Going to your first CrossFit class alone can be scary. But it needn’t be. This article will lay out exactly what you need to take with you and why.
This doesn’t mean you need to rush out and buy all the latest gear. The complete opposite in fact.
The post is written for that person who’s never tried CrossFit, or perhaps even stepped foot in a gym.
As you get into the hobby, inevitably you may start splashing out. But for now, let’s keep it simple and cheap.
1. Water Bottle
This sounds simple but it is easily overlooked.
You need to remain hydrated as you’ll be getting very sweaty. There have been times when I’ve forgotten my bottle and it’s the worst thing!
Many CrossFit gyms have dedicated water dispensers or even fountains (phew!).
Quite often you’ll find water, protein and other BCAA drinks like NOCCO for sale there too.
So, if you do forget a bottle you can possibly buy hydration. It is best off taking your own, however.
Best Gym Hack 1: Keep a back up water bottle in your car in case you forget it one day.
Best Gym Hack 2: Many CrossFit gyms have stacks of lost property. We find in both our gyms the most prolific item is abandoned water bottles. If you don’t have a back up, ask the coach if you can borrow one from lost property; they’ll be happy to oblige!
2. Shorts or Leggings
You need to wear something comfortable, conducive to doing sports.
Wicking property is good if you have it.
Leggings are very popular in CrossFit as they afford protection of your thighs and shins, which can be handy when Deadlifting, Snatch or Clean and Jerk.
Male shorts or longs
Shorts are good for guys.
Tight shorts are not the most advisable as they can cause inevitable and irritating chafing. Same for short shorts.
Budgies smugglers are to be avoided at all costs – for everyone’s benefit, including your own.
Baggy (but not too baggy) shorts are good, as they allow for deep squats, but maintain good air flow.
Believe it or not, some dudes do wear leggings, so if you’re more comfortable in them, fill your boots.
I used to train in tracksuit bottoms a lot, and still do on cold mornings – so they’re fine too. Oly lifting in trackies is nice.
Shorts are also good for girls.
Ideally not too tight for the same reasons as the dudes. You’ll be doing a whole range of movements, so you need to be comfortable.
When looking in your wardrobe still wondering what to wear, try and fit the following bill:
- Suitable for squatting (below parallel deep sit)
- Suitably flowy enough to not create restriction
- Not too baggy that they will become snagged in the barbell or other equipment
- Not overly thick. You don’t want to get too hot too quickly
- Overall it needs to be comfortable and good for sporting activities
Don’t overthink it. Not every person in your class will be wearing all the branded stuff. Rock your existing wardrobe.
In fact, in our gyms, I would estimate only about 50% of people bother going out and buy all the CrossFit brands.
Wear what you want – so long as it’s comfortable for you.
3. Vest, Tanks or T-shirt
The same approach needed as above. Loose and flowy for the ladies is good.
Often you’ll see ladies in cropped T’s, tanks or vests.
Some girls even like the guys T-shirts as that’s what they feel comfortable in. And so should you.
Sports bras are also popular and fine for girls. Some girls wear sports bras with a vest; some girls wear just a sports bra on the warmer days.
Best Gym Hack: The picture above is a good example of the tops of tops girls typically reach for. The picture was taken on a day where the temperature was 19°C / 66.2°F
For the guys, semi-fitted T-shirts or loose T-shirts are the common choice.
Or anti-sweat T-shirts are popular too, as they help keep you cool when the workout gets warm.
Something like this 5 pack is good value.
Tri-blend material is popular with CrossFit brands and affiliate merchandise.
It’s a blend of cotton, rayon and polyester, so it feels nice and soft.
They’re also not too heavy when you sweat, and not itchy like say heavy cotton or nylon.
Dudes in vests
Guys also sometimes rock the tank or vest. More often you’ll see them in hotter countries.
When visiting many CrossFit gyms in countries such as Spain, Israel, France or Vietnam, I noticed the vest was much more common as the climate is warmer generally.
That said, visiting CrossFit gyms in Canada in the colder months see’s guys in vests too.
Overall, any old T-shirt, tank, vest is fine at the start. Forget about branding, or what it says – just be comfortable.
4. Appropriate Footwear
This can be a bit more tricky. There will be something in your wardrobe or shoe cupboard that is suitable for your first few classes, though.
First off, you need trainers. They need to be comfortable and suitable for a range of exercise based activity.
You’ll be running, lifting weights of sorts, jumping round, hanging off rings and bars and other rigorous things.
Laced is good. They should be supportive of your ankles.
As you get more into it, you can spend hundreds on CrossFit dedicated shoes. Then even more on Weightlifting shoes.
