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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.