What you need to know before your first Crossfit workout

This week the Crossfit Games have been taking place, an international competition where elite Crossfitters compete to be named the Fittest on Earth. These games showcase the top level of Crossfit, but they are also promoted to encourage people from all fitness levels to discover Crossfit for themselves to improve their general health and fitness.

While the Crossfit Games shows elite athletes tackling some of the most intense workouts Crossfit has to offer, the reality of a standard Crossfit workout is much different. Walk into most Crossfit boxes and you will see all types of people working out, from teenagers to those in their 50s, and all levels of fitness and skills.

I’ve been doing Crossfit regularly for over a year and have found it has not only made me stronger but has also helped to improve my endurance. Unlike many people who try Crossfit, I didn’t fall in love with it instantly, but over the last 12 months I’ve enjoyed it more and more and now it has become one of my favourite ways to workout. Last year I even decided to make the change from being a regular gym goer to using Crossfit as my main cross training workout to complement my running.

One of the reasons why I enjoy Crossfit so much is that it is for everyone. This means that no matter how unfit you feel you are, walk into a Crossfit box for the first time and you won’t be judged.

Each Crossfit box is different and will have different types of coaches, but any good Crossfit box will not allow anyone new to lift heavy weights before learning the basic skills of weightlifting. This means that if you’re new to weightlifting it is very likely that you won’t be allowed anywhere near the heavy weights – you might even simply start with a PVC pipe.

You can expect your first Crossfit workout to be tough though, even if you’re not RXing it with the veterans. The workout will probably be scaled to suit your skill and fitness level, this means that weights will be lighter and movements more simple than the RX ones, the idea behind this is to ensure you get a tough workout for your abilities; and almost everyone starts with having to scale workouts.

Although I had been exercising for years before trying Crossfit for the first time, it took me a long time to understand the movements and even now I still scale many of the workouts. While this can be frustrating it is always important to remember that Crossfit is about constantly improving your strength, fitness and aiming for new PBs.

If you are thinking about trying Crossfit, it is something I would recommend. I’ve not only seen improvements in my own fitness since starting but I’ve also seen many others become fitter, healthier and stronger, as well as more confident since becoming Crossfitters.


To help prepare you for your first Crossfit session here are some of the key terms explained:  

Box – gym

WOD – workout of the day (the workout that will be done in the class)

AMRAP – as many rounds/reps as possible

EMOM – every minute on the minute

DU – double unders, a jump rope passes under your feet twice in one jump

UB – unbroken, complete the reps unbroken

BW – body weight

DB – dumbbell

Masters – a Crossfitter who is over the age of 35  

RX – doing the weights and movements set out in the workout

Scaled – doing a lighter weight and more simple version of movements set out in the workout


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