What is a CrossFit Workout? How Long Do They last? How Expensive?
In this article we will address the fundamentals of what CrossFit actually is…
So if you don’t know:
What exactly is a CrossFit workout?
How long does it last?
How much does it cost?
What should I wear?
Can I turn up to a workout as a beginner?
And if your curious about CrossFit and want to know more about what to expect, then read on!
What is CrossFit Workout?
A CrossFit workout is a high intensity workout that emphasises cross-training functional movements from different sports such as gymnastics, rowing and powerlifting. Workouts are usually in groups of 10-12 people, led by a CrossFit certified coach.
The workouts take place in an official CrossFit affiliate gym, which is refereed to as a ‘box’. Only official CrossFit boxes are allowed to use the term ‘CrossFit’ in their name, and classes are always instructed by a qualified coach who has been assessed and passed a rigorous training course.
CrossFit workouts combine aspects of:
Interval training (various forms of cardio, such as sprints and rowing)
The workouts are split into sections that include a warm up, strength and skill training followed by the actual workout of the day and then there is a warm down to finish off.
The coach will scale each of the exercises in the workout of the day (WOD) to suit the ability of each individual in the group. So for example if ‘10 pull ups’ are in the workout but you cannot do pull ups yet, there is the option of using resistance bands for assistance, or perhaps instead of pull ups you can do a bodyweight inverted row, with your feet on the ground.
The great thing about CrossFit is that each box has endless options for scaling each and every exercise in the workout, therefore each workout is accessible for a beginner all the way to an advanced athlete.
In fact knowing how to scale exercises in difficulty forms a very significant part of the CrossFit coaches training for qualification, so rest assured there will always be a workout that is proportional to your ability.
The Coach always explains each movement in detail before each workout and there is also a significant portion of your CrossFit session dedicated to learning new skills and techniques, such as how to do a handstand, or how to execute a clean and jerk with proper form.
So if you have a look at the CrossFit workouts of the day and you don’t understand the exercises or feel that you cannot do them then don’t worry. The coach will explain everything you need to know, no matter your starting point.
Each gym have their own workout of the day based on the CrossFit framework, but if you would like to see an example of the workouts then have a look at the official CrossFit website.
CrossFit has a dedicated portion to do with strength as they are emphasising different athletic qualities and some exercises are not appropriate for a high intensity workout, e.g. deadlifts and weighted squats.
Can I Turn Up To a Class if I am a Beginner?
With CrossFit classes, it pays to do some research ahead of time. Most CrossFit gyms are well represented on social media platforms and have website.
From there you will be able to see:
The date and time of each class
The workout of the day (The exercises will be different for each workout)
The cost of each class or the cost of monthly membership (The Cost of membership varies per gym)
Whether or not the box offers a special beginners or ‘fundamentals’ class (a lot of boxes offer this and recommend do a beginners class before a full workout).
It is a good idea to speak to the coach at the gym before hand, whether its over the phone, email or in person. They will be able to assure you have the most appropriate introduction to CrossFit.
So if you are a beginner or perhaps already physically fit gym veteran then you may be asked to come along to the beginner or fundamentals session so you can decide whether CrossFit is right for you.
The fundamentals lesson will go through the basics of CrossFit and you will be able to learn and try new movements and exercises such as box jumps or gymnastic ring rows.
Every coach is educated exactly how to scale up or down each exercise to suit your personal ability so don’t feel you you will be expected to do 10 pull ups or be able to do a handstand as there many options on hand to make every workout accessible no matter where you are in your fitness journey.
CrossFit can seem intimidating from the outside looking in. But the truth is the CrossFit community is incredibly welcoming and supportive. There are a diverse range of abilities in any CrossFit class and they atmosphere of one of camaraderie and an appreciation of team work and hard work.
I would really encourage you to take the leap and try a class, on a pay as you go basis if you are on the fence. This way you can really get a feel for CrossFit first hand and see if it is the right for you.
How Much Does CrossFit Cost?
The cost of a CrossFit monthly membership on average is $125. Most monthly memberships allow you to attend all the CrossFit classes that the gym has available. However this price and conditions of membership do vary with each gym.
The best way to get a definitive answer is to simply google your nearest CrossFit box and look at their website or social media profile and the exact breakdown of the cost and your options will be listed there. If you are still in doubt then give the gym a call during working hours and the coach will no doubt be happy to help.
At some gyms you can ‘pay as you go’ for each CrossFit workout you attend, however you will save money overall with a monthly or annual membership if you are a regular attendee.
If you are new to CrossFit then nearly every CrossFit box offers a ‘beginners’ or ‘fundamentals’ course which is costed separate, so you don’t have to commit to a monthly membership straight away.
If you are a seasoned gym veteran and you just want to try out CrossFit to see if its right for you then you can just pay as you go for a few classes to decide from there.
Do bear in mind that you are essentially getting access to a coach who guides you through a programmed workout and teaches you how to do the exercises, scaled to your ability. If you were to high a private personal trainer then it may cost in the region of $60 to $100+ for each hour of workout.
