CrossFit Tips for Beginners


The name alone is incredibly polarizing and you are likely in the room with someone who is already telling you how terrible the sport is for your body. After all, someone always knows somebody who has been hurt while trying CrossFit, right?

But what about the rest of us? I’ve received quite a few emails with simple, beginner questions about the sport, and I would like to address a few of the most common concerns. Here are my CrossFit tips for beginners!

Working out with Julie Foucher last November. Please notice she is wearing my FAVORITE Reebok PWR leggings!

You Can Go From Couch to CrossFit

I have heard this one so frequently that even I am beginning to wonder if it’s true! In fact, I saw an article recently that advocated people “getting into shape” before beginning CrossFit. What is that?!

Post-workout at Big Horn. Nap time!

Yes, CrossFit is intense and the WODs (workouts of the day) are rough. However, everything is scalable! In fact, I would guess that 50% of the people at the gym are scaling their workouts in some capacity. If you’re coming to a CrossFit gym with a minimal fitness background, just speak with your coach ahead of time. Any coach worth his salt will determine where you are physically and will adjust your WOD accordingly. Pull ups too tough? Do ring rows. Running wrecks your knees? Use the rower. Five rounds may literally rip your heart out? Maybe your coach will scale it to three rounds.

My point is this: if you’re interested in the sport, go try it instead of being scared of it. It may just be the ticket that finally gets you off the coach and moving!

It’s Not All Or Nothing

Guys, I’m climbing ropes these days. Boo ya!

For many CrossFitters, the WODs are their only form of exercise, and that’s fine. However, if you love other activities like running or cycling or hiking, you can do both. So many of the CrossFit stereotypes make it sound like CrossFit is a big ol’ cult where the members drank the KoolAid and forgot any other activity in life. I guess I can’t speak for anywhere else, but I know that Big Horn isn’t that way- at all. We have members who are certified yoga instructors, ultra marathoners, mountaineers and endurance cyclists. In short, you can definitely incorporate it into your existing routine!

Try It Before You Buy It

Awhile ago, I read a terrible blog post by a woman in New York. She was duped into trying a new gym that claimed to be a CrossFit box but in reality, was not certified and was only using the CrossFit label to gain members through the associated popularity.

Typically, this would just be an issue for CrossFit HQ {due to trademark infringement}, but if you read her post, you will see that not only did the trainers demean her, but they also forced members to compete absolutely psychotic workouts….while labeling it CrossFit.

CrossFit Tips for Beginners

Most CrossFit gyms will let you try a day or a week for free so that you can get a feel for the box, the coaches, and the programming. After all, it’s critical for your personality to mesh with those at the gym! If your potential box seems averse or uncomfortable with that idea, they may not be the best place for you. Working out at a CrossFit gym costs a pretty penny, so you should probably be happy and comfortable with your decision.

A Failed Box Jump Will Always Hurt

There is no easy way around this one, regardless of whether it is at your house, 24 Hour Fitness, or your CrossFit box. Smacking your shins into that box is going to hurt!


Have you ever been nervous to try a new sport? What was it and why?


  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem at

    lol at number 4! I keep thinking about joining a crossfit here once my kids start school (non babysitter equals more money for me 🙂 I have a hard time with the 97 dollars a month though, just seems like so much! that is just the one that is on my route home, I know there are two other boxes in town but they are so out of my way, which probably means they are cheaper.

    Great tips!

    • Reply heather at

      The cost is definitely hard to swallow and was a limiting factor for me for a long time. Then, I found a Groupon to try it, became hooked, and found ways to justify the cost. So, I’m totally an enabler! 🙂

    • Reply laura at

      Here it’s $150/month! Just too much for me. But I am vastly interested and “follow” CrossFit, and personally working on some general CrossFit benchmarks such as double-unders and pull-ups.

      • Reply heather at

        My gym is $150/month for unlimited or $100/month for 3x/week, which is what I do. Personally, I couldn’t do it at home…I push myself to a whole different level at the gym with our coaches and other participants. I guess that alone makes it worth the money for me 🙂

    • Reply Rob Murphy at

      I would give it a try. I felt the same but I told myself to give it 3 months and I noticed a difference. I still do it and I notice that lifting kids and groceries are a lot easier and safer. 🙂 Te only thing I do additionally after is some stretching and yoga. I have always been non-flexable. 😉

  • Reply Renee @BendifulBlog at

    Thank you so much Heather for using my story! People… especially beginners should know NOT to expect my experience! Or workouts. Ask for certifications and know that ridiculous workouts are NOT Crossfit. Love the tips. And I love those PWR leggings too!

    • Reply heather at

      You’re welcome! I don’t remember how I came across your story but it horrified me– I even sent it to my CrossFit coaches. Hopefully you figured out a situation that is much more pleasant for you!

  • Reply Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb at

    I’d still love to experience a box…just once to have the experience.

    • Reply heather at

      If you come visit, I can bring you as my friend!

  • Reply Caitlyn @ City and the Cubicle at

    Love this! I want to try out CrossFit a few times. I’m so intrigued by it.

    • Reply heather at

      Is there any reason you haven’t tried it yet?

  • Reply Linz @ Itz Linz at

    i only took the intro classes to crossfit (a series of 8 classes) and i was VERY intimidated at first! however, everyone was super friendly and there are modifications for EVERYTHING!

  • Reply Chris C at

    I love CrossFit and this post! Thank you

  • Reply Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers at

    And for that reason, box jumps are scary. haha Thanks for the info!

