Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Choosing a Gym

Choosing A Gym

One truth about the fitness industry is that anybody can call themselves a trainer or coach.  Some are really, really good and some are really, really bad. Likewise, some gyms are really, really good and some are really, really bad. So how can you decide which gym and which coaches are best for you?

Jeremy and Angie McCord, owners, have a combined total of 12 years of CrossFit. Both started CrossFit at another box (what CrossFitters call their gym) and coached and trained there prior to opening CrossFit Murray three years ago.  At CFM, new coaches are only brought on board after they have at least 1 year of experience in CrossFit at CFM or have extremely positive references from their previous box. Then they are interned for a period of time where they co-coach with an experienced coach.  CFM coaches are constantly learning and improving their skill sets. They have multiple CrossFit Certifications including Movement and Mobility, Weightlifting,  Kids et.al. They have attended numerous non-CrossFit HQ training camps such as Outlaw and USA Weightlifting certification and have worked closely with Mentality WOD coach, Dawn Fletcher on developing the mental side of fitness. At CFM we do not have multiple coaches on staff because we would rather have a small number of excellent coaches that truly have a passion for CrossFit than multiple mediocre coaches.  

Do they have a good beginners program?
Many gyms/boxes give you a walk around the premises and set you on your way.  At CrossFit Murray, we could just let people start the day they sign up in our regular group classes, but we do not do that for two reasons. The first is that we value your health and safety. We want to spend some time getting to know you and your body. How does it move? What are your strengths and weaknesses? We want to get your body mechanics working well and let your body develop the neural pathways slowly for the new movements we are teaching you. Bad body mechanics and going too hard, too fast are recipes for injury. We are going to spend a LOT of time with our new people in a small group setting with generally two coaches working with our beginners.  We are hands on; strictly focused on you.

The second reason we start everyone in a beginner’s program is that once you are out of the beginner’s program and in regular group classes, you still need our attention! Our job is to coach ALL our athletes and help them develop no matter where they are. If we were to allow new people to step right into our regular group classes, we would spend the majority of the class teaching the new person movements and keeping them moving well.  This would result in us neglecting the other athletes in the class and we will not do that.

If you have an injury, can your coaches not only work around it, but suggest exercises and technique fixes that could be done to help prevent re-injury in the future? Having an old injury or aches and pains should not stop you from working out. However, it should stop you from doing certain movements if they hurt.  A good coach will work around your issue and help you still get a great workout and will work with you to strengthen the injured area safely.  A good coach will also tell you when it is probably a good idea to get something looked at and can recommend someone to go to that understands CrossFit. At CrossFit Murray, we are proud that we have a working relationship with Etherton Chiropractic and Murray Transitions Massage. Dr. Wade Etherton was a chiropractor for the St. Louis Rams and understands the demands an athlete places on his or her body. CFM works closely with Dr. Etherton to ensure all our athletes under his care can still continue to work out safely. Russ Shemberger of MTM is a triathlete himself and specializes in sports massage therapy and trigger point therapy. Many of our athletes have seen great mobility increases when they have worked with Russ!

Quality over quantity. Yes price is important, but if one gym is charging less, is there a reason? Are they having to go for quantity and cram more people into classes to pay the rent? Do they just want your monthly membership dues, but don’t really care if you come or not? At CFM we realize we are more expensive than other gyms, but you get what you pay for.  We believe in small classes where everyone gets personal attention and excellent personalized workouts. Simply put, consider McDonald’s vs. Ruth Chris Steak House.  Kia vs. Lexus.  Dollar store chocolate vs. Godiva.

Quality programming?
Is there logic? Is it safe? Are the athletes getting faster and stronger? Are they setting new personal records (PRs)? Talk to people at the gym about these things. Are they reaching their goals? Are their lives better because of their increased fitness? A good program is challenging, but safe. It helps you develop your strengths AND your weaknesses. A good program forces you to address your weaknesses and work through them.  At CFM we program in cycles that develop you as an athlete. We focus on developing strength to not only help you in the gym, but to help you lift that 50 lb bag of dog food into your cart at the store. At a typical gym you are left to program for yourself and most people do what they like and/or what they are already good at. At some gyms they do program for you, but it doesn’t take into account your current abilities.  Talk to ANY of our members and they will tell you they are getting stronger and fitter every day!

What if I want to compete?
If you are interested in competing in CrossFit, look around and see how the different boxes fair at competitions. Go to a local competition and see which athletes move the best. Even if you are untrained, it’s easy to spot those that move well and those that do not. While winning is not everything, it does say something about the box's programming and coaching.  At CrossFit Murray we are proud that all our athletes are encouraged to compete in local and national events and we feel proud of every one of them when they step on the floor. 

Who is the head coach and owner?
Lastly, talk to the owner. Is he/she around? Is he or she an active part of the box? If the owner of the gym is not there the majority of the time, who is running the place? Angie and Jeremy view CFM as their baby, and are extremely hands on in the running of the gym. In fact, they teach the majority of the classes themselves and are at the box 6 days a week.  The buck stops with them. Do you want to entrust your fitness, health and well being to someone who does not have a vested interest in you?

Choose CrossFit Murray.