Are you wondering whether to try CrossFit or join a normal gym like Anytime Fitness or Pure Gym (also known as globo gyms)?
Make sure to read this article before you do.
Because CrossFit is not like a standard gym, it does not compare like for like. For this reason – coupled with the fact that many CrossFit Gyms offer free tasters – you have nothing to lose by at least trying a class. By spending one hour there, it may rearrange misconceptions you may have, and there’s a good chance you’ll prefer CrossFit over a standard gym.
What’s the difference between a standard gym and CrossFit gym?
The difference is not between the contents of the facility itself. It’s about the experience; how you felt when you left the gym. CrossFit gyms provide a sense of accomplishment and motivation that standard gyms often don’t.
Globo (standard) gyms
The thing with standard gyms is that you’ve done one and you’ve done them all.
Obviously, they all range in size, facilities, equipment and quality, but essentially they’re all the same. (By standard gyms we’re talking Anytime Fitness, Snap, Golds Gyms, Pure Gym, Energie, Fitness First etc).
Cosmetically and content-wise, the same can be said for CrossFit; all facilities are the same but vary in quality. They all have near enough the same equipment, just varying brands and age (older the gym, older the equipment).
Standard gym outcome
If you have little to no gym experience, you can spend 2 hours meandering around a standard gym looking at the equipment that you don’t know how to use properly, too embarrassed to ask.
You could attempt some exercise, but just end up just running on a treadmill.
Lack of direction
It can be daunting, unnerving and embarrassing for so many that just want to get fit, yet aren’t sure how. This is a large portion of gym goers. These ones often quit soonest in January.
Some may just end up using their membership to lay in the sauna. But that is often not the real reason for taking a membership; the real reason is to actually get fitter.
It’s too easy to become demotivated in a standard gym.
Or, you can attend a CrossFit class that has a coach on hand to direct, support and supervise you each time you walk through the door.
You’re there for 1 hour, and in that time you’ll be completing a warm-up, skill/strength set, WOD (workout) and stretch-off.
Furthermore, you will be chatting to people of varying ages and inadvertently making friends.
It may not have a sauna or pool, but what you get is everything written on a board for you, and a semi-personal training vibe that will make you want to exercise.
Enjoying exercise is key
Most importantly, you will be having a whole lot of fun, with a desire to come back the next day and do it all again.
I can testify to that, having been a member for over 12 years. That is many many hundreds of hours doing CrossFit, and still I love it now as much as day 1.
Why Try CrossFit First?
The reason to try it first is that it’s not like a standard gym.
Chances are, you’ve had a go in a standard gym. Be that college or school; a hotel on business or holiday; or maybe you’ve just been a member of a gym previously.
Any one of the above, a gym is a gym. It’s not the same as a CrossFit gym.
So why you should try CrossFit first is to allow yourself to be immersed in what it’s about.
After all, it is one hour. What’s there to lose?
You will find many CrossFit gyms offer this, or even a free weeks membership.
The reason for that is that it enables prospective members to give it a try, all the frills with no obligations to join.
Of course, it’s not for everyone. But in many cases, a taster goes down a treat. I can vouch for this in the 2 affiliates that I co-own. Around 85% of the follow-up emails contain positive affirmations and result in some form of sign-up.
The other 15% either are a no response following chase up or “it’s not for me, thanks”.
High conversions for a reason
So an 85% conversion from a free taster is pretty significant. Especially as a CrossFit gym is quite a lot more expensive than a standard gym, in terms of membership.
An 80+% conversion in any area of sales is extremely high.
The way these people felt after leaving the our gyms struck a chord. A chord that they wished to pursue.
Be sure to stick the class out
Whilst halfway through this article, I am visiting family in Alberta, Canada. My wife and I have dropped into 4 different CrossFit gyms in 2 weeks.
This morning, a middle-aged and somewhat grumpy chap was doing a free taster at the gym we dropped in on.
The guy did not even finish the warm-up before picking up his water bottle and walking out the gym!
I’ve never see someone do that. To be frank, at least he was assertive and thought “this isn’t for me”. But he didn’t give it a chance, which is sad. He didn’t even get to the WOD.
Not even making it past the warmup does not warrant judgement. He may as well have not even walked through the door.
Moral of the story: do the full hour before deciding you don’t like it.
Conclusion – Why try CrossFit first?
So if you’re that person weighing up a standard gym vs CrossFit gym, just give the taster at CrossFit a go.
Also, don’t forget to try tasters at various, should you have more than one in your area. They all have varying flavours and styles.
Top Hack: if you can’t see if they offer a free taster/taster week, ring or email them. CrossFit Gyms are independently run. So you will speak to a human who’s actually interested in you, your goals, worries and aspirations. You are not just another number at a “globo gym”.
Reasons why Anytime Fitness (or any other normal gym) is not as good for many people.
For the sake of brevity, here is a simple list of 7 pros and cons between a CrossFit gym and standard gym.
They are by no means exhaustive and are based on feedback from hundreds of members at our affiliates over the years.
