With the new year just passing, my inbox was overwhelmed with different blog posts I subscribe to titled “10 reasons you should start CrossFit” or “10 reasons I love CrossFit” and many similar titles. Lots of good information, lots of funny information and, some very ridiculous information. Those all inspired me to write this post.
10 Red Flags Telling you to Find a New CrossFit gym
Continue reading if:
- You are currently a member at a CrossFit gym and have never experienced a different one.
- You are not satisfied with your current CrossFit gym.
- You are looking to try CrossFit but do not know what characteristics make a good or bad CrossFit gym.
- You had a bad experience at one CrossFit gym and subsequently wrote CrossFit off completely because of that single experience.
- You want to smile with pride knowing your CrossFit gym has none of the below red flags.
I first started CrossFit in 2007 and became involved with CrossFit 760 in 2010, opened my own affiliate in 2011, sold that affiliate in 2012 and have been with CrossFit 760 ever since. Am I biased then? Yes, probably. However, since 2007 I have been to numerous CrossFit gyms, especially when I was still on active duty and frequently traveling. I dropped into a lot of CrossFit gyms for a month, or a 2 week pass. A few really good, and some bad.
Whether you’re looking for your first CrossFit gym – or you currently have a CrossFit that you’re not 100% satisfied with I’ve come up with a few RED FLAGS – that should be an immediate indication to find another CrossFit.
1. It’s Dirty.
Chalk marks left all over, hair and dirt on the floor; sweat stains, bathrooms that remind you of your college dormitory. Cleanliness is critical; a professional cleaning service should be in there at LEAST twice a week. If you constantly leave your CrossFit gym with dirt and black marks all over your knees and hands, then cleanliness is not a priority of that gym. You should not want to avoid certain movements because you are worried about catching a disease if you get too close to the ground. If this is happening they do not care about you or the state of their gym.
2. Coaches Running Late.
Are you constantly waiting on your coaches to arrive? If class is scheduled for 6am… your coach should be at the gym BEFORE 6am… the WOD should be up on the board, lights are on, space is clean, equipment put away, new athlete forms filled out… etc.… so class actually starts at 6am and athletes are not sitting around waiting.
3. Classes Start or End Late.
As a continuation from above… a good coach knows how to manage their time. Anticipating time spent on instruction, set up, stretching, warm up, transitions, etc.… If classes constantly run late – your coach has no concept of time. (Probably the same coach who is still writing the WOD on the board at 6:04am). They clearly don’t respect YOUR time. People need to get to work, get home to their families etc.
4. Facilitators and Not Coaches.
You know the “coach”, they unlock the doors, turn on the lights, and write the WOD on the board… then basically hang out for the next hour – talking about their weekend rather than instructing movements… or maybe they are on their phone, no corrections, no standards. Facilitators facilitate the gym being available and let you know what the workout is. Coaches ensure you are safe, improve movement, motivate and inspire. If you spend your CrossFit class with a facilitator, time to find a new CrossFit gym.
5. Your CrossFit Gym Offers GROUPON or LIVING SOCIAL Deals.
Cool, I get it, it sounds appealing at first. The gym owner is going to get his or her business out there to thousands of people and introduce them to a NEW gym they opened last week. However, if you are at an “established” gym and they offer a Groupon, it means two things. They do not value their product at the price they are charging you, and second, people are not referring their friends and family to their gym because they are not really excited about it. My guess is you probably are not that excited about it either…. Furthermore, as a loyal member, why does your membership cost twice as much as the Groupon guy/girl who just walked in the door?
6. Poor Equipment.
Are the barbells and plates all rusty? Mismatched and pieced together, probably garage sale equipment? Not enough equipment? Half the rowers / bikes are broken in the corner – clearly no one has any plans to fix or replace them? What does that say about the pride they take in their business?
7. Nutrition is Not a Priority.
Nutrition is the foundation of CrossFit. It should be the foundation of your CrossFit gym. Is your coach drinking an energy drink at 6am while ‘coaching’ you? Do they promote a weekly gym “Happy Hour” or constantly throw birthday / going away parties at the local bar? Not to say you can’t enjoy these things in your life – but why is your gym promoting them? Would you go to a church that promotes events that completely contradict the bible?
8. The Staff is Comprised of Part Time “Coaches”.
Your CrossFit gym’s staff should not be comprised of a handful or so people whom each coach two or three classes a week. Dedicated full time coaches whose main source of employment is the CrossFit gym. These full time coaches are the ones invested in your fitness goals, the gym, and who truly care. Their livelihood depends on the success of the gym. Part time coaches’ primary focus and responsibility will always be on whatever job actually pays their bills. Full time coaches are always available to answer e-mails, phone calls, text messages, schedule private consultations, etc. Are there part time coaches out there who truly care and do an incredible job? YES, but your CrossFit staff should not be comprised mainly of them. You should be looking for consistency. If you see a different coach every other day, it is hard to maintain that consistency.
If you have ever watched the movie “300” think about the part where King Leonidas and his 300 soldiers meet up with the Arcadians. The Arcadians are disappointed that Leonidas did not bring as many soldiers as the Arcadians did. However Leonidas asks a few Arcadians what their profession is. They replied with I am a potter, a blacksmith, a sculptor. Therefore, Leonidas brought more soldiers than the Arcadians. The Arcadians simply brought more men. The point I am trying to make is the industry standard now is that your CrossFit coach should be a coach, morning day and night.
9. Hidden Fees.
This is a great one… you have a standard monthly payment. It should be an all-inclusive fee. But do they start adding on costs? $25 for a nutrition consultation, another $100 for Olympic lifting program, $50 running club etc. If you’re being charged every time you need some extra help you should seriously question their business practices.
10. Out of Shape Coaches.
Your CrossFit coach should be able to demonstrate movements. Generally speaking, a coach should be one of (if not THE) strongest / fittest people in the room. This means the ability (technique) and strength to demonstrate movements (pull ups, muscle ups, handstand walk) Do your coaches tell you “it’s too cold”, “I’m not warmed up” “I’m sore” – as reasons why they can’t seem to get below parallel on an overhead squat demo? These are lazy excuses. Your coach should be in shape, and look the part. Are they practicing what they are preaching? Quick test to find that answer: Do they have a pudgy belly?…
Maybe your beloved CrossFit of 3+ years has all or some of these Red Flags… it might be time to consider a new ‘Home’ – put your health and fitness first, above the ‘personal’ relationships you may have or the loyalty you might feel.
OR… and maybe more importantly… if you are new to CrossFit and looking for your first CrossFit to try out – be aware of these Red Flags.
You wouldn’t pay your landlord for a broken, damaged apartment. If you hire an hourly worker – would you pay them for time spent on their phone? NO. Obviously not.
Apply the same principles to YOUR CrossFit gym.
There are many options out there – with quality coaches and training… do not compromise.