Try to think back to your first day at CrossFit. It might’ve been years ago, but go down memory lane for a minute.
You walked into the gym, the music was loud, there was some dude with a bunch of abs putting a barbell above his head, the rig was shaking from pull ups, Carrie was yelling at her partner to go faster, and it wasn’t even a partner WOD.
It was a super intimidating experience. For every single one of us. And honestly, if you think it wasn’t, you’re misremembering.
Starting anything new is scary and that’s normal. We as humans are hardwired to feel that way. Starting a new sport is scary! Try learning to play basketball in your late 20’s. Learning a new language is scary. Going to a new school is scary, starting a new job is scary. What makes those things even MORE scary is walking into a group that’s already super close, and trying to learn those new things in that environment.
When I started at a CrossFit gym, (WAY BEFORE CROSSFIT CAPE CORAL) I was 23 years old, still an infantryman in the army, and brand new to Cape Coral. I’ve always been naturally social, so I just assumed I’d make friends at the gym, and that’s mostly why I joined. I met the owner, who told me that they had a great community, and I was super excited to get going and be part of it.
One day a guy with a beard and way too much hair on the top of his head walked up to me and made some grunting sounds. They sounded like, “Are you in the army?” That was Coach Shanen (not a coach at the time), and he was basically the first person to say anything to me since I joined. I’d been there for over a month and was definitely thinking that this wasn’t for me anymore.
From that day forward things changed. Shanen became my best friend. He helped me feel a little less lost every day in the gym, and he introduced me to a few other members. I recognized how much better that made me feel, so I decided that I would try to pay that forward.
A couple weeks later, 4 people came into the gym to try it out. I watched that familiar feeling: walking in, not knowing who to look to, and being VERY aware that you’re outside of the social circle once the class actually starts. I walked right up to them all and introduced myself. I told them I’d help in any way they needed, showed them where the water fountain was, and some other minor words. Two of those people were Darren and Eva White, and they’ve been some of my closest friends for 7 years now. Even though Eva didn’t know my name for like 2 years. She just called me “Dressy Casual.” Don’t ask.
I made great friends, I’m in the best shape of my life, I get to help others do the same, and all of this is only possible because Shanen was nice enough to come up and talk to me. He made me feel welcome at the gym when I was NOT feeling that way, and because of that, I’ve had years and years and years of benefit.
Here’s the cool part: all of you get the opportunity to do the same thing every single day. We’ve got a lot of new members right now and we’re going to keep getting more new members. The first couple months of CrossFit is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s scary because it’s all so new and everyone else is already friends with each other. A simple, “What’s up man, my name is Charlie, when did you start?” is enough to help someone get through that part, and get to all the awesome gains that Crossfit Cape Coral has to give.
If you see somebody you don’t know, say “Hi!” When you see a new person lost after the coach stops talking, offer a helpful word, like “the bars are over here.” If you’re worried about them being unfriendly, don’t worry, we would’ve told them to go somewhere else during their No Sweat Intro if they were a jerk.
Think back to how scary your first time in CrossFit was.
Think about now: you walk into the gym, you’re greeted by like 20 people, fist bumps and high fives and hugs all around. That jerk with the abs is still lifting a bar, but you can yell out, “Great Job Mike!” The rig is still shaking, but instead of it scaring you, you’re marveling at Tiffany rocking sets of muscle ups, and Carrie is STILL yelling at random partners to go faster, but it only scares you a little now.
Pass that feeling along!
–Nick Habich is the Owner and Head Coach at CrossFit Cape Coral. He is a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer, a Certified Athletic Trainer, a Licensed Massage Therapist, and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist.
If you’re not with us at CrossFit Cape Coral yet, click HERE to book your free No Sweat Intro, and see what all the fun is about.