Getting Started with CrossFit: Is It For Me?

I just officially started CrossFit a few days ago. I have been doing some workouts on my own for years. I did 20 workouts with a gym a few months ago as part of a Groupon. But I just started the first full month of my new CrossFit membership.

I’m going to create a series of posts about my experience. I plan to cover the following topics:

  • Is CrossFit for me? (this post) –  I’ll help you make the decision whether or not you’ll enjoy CrossFit, and if it’s the right type of workout for you.
  • Evaluating gyms – No 2 CrossFit gyms are the same. It’s important you find the right one. I went to 4 before making my decision. I’ll tell you what to look for.
  • CrossFit Fundamentals – Most CrossFit gyms will require you to take a few intro classes & an assessment before you start taking classes. Here’s what to expect.
  • Your first few weeks – I’ll answer common questions related to your first couple of weeks. Discomfort? Soreness? Injury? Proper form? Is this normal?
  • TBD… I’m sure they’ll be a few more, but until I get more into it, I can’t predict the future.

Getting Started with CrossFit

Just because tons of your friends are talking about CrossFit, and your workout buddy wants you to join him, doesn’t mean you should go sign up right away. As with any exercise routine or fitness program that you partake in, you should enjoy it. If it isn’t fun, you’ll eventually stop doing it, and lose the benefits.

So before you get started, let’s talk about what CrossFit is, and see if it’s for you.

CrossFit Style Workouts

CrossFit defines itself as:

Constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement.

So… what does this mean?

CrossFit workouts…

  • are performed at high intensity
  • are very different from day-to-day
  • include all different types of movements
  • work every muscle in your body
  • include a combination of weightlifting, gymnastics movements & cardiovascular exercise
  • will have you running, jumping, rowing, jumping rope, doing pushups, pullups & situps, using medicine balls & kettle bells, lifting heavy weight… just to name a few
  • are done in a group setting, occasionally with a partner
  • last anywhere from 3 minutes to 30 minutes (but you’ll likely practice other movements during a 45-min to 1-hour class)

If you want to get started with CrossFit, there really isn’t any way around these things. But if these kinds of exercises appeal to you, then you’ll fit right in.

Cost of CrossFit

You’ll hear plenty of people tell you that “CrossFit is expensive.” Because the cost of everything is subjective, I don’t agree with saying that CrossFit is expensive (to some people, it’s chump change).

CrossFit costs more than a typical gym membership. But it also costs far less than a personal trainer. In my experience so far, the return on investment is high.

If you pick a high quality gym, the service, instruction, community & results you’ll receive are definitely worth it.

CrossFit pricing is based on a few things:

  • How many times per week you go to a class (2x/week, 3x/week, unlimited, etc.)
  • How many months you commit to (month-to-month, 6-month, 1-year, etc.)

I’ve seen CrossFit memberships range from $100/mo. to $250/mo. Most fall within the $150-$180 range for 2-3 classes per week, and at least a 3-month commitment. I recommend you go at least 3 times per week for 3 months, otherwise you’ll see very little results. (which is the case with ANY fitness program)

Most gyms let you drop-in for a single class, and those typically cost $15/class.

Most gyms also offer a free, introduction session. Sometimes these are one-on-one; sometimes they’ll have you participate in an actual class.

CrossFit Mobility

This one isn’t as important to consider as workout-style & cost, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Quite a few movements require a fairly flexible range of motion. If you do not have great mobility in your joints, you might struggle with some of the movements. Prepare to be frustrated at first.

But for most people, it’s something you can fix. If you don’t want to put the effort into increasing joint mobility & becoming more flexible, you might have a really tough time progressing.

CrossFit Injury & Risk

If you’ve done any kind of research on CrossFit, you’ve likely read about “how dangerous it is.” And you’ve probably heard about Rhabdo. I respond in a similar way to when people bring up the “expensive” argument.

Sure, CrossFit is dangerous. But so are a ton of other workout programs. And not working out at all is even more dangerous (and expensive… in the long haul).

Everything that provides great benefit also comes with a certain amount of risk.

The truth is…

  • the heavier the weight,
  • the faster you run,
  • the higher you jump,

the more dangerous it becomes. But that’s with anything, not just CrossFit. And if you want to improve your fitness, you’ll need to learn how to lift more, run faster & jump higher. Again, that’s consistent with any program though, not just CrossFit.

I encourage you to do your homework. Be aware of the risk. Learn about common mistakes people make. Be careful. Start slow. Err on the side of caution.

But I’m not saying you still won’t get injured. Sometimes you do everything right, and it still happens. Injury happens in all sports, at all levels.

CrossFit Diet (Paleo)

You’ll hear many CrossFitters talk about the Paleo diet (it’s short for Paleolithic). You can read more about it on Wikipedia, but don’t let it influence your decision. Some CrossFit athletes follow a strict paleo diet, while others don’t follow one at all. And there are all kinds of CrossFitters in-between.

You can be paleo, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, have an obsession with Thai food, or just eat everything in sight (within reason). You can still be a CrossFitter.

And if your gym gives you a hard time for not going Paleo, you just need to find a different gym.

Bottom line: Just don’t put crap into your body, and you’ll do just fine.

Final Thoughts on Choosing CrossFit

Workout-style & cost are the two main components you should evaluate when deciding if CrossFit is for you. Mobility, injury & risk should also be considered, but those ring true for other workout programs, too. Just like all workout programs, you’ll get out of it what you put in. You need to be consistent. You need to eat well. And you need to be careful.

Next up, I’ll talk about how I decided on which CrossFit gym to join, and take you through the questions to ask before joining a box.

One thought on “Getting Started with CrossFit: Is It For Me?”

  1. This is a great “First Steps” look into CrossFit and what it’s all about. I hope it’s okay that I reference this post in a few that I have coming up and to a friend I have that is in the beginning stages as well.

    Nice work. Looking forward to hearing more on how it’s going.

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