Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Starting Over with CrossFit — Safely

By Trey Peden

I mentioned back in January that I was heading back to CrossFit, but this time at a new gym. There were several reasons I wanted to go to a different gym. 1) My old gym was kind of pricey compared to others I'd found. 2) My old gym is pretty much like working out outside. I have no problem with cold weather, but when it starts getting hot, I start freaking out. I hate hot weather! 3) I wasn't super keen on the coaching style. It was thorough, but I felt a bit stifled.

Anyway, I did get through the new gym's "onramp" program. They knew I'd done CrossFit before, and while my form is just OK, it clearly shows that I've received some good training in the past. So I wasn't surprised to receive a low level of instruction for onramp. When I started back in on the regular classes, I was surprised that the level of coaching was still very low. I couldn't tell if this was out of apathy or ignorance, but I saw some people doing lifts in a way that, frankly, scared me. I made a point of practicing my Burgener Warm-Ups on my own, but there really isn't a lot you can do on your own if you're just a beginner weight lifter like me. I knew it was risky, but I figured I would stick with this gym for a little while and re-evaluate.

Well, I managed to convince my boyfriend that he should try CrossFit and so he signed up for the onramp classes at that same gym. Unfortunately, they "flunked" him. (!!!) When I asked him to tell me what all he did in his classes he described the same basic things that I did, which means he received little to no actual instruction on proper form and movement. This shocked me and explained a lot. At least they had the good sense to express some concern about his ability to participate in the full CrossFit classes without correcting some of his movements, but they wanted to charge him extra to make up for their lack of ability to instruct him or outline a means of progressing toward the proper form.

So, I told him about my old gym and we decided to head over to check it out. They invite everyone to observe a class, ask lots of questions, and get a clear sense of how things work before you sign up for classes.

I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, the gym has grown quite a bit over the last year. The owners work really hard to make it a good gym, so it is good to see them succeed even if I didn't think it worked well for me initially. Second, they changed some of their approaches to the training and re-worked the method a little bit in a way that -- although their previous approach did not disagree with me -- I think will be very good. They've changed their pricing and now there are more options, flexibility, and it's even cheaper for the BF and I to go together. I've also learned that I prefer to work out in the morning, which kind of changes things in a number of ways I don't care to get into here.

Monday night, we started their beginners class and it was AMAZING.

I have to say: having good coaches and instructors for weight training makes a huge difference. Total game changer. And at my new old CrossFit gym, they are top-notch, can't-be-beat.

In this one class -- a class I've now taken three times with three separate instructors -- I got some new tips on improving my front and back squats as well as my overhead squat, tips on things I just hadn't learned to focus on before. This morning, I have no unpleasant soreness in my back or knees in spite of having done a zillion squats the other night. (I do have some minor muscle soreness elsewhere, but it's completely manageable.)

So, anyway, I just wanted to say that if you're checking out new CrossFit gyms, you should insist that they let you watch a class so you can gauge the type of coaching and instruction they offer. It will make a huge difference in your safety and fitness!

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