With this increasing proliferation of CF gyms popping up all over the place, how do you pick one?
Well, my first suggestion is to try out a few.
See what fits in your budget, but most importantly see what fits your personality—no one gym is perfect for everyone.
To help your quest, these are the distinguishing features of our gym; some people will consider them good, others may be turned off by it.
It’s really up to you.
We focus, first and foremost, on safely increasing strength and mobility.
Those two things mean more for your daily life and your work capacity than anything else you can train in a gym, and endurance (the third major category of fitness) is a function of strength.
The fact that a majority of CF boxes still lack a dedicated strength program baffles me.
Strength gains are more immediately tangible than what you see in the mirror, and getting stronger is the fastest way to get those visible results once your nutrition is on point.
We do not blindly drink CrossFit Kool-Aid.
I love CrossFit, I firmly believe it is the most versatile and useful training methodology in existence and have great respect for Glassman for devising it, but there are things on the mainsite that I flat-out disagree with—handstand sled pull, anyone? (Yes, I know that was a picture of someone else at another box, but they’re encouraging stupid shit like that by posting it.)
Key differences in our training protocol that you won’t find at most boxes:
- Every workout has a specific training effect and each month is programmed out ahead of time with a defined set of objectives.
Common member weaknesses are addressed in the programming, and unique weaknesses are addressed individually.
We have different programs for different goals/skills/ability levels, and all of them include focused strength work.
- We do power cleans instead of SDHP’s (injury potential denoted here) since anything a SDHP does, a power clean does better and more safely. SDHP is fucking useless.
- We aim for maximum transfer of movement patterns between weightlifting and bodyweight movement.
When we do gymnastic movements, we train them like gymnasts; when we train the Olympic lifts, we train them like competitive lifters. Same learning progressions, same biomechanics, same technique.
The vast majority of all bodyweight movements are done strict, and nobody learns how to kip until they demonstrate proficiency with strict pull-ups (no labrum tears here, thank you)—this is for safety and for development of actual upper-body strength.
We don’t give two hoots in hell if you can do 50 cheater pull-ups, but you get respect if you can do 20 legit ones.
Only a handful actually can.
- You have to earn the right to do box jumps (no Achilles tendon or ACL ruptures here either, thank you).
- No med-ball cleans; everyone learns the movement with either a barbell or a kettlebell since those are actually useful in training.
- We don’t teach the snatch to beginners. As much fun as it is, it’s incredibly demanding on mobility and a waste of training time for regular people just trying to get in shape.
- We do not advocate either Zone or Paleo to the exclusion of the other; they both have useful things to teach us about food quality and macronutrient proportioning.
We have enough space to be comfortable, but we are not a large box.
We don’t have 300 members or 10,000 square feet or shiny top-of-the-line equipment and we probably never will.
We don’t need it, and keeping it small helps keep costs and prices down.
We have enough equipment to suit our training methods, it’s not DIY for the most part (Matt at Primitive CF is the guy for that, and he’s made some cool stuff), and it works.
We have a tight-knit community, and everyone here is friendly. I’d kick them right the hell out if they weren’t.
Everyone helps each other learn, passing on knowledge from the coaches.
Nobody cares if you’re fat, weak, slow, uncoordinated, or battle-damaged—we only care if you’re willing to work.
All the coaches walk the walk.
You wouldn’t take orders from someone that hasn’t done their time in the trenches, right?
So it is here.
We’re all taking the same journey, and some of us are just a bit further along the path.
The coaching style is pretty laid-back (we’re usually not going to yell and scream, but we do when it’s appropriate) and the top priority is always high-quality movement with attention to detail. Intensity must be earned.
Long-term progress and injury prevention don’t come from moving frantically; they come from moving properly.
We’re strict on technique, biomechanical efficiency, and range of motion, but we’re not nit-picky to the point of idiocy.
You won’t pretend to deadlift a PVC pipe for half an hour in an ill-fated attempt to attain a 100% flawless lumbar curve; instead we’d do mobility work for 5-10 minutes and have you lift a kettlebell so you can still get the benefit of loaded movement in a safe manner.
That said, if you cheat your squat depth I’ll call you out from a hundred meters away.
I’m not exaggerating.
I do not have a formal university education in human movement (T-Meg has a Master’s in Athletic Training and a BS in Kinesiology); my degree was in economics.
Consequently, my relevant learning has been self-led, and at this point—from thousands of hours of study and practice via certifications, textbooks, numerous S&C blogs and archives, and experience on the track, under the bar, and coaching myself and others—I’ve accumulated more than the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.
Y’know who else did just that? Coach Glassman.
Maybe I’ll go for my CSCS at some point, but as of right now it’s just expensive alphabet soup that wouldn’t help my coaching.
Not saying that what I did is better or worse than a formal education (I absolutely would have gotten my degree in exercise science if I knew in 2004 that I’d end up here), merely stating fact.
To summarize, it all depends what you’re looking for.
If you want a big, shiny gym, lots of amenities, and/or a yell-and-scream boot-camp feel, you’re best off looking elsewhere.
If you want a cozy, friendly box that runs a structured and individualized strength & conditioning program and focuses every effort on making you better for the long run with minimal injury risk, come on down.