For now, just some sporty trainers, ideally that don’t have a squishy heel.
Bouncy or squishy heels are not good for overhead work, or squats in their various form.
The flatter and more rigid your shoes, generally the better.
Examples of shoes you might already own that would be good when starting out:
- Converse – Chuck Taylors
- Reebok Classics
- Various trail running shoes – solid and light
- Astro turf shoes can work
- Any trainer that doesn’t have an overly squishy heel (Nike AirMax for example do have heels not good for CrossFit)
I trained in Inov8 trail running shoes for about 2 years at the start. This was before Nike MetCons, Reebok Nanos or NoBulls even existed.
There was a quirky and funny guy called Russ at one of our gyms who would exclusively train in bare foot!
Though not advised due to dropping weights etc, it worked for him.
Some Powerlifters will deadlift in barefoot anyway, as your foot is solid and there is less distance for the bar to travel off the floor.
So, it works for some!
Again, try not to overthink this.
If none of your current shoes you think are suitable, just take the closest pair and crack on. It’s not that important at the start.
5. Good socks
You can wear any socks you like really.
Christmas socks, best dad socks, suit socks, knee high socks.
But best off are sporty sports (that ideally can be pulled up somewhat). This is not essential….as we’ll see.
For the guys, socks that can come up over the shin will help protect your legs when using a barbell from the floor and rope climbs. So longer socks are useful.
For the girls, trainer socks are fine, but be aware that if you’re not wearing leggings or tracksuit bottoms, your shins can be exposed to the barbell knurling (grippy sections of barbells).
A layer of protection is also good on the days there are Box Jumps.
That’s why longer socks are more preferable.
Lower leg protection
So, if you’re a guy or gal going for shorts, it’s best advised to also wear socks that can provide your lower leg some protection.
Long knee high socks were all the rage in CrossFit gyms around 2010 – 2014ish. They have since died out now.
Some people wear their knee sleeves down on their shins during Rope Climbs or Box Jumps, so that’s another option.
Just make sure the socks have got decent elastic and are not slipping down underfoot, being distracting during the WOD.
You absolutely don’t have to have long socks by the way. You can certainly still do CrossFit without them.
This is a brand, if you didn’t already know. Not CrossFit exclusive, but often sold at CrossFit events or shops.
I love Stance socks. Probably a bit too much.
They are high-quality, funky and make for great conversation pieces in the gym.
COLLABORATON SOCKS – BATMAN
THE SIMPSONS SOCKS!
PRESSED NOT STRESSED
These examples of Stance Socks are on the funkier side. Check their full range for some less standout vibes.
Overall, don’t stress it. Box Jumps and Rope Climbs do not come up everyday. So invariably you’ll be fine with whatever socks you currently own at the start.
They also don’t have to be long on barbell, Box Jump or Rope Climb days – it can just be handy if they are.
5. An Open Mind
OK, this is not a garment or piece of equipment, but your mindset is important. Be sure to see the whole class out so you can get a proper feel for things.
Every day’s a school day
There is a mountain to learn. If you’re starting your journey aged 10, 30, 50 or 70, it does not matter. We all need an open mind to best learn the many techniques and associated lingo.
Try not to get frustrated if bugged out by a certain movement. Enjoy the process of learning new stuff every time.
Also ring that PB bell, no matter how big or small a PB.
6. Hairband or Headband
Do you have long hair? It’s better out of your way. Pretty simple.
The girls with long hair (and the few dudes) in our gyms have it up and out the way.
You don’t want it flapping in your face, mouth or getting tangled in pull up bands.
Pony tails are fine. Or hair bands and buns. Just keep it under control.
Headbands also work.
They double up as a sweat absorber too. These also used to be all the rage in CrossFit gyms for dudes but have since died back, but feel free to wear one.
The girls often wear hair bands. So if that’s comfortable for you, go ahead and rock it.
7. Your Phone
We all tend to have our phones on us all the time, but it’s best not to leave it in the car when you go to class.
This is why:
- Log your training stats and weights each class
- Take a pic of the board with your scores
- Use it to take contact details of your new pals
- Pay for merch or refreshments
- Use training Apps (see this article for more on that)
- Keep it linked to your wearable tech (more on that here)
- Check in on social media and share progress. Take your gyms page!
CrossFit gyms are safe places
CrossFit gyms are a community where many people all know each other.
For that reason they are really secure places, so there is often not lockers for the simple reason they are just not needed.
Instead you will often just find pigeon holes or hangers to leave your stuff. Including your valuables.
In the 70+ CrossFit gyms I’ve visited all over the world, I’ve always felt safe leaving my valuables this way. It speaks volumes about the community.
