How to Prepare for Your First CrossFit Session

This is a followup from a previous post that I wrote: So you want to try CrossFit? Check that out for a few tips and links to useful resources. You will see examples of the workouts (WODs), which gives you an idea of the types of exercises and lifts you will be doing. But, this post is focused more on how to be prepared for that first week at your new CrossFit box. What to wear, what to bring, how to behave, and rules of etiquette that will keep you from annoying your fellow CrossFitters. Everyone is the new guy or girl at some point, and no one expects you to be an immediate pro. But, there are some things that you can do to be prepared and to not make some obvious mistakes.

Familiarize yourself with the lingo (e.g., names of lifts, exercises, weightlifting terms, CrossFit terms), so that you know what people are talking about once you are there. Read up and watch videos on the techniques for the exercises and lifts. Since CrossFit mixes stuff like running, jumping, climbing, lifting, etc., you may want to have 2 different types of shoes ready: One for lifting and one for the WOD if you are going to be running, jumping, etc. I wear Oly shoes for lifting, but any flat shoes that doesn’t have a ton of cushioning will work (e.g., cheap Chuck Taylors, barefoot shoes, etc.). So I always have a pair of shoes that I lift in and another pair that I feel comfortable running in. Bring a water bottle.

Finally, here are some rules of etiquette:

  • Show up 5-10 mins early. Gives you time to warm up a bit, get settled in, etc. You never want to be late.
  • Always stop what you are doing, stop talking, and listen when the trainer is talking.
  • Leave your ego at the door and scale appropriately. Train hard, but don’t let your ego get you injured by trying to lift more than you are ready to for any given workout.
  • Be safe. Your trainer will talk with you about safety during different types of lifts. Listen, learn, and do.
  • Stay clear of others when they are lifting. You never know when someone might need to bail (i.e., unexpectedly drop the fully-loaded barbell). Don’t ever walk close behind or in front of someone who is lifting. Ever.
  • Don’t ever talk to people while they are lifting. It breaks their concentration. Yes, you can cheer people on during WODs and such. But, that’s different than trying to have a conversation with someone who is lifting and expecting them to respond.
  • Never complain or whine during a WOD. Yes, they are hard. They are supposed to be hard. Everyone knows they are hard. No one wants to hear about it.
  • Don’t go crazy with chalk. A little bit dusted on your hands helps with grip. Coating your hands usually leads to blisters and tears. Using the correct grip on the bar helps (I made a video for this).
  • Clean up after yourself (e.g., wipe your sweat off), put your equipment and weights away, etc. Everything has a place, so ask if you don’t know where something goes.
  • Push yourself and go hard. Don’t go beyond your personal edge and get sick or pass out (I’ve seen it happen). But push yourself out of your own comfort zone.
  • Don’t drop barbells loaded with metal plates on the floor or platform. That’s what the rubber bumpers are for. Even then, don’t go crazy with dropping weights from height, out of control. Control the bar down, control the bounce. Again, be safe and don’t injure yourself or others.
  • Don’t drop kettlebells on the floor either.
  • If you finish before others during a WOD, stick around and cheer them on.
  • Enjoy! It is hard, but it is often a lot of fun to see what your body can do. You will surprise yourself.

You are much stronger than you think you are

You are more capable than you know

You’ll find out!

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