Are you interested in starting with CrossFit, but you’re concerned about finding a reputable gym? Although they are not the norm, poorly run CrossFit gyms have given a bad name to the industry. Let’s take a look at the 7 most important things to look for in a CrossFit gym.
1. Credentials of the Trainer
Hands down, the most important thing you want to look for in a reputable and worthwhile CrossFit Gym are the credentials of the trainers. Don’t be shy or afraid to ask directly what certifications they hold and who is the organizations providing them.
At the very least, the person showing you the ropes in CrossFit needs to have a personal training certification from one of the top organizations:
- NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association)
- NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine)
- ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association)
- ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine)
- ACE (American Council of Exercise)
Ideally, your trainer holds a few certifications, one of which should deal directly with CrossFit, Olympic-based lifting techniques, or a combination of both.
2. Gym Culture
One of the reasons that CrossFit is so insanely popular is the community support that is inherent in the gym. Don’t be surprised if you have a new circle of good friends once you join a CrossFit gym as a welcoming and supportive culture is found in all the best gyms. With that said, if you stumble into a CrossFit gym that feels less than welcoming, be aware this is not how things should be.
Watch how the trainers and staff deal with people working out. Are they patient with beginners? Do they motivate and support or just scream and yell? Look at the members of the gym and notice whether they are supporting one another or if they are in it for themselves.
Finally, listen to what your gut tells you. If you feel uncomfortable outside of the normal jitters of being in a new environment, that could be a sign.
3. Gym Equipment and Fitness Tools
Since you’ll be performing Olympic-based lifts during your workout of the day (WOD), you need to make sure you’re using safe and durable CrossFit equipment. The last thing you need is a rusty and crooked barbell as you’re going for a clean and overhead press.
Ask to tour the facility and pay special attention to the condition of the weights, ropes, and rings. If you see rust in the metal, chips in the wood, and tears in the rope, it’s probably best to find another gym.
4. Classes Offered
If the trainers check out, the gym culture is welcoming, and the equipment looks great, inquire as to what types of classes they offer. A reputable CrossFit gym will hold a variety of classes that match different skill levels. This is especially important if you’re a beginner as you’ll need to learn the basics of CrossFit.
If the gym only offers one class that blends all skill levels, your next question should be whether or not a trainer will be there to specifically help beginners. If not, we suggest moving along.
5. Layout and Cleanliness
During your tour of the equipment, also take note of the overall layout and cleanliness level of the gym. Is everything placed very close together in a small space? Or do you have plenty of room to safely execute those big lifts? Do you see members wiping down equipment with disinfectant? Or are there sweat puddles under barbells and rings that no one seems to be worried about?
While it might seem like a silly thing to consider, a proper layout is essential for safety reasons and to lower your risk of injury. As for cleanliness, a dirty gym is a breeding ground for serious bacteria that can lead to things like a staph infection.
6. Emergency Protocol
One thing you might not even consider when you join any gym is what emergency preparedness plans they have in place should something awful happen. You’ll be throwing around a lot of weight when performing these Olympic-style lifts. You should feel secure that the staff knows what they are doing if something goes wrong.
Ask whether the trainers and staff are certified in CPR, and what they do in the event of a serious injury. Should an accident happen, you’ll want fast responders who know what they’re doing, not a bunch of people standing around looking at each other.
If you’re happy with all of the other points above, take some time to ask around about the gym. Former and current members, along with people on social media, will be only too happy to tell you what they like or don’t like about a facility. A few places to look for opinions on a CrossFit gym:
- Facebook page
- Social media groups dedicated to CrossFit
- CrossFit forums
- Better Business Bureau website
If the CrossFit gym just opened, then they won’t have an online presence or any long-term members to chat with. While this isn’t the case with every gym, it’s important to be aware that newer gyms are so eager to get members that they might rely on some CrossFit gimmicks.
For example, many commercial and sales-based gyms will use the claim that they can have you doing pull-ups in the first class. They’ll have you perform something called a Kipping Pull-up, which relies on momentum to reach the bar and places the stress on the connective tissue of the shoulders. It’s great for your ego and dangerous for your body.
When approaching a new gym, ask plenty of questions and take cheap, car-salesman gimmicks as a sign to look elsewhere.
Have You Found a Great CrossFit Gym?
What features make your gym worth going to? Is there something that you look for in a CrossFit gym that we missed on our list?