8. Your Wallet or Purse
Most CrossFit gyms have merchandise or refreshments on offer in some form.
Things such as gym apparel, equipment, protein powder, or BCAA drinks like NOCCO.
Refreshment after class
It might be you fancy a cheeky purchase after the class whilst you’re warming down.
You can leave your wallet, phone and other stuff together. Hang it up, put in the pigeon holes or keep it in your gym bag.
As noted, there often is no lockers. CrossFit gyms are invariably just wide open spaces, so you’ve normally got sight of your stuff anyway.
9. Sweat Towel
Some people love a sweat towel.
They can be a necessity for sure, particularly after the longer, harder WODs. Nobody will bat an eyelid if you do have a towel…or if you don’t.
If you feel like you’d rather bring one, do it. Just remember to take it home and wash it.
Showering after class
Most CrossFit gyms have the facility to wash after a class.
If you need to clean up and head off to work after a morning class for example, this can be really useful.
Email the gym first and check the facilities, how busy they get etc.
10. Jewellery and Watches (better to remove)
Another obvious one but as you’ll be jumping all around the place, you’re better off without all your crown jewels on.
I personally take my wedding band off and replace with a silicone one in my wallet at the start of every session.
This is to prevent the barbell and pull up bar destroying it.
You’re better off gripping a bar without a hard metal ring in the way. The soft silicone rings you don’t even notice.
Browse and buy high-quality soft silicone wedding bands here, designed for sports:
ThunderFit Wedding Bands
ThunderFit Wedding Bands
Silicone wedding bands
Some really active people wear these all the time, to save wearing out their expensive valuable one I guess.
For me, it’s just habitual to open my wallet, remove my main wedding band and replace with the silicone one.
It helps signify that I am off the market! And I don’t get in trouble for not having it on…
They come in some really cool colours.
Not wearing all your jewellery is just safer and more practical.
This is a short list as to why.
Reasons to not wear expensive jewellery:
- Less distraction
- More comfort
- Out of the way. (For example, a watch may intrude on wrist wraps or gymnastic straps)
- Liable to damage
- Danger of injury – (think dangly earrings and overhead work. Wear studs instead if you want to.)
Another example of how equipment can damage jewellery would be a Kettlebell Snatch and a wrist watch. The KB flicks 270 degrees off the floor to final position to overhead.
This means your watch would be subjected to impact in this movement. It’s best not worn at all.
Exception to the rule
This would be things like wearable tech such as the WHOOP band or Heart Rate Monitor (HRM).
These gizmos are required that you wear them when training, because they are taking your live metrics.
Make sure if you do end up wearing them, they’re comfortable around other items, not impeaching or distracting.
11. A Friend or Spouse
Last on the list is not wearable!
It can be daunting walking into a new place.
CrossFit gyms can be even more scary. Maybe you have misconceptions that it’s really hardcore? This article here breaks down how it’s not that scary.
Perhaps you’re a little shy or awkward, and not great in social situations? Or maybe you haven’t done any exercise in like 30 years.
Rest assured all walks of life grace CrossFit gyms. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t scared when they first go!
Comfort with a friend
A great way to neutralise this nervous feeling would be to bring someone with you.
It might make the first time more fun or relaxed for you. If you both become members, it’s also great for your friendship as you’ll end up being training buddies.
That said, you’ll certainly make new friends anyway.
This study shows it takes only 3-9 weeks to make friends in various situations.
Longitudinal studies of friendship development concur that friendship development happens rather swiftly, usually within 3–9 weeks after meeting (Hays, 1984, 1985). Three to four months may be required for close friendships to develop.Jeffery A. Hall
A faster process with CrossFit
This is inevitably sped up on the sweaty floors of CrossFit gyms.
The environment is not forced and is always full of such a wide variety of people, there is someone for everyone.
You’ll quickly make friends for the following reasons:
- Meet likeminded people
- Atmosphere is relaxed and sociable
- Often work in pairs or small teams – sharing equipment
- Social endeavours like nights out or BBQ’s
- An influx of endorphins and camaraderie is rife. This is perfect for breaking down barriers
Bring your spouse
We have a whole article covering why training with your spouse is a good thing. To read it, click here.
If you’re worried about going to a class on your own, consider taking your spouse. It would be amazing if you both end up loving CrossFit.
I hope this list of items helps you at the start of your journey.
Having been into many CrossFit gyms, taking part and interacting with many hundreds of members for well over 12 years, I can tell you there’s no need to be scared. You’ll always be in safe hands.
Embrace it. But most of all, have fun!
To read the Best Gym Hacks article on 20 top tips for beginners, intermediate or advanced CrossFitters, check this article here.