Before you decide to join a CrossFit gym, or “box,” you need to make certain that box is a “true” affiliate, ensuring the trainers have completed the necessary levels of certification. The good news is there are currently over 3,500 affiliates around the world, so it is likely you will find one near you. The bad news is that not every place that says “CrossFit” is a true affiliate. Check the list of affiliates here: http://www.crossfit.com/cf-affiliates/. If the owner of CrossFitFredFlintsone says her gym is affiliated: Caveat Emptor! (Let the buyer beware!) Not only is this person misrepresenting her gym, she is placing her clientele in danger. You want the people teaching CrossFit movements to be endorsed by CrossFit.
Take off your Coat and Stay Awhile
Once you have narrowed down the (official) affiliates you want to try, take the time to visit. Talk with the trainers, talk with the members. Spend time observing a morning class and an afternoon class. By just being in the space you’ll learn a lot about class structure and trainers’ personalities. If the trainer is wearing spandex pants talking on his cellphone while demonstrating a muscle up, best to walk away.
The Same but Different
Although the fundamentals of CrossFit are the same wherever one goes, it’s safe to say no two boxes look the same. What matters most is that you feel comfortable in the space. Is it clean? Is the equipment easily accessed? Is there room to move around in? Don’t ignore a small gym: some boxes are tiny but very well organized, and a smaller box equates to smaller class size. Most boxes don’t have a wall of mirrors (if any at all); there may be a stationary bike or some rowers, but no machines. Decide for yourself if it’s the environment for you. Trust your gut!
It’s the People, People!
At most big box gyms there is no need or desire to get to know the people next to you on the elliptical trainer or Stairmaster®. In any case, they’re probably too busy watching TV or reading US magazine. CrossFit, on the other hand, is one hundred percent all about the people you “throw down with” every day. As CrossFit increasingly becomes a bigger part of your life, so, too, will your fellow CrossFitters. You don’t have to like everyone, but don’t be surprised if it turns out you do.