First Timer’s Cheat Sheet

What I Wish I Knew Before My First (Rowing, CrossFit, Bootcamp) Class…

1. No One’s Paying Attention To You (Except the Coach)

Fear: Everyone’s going to notice how clueless I am.

Reality: Everyone’s too busy sweating and getting after their own goals to keep tabs on your technique. Your coach has seen it all, and they just want you to work your hardest. Expect coaches to give you pointers for form, especially if you’re doing something that could lead to injury. The newer you are, the more coaching you’ll get. But pay attention and you’ll notice even those seasoned regulars are getting advice mid-WOD.

2. Everyone Is Rooting For You

If you’re obviously struggling to complete your reps or row that 2K, you won’t get judged, but you are likely to get cheers of encouragement. It’s a team environment so expect someone to appear beside you for those last 10 pull ups to give you moral support.

3. Try Hard. Don’t Worry About The Board. 

I finish last or nearly last often, and for a long time I fussed over my splits, my way scaled down weights and slow times. That stuff comes over time, as small and steady improvements if you’re dedicated. I had to accept that I’m small so will never row like the 6 foot 2 guy next to me. And that I have zero athletic experience so shouldn’t beat myself out for being scared of handstands. Give 100% every time, and be proud of those numbers!

4. Dress Code

I’ve seen everything from chucks to specialty lifting shoes. Until you know whether you’ll be making this a regular thing, don’t worry about investing in anything special. For ladies, the only thing to consider is that CrossFit will have you doing handstands and squats, so wear something that won’t fall up, down, or reveal your business to your classmates.

5. Form Foremost

Arms straight, swing from the hips, don’t break too early— Your head will be exploding with the information but you’re not expected to remember everything all the time. Pick one aspect of the exercise and focus on it. Show up regularly and all the pieces will come together.

6. Don’t Show Up Hungover

Unless you like pain. I did this once or twice when I was new and the workout was AWFUL. It’s just not worth going if your performance is going to suck and you’ll be holding back vomit the whole time.

7. Sleep and Hydrate

You’re working muscles you may never have used before. You’ll be sore. Incredibly sore. Drink a ton of water and get your 8 hours.

8. Pick Up Your Shit

Wipe down your erg, mat, med balls etc. and put it all away (don’t forget the erg).