By: Coach Jonathan Ortiz
Deciding to start CrossFit can be an exciting and nerve-racking experience. There are so many things to learn: new words like WOD and AMRAP, new movements like snatches and supermans, and a new way of eating called Paleo. The first time I walked into the gym I saw people doing exercises I had never seen before and women lifting weights that I thought would be a struggle for me. Part of me thought about reconsidering whether I was ready for this new routine or if I should take a little more time to “get in shape” before I got started.
Thankfully, I didn’t change my mind. Who knew that the best way to get started was to just start, then and there? What I didn’t realize then was that even though CrossFit is class-based, the coach was there to help me on a personal level. There’s actually no pressure to keep up with anyone else, or do something you’re not ready for. The only pressure was to be better than I was the day before and stick with it.
If I could go back and talk to my getting-start-self, here are 5 tips I would share with me and all others beginning CrossFit.
1) You’ll Find Your Own Intensity
People of all shapes and sizes, of all backgrounds and all ages come into the gym and throw down together. Because every person is different, we don’t require everyone to do the same thing. The workout is provided and led by the coach, but you determine the weight that you’re comfortable with and almost every movement can be scaled or substituted to make sure it suits your athletic ability. That being said- let the intensity find you. The workouts will be tough, but don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. It’s not about being the best or fastest on your first day, in fact it’s never about that unless you want it to be. If your goal is to be healthier, stronger, or faster, then finding your own pace and challenging yourself to improve upon that every time you step into the gym is all you need to worry about.
2) Don’t Be too Proud to Scale
Check that Ego! There is nothing wrong with having less than recommended weight on the barbell or having to change a movement completely because you aren’t there yet. Everyone knows their body and its limits, use that knowledge to help make sure that even if you change a few things, you’re still getting a great workout in. Scaling when it makes sense can help you avoid injury in the long run and actually help you improve faster if using lighter weight allows you to concentrate more on your form.
3) Ask Questions
Everyone from the coach to the person working out next to you has your back. I’ve yet to meet someone in the CrossFit community who doesn’t appreciate the hard work that goes into every WOD or who can’t relate to the struggles of a beginning CrossFitter. It can be confusing with all the lingo and acronyms that come with the programming. Ask the coach if there is anything you’re unsure of- we’re happy to help, that’s why we’re here after all. There’s no such thing as a dumb question.
4) Don’t Underestimate Recovery
It’s easy for athletes to over train. Jumping into a high intensity regimen 5 days a week right off the bat may not give you the best results – especially if your body isn’t used to working out. Start with 3 sessions a week and see how your body feels. Are you super tired, extra sore or moody? If the answer is yes, refuel your body with optimum nutrition, hydration, and some rest. As you get adjusted to CrossFit, you can start to increase the amount of days per week that you train, just remember that your body will always need at least a day or two of rest and recovery time.
5) Have Fun!
Last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy your WOD. CrossFit never gets easier it’ll just suck a little less. That’s what you’ll learn to love though- that challenge and subsequent feeling of accomplishment when you conquer workouts and start to do things that you never thought you could. Set goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments- you deserve it!