In this respect if you choose CrossFit you would make a huge saving and also have the benefit of the added camaraderie and diverse skills training that come with CrossFit.
CrossFit at home?
If you cannot afford to do CrossFit or perhaps the local CrossFit box is too much of a commute, then what I would recommend is to look at the CrossFit website as they publish their own workout of the day. There is even an app so you can be notified of each workout on your cell phone.
What you will notice if you scroll through the workouts is that a great deal of the the exercises require either no, or minimal equipment. Therefore you can participate in your own version of CrossFit workouts at home or in a local park and still reap the benefits.
Even the exercises that require equipment can be substituted for the bodyweight equivalent, (for example: hand stand push up for overhead barbell press, or push ups for bench press).
You will miss out on the camaraderie of the CrossFit community and the guidance of the coach but if you are self motivated and already know how to perform the exercises correctly then training at home is an effective economically savvy option.
How Long Does a CrossFit Workout Last?
A typical CrossFit workout takes 1 hour. This is usually divided into a 5 minute explanation of the the exercises, 10 minutes of warm up, 15 minutes of strength and skill work, 20 minutes of high intensity workout, followed by 10 minutes of cool down and streching.
You will be in the gym for about one hour but the class is broken down into several parts.
Typically The first thing that happens is the CrossFit coach will go through the workout of the day (WOD) and just explain what exercises you will be doing and in what sequence. It depends from class to class but this usually take 5 minutes or so.
The next section of the class is a warm up with some mobility work mixed in. The exact warm up varies with each workout and will be tailored to prepare yourself for the exercises you will do. CrossFit tends to emphasise dynamic stretches for its warm ups. You may also do some exercises at a light intensity such as some rowing or some kettle bell movements. This is just to get you warmed up and ready for the workout, rather then putting forth maximum effort, so the resistance is kept low. This will take roughly 10 minutes
The third stage of a CrossFit class is learning specific skills and/or strength work. With CrossFit there are some very sports specific skills such as gymnastic movements (Handstand or gymnastic rings training) or Olympic lifts, such as the clean and jerk which require a lot of technique. The coach will talk you through all the techniques with the correct form and scaled to your personal ability.
So don’t worry if you are not capable of a specific movement just yet, as the coaches know multiple variations for each exercise, to cater for both beginners and advanced cross-fitters. For example if you can’t do a pull up, you may do a pull up with a resistance band for assistance or do an inverted row instead.
The strength and skills section is usually around 20 minutes long.
After the skill work comes the workout of the day (WOD). This is the high intensity circuit training that CrossFit is best know for. This usually consists of 20 minute circuit of exercises with the emphasis on high intensity. The workout of the day is different for each workout and as mentioned this includes exercises like rowing, pull ups and squats with an emphasis on completing a number of reps within a set amount of time.
The last stage of a CrossFit workout is the cool down. The specific routine of the cool down will vary to comply with the workout of the day. Sometimes in the cool down you may do some of the same movements that you did in the main workout but at a much lower intensity, in order to bring your heart rate down gradually.
So perhaps you may be on the rowing machine going at a much slower rate for example. Usually this is complimented with some static stretching to maintain your flexibility and prevent muscle tightness after a challenging workout and to reduce muscular soreness. This usually takes around 5 or 10 minutes.
So on average CrossFit will be one hour from start to finish. In my experience this is true for all the different CrossFit boxes I have attended and all the beginner or fundamentals classes that some CrossFit boxes offer for those who are attending for the first time.
What Clothes Should I Wear For CrossFit?
Ideally for CrossFit you should wear clothes that do not restrict your movement. If clothes are too baggy then this may snag or hinder you during exercise. Breathable fabrics that wick away sweat are also advised as are supportive cushioned trainers.
You don’t need to overthink what you are wearing for CrossFit, there is no specific dress code and you can wear what you would normally wear to the gym/ what you feel most comfortable in.
But because of the high intensity nature of the workouts, you will be working up a sweat. So ideally if your t-shirt and socks are made from a breathable fabric then this will help with perspiration and keep you cooler during the workout so you don’t overheat.
Shorts or leggings are also recommend as they allow you to move freely and wont get snagged on equipment.
For women it is recommend you have a well fitting sports bra that is both breathable and comfortable.
Clothes with a good fit that don’t hinder your movement are always best. This doesn’t mean you need to wear anything that makes you feel self conscious so again, do not overthink it and choose something you feel comfortable in.
Also just wear trainers that you would wear to a typical gym. There isn’t a need for anything specific, however on the days where the workouts include lower body explosive movements (such as box jumps or sprints) then I personally prefer to wear a cushioned trainer to absorb some of the impact.
Don’t feel you have to spend loads of money on gym clothes to fit in or be part of the community. CrossFit is about supporting one another and everyone is focused on the workout and not what others are wearing.
If you have any further questions about CrossFit whether you are a beginner or advanced feel free to drop a comment down below and I will gladly reply. If you want to know more about the topic, I wrote an explanation of the Benefits of CrossFit as an exercise programme which covers all you need to know.