If you’re just starting out with CrossFit, finding an affiliate that is right for you is really important. For example, if there was a CrossFit Victoria’s Secret Supermodel affiliate (don’t look it up, there’s not), I sure as hell wouldn’t want to workout there. Why? Because I’m a female, and I’m already pretty awesome at beating myself up for my wicked ice cream addiction. I don’t need supermodels out WOD-ing me to drive the point home like a stake through my sugar-laden gut.
More seriously though, a good affiliate has the potential to make a huge difference in your performance. From coaching to equipment, there are a lot of factors you should take into consideration before deciding where you’ll be drinking the ‘CrossFit Kool-aid’.
1. Location: If you live in the middle of nowhere and there is only one affiliate nearby, congrats! Your decision was easily made for you. However, with CrossFit boxes popping up faster than autumn leaves are falling, you likely have a few choices.
Take into consideration when you’ll be working out and your actual daily schedule. Which box can you get to with the most ease from work, your child’s school, or your home? If it takes two bus transfers, a car ride, and a mile walk to get there, you might want to look for something more convenient.
2. Class times and options: Speaking of convenience, look for a CrossFit affiliate that offers multiple class times in the morning, during the day, and in the evening. You may love to WOD at 6am, but there’s going to be the day where you oversleep, have an early morning meeting, or need to shovel out the driveway to get anywhere (I live in Wisconsin–we always factor in snow). On those days, it’s good to know that you can still get in your exercise at another time of day.
3. Coaches: With a large number of CrossFit affiliates and Level 1 trainers across the globe, it’s fair to say some coaches will be more suited to you than others. You’re going to be lifting heavy weights and swinging your body around in ways that would impress a monkey. Feel confident that you’re in good hands by first asking the affiliate about the coaches’ educational and work-related backgrounds.
4. Equipment: Functional fitness equipment can take a beating with bars getting routinely dropped, bulky men jumping on wooden boxes, and klutzes like myself getting tangled up in jump ropes. Eventually equipment needs to be replaced. Take a look around and see what kind of shape things are in. Unless it’s a affiliate that just opened, don’t expect shiny and new. But ask questions (or walk away!) if you see blood on taped pull up bars or jagged metal shards on plates. The point is to get healthy when you workout–not a disease.
5. Price: Joining a CrossFit affiliate usually isn’t cheap. You’re more likely to find a gym membership or yoga studio in town to join for far cheaper. Still, CrossFit has it’s benefits, and people are happy to pay the dues. That doesn’t mean you have to get ripped off though. Shop around and see if there are Groupons, package deals, or discounts for students, veterans, or those voted best hair in high school (yes, my yearbook claim to fame).
6. Members: Who you workout with may feel more important than any of the factors mentioned above. Supermodels aside, you will be sweating, overcoming learning curves, and on some days failing in front of these people. CrossFit affiliates encourage social fitness, where everyone cheers each other on. That doesn’t mean drama doesn’t pop up in some boxes though. Try a free class if offered or buy a small pack to catch what the vibe is like.
If you’re comparing CrossFit affiliates, and all of them pass the points given above, don’t bother flipping a coin. Instead, pick the affiliate who offers the best t-shirt. Works every time! (Legal fine print: This theory has not actually been tested).