Once you have narrowed down the (official) affiliates you want to try, take the time to visit. Talk with the trainers, talk with the members. Spend time observing a morning class or an afternoon class. By just being in the space you’ll learn a lot about class structure and trainers’ personalities. If the trainer is talking on his cellphone while teaching a class, then best to walk away. If the entire class is sporting a Washington Redskins t-shirts and you are a Cowboys’ fan, you should probably run. (We joke.)
Although the fundamentals of CrossFit are the same wherever one goes, it’s safe to say no two boxes look the same. What matters most is that you feel comfortable in the space. Is it clean? Is the equipment easily accessed? Is there room to move around in? Don’t ignore a small gym: some boxes are tiny but very well organized, and a smaller box equates to smaller class size. Most boxes don’t have a wall of mirrors (if any at all); there may be a stationary bike or some rowers, but no machines. Decide for yourself if it’s the environment for you. Trust your gut!
At most big box gyms there is no need or desire to get to know the people next to you on the elliptical trainer or Stairmaster®. In any case, they’re probably too busy watching TV or reading US magazine. CrossFit, on the other hand, is one hundred percent all about the people you “throw down with” every day. As CrossFit increasingly becomes a bigger part of your life, so too will your fellow CrossFitters. You don’t have to like everyone, but don’t be surprised if it turns out you do.