How to select the best CrossFit box
With 168 CrossFit affiliates currently operating across South Africa some may argue that the ‘box’ has become commoditised. If you ignore the differing colour schemes they’re basically a nondescript space with four walls, the same equipment and they all tend to follow similar approaches to training and eating. What then, other than location, should you consider before stepping into the world of CrossFit?
Wilna Appel, owner and head coach at CrossFit PBM and CrossFit PBM Squared says:
Any box worth considering needs to, first and foremost, have the best interests of their clients at heart. This means taking a goal-based, individualised approach that aims to help clients achieve their goals. Secondary to this is great programming. For example, we don’t believe in re-writing the CrossFit training manual. We coach the basics exceptionally well – form and technique always come first. We combine these sessions with short, intense workouts and a lot of basics training.
Coaches at any box worth considering should also be qualified in more than a basic level 1 CrossFit certification. They should also have a proven track record by this stage in the game and also need to keep themselves updated with the latest training techniques, and continued formal education. Our coaches also receive coaching to ensure their movement patterns remain sharp so that they can teach properly and competently.
However, it is the atmosphere at the box that ultimately keeps clients coming back for more. We build personal relationships with all of our clients and aim to foster a competitive, performance-oriented environment where people are encouraged to push beyond their limits, whether they are competitive CrossFitters or merely fitness enthusiasts.
Chris Anastasopoulos, owner at Crossfit152 says:
In my opinion all the CrossFit boxes around the country are like restaurants; while we all basically do the same thing, like serve food, it is the quality of that offering that separates the best from the rest. Does the head coach or box owner take the time to make sure the training is up to scratch? Is top client service a priority? Do those who interface with the clientèle – the coaches – make sure they’re always happy? In a world where all the equipment is basically the same it’s the little things that make a big difference. What condition is the equipment in? How clean is the equipment – you wouldn’t eat in a dirty restaurant so why train in dirty box? Is old, worn equipment replaced often enough?
And, much like the vibe and ambience of a restaurant keeps you coming back for more, the same applies to the training environment. Do the owners and coaches go out of their way to create a place of comfort? Is that environment stimulating and enjoyable? Are you able to jump right in and make new friends while getting your sweat on? At the end of the day it’s the total package that makes boxes distinct.
Cillie Malan, co-owner of CrossFit Eikestad says:
When you strip away the four walls and take a closer look not all boxes are created equal. If you were to compile a checklist most CrossFit gyms would check the same boxes – the same equipment, they’d follow the same generic programming and most of the coaches would have the same qualifications. Firstly, check that the facility and its coaches have a proven track record. Enquire and investigate whether the coaches are properly qualified, and what their background is. Check that they do more than the bare minimum required to become a CrossFit coach, and that they continually advance their knowledge and qualifications. Ask around and get references. The next step is to look at the calibre of athletes that the box is producing. If the facility is making people stronger, faster and fitter on a consistent basis, you know that it will ultimately benefit you too.
The other key ingredient needed for an enjoyable CrossFit experience is the community. Ultimately the culture of this community is shaped by the owners and coaches. Do the people make you feel welcome? Are the people at the box you’re considering supportive? Does it feel like a family?