Differences between gyms
There is something so refreshing about CrossFit that each gym you go to is a new, unique and enriching experience to behold. So, perhaps overly flowery words for just a place where people sweat, but as a box owner, these distinctions (and their accompanying popularity despite all lack of consistency) makes CrossFit truly special, in my humble opinion.
I’ve come across a number of gyms and they all boast their unique flavor. If you are looking to find a new home, consider the following things to look for:
If you want to mix in some yoga, massage, eating seminars and child care into your routine, this might be the place for you. You won’t find many games competitors here, but you will find many of the conveniences and supplementary practices that other gyms will lack.
Member Requirements: May have to tolerate an off-center focus on CrossFit and a slightly higher dues (or be treated to lower dues depending on their model) because of the additional services offered. Expect things to be moderately paced, the energy level to be brisk but subdued and the members to be friendly and not overly competitive.
This is used in the negative context more often than not, but there is a distinct upside. Large CrossFit boxes will have more members, more classes, more open gym times and often lower dues as per how many choices you have in return. There will likely be a few elite athletes to which you can benchmark yourself to as well as a healthy balance of men, women, highly fit, new entrant and everything in between. This is also a great place for autonomy as there is guaranteed to be plentiful open gym times.
Member Requirements: you won’t know everyone, you may feel isolated in the community, may experience some cliques, but you will most definitely get the most bang for your buck in terms of access, amenities (showers, lockers etc.) variety of offerings.
Beast Mode gym
Caution to the wind, lift heavy things, no flowery anything, blood, dirt, sweat and tears. The members and coaches alike will relentlessly push you, progress in CrossFit is priority #1 and you will get shredded – that’s a promise.
Member requirements: must be resilient to injury, live and breathe CrossFit, be tolerant of brisk instruction and don’t give one goddamn about anything besides your WOD. The desire to compete is essential.
A general neighbor hood, not-too-big, not-too-small, middle of the road kind of gym where general enthusiasts of fitness congregate to make some general improvements in their life. There will be a few big dogs that can make the WODs look silly, but most of the folks will be former athletes, moms and dads, desk jockeys and other folks just trying to keep the fat off, keep up some muscle tone and have fun doing it.
Member Requirements: you can’t take CrossFit all too seriously or mind a smaller gym with a limit of classes and variety. You’ll get good coaching and instruction, but don’t expect to be pushed to your absolute limit and turn beast mode any time soon.
As it sounds, this will be the closest gym. Sometimes this can be just as attractive as any other spot. Think about it, you can travel all the way across town, pay a slightly higher rate, get the best coaching and unleash the inner beast…on Monday at 6am, Tuesday at noon and Saturday at 11:15 OR you can hit up the “lesser” gym 5 days a week and get some solid results anyway. The point is, you have to do what makes sense and sometimes that is what makes the best use of your time. If the gym is decent, go for it!
Member Requirements: Basically can’t be picky, gotta take what is there and love it!
A “walk before you can run” “better safe than sorry” kind of place where elements is comprehensive and instruction is constant and thorough. You may get impatient with the reluctance to kip your pull-ups, take a heavy load over head or otherwise care “too much” about your form and so on, but you will
Member Requirements: Patience and persistence. If you show them you can do it, they will hopefully push you to where you can go.
Mega combo gym
Some gyms just have it all and have a flavor to cater to all folks. Usually, this will be your larger, more established gym that has had a chance to expand, add showers, add massage centers, have retail shops and basically combine everything that has been previously mentioned. There is a pretty good chance that new and veteran members alike will be present, that there will be classes with the skill level predetermined (level II, for instance) and classes at any time or date. There might be an adjoining Ju-Jitsu gym and probably seminars that will come through frequently.
Member Requirements: Much like the globo gym, there will be some anonymity in the member base, but the perks are probably great to make up for it and the prices will probably remain fairly low considering what you get.
Now here is the reality, no one gym embodies these categories to the fullest. They should more be considered elements of a gym that are represented in various strength. Anyone who is going to make it to the games, also has to be very technical. Anyone that offers a host of amenities, must also offer variety to offset more expensive dues and a games athlete can come from just about anywhere. As my brother and co-owner at CrossFit Walnut Creek says, “If the WOD was easy, you weren’t pushing yourself.” That being said, the programming and coaching can only get you as far as you are willing to go. Perhaps rather than the type of gym one should seek, one should first identify what type of “CrossFitter” you are first – it should all logical flow from there. Happy hunting!