Skip to main content

CrossFit, The Newbie Mindset

Dear CrossFit beginners, this is what your coach wants you to know...

Whether you are a new CrossFit athlete, someone interested in trying our style of fitness or someone on the fence, we want you to understand our mindset when it comes to training you and our expectations for you on day one. We will also address the common concerns we hear from beginners.

I have to get into better shape before I start CrossFit.
I feel bad saying this but sometimes this statement makes us laugh. Perhaps it is the frequency with which we hear it.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program built on a few guiding principles (constantly varied, functional movement, at high intensity) and created to improve overall health, wellness and fitness. It is a fitness program. Some other fitness programs include Zumba, boot camps, etc.

I don't say this to be condescending but to make the point that you probably wouldn't think about getting into shape to do Zumba. Likely, one would make the assumption that the whole point of going to Zumba class is to get into shape. That assumption should be the same for CrossFit. We do CrossFit to get in shape, stay in shape and improve our fitness levels over time. Through CrossFit we want you to be the healthiest, most capable person you have ever been.

I think the disconnect is driven by CrossFit as the Sport of Fitness. Many people have seen the incredible games athletes competing annually on ESPN and think that is what they will find in the local gym. Probably not the case. Don't get me wrong, there are those of us that work our butts off to be even considered on the same level as the athletes you see on TV, but the fact is a 99% of CrossFit gyms are full of people like you (and the you that you want to be) not the pros you see on TV.

We all have to start somewhere. Your coaches will be far more concerned with helping you start from where you are than where you are when you start.

(OnRamper Majed doing a real squat for the 1st time in his life)

Just show up!

I have never done anything like this before.
We know and expect that. It is why we created our new member OnRamp Program, and why we have built tools like the OnRamp Program PDF to help guide you through the process. We are not only here to coach classes but teach you everything we know about health and fitness, which includes how to learn and improve on movement.

(A page from the OnRamp Program PDF)

Honestly, not only do we know that you probably have never done a lot of these movements before, but that can be a good thing. Sometimes it is beneficial to be a clean slate without any bad habits. It can be more challenging to correct bad mechanical habits than teach someone with no experience at all.

Our OnRamp program is built to TEACH everyone who goes through it how to move correctly and perform different exercises safely and effectively. It is part of the learning process that is not only encouraged but required. Our priorities during OnRamp are:
  1. Movement Mechanics
  2. Movement Consistency 
  3. Movement Intensity
Everyone has their own unique learning curve. Some pick up barbell movements well while others are better with body weight movements. Work hard, focus on the process and everything else will take care of itself.

CrossFit is really intimidating!
This is a statement that I have some trouble with. On one hand I want to say things like "The unknown is always intimidating" or "Once you understand what is going on it will make perfect sense." On the other hand, being intimidating an be a good thing.

When something is intimidating we tend to approach it with respect and attentiveness. Respect and attentiveness in this example would imply controlled movements for quality instead of speed, intensity and recklessness; thus making the intimidation a good thing as it creates a safe environment, even if it is through fear.

Often times we find that CrossFit classes are intimidating because the person making the statement sees everything going on as foreign. Much like going to another country where everyone speaks a different language is intimidating.

But once you understand the language and have a frame to understand the flow of class, fear is removed and replaced with a sense of excitement.

(Being in a class can seem crazy. That's a good thing. Focus in.)

People will judge me because I'm not good.
My first question would be - what is good? Does this person mean fast? Strong? Super fit looking? The correct definition of good in our context is "great at moving well."

Unfortunately most people get caught up in the glitz and glamour of cool looking muscles or big numbers and never really think about how well they are moving. That is our primary concern as coaches. Secondly, we want to see our athletes step outside their comfort zone and challenge themselves.

My second question - are other people judging you or are you judging yourself? Of course your coaches are judging you. Judging (analyzing) your ability to move, listen to coaching and receive instruction. We're doing it to find ways to connect with you so that we may help you improve.

Chances are your fellow athletes are not judging you either. ESPECIALLY if you're new. They have all been there. They understand how stressful it can be to "not feel good" at CrossFit. Usually they're sympathizing with you and offering encouragement. Feel free to ask other members questions, not just the coaches. They have all been through the process. Especially if they have been around a while and seem pretty "good."

The community aspect of CrossFit gets talked about a lot, even some times to the point of exhaustion. It might even seem too good to be true. The validity of this is largely based on the group of people.

At our gym, community means a group of like-minded people who come together on all days of the week (364 a year to be exact) to challenge themselves and each other both physically and mentally. They all come from different places and chances are they're all there for different reasons.

But it doesn't matter. No one cares about your problems, but every cares that you're able to overcome them. No cares about the shit you just dealt with all day, but everyone cares that your hour at CSC is awesome. You get your butt kicked if that's what you need. You get some heavy lifting in if that's what you need. Some one gives you a high five, pats you on the back or tells you nice work, if that's what you need.

It's because the community cares in a real way. The real kind of way where you just know that everyone has your back and wants you to show up.

(CSC members, supporting each other since 2014)

Coach A


Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 Reasons To Give It A Tri

According to the CrossFit theory of training, learning and playing new sports is one of the pillars of fitness. Our endurance coach, Jen Britton , along with several of our CrossFit athletes have done triathlons both competitively and for fun. She believes that competing in endurance races like triathlons can be a great fitness testing opportunity and competitive outlet for many CrossFitters. This is a blog post she wrote for USA Triathlon titled Top 10 Reasons To Give It A Tri . Do you swim? Do you bike? Do you run? Well, why not do all three? Here are the top 10 reasons why you should give triathlon a whirl. Warning: this sport is highly addicting. 1. Training for one sport gets boring Being a single-sport specialist has its perks, but training for one sport can be a real drag. The predictability of routine gets monotonous quickly, but with triathlon, you have a wider variety of training options, whether its expanding your strength training or "bricking" workouts toge

Preparing For The Murph

We are coming up on the last week of May which means one thing here in Cleveland - it is Memorial Day weekend and hopefully Summer has finally come!  In the CrossFit world, this also means it is time for Murph! If you find yourself asking who Murph is then you must be new to our functional fit world of people who do not always take the easy road, are willing to work harder than they ever have for their fitness goals, and understand that the support of a community can lift mountains.  Welcome!  And prepare to scream at yourself for 40+ minutes this Memorial Day. What Is Murph  Murph is a CrossFit Hero WOD.  More, THE CrossFit Hero WOD.  Each year thousands of gyms around the United States program the same WOD on the same day - Memorial Day Murph. Murph was created in honor of the sacrifice of Lt. Michael Murphy, one of the storied American soldiers in the movie Lone Survivor.  Click the link to read more about Lt. Murphy and the Murph Foundation. The Murph workout itself is