8 useful tips before you start Crossfit
So you've probably heard of Crossfit through one of your friends on a social network such as Facebook. They post so much about it that it gets on your nerves, enough to go check out a few videos and find out what it's about. You're still not sure why they're addicted but seeing the results, you feel like you should try it out yourself. Here a few tips that I've come to find out myself, 4 months after starting.
1) Go for the free tryout
All respectable boxes offer a free tryout and you should definitely go before deciding where you will train. You will get a feel of the coaches, the administration but also what a regular group session looks like if you arrive early. If you have more than one box located close to your work or home, try as many locations as necessary. You will probably be training there for the next 6 to 12 months so you need to love the place and coaches.
2) Make sure they have a decent introduction class
If you're torn between two boxes, compare their introduction course which should be required before you can start regular group classes. A decent introduction course should go on for at least two weeks. I did find places that get it done under a week but I don't think it's realistic for someone who wasn't training regularly prior to this. The 2-weeks period is important to create a habit of going twice or thrice a week and it also gives you the opportunity to get to know your intro class buddies better. They will be the first people you recognize in the future and chat with about your progress.
3) Choose a number of weekly class that works with you
If you're practicing another sport while doing Crossfit, going twice a week can be a decent number of times. If Crossfit is the only sport you plan on doing, a minimum of 3 times a week is required to see a good line of progress. In both cases, a regular nutrition (paleo if possible) does the trick so don't start worrying about shakes or supplements. If you plan on going 4 times a week or more, make sure to define your rest days and talk to one of the coaches about what to eat and when. You will definitely start to get hungrier and your body will not respond properly to daily training if it's not fed well to completely heal. I suggest sticking to 3 times for a start, and if you get hooked, augment the number of days on a 3 to 6 month period.
4) Find the right coaches for you
Depending on the number of classes offered at your box, you might find yourself training with up to 10 different coaches. Each one of them will have a different coaching style and it might fit or not with you. The best coaches for me are the ones that like to joke around while teaching us about what's the best practice. I also need a coach that will be interested in what I do and will not shy out of correcting my position. Find the ones that are easy to interact with.
5) Get a buddy to work out with you
It's easy to skip a class if you're relying on yourself only. Get a friend to go with you so whenever you feel like not going, they can change your mind and vice-versa! Also, it's fun to compare the blisters after a workout ;) But seriously, training with a friend has been very helpful to get me going. We also realized how different we were in our strengths and we now push each other in very different workouts. The more you go, the more people you will meet and make friends with so it won't be as important a few months later but at first, it can be what makes you continue or stop.
6) Eat before and after
Oh the ongoing debate on nutrition! I am neither a nutritionist nor a trainer but I believe I have acquired enough knowledge on the basics of eating and training. To spend energy, you need to get fuel first and what you eat will definitely affect your performance. I like to eat a mix of sugar and protein in a small quantity about two hours before heading to the box. I usually go for a fruit and some nuts or a piece of dark chocolate. It's easy to digest and gives me a little boost especially if it's to train right after work. In the morning, I will usually just eat my regular breakfast two hours before heading out. After a class, I will wait to get home and eat a normal meal which is usually a paleo lunch or dinner. If I know I won't be getting home in less than one hour, I will drink a recovery shake in between. If you don't make sure to eat something after your training, you will probably end up feeling weak and have a headache. It can easily ruin the rest of your day so take this seriously!
7) Track your PRs
Crossfit introduces an array of movements that you will repeat over and over again in different WODs. Sometimes, you will have to perform this movement once at your maximum strength and other times, you will perform it over 30 times at 50% of your strength. It's always different and that's what makes Crossfit so much fun! A good habit is to start writing down your PRs (personal records) so that you push yourself in the future. If your 1-rep max on a push press was 75 pounds a month ago, then the second time you do that exercise, you would want to push press more than that considering you got stronger in the past four weeks. Tracking your PRs and having them with you at the box will help you figure out at what weight you should start and finish the WOD. I have them on a Google Doc so I can access them on my iPhone but there are so pretty cool apps for that on the market.
8) HAVE FUN
Last but not least, HAVE FUN! Seriously, if you're n0t enjoying yourself, you need to figure out what's wrong. It might be the coach, it might be the box or it might be the time of day but it needs to change. Crossfit is a serious sport but it's also lots of fun. I feel like I haven't moved like this since I was a kid playing at the park. Even if I know it will be hard and painful, I get super excited each time we're about to start the timer and I can feel this positive vibe with the whole group. You should see your time at the box like an hour of fun moving around and if it feels like work, you won't last very long. So please, leave the serious douchey attitude outside the box and smile instead!
I think this adorable video pretty much describes what it's all about: