I have been involved in CrossFit from many different perspectives. I have been the guy doing CrossFit in the local leisure centre, getting weird looks and finding someone using my kit halfway through an AMRAP. I have been the new guy at a box, who thought he was pretty fucking fit but then got owned on ‘Helen’ by everyone else in my class. I have been the ‘competitor’ who trains twice a day and competes regularly in adult P.E. I have been a coach who takes huge pride in helping others achieve their fitness goals.

Experiencing CrossFit from all these perspectives has taught me lots. First up, five things I learned as a member at a CrossFit box:

Working out in a class is a lot better. As a guy, I had largely shied away from training in a class environment. Outside of combat sports and martial arts the idea of training in a class had never appealed to me. Surely I was better to lone wolf it, hit the weights and occasionally ask another ‘lone wolf’ for a bro-sesh? Fuck no. Training in a class is epic. Despite the obvious social benefits of actually talking to another human being it provides a good natured competitive atmosphere and the joy of knowing someone else is suffering alongside you. As a coach I have found I train a lot on my own and boy do I miss the classes!

Being coached makes a huge difference. Watching YouTube videos of the Olympic lifts is all well and good but nothing beats having someone who actually A) knows what they’re doing and B) how to pass on that knowledge to others. I progressed more in my lifting in a few months with a coach than I had in years going solo.

Being accountable makes you work a lot harder. Having to shout out your score post WOD can seem a little daunting at first but knowing you will have too definitely makes you work that little bit harder. No one ultimately gives a shit about your score so long as you worked hard and pushed yourself. But the knowledge that you are all accountable to one another definitely ensures you give each WOD your all.

Fitness is a lot easier when all you have to do is turn up and follow instructions. I spent a lot of my gym time before CrossFit thinking about what I would do. The answer was invariably anything upper body, never anything lower body and probably some rowing (I love rowing). Once at a proper box I could rock up and know I was going to get a good, varied and structured workout in and get it all done in an hour. If you want efficiency in your training time, CrossFit is your jam.

Fitness can bring people together in a unique way. Having worked in environments where shared experiences unite people in incredibly powerful ways I was not shocked when I started making great friends at CrossFit. There is something about the environment created during a WOD and immediately after that is indescribable. It is guaranteed to create bonds between people like nothing else.

So, there are the five lessons I learned as a member. Next week we have my top five lessons as a competitor.