    • Reply heather at

      I have yet to miss one, but my friend did and split her shin open to the bone. She ended up in the ER getting stitches 🙂

  • Reply misszippy at

    Ha, ha–love the last point! That was always my fear when I did my Living Social deal. Great post and I hope the doubters are reading it. I can totally see how it is addicting and I also can see how you can make it happen with other activities. Very scalable.

  • Reply Kierston @candyfit at

    Great things to know!

    I love doing all sorts of activities…not just one 🙂

  • Reply Reid at

    #4 is no joke. It’s worth going to the main crossfit site and watching the “how to” videos before you go up to a taller box or try to do a lot of jumps in a row. But the exercise itself is terrific… you see results quickly.

    Great post, Heather. I’ve been at it for two months, and I absolutely love the variety, the motivation of the people around me, and the expertise of my coach. It’s nice to know that I just have to get myself there and follow the workout… no planning required.

  • Reply Beth at

    There’s a CrossFit gym up in Ouray…I can’t wait until we have a little bit of cash and I can give it a shot. (I don’t want to go try it and fall in love right now because it’s just not going to work!)

  • Reply Lauren at

    Great post! I’ve been doing Crossfit since April. It’s really expensive but I’m going to try to keep doing it. I just started training for my first marathon and almost left my box but decided I can be a runner who does crossfit 2x a week and that’s okay! Also I had a failed box jump experience a month ago when we were trying the higher boxes and did a 24″ (I think) instead of my usual 20″ and my tired leg just couldn’t make it up there one rep. It left a nice bump and bruise!

    • Reply MegG at

      I did crossfit throughout my entire two cycles of marathon training and it actually helped keep me motivated, running gets tedious for me over time so having crossfit to change things up during the week was great, plus getting stronger through my core and upper body helped a lot! Good luck in your training!!

    • Reply heather at

      I’m going to be training for a marathon in the spring, and I’ll definitely be using CrossFit still!

      • Reply laura at

        Yeah, it’s a really good idea to cross train while marathon training. I didn’t when I ran a marathon in ’04, and though my training went perfectly, I pulled my IT band at mile 23 and it took over a year to heal. In hindsight, I would have cross trained. When your running muscles all fatigue after mile 20, all those little secondary muscles matter!

  • Reply Rachel at

    I love this! I was really nervous before I went to my first CF class but my friend Heather convinced me it would be fun. I haven’t been in a few weeks because I have been focusing on triathlon training but I miss it and I can’t wait to get back to CrossFit Bozeman.

  • Reply Alecia at

    I have the unfortunate displeasure of being related (by marriage) to a die hard Crossfit/Paleo douche bag. I know not everyone is a lunatic about it, but because of his religious relationship with his stupid workout and diet I will never ever even try it.

    • Reply heather at

      Hahah, this entire comment made me laugh 🙂

  • Reply MegG at

    Awesome post Heather! I agree with all your points and I am a HUGE proponent of doing things outside the crossfit gym, running (in which holy crap, I’m so much faster now that I’m stronger!), hiking, skiing, and just about everything in between. As for #4, lols not only does it hurt physically, but the sound of the crash that one (ahem, I) can make is quit a hit to my ego, plus blood on a box is not a pretty sight for anyone! I’m teaching some folks how to jump using just plates right now, it’s so cool to see them getting the jump and land, I’m excited to get them more comfortable as they continue to work on it!

  • Reply Kayla at

    I wish my gym had a “crossfit class”, so I could have my cake and eat it too…..until then, Body Pump will have to do!

    • Reply heather at

      Ha, that probably wouldn’t be good– I took one at 24Hour and it was quasi-dangerous. The trainers were great with regular lifts but they had too many people doing weight lifts that they were unfamiliar with. I was surprised no one was hurt! But I used to go to Body Pump all the time and liked it!

  • Reply Erika at

    I love this post. Thank you for answering my CrossFit questions before I joined a box. I’m so happy with my decision!

    Another tip: If your gym posts the WOD in advance, think twice before peaking. You might not want to leave the couch! Once there, it’s never as bad as it sounds.

  • Reply Corrie Anne at

    Haha. A failed box jump will totally always hurt. Love that.

  • Reply Bean at

    I found this post super helpful- thank you. I am curious about Cross Fit but have not got around to trying it mostly due to all time being consumed by running but would like to gain some fitness in other ways. My husband has been wanting to try Cross Fit but I have been skeptical. After reading this I am more open to it as it seems less scary. Except for box jumps- those still seem super terrifying, maybe even more so now ;).

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  • Reply Christina at

    It’ll be a year from this month that I first stepped into my “box” (you gotta talk the lingo once you start Crossfitting!) and I have to say…I was super intimidated by all the people going hard. Handstand push-ups?? Uhhhh okay. Climbing up a freaking rope?! Well, I’m glad I overcame my nervousness and can now escape Alcatraz if I need to. I’m still scaling my workouts, but the author of this post is absolutely right…you are competing against yourself. I’ve noticed, too, that now that I’m taking care of my body physically, I’m less likely to put junk into it. Lastly, $100-150 is a small price to pay to basically have one-on-one training and a whole group of people cheering you on. I’m the least athletic person I know in my age group and I’m here to say I Heart Crossfit!!!!!

    • Reply heather at

      I’m so glad it has turned out well for you! And you made me laugh…good luck with Alcatraz 🙂

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  • Reply Joel at

    I am actually making my first Box visit next week. Well 2nd visit but this will be my first workout.
    I started a blog this weekend to journal what it is like. I am 52 so this will be a challenge but I am stoked.

    Great article. I found the site last night doing some reading and love it.

    • Reply heather at

      Definitely let me know how your first week goes; I’d love to hear what you think! And, glad you like my site! 🙂

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