Three things to know about CrossFit

It’s the time of year for new resolutions about eating better and working out more. If you are considering CrossFit, plenty of articles have already been written about the sport and the culture, and the weird lingo. However, no one will force you to don the ridiculous knee socks or start drinking straight from a coconut when you sign up for an Elements class. Here are three things to keep in mind before your first WOD:

Everything is scalable. Most WODs have prescribed weights for men and women. The Thrusters of the innocuous sounding Fran, for instance, are set at 95 pounds for men, and 65 pounds for women. If 45 reps at an unbearably heavy weight is a struggle, it will result in poor form and injury. A good coach will tell you to scale down to a more manageable weight. The idea is to master the movement and then over time, add weight, until you meet or even exceed the prescribed weight.

A box is as good as it’s coaches. CrossFit has achieved a fad status in our performance obsessed culture, and a lot of otherwise athletic people are obtaining CrossFit Level I certifications. Like anything else, developing an expertise in CrossFit takes time and experience. A trainer counts to 12 for you (sometimes three times in a row!). A good CrossFit coach will monitor your abilities over time, and encourage you to slow down, lower the weights, and help scale a movement until proper form is achieved. Unfortunately there are boxes that simply repeat the WODs from the main site by just barking out the movements. While this type of workout may leave you panting, an unnecessary focus on volume or explosive movement usually leads to injury. Which leads us to the third thing to know about CrossFit.

Form counts. While there is an undercurrent of “more, faster”, CrossFit isn’t about a balls-to-the-wall type of workout. Yes, the WODs will get loud and seem pressured, but it will never be about sacrificing form. Crashing barbells may seem a badge of honor, but really all you are doing is damaging the facility and equipment. I am fortunate to belong to a box in an older office building in midtown Manhattan, and dropping or throwing weights is strictly forbidden. This has forced every athlete to complete each movement properly, and results in better overall control and core conditioning. It’s called the Clean and Jerk, not the Clean and Jerk and Hurl.

CrossFit is a sport like any other, and more than just a workout. Learning the movements, the culture, the programming takes time, but can be beneficial to people at every level of ability.