As a gym owner, I am constantly striving to reinforce the importance of safety, technique, then intensity (in that order) when talking to people about their training. After all, safety and technique stave off injury, and when you’re injured you can’t train. This is why I’m amazed at some of the questions people don’t ask when they’re looking around for a new training home base. Most people ask “how much does a membership cost?” and “do you offer any free classes?”, among other things. Here are 5 questions that I think everyone should ask before joining a new Functional Fitness and/or CrossFit gym, in no particular order.
What is your introductory/beginner’s program?
Functional fitness, and within that scope, CrossFit, needs proper instruction to do it safely, especially at high intensity. I’ve never seen someone walk up to a barbell and execute a perfect snatch without someone showing them how it’s done. Even something as simple as a push-up has good and bad technique. This is why it’s important for any gym in the functional fitness realm to have a beginner’s program where a new athlete will learn the basics. Whether it’s one-on-one sessions or a group setting, it doesn’t matter, as long as the gym offers it, and even requires it, before sending you into regular classes.
I have suffered from _______ injury/recurring pain/limitation, how can you facilitate someone like me?
Any functional fitness gym who wants to set themselves apart from their competition will have a solid answer to this question. Perhaps it’s a few treatments by the recommended chiropractor or acupuncturist. Perhaps it’s a slow progression from personal training into the beginner’s program or into regular group classes. Or maybe it’s as simple as recommending a few corrective exercises to do in between workouts during your down-time or at home, or simply modifying certain movements until you gain the strength needed to progress to the next step. Whatever it is, it should make sense to you.
What are the warm-ups like?
The warm-up is arguably more important than the workout itself. It should warm the muscles that will be used in your workout, as well as get you to your current range of motion limit. Not only that, but it should also be coordinated by the coach, as it is also a great time for idle talk and community building.
How do you cool down after a WOD?
At Moov we have a habit of doing mobility work as our cool down after every WOD. It’s become part of our culture. Primarily we use myofascial release balls from Yoga Tune-Up, but we’ll also throw in a light jog first or some easy rowing. Whatever the post-workout activity is, it should be something and it should be structured. This is also another great opportunity for community building, and as an owner/coach, a great opportunity to learn more about our members. I’ve never been a fan of people just leaving the gym when the WOD is over because odds are that person is off to a job or headed home where they’ll be sitting for the next few hours.
What ancillary classes and services do you offer?
Different classes and ancillary services aren’t completely necessary, but it does help to increase the overall quality of your health & fitness experience. For example, if you look at the schedule and see open gym times, dedicated mobility classes, gymnastics, endurance, olympic weightlifting, yoga, or any other type of class, it means that the mindset (and probably skill set) of the owners and coaching staff are more broad. On that same note, if you see additional services offered such as massage therapy, physical therapy, chiropractic care, etc., then you’ll have some additional knowledgeable people around the gym, and preventative care / active recovery is much more accessible and convenient.
While not exhaustive, this list of questions everyone should ask before joining a CrossFit gym will give you a very good idea on what you can expect from said gym, and their answers will also give you insight into how much they actually know about the body and how it should move.