By Coach Somone Johnson

Before you started your CrossFit journey, you could have never imagined the crazy things you would be doing, the things you’d be looking forward to doing, in order to work towards improved fitness and well being.

Jumping on top of boxes or stacks of plates, splitting your hands while working through kips or knees-to-elbows on the bars, doing 400m of walking lunges leaving your legs barely functional for five days afterwards, burpee after burpee after burpee, puking in a trash can in front of everyone and being celebrated for it. CrossFit definitely pushes you outside of your comfort zone and I’ve yet to meet a CrossFitter that doesn’t feel deeply changed from conquering a skill or movement that truly scared the shit out of them.  Conquering that fear makes you better – better in the gym, at home, at your job, better at life. 

As the new coach of CrossFit Prep, I get approached often by people considering starting CrossFit Prep – the program designed to educate our members on the lifts and skills required to safely and effectively CrossFit. More often than not, there is an apprehension in starting Prep, a feeling like they aren’t “ready,” or a fear that CrossFit classes (particularly the barbell lifts,) may be “too hard” for them to enjoy or be successful at.  I hope that this post will help alleviate your fears and get your razzed up about jumping into the next cycle of CrossFit Prep.

What is CrossFit Prep?

As you probably know, when you first join Incendia you generally attend CrossFit 101 classes.  CrossFit 101 classes are designed to give you a great workout using mainly body weight, dumbbells, kettlebells, and other non-barbell related movements.  The idea behind the 101 programming is to teach good, functional, and safe movements without the higher technical demands required in barbell lifts. It is very possible that people will stay only in CrossFit 101 forever and be in awesome shape because of it – after all, not everyone is interested in lifting.  However some people wish to learn the lifts and more advanced skills used regularly in the CrossFit programming; this is where CrossFit Prep comes in.  CrossFit Prep is an optional supplemental program to 101.  In Prep, you learn the ins and outs of the most common slow and olympic lifts that are the cornerstone of many CrossFit WOD’s.  You also work to refine skills that comprise a huge bulk of CrossFit programming.  Prep shouldn’t be viewed as a workout and doesn’t replace CrossFit 101; it is there to get you ready to safely move to CrossFit classes.

Am I ready for Prep?

YES!  There is no pre-requisite for Prep.  The day you start CrossFit 101 you can also sign up for the Prep programming.  If you know that you eventually want to get to CrossFit, you should sign up for Prep sooner rather than later.  You literally don’t have to know how to do anything except listen and try your best.  The Prep coaches all know what it’s like to not have any clue about the lifts and movements; we are all adept at coaching all levels.  We promise that if you are participating in 101 workouts (no matter how scaled) you will be fine joining Prep.

How Does the Prep Schedule Work?

It’s a Progression: The Prep schedule is built on month long cycles.  Each cycle begins the first week of the month with squats and presses – the foundation of all the lifts you will eventually learn.  Each week thereafter builds upon the last until you are learning more complex movements near the end of the month. Because of the progression the schedule follows, it’s best to start Prep at the beginning of the month if at all possible.

Two Days Per Week Ideal: You’ll notice that Prep classes are held Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  You may be thinking that you don’t have time to attend classes that many days per week because you have a life that doesn’t involve living at the gym.  No worries, we know that and that’s why we built the schedule as follows: Tuesdays and Thursdays we learn different lifts and skills – if you miss either day you can make up those lifts/skills on Saturdays.  Therefore, if you can make an effort to attend either Tuesday or Thursday and then come to Saturday mornings for makeup, you’ll easily be able to stay on top of everything we are learning.  If you can only attend Prep one day per week, no worries.  Although not ideal, the coaches can do our best to keep you caught up with classes and it just may take you longer to move to CrossFit – which is not a big deal either

How Long Until I Can Move To CrossFit? 

This is very variable.  You may be thinking that since Prep is built on month long cycles then you should be good to go after a month. This may not be the case, actually for most people it won’t be the case.  In order to move to CrossFit, you need to be evaluated by a Prep coach who will determine if you know enough to start CrossFit classes.  Near the end of every month, we set aside class time for these evaluations where we ask students to do the following without assistance or much cuing:

* Squats – back squat, front squat, overhead squat

* Presses – strict press, push press

* Jerks – push jerk, split jerk

* Olympic Lifts – full clean and jerk and full snatch

* Skills – pullups, handstand pushups, double unders, ring dips, wall balls, box jumps, rope climbs, and setting up rower

Please note – for the skills, it’s entirely possible the athlete can’t do the movements as RX’d yet – this won’t stop you from moving to CrossFit.  All we ask is that the athlete show the coach how they would scale the movement.  For instance, if you don’t have pullups the athlete can show kips and using a band as a scale.

