It’s January, curls are being done in squat racks across the world. Planet Fitness is explaining to the guy working out in jeans why you can’t deadlift and how much free pizza you can eat on Fridays – Crossfit classes are filled and you are forced to actually use that planner check-in on the website if you want space to do your metcon at 5:30. Foundations classes are ramping up, and when they're complete, your regular Crossfit class will be invaded by a marauding army of The Newbs.
The Newb: We all have been there in some form or fashion – we found this new way to workout, we think it is amazing and we wont shut up about it to all our friends. The Newb is so taken by their new love of Crossfit, they believe everything about Crossfit is superior to all other forms of fitness. They have practically zero knowledge about fitness or other programs – but this doesn’t stop them from talking about how superior their workout regime is to anyone who will listen and even those who won’t.
Along with their new fitness love - The Newb has also been introduced to a new diet – and while the Paleo diet can be a useful tool for those who have no idea how to eat – the Newb has been convinced by reading one article on the internet that they have found THE diet. Only when their level of fitness improves and they begin to master the movements of Crossfit, will they realize how useless this form of eating is – and how much more fuel their body needs to perform. In the meantime, humor their enthusiasm for a diet that involves them eating ALL the fat and NONE of the carbs (To hit my carb goal for the day, I would have to eat nearly 9 pounds of broccoli, I just did the math – now pass me that bowl of gluten please)
Not just a new workout program and diet – look at all these new workout clothes, instead of just a bro-tank and some basketball shorts and sneakers, you have Lulu! Reebok! Nike! Socks! Pun Shirts! My God the possibilities!
“It’s about jerking, but like, the clean and jerk, get it?”
“No, not that snatch, like the Olympic lift silly!”
Or the worst, a combo snatch pun paleo shirt - VOMIT. (I was lucky enough to start my Crossfit career at a gym that had a myriad of badass logo shirts – so the majority of my apparel was simply shirts from my gym. I can proudly say I’ve never owned a snatch pun shirt and I never will. My sock game however is on point and is the thing of legends).
The Newb will eventually exit this insufferable phase – but be warned, the second phase is worse than the first! The New Shit Newb– This fitness freak has the socks, the snatch shirt, the bacon and eggs diet- they are ready to pursue their dream of making it to the Games. They have become just knowledgeable enough to perform the basic movements without making all those around them cringe. In their mind, they are now an expert, and need to take their training to the next level. This fitness practitioner will now begin to seek out new shit. Whether this comes in the form of questions about box-squatting, chains and Westside Barbell, the low-bar squat (useless) or requests for different programming that they read about on the internet – this Newb now knows just enough to recognize all these flashy new toys and be distracted from the basics. They may not be able to squat with proper form, but they are ready to start deadlifting with band resistance. They pester their more experienced gym mates with rapid-fire questions about hip-bar contact, despite the fact they can’t clean their bodyweight. Their free time is spent watching YouTube videos and plotting the next seminar they will spend $400 on, as if their level of knowledge has surpassed their gym coaches and they must seek outside help to take their talents to the next level – a small price to pay to be able to discuss bar oscillation with their more experienced gym mates.
The New Shit Newb has now probably talked your ear off about shit they don’t understand for about a year – and then, an amazing moment – he or she exits their caterpillar skin, and explodes into the world as a beautiful butterfly (although they probably still can’t do butterfly pull-ups) the Great Awakening has taken place. They realize they skipped too many basics, that it was a dumb move to attempt butterfly pull-up before they could do even a handful of strict pull-ups – that the basics of the Olympic lifts were passed over in their rabid hunger for some “new shit” they could learn from high-level lifters. They learn that the high-bar back squat is the most valuable lift in all of Christendom and they should have focused on that early on. They learn that scaling a workout is not an admission of defeat – that the ego is the enemy of a good training session.
Gone are the suggestions to the coach about new programs, saved is the money that would have been spent on a muscle-up clinic for the athlete who uses a band for pull-ups, less annoyed are the lifters who had been subjected to this athlete’s 40 minute discussion on whether or not he should buy a TENS unit to aid in his recovery (recovery from what? Cleaning 100 pounds?)
They begin to see the value in different types of training – they see that Crossfit is not the only way, it just may be the best way for THEM. They stop posting videos mocking anyone who doesn’t workout the way they do. In short, they become a better training partner and a less sufferable person to be friends with on Facebook.
It’s important for all of us who have been doing Crossfit for a while now to remember our own journey – it’s highly likely we all participated in some of these ridiculous behaviors as we progressed in this sport. Don’t forget your own miscues along the way the next time one of these newbies wants to talk your ear off about the limited conjugate method when he or she cannot even air squat properly. They will come around, and when they do, do you want to be the jerk over in the in the corner who never talked to them, or the mentor who helped guide them along in their fitness journey? Each one of these new members taking up your burpee space during class, has the potential to become a great training partner. They could be the person who helps you hit a big PR two years from now, or who motivates you as a competition teammate down the road. Invest in these people now and reap the rewards later. You should be viewed by them as a mentor or a friend, instead of that guy or girl who never had the time to help - someone who acted just like they did at some point in the past, but just failed to remember that small detail. We all walked into a Crossfit gym for the first time – start acting like it.