Back when I was trying to decide if I should stay at Equinox (ESPN’s “Best Gym in America”) or join a CrossFit gym (box), I was always looking for someone’s opinion who was in the same boat as me. Somewhere, there had to be one random person who loved Equinox, but was interested in CrossFit that wrote a semi-compelling blog post about it, right?
Somehow, I couldn’t find one, so here’s mine.
While I’m no longer an Equinox member, I did love every second of the two years I was there. I referred multiple people to Equinox and was an evangelist for the gym to anyone who was interested.
I was the Foursquare Mayor of Equinox Westwood for a couple months and could be found at Equinox South Bay, Santa Monica, Westwood, West Hollywood, Irvine, and even three different clubs in New York and Boston! Needless to say, I was a huge Equinox nerd. I think it’s a fantastic brand and worth every dollar of the $153ish/month I paid for access to all the clubs in Southern California.
Outside of just having nice stuff - saunas, steam rooms, mouthwash, etc. - the best part about Equinox are the classes and the people you’ll meet in those classes.
Say what you will about “Globo gyms,” but I’ll be the first one to say that many Equinoxes really do have gym communities because a lot of members are really serious about fitness in a really fun way.
A big part of CrossFit is the “Community” aspect of local boxes, which I’ve witnessed, heard about a lot, and think is very real. That being said, if a CrossFit gym says that you can’t find community in a “Globo gym,” they haven’t invested time into the classes and people at a place like Equinox, where people are always looking to find people to help push them and keep them accountable to come to classes and work out during the week.
What I did at Equinox
I lifted. I took spin. I took cross-training classes. I struggled through yoga. I got massages. I did personal training sessions, pretty much everything Equinox offered, I did! (and loved, outside of some boring classes) That being said, after a couple years of similar routines, I started to plateau.
My cardio was great, but everything was getting so routine that I stopped seeing gains or learning new skills. While that’s probably not a big deal for most people, for me, it was. I wanted to train more dynamically to keep learning new stuff and Equinoxes, while they are as well-equipped as any gym in the country, are well-suited for indoor types of workouts.
When I started getting into doing CrossFit workouts or even other workouts that I found online, it just wasn’t possible for me to do them correctly inside the walls of my beloved gym. The gym culture isn’t built around timed workouts, being able to lift heavy AND fast, or take some risks to learn a new skill (and rightfully so, people would be injured all over the place).
Since it’s a traditional gym layout and setup, there just aren’t enough trainers, space, and equipment around to make it work like a CrossFit box does. You can try, and I surely did, but eventually, when you’re doing pull ups on door frames because that one person just won’t get out of your way, you’ll find that it’s really difficult to do these kinds of workouts at a big gym. It doesn’t mean that the Globo gym isn’t good, it just means that it’s not built or laid out for that style of workout.
Making the Transition
While I can’t remember exactly when I started doing CrossFit workouts, I think I was doing them for about 4-5 months at Equinox. I did them slowly, often modifying because we didn’t have the equipment or space for me to complete the workout. Sometimes, there just weren’t any jump ropes in the gym! I still felt like I was getting a great workout, especially on the gymnastics-type WODs, and for a while, it worked.
One thing that I was legitimately worried about before joining a CrossFit gym was if the other members were going to be in significantly better shape than I was. Since I was working out on my own, I wasn’t doing the WODs with the same intensity as CrossFitters and every single CrossFitter I had met at races was in unbelievable shape. I actually felt like it was an accomplishment if I beat any of them at anything!
After making the switch, what I found was that the classes at Equinox, along with a solid 5-6x/week workout routine, had my cardio more than prepared for the intensity of CrossFit workouts. No doubt the WODs are still hard, but I’m nowhere near throwing up because the classes at Equinox have so much focus on being intense cardio workouts that you’ll definitely still have your breath in a CrossFit setting if you’ve been working hard at Equinox.
Try out any intro class at a CrossFit gym, see if you like it, and I’m pretty sure you’ll surprise yourself amongst your peers at how good your cardio is!
These days, most CrossFit gyms are around $200/month, give or take $50. While this figure might sound insane to some, if you’re already an Equinox member, the easiest way to think about it is that you’re basically paying for unlimited group personal training. Just like you see Groupons for personal training sessions or boot camp classes, CrossFit workouts are supervised by coaches who help you with your form, make sure you’re being safe, and put together workout plans for you. Chances are if you’re getting personal training at Equinox, you’re easily paying more than $200/month, so the cost is really a push.
I wanted to try something new and the “constantly varied” part of CrossFit really appealed to me and it rings true.
Some days, we’ll lift really heavy and on others we’ll be jumping on and over things, then doing handstands. It’s really a lot of fun not knowing what’s coming the next day, but knowing that whatever happens, I can handle it. There’s something unique about signing up for a mystery grab bag of workouts, whereas at a regular gym, you go to a class to do one specific thing, which isn’t necessarily how life works. There might be slight variations here and there, but your body largely knows what to expect.
For me, I like the challenge of trying to be prepared for everything. A CrossFitter might not be exceptional at any one thing, but they’ll be pretty good at most things, which is something that I really like. I’ve gotten better at every sport I play and already feel stronger with every day life movements than I have in years.
All that being said, while it works for me, I don’t think CrossFit is for everyone, but I think it can be a for a lot of people because as they say, it’s “infinitely scalable.” Some people just don’t like really intense workouts, nor are they trying to become gym superheroes. If you love running, you love running! If you’re more of an “Level 1 on the elliptical and I’m cool with that,” great!
However, if you love a challenge, friendly competition, and taking on something new every day, I really think it’s worthwhile to check out your local CrossFit box. At the very least, take an intro class to see where you’re at compared to others who are interested in this new sport as a baseline.
If you finish first in your intro class and feel great about it, awesome! If you don’t and you find that you love the competitive aspect of the sport that comes with high fives at the end, then you might find that it’s for you.
If you try it, hate everything about it, and love all of the fancy of Equinox that your local CrossFit gym is not, then at least you know what this crazy workout movement is that everyone is talking about.