Another Perspective on Starting CrossFit

Last week I wrote a post called Starting CrossFit – What Should I do to Prepare?  and suggested to people who were seriously out of shape that they use Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Fitness as a way to prep for CrossFit.  A number of people rightfully pointed out that simply signing up and showing up for CrossFit might be the better way to go.  

One reader in particular, Audra Soltis, the owner of CrossFit Willow Glen provided an incredibly thoughtful and compelling case as to why nearly anyone can benefit from “jumping into the deep end of the pool,” and with her permission I am reposting her comment in it’s entirety.  Thanks Audra! 

Audra Soltis - CrossFit Willow Glen

Hi Tim – I get what you are saying about encouraging people to just try CrossFit even though it is portrayed as very intense and scary.  I also get a lot of “I am going to go to the gym and get in better shape before I try CrossFit” comments.

I think that before Reebok and televised Games on ESPN2 people found out about CrossFit from someone they knew.  If that person explained CrossFit the correct way those people signed up.  If they told them how crazy it was and told a bunch of crazy CrossFit stories then they might not sign up.  Based on this we coached our members on how they should explain what CrossFit is, essentially to make it seem challenging but not impossible.  And they also tell people that in our gym we have people ranging from 20-80 and of all levels of fitness and workouts are modified however necessary to suit everyone. Most people are relieved to know that they will at least be better than the 80 year old :)

Now that we have the commercials and televised Games, etc., I get a lot of comments like “I couldn’t do that!”  I have to explain that the people they see are the top 5% of CrossFit.   Just like there are people that lift weights to be fit vs. people that are bodybuilders – anyone can do it – some do more and some do less.

I think that having CrossFit as part of Biggest Loser will show people that CrossFit is possible for anyone and that will help.

We have tried to tackle this perception by having people come to our Saturday “Open Gym.”  We tell everyone that this is a bodyweight/cardio style workout suited for “athletes and their Grandparents” and that we will take good care of them and make sure they leave loving CrossFit.   Then, that’s exactly what we do.   We usually have a team WOD on Saturday and pair newcomers up with other athletes in our gym that are excellent “diplomats” for our gym and CrossFit.

Once they have a great experience and want to sign up, they do a 5 week On Ramp that teaches all of the movements slowly and includes a 10 minute workout at the end of each class that increases in intensity as we go along.

At the end of On Ramp we tell each new member that we would like them to spend 1 month leaving the gym thinking “I could have gone a bit harder, I could have lifted a bit heavier.”   That gives them “permission” to start out slowly.

When we program the workouts we often modify by saying “if you have been here less than 3 months we want you to only do 3 rounds instead of 5, or 50 reps instead of 75, etc.”  This announces to everyone that the coach is dictating what they are doing and they aren’t “wussing out.”

By doing all of these things we have created a nice “cycle.”   People start, they get results, people ask how, they tell people how they did it and that anyone can do it based on our program.  Boom, new members!

Sorry for the long winded response – I am just super passionate about everyone being able to do CrossFit without training beforehand.   My Mom is 80 and just started CrossFit 6 months ago.  She has made amazing strides in feeling better and while her goals are different than mine, she feels like she is hugely successful.  She can now walk farther, has better balance and looks forward to traveling more than she did when she was in pain and unfit.   And she works out next to the top athletes in the gym and they are all in as much awe of her as she is of them.   Gotta love a community working out together!

Related Posts:

CrossFit Training – Getting Fit for Life

A CrossFit Business:  Chris Spealler says 321Go

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Tim Huntley , is currently the COO of Paired Health and was formerly the CEO of Ganymede Software. Tim spends his free time advising high tech start-ups, serving on the board for the Track and Field Athletes Association, and writing on his blog, An Entrepreneurial Life.

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