When is it a good time to start CrossFit?
By: Mike Collette Owner/Head Coach at CrossFit Prototype
“When is it a good time to start CrossFit?” I have been asked this question on several occasions from people who call in inquiring about our facility, members who are trying to encourage friends or family to start CrossFit and on a more personal note, my family members asking me the same thing. After I answer the person they typically follow up with a blanketed statement such as “I need to get in shape before I start.” Now as CrossFit has continued to grow exponentially over the past several years, there is no doubt in my mind that more people have interest in the fitness phenomenon that has changed the fitness industry forever. CrossFit goes beyond a workout routine and personal training and it has built thousands of “fitness tribes” and communities around the world. Yet, the idea of starting still intimidates people, which is understandable due to the radical persona of what CrossFit might be.
The Truth behind starting CrossFit:
The simple answer: you don’t have to be “in shape” or “super fit” before starting. The idea of being “in shape” is a relative term anyways isn’t it? Is a pure endurance athlete “in shape”? Is a 400lb sumo wrestler “in shape”? If you define being “in shape” by being lean or by being strong then you defined both those people as being “in shape” where they are completely different in fact. To that point, everyone starts somewhere on their journey to personal fitness. Instead of looking at the need to workout at a fitness gym and do hours of elliptical training and machine weights to prepare you for CrossFit is silly. Not to say there is anything wrong with that but you could be someone who has never lifted a weight in your life and start CrossFit today! There is no base level of fitness from stopping you. Now to cover all the bases, if you have pre-existing medical condition or are a “high-risk individual” it is always important to consult with your doctor prior to any exercise for that matter (this includes being pregnant).
To that end, anytime is the right time to start CrossFit. Thinking about making a change is different that actually doing something about it. When I sit down and meet with clients and athletes that are starting out, I typically propose the question “How long have you been thinking about making a change?” This is a powerful question that creates a great conversation. If they have been thinking about starting to workout for two years now and actually did it two years ago, imagine where they would be now. The first step is to start.
The idea that CrossFit is and isn’t for everyone:
Being an affiliate owner and personal trainer I am biased to the idea that CrossFit is for everyone. I believe fundamental functional movements performed at relative high intensities is the most effective way to reach your fitness goals. Now, saying that I believe CrossFit is for everyone isn’t the same thing as I don’t believe that group training is for everyone. Not everyone in the world feels comfortable in a group setting regardless of how welcoming it is. Some people don’t like working out with others and they really want to be told what to do and how to do it in a more private setting. This is fine and I think many would agree with me. Let’s not confuse the concept of CrossFit with group training. Group training is the format in which CrossFit is typically laid out: Small to large size group classes with everyone participating in warm ups, strength and skill work and conditioning. CrossFit can be done in a 1-1 environment/ semi-private environment however. To also believe (from an outsider looking in) that all those who “do CrossFit” (not sure how else to say that) do high rep Olympic lifts, mixed with high-velocity complex gymnastics movements which results in vomit after is just ignorant to think that. Sitting down and standing up, picking things up off the ground, movement capacity training and mobility arguably are necessary for everyone. Throwing heavy weights over your head at a fast pace, then cranking on your shoulders on a pull-up bar and leaving with bloody hands and shins, now that might not be for everyone.
Understanding what’s important to you:
Fitness and health for that matter are often major components of people’s lives, whether it’s actually in practice and application or in theory. More than not, fitness and health are often the most neglected and it’s unfortunate. Before starting CrossFit, identifying what’s important to you is critical to your success. Say you walk into a fancy high-end fitness gym and the membership consultant explains to you all the great things they have: machines, ellipticals, treadmills, spin bikes, sauna, hot tub, racquetball court, spin studio, Stairmaster, dumbbells, barbells the list of stuff goes on and on. Regardless of the what it is that they have, you need to identify what you want and what is important to you. Is reaching your fitness goals that you set out important to you? Is being in a community where people want to only help and support you important? Is being coached and trained how to move correctly valuable and important to you? These are questions you should ask yourself when you are thinking about starting a training program. If the facility you are going to provides that which is most important to you, then you have made a great choice.
- Understand that everyone starts somewhere and that being in shape is a relative term. You can start CrossFit when you’re not “in shape.” CrossFit is how you “get in shape”!
- CrossFit is for everyone, small group training might not be. You can do CrossFit in either setting; it’s all about what you want to do (See our Prototype Training Systems for more info on 1-1 and small group training)
- Identify what is important to you when starting a fitness program and what makes the most sense
- The first step is to start
- Find a facility that fits you