I was introduced to CrossFit in January of 2011, on my birthday. I started an On-Ramp course at CrossFit Dallas Central, along with around 20 other people of all ages and fitness levels. The age range had to be something like from 18-75, it was ridiculous. Also, the fitness starting point was all over the place. You had some “young whippersnappers,” a couple significantly overweight people trying to find a solution to significant weight and health problems, and a few people just trying to keep up with their grand kids. I was immediately welcomed by the coaches there, and even though I’m ironically shy and dislike meeting new people, managed to bond with some fellow On-Ramp athletes.

I was immediately taught correct technique for the movements used at CrossFit, ranging all the way from the simple strict press all the way to the olympic lift called a snatch. One of the first few classes focused almost entirely on correct nutrition. For CrossFit, this means Paleo. I remember seeing one girl’s face when Sam, our On-Ramp coach, announced that grains, dairy, and legumes were out. Hers eyes widened, and she indignantly asked, “what on Earth am I supposed to eat for breakfast?!?!” Sam laughed and said something ridiculous like, “I don’t know, how about a steak?” That didn’t help her much, I don’t think… Anyways, learning about Paleo in this setting was wonderful. A support group was already in place, and we all started together. We saw each other three times a week and got to bitch and moan as much as we wanted about how much we wanted toast to dip in our over-easy eggs or a pint of ice cream during our Friday night movie. After the bitching, we got down to business and did some serious training.

Unfortunately, my attendance at my CrossFit box was spotty after I finished CrossFit, mainly due to escalating health issues (more on that on my About page) and being in my last semester at college. This is one thing I can speak to: do your best to attend regularly. The community you can gain from being a member at CrossFit is invaluable, and can give you an incredible feeling of community and support for all the right things, like changing your diet and exercise patterns for the better. However, you cannot buy your way into this community. From my experience, the athletes and coaches especially at CrossFit expect to see you often. When you walk in from a 2-week absence, expect to hear, “where ya been?” with some attitude. Sometimes this is good, and helps kick your butt into gear. For me, it was discouraging, and made me think twice about going back to the box for a workout on the one or two days a month I felt well enough to train. This is mostly my mistake, as I chose to start CrossFit about a month after discovering I had some pretty serious health issues (what can I say, I’m stubborn). I hope that once I return to a city where CrossFit is easily accessible that I can start over and re-enter the CF community healthy and ready for some kick-ass athletic training.

In my opinion, joining a CF box is one of the best decisions you can make for your health. CrossFit provides a community where you expect support no matter where you are starting from. There is no particularly good system set up to find a CrossFit box near you, but many are listed on the left sidebar of CrossFit Nationals affiliate page. Visit it here. The price of a CrossFit membership varies depending on which box you go to (they’re called boxes instead of gyms, as these locations are more liken to warehouses than a modern exercise facility), and can get pretty pricy. My box was around $150/month when I joined. However if you have the ca$h, and are looking to make some pretty drastic, positive changes in your life, CrossFit is the place to go.