If you do your evaluation and aren’t quite ready for CrossFit as determined by the evaluating coach, you will be given specific things to work on and able to retest as soon as you feel you are ready – just let the coach know. You may also stay for another cycle of Prep and test again near the end of the following month.  Remember, the purpose of Prep is to make sure you are absolutely safe when you move to CrossFit, therefore please don’t be upset if you are asked to test again, we just want to make sure you are safe and have the best CrossFitting experience possible.

What Do I Bring to Prep?

A Can-Do Attitude!! Well, not just the attitude.  There’s no doubt that having the following equipment once you begin Prep will help set you up for success.

* Your own jump rope – you notice that most people in our gym have some kind of speed rope for double unders.  You can look at RX Ropes (my personal favorite,) Rogue, and Again Faster for several options.  There are other brands too – so shop around.  Make sure you follow the directions for sizing and weight so that you get a rope that suits your ability.  Try to get your own rope sooner rather than later and bring it to the gym every time you come just in case we want to warm up with double under skill building.  Be sure to put your name on your rope, especially if you plan to store it at the gym.  If you don’t have your own rope, it is usually not okay to use another person’s without their permission – so just bite the bullet and get your own.

* Wrist Wraps – As you begin learning the front rack position, throwing barbells overhead, and doing handstand pushups, you may start feeling an ache in your wrists.  We all go through it, it’s a normal part of the process of getting stronger.  One way to help with this is getting yourself a pair of wrist wraps.  You can check out Dick’s or Amazon for some good deals.  Also, Incendia may have some custom wraps for sale – just ask Lisa if they have any in stock.  Like your jump rope, bring them with you to the gym and put your initials on them.

* Grips, gloves, or tape for the bars – It’s pretty much a given that when you first start learning pullups and toes to bar, your delicate hands will tear.  It sucks bad.  Although it’s not uncommon to see CrossFitters proudly displaying their bloody hands on their Facebook timelines, it’s best to take care of your hands from the beginning so that you can focus more on technique and less on how much your hands are killing you.  So get yourself a pair of gymnastics grips or gloves, or get some tape and learn how to build some wraps.  Ask around the gym for what other people prefer, most people will let you borrow their grips or gloves to test them out.  We can show you how to build some wraps out of tape or you can Google it and practice at home before class.  There are many options for protecting your hands; come up with the best option for yourself before your start Prep so you are up and running and your hands aren’t destroyed.

* Shoes – Your first day of Prep you are going to be learning squats and from that day forward you will learn how important footwork and position is to successfully lifting weights.  You will know quickly if the shoes you have been using in 101 are going to work against you as you learn lifts.  Many people come in with running shoes and they struggle to get into the proper squat position with their weight back in their heels. If you are able to, please invest in a good pair of shoes for CrossFit.  There are many, many options and preferences are diverse.  You’ll hear people swear by a certain shoe but when you try it on it feels strange or uncomfortable.  That’s why it’s important to go to a store with lots of selection and try many pairs on and pick the one that’s right for you.  There’s a great local store called Tortoise and Hare Sports that routinely fits CrossFit shoes, feel free to visit them and get fit.  Check out this video ( where I got fit for a pair of shoes at Tortoise and Hare Sports – the owner talks a ton about what to look for in shoes which you can use for a guideline.

When can I sign up for Prep?

If you’d like to start the next cycle of Prep, you need to give Lisa Vayda notice about 7 days before the first of the month. The reason being that she needs time to adjust your billing to include Prep.  Like I mentioned above, it is best to start Prep at the beginning of the month so please plan ahead so that you can get the full benefit of the cycle.

What if I have more questions about Prep?

Ask me!  You can reach me anytime or on Facebook.  You can also reach out to Lisa Vayda or Coach Vayda or Adriane Harris.

I can’t wait to see YOUR bright, shiny face in a Prep class soon.  Remember that your whole CrossFit experience will be marked by instances of you stepping outside of your comfort zone.  If you have been thinking about Prep but are a touch apprehensive, now’s the time for your to take the leap and join us – I promise you, it’s worth it.