyms, and great gyms. Here are five great ways to find a quality gym in a new town.

  1. Utilize social media

In our modern age social media is an extremely powerful tool. It allows people voice their opinions and be honest, sometimes brutally so, without any real consequences. Do research ahead of time. Look at more than just a website. See what people have said about a certain gym on other social media outlets. Don’t be afraid to throughout a question such as, “I am in downtown Chicago, anyone know of a good CrossFit gym?” With how large, interconnected, and passionate the CrossFit community is chances are good someone will have a recommendation for you.

  1. Call or email ahead of time.

First off it is polite to call or email ahead of time to a gym. Many gyms put caps on class sizes and some don’t allow drop-ins. It can be an inconvenience for a coach to have to deal with if they are not expecting extra people. Also, it will allow you to do whatever sign in process ahead of time so class is not delayed. More important than that though is it can allow you to get a sense of what type of gym you are going to. First thing to look for is the tone of their response. Most gyms are extremely welcoming and friendly, but there are gyms out there that can view people more as an inconvenience as opposed to a welcomed guest. Listen to their tone and response, if they are not polite and helpful try a different gym. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Every gym runs things a little differently and getting a sense of each gym’s personality is good. I would also challenge you to try a gym that is different from yours. Traveling is a great way to experience new things, including gyms. So, if the gym you go to has a highly competitive atmosphere and training regime geared towards heavy weights, try a gym that may be geared towards a wellness and everyday fitness program. You might pick up some new things and like it or you might dislike it, but it’s good to be constantly varied…sound familiar?

  1. Coaching over equipment

I have been to many gyms with killer equipment, but a coaching staff that seemed to be more interested in making quick buck than seeing you improve. I have also been to gyms in cramped conditions, with old well used equipment, but a coaching staff that was absolutely top notch. In this case the old adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ really does hold true. If all you want is really shiny new equipment skip the expensive CrossFit gym and go to a globo gym. Look for passionate, knowledgeable coaches. Ask questions and see how they handle them. If they avoid the question or give you an ambiguous response and are unable to give a solid reason behind their answer you may want to reevaluate your decision.

  1. Look at their average population not just their best athletes.

One of the best immediate indicators of the quality of a gym is not their best athletes, but their average clients. Do the everyday people seem to know what they are doing? Is their form good? Are they performing well in the workouts? Are they friendly, kind, and welcoming? These are all things to look for. It doesn’t really matter if the gym has one or two freak athletes who are crushing. They could just be gifted. What matters is if the average person seems lost, doesn’t know what half the movements are, or is not technically sound with any of the movements the gym is probably not a quality gym. You have to look at the average not the outliers to get the best read on the quality of a gym.

  1. Did you like it?

At the end of the day this is really important. The beauty of CrossFit is the wide variety of gyms and styles of running a gym. You could have gone to one of the best gyms in the world, with an excellent coaching staff, friendly quality members, new equipment, and lots of games and regional athletes. However, if you didn’t enjoy your experience try a new gym until you find one that you love. Maybe you want a small gym with a core group of members who just want to get a good workout in and go about your life, awesome! Maybe you want a huge gym with the best athletes and workouts that will crush your soul, great! It is all about what you want and what helps you grow.

Next time you are in a new town either because you moved, are traveling, or visiting family, keep a few of these tips in mind when looking for a gym. Remember don’t be afraid to try more than one gym out. Look for the pros and cons in a few gyms then make your final decision.

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