CrossFit Gym – Pros
- Facility equipment is simple and effective
- No experience is needed as semi-PT feel with coach in every class
- Everything is programmed for you every day
- High intensity with results-driven
- 1 hour of your day
- A social environment with a wide range of people in the room
- A sense of accomplishment creates high retention rates
CrossFit Gym – Cons
- No sauna, pool or jacuzzi
- More expensive than a standard gym (although much cheaper than a standard gym with a PT)
- Can be too intense for some people
- Lots of techniques to learn
- Classes are 1-hour, which may not suit everyone
- Equipment is more sparse and not brimming with expensive machines
- Class times governed by a timetable
Standard Gym – Pros
- Some have a pool, sauna or jacuzzi
- Sometimes cheaper than CrossFit (although more expensive if using a personal trainer (PT)
- Can look nicer in general with regards to facility
- You can do what you want in terms of exercise
- Generally more choice of gyms about
- Bigger ones often than not have a cafe
- Some offer childcare
Standard Gym – Cons
- Need knowledge of machine operation to extract best from them
- You need to devise or follow programming, then execute and stick to it
- Motivation much harder
- Will not learn as much or as quickly (about fitness, well-being and nutrition – unless with a PT)
- Do not have supervision or coaching – useful for correction and instruction
- Gym sessions will invariably be longer than 1-hour
- Known to become a chore, not a hobby
Founded on feedback
These are some broad generalisations but are founded on good judgement and feedback.
Listening to our members over the years, the above list encompasses the general consensus among them. According to a recent survey we carried out, having fun was important to the majority of members.
For more information on why CrossFit is so popular, make sure to check out this Best Gym Hacks article here after reading this.
No tie-ins or contracts
Standard gyms are known for sneaky tie-ins and contracts.
It’s no secret that January time is busy for all gyms – CrossFit or standard. Many people have started with good intentions, signed up for a 6-month or 1-year contract, only to find they go 5 times before stopping.
The remaining 12 months you shelled out for is in the abyss. Self-inflicted.
No contracts to worry about
Invariably, CrossFit gyms do not have any contracts, tie-ins, admin fees or similar.
On the contrary, they often advertise a 2-week free trial. This allows prospectors to immerse themselves in the exercises and community, leading to conversions.
This flexibility provides comfort for the end user. Another good reason to give it a go.
Want to improve your fitness? Find out in this article how CrossFit improves your V02 Max (cardiovascular fitness).
Semi personal training at CrossFit
Each class has a coach on hand. At bigger CrossFit gyms, if say 14 or more are present in a class, then 2 coaches will be in the room.
This provides invaluable instruction, direction, supervision and encouragement that we all need.
Even the best CrossFitters in the world are under the watchful eye of a coach. Some elite athletes are known to have multiple coaches – one for gymnastics, lifting, cardio and nutrition for instance.
Rise by lifting others
So, we can all benefit from having that person help extract the most we can from ourselves.
Even simple things like showing you a new stretch; or a slight adjustment to your grip in a barbell lift can go miles. Or that person to beast you, if that’s what you need.
Working out on your own can be tough. Some love it.
For others, it can start with a peak and follow with an open-ended trough.
By being under your own steam to go to the gym, it can quickly become a chore. Going to a CrossFit gym becomes more of a release and not a hobby.
One guy I was speaking to recently said “CrossFit was his safe space”, to which I could definitely identify.
When in the WOD, motivation is felt by the room’s energy, your fellow member going through the same as you, all fuelled by the encouragement from the coach and some big tunes.
You don’t get that encouragement inside or outside at Anytime Fitness. A personal trainer shouting at you is not the same, either.
Comrades and friendship
Another reason for going to the gym becomes that place you enjoy hanging out with your pals, stretching after class.
You’ll talk to people from all walks of life there. Male, female, younger, older, shy, confident – they are very diverse places to be.
Nearly all CrossFit Gyms have a chillout area, with a small shop that sells simple items such as protein shakes, Nocco, FitAid and affiliate apparel.
These small havens are there because the community wants them there.
People gravitate to just hanging around and chatting before and after class. With their dogs and kids.
Advice on nutrition
Many CrossFit gyms offer nutritional advice either by an in-house nutritionist or by a third party.
One such as Ph Nutrition. By being a member of a CrossFit gym, you often get access to cheaper rates for plans through the affiliate you’re from.
You can do 6-week blocks with a tailored plan to help you trim up.
Ph Nutrition and others of similar ilk dovetail nicely with CrossFit as they also use the methodology, so you can obtain results quicker.
Advice on stretches
I’ve been doing CrossFit for over 12 years. I co-own 2 CrossFit affiliates.
Yet still now, one of our coaches or a coach at another gym that I’m dropping into will show me a new stretch or warm-up moment. One that gets a place I’m stupidly tight.
Every day is a school day. The way knowledge is imparted in CrossFit gyms can be forethought or just in passing. Either way, these little nuggets all add to value for money.
Advice on workarounds
In a CrossFit gym, you will advise the coach on an injury, niggle, or less than favoured exercise. They provide you with a substitute, appropriate for your circumstances, on the spot.
You don’t get that service in a normal gym. It’s convenient. But actually, and more importantly, it is safer for you to have that coach to lean on in case of injury, worry or adversity.
Top Hack: if you’re wondering why CrossFit Gyms do not have mirrors, this article explains why.
This article makes me sound like a fanboy of CrossFit.
Perhaps I am?
But they are level judgements, posited by the members that come through both our affiliate doors every day.
Having listened to them and applying my own personal experience, I can hand on heart write these things.
You have nothing to lose by doing a CrossFit taster class. Go do it.
If you’d like to no more about the benefits of CrossFit, be sure to read this Best Gym Hacks article here.