One of the most important things athletes can do when they start a training program like ours is to set realistic training expectations for themselves. The sooner your expectations align with the goals of your program, the sooner you’ll start becoming proactive with your training decisions, the more quickly you’ll maximize your time while training, and the more quickly you’ll be able to realize your training goals. Unfortunately, setting realistic expectations for yourself as you begin a training program can be difficult, regardless of your background or experience. In this post, we discuss the reasons why it can be difficult to set realistic expectations, and afford insights into things you can do to ensure that your expectations are healthy, realistic, and appropriate from the get-go.

Imagine you’re sitting in your bedroom, getting ready to pack for a 90 day, trans-continental adventure. You’re thrilled because it involves everything you love to do, or have always wanted to do – skiing, mountain-biking, scuba diving – you name it, you’re doing it! You’ve got your suitcase out, your sundries and toiletries are packed…but just as you start to unzip your suitcase, it hits you – you’ve never travelled before. Ever. You’ve never taken road-trip, flown on a plane, or taken a bus or train. You’ve never cleared customs before, or dealt with a lost bag. You don’t know about carry-ons, much less how to pack one. And although you’ve done most of the activities you’ve planned, you’ve never done them away from home before. Imagine how difficult it’d be to pack for such an expedition. Do you bring shorts? Or sweats? Do you bring a jacket? Or multiple? And once you figure out what you’re going to bring…what do you pack it all in?!?

Admittedly we’re taking a few liberties with this analogy, but to a certain extent, many of the apprehensions you’d face in such a scenario stand to mirror those you’ll feel when you first start your training program. “What’s realistic to expect? How often should I come? What should I feel like after a hard session? Should I add more weight to my bar? Why aren’t I losing weight? I’m confused – should I ask a coach?” These questions, and the thousands of others like them – are difficult to answer absent context for the situation, or a specific idea as to what you can expect from our training program on a day-in, day-out basis. To help ensure that you get off on the right foot as you start your fitness journey with us, we’d like to provide you with such context by sharing with you the specific things you should expect from us each class, and the things that we’ll expect from you as you begin the program in earnest.

Expectations From Us – Your Coaches:

Although not a comprehensive list, the below points succinctly summarize what you can expect to receive from us each and every time you walk through our doors:

  1. Intelligent, effective programming. You can expect to do a carefully crafted workout that’s safe, that will help you work towards your fitness goals, and that has been developed within the context of all of the workouts you’ll be performing over a period of time, as to ensure that you’re set-up for long-term success.
  2. Goals and expectations for the workout. We aim to provide each athlete with an overview of the objectives for each workout. This information is presented in order to:
    1. Help each athlete modify or scale movements or repetitions as necessary in order to ensure that they’ll be able to achieve the goals of the workout;
    2. Help athletes understand how and if they should modify the workout in order to ensure that it remains consistent with their specific training goals.
  3. Instructions on performing movements. Your coaches are committed to helping improve your proficiency with each of the movements used in each class each day, and to helping ensure that you receive the intended response of the workout. Because our goal is to improve proficiency, instruction time will largely be dedicated to finer details of the associated movement patterns, rather than reviews of the basic mechanics of the movements themselves.
  4. Provision of a safe, motivating, inspiring training environment. To ensure our athletes are best equipped to achieve the goals of the workout, our coaches ensure that each class provides a motivating, supportive, encouraging, and empowering class atmosphere. Most important – our coaches will ensure that each class provides a safe training environment.
  5. Help athletes maintain an objective, honest outlook on their training. This can be a tough one for a lot of reasons (so many, in fact, that we’ve decided to dedicate the entire 2nd new member blog post to just this topic), bur for now, we’ll focus on just one: In life, sport, and fitness, meaningful, sustainable results require meaningful, sustainable changes. Because we’re all intelligent people, we know this to be true. Because the fitness industry relentlessly bombards us with fast-fix fitness promises wherever we turn, we start to believe (albeit at subconscious levels) that there might be some truth behind at least some of these promises, and we hold on to the belief that elite fitness, the body we’ve always wanted, and the results we’re looking for are all just a quick-click away. It can be difficult to set realistic, objective goals for ones-self given such context; by providing insights into the science behind our program, programming, and exercise physiology, our coaches and staff are dedicated to helping athletes overcome these hurdles.

Your Coach’s Expectations of You:

It’s also important to recognize that we – your coaches and fellow community members – have expectations for you as you start your training program. Just as it’s our responsibility as coaches to teach you movement, program intelligently, and keep you safe, it’s your responsibility as an athlete to develop good training habits. Your coaches and community members expect that you’ll embrace these responsibilities, and stand ready to assist you in the event that you need help performing them. Here are three great habits that will significantly enrich your training experience.

  1. Take ownership of your workouts. Each workout presents an opportunity to work towards your fitness goals. These opportunities can be maximized, or squandered. Maximize these opportuntities by preparing for your workout in advance of coming in. Specific things you can do to prepare yourself for each workout include:
    • Reviewing the workout prior to coming in. For the first few weeks, take time to ensure that you’re familiar with the movements that we’ll be performing by reviewing them and the workout prior to coming to class. If you’re not familiar with a movement, google it quickly, and watch a qick video of the movement being performed. Alternatively, make a note to yourself to arrive a few minutes early to class so that you can watch the prvious class in session, or just ask a coach to review the movement with you during warm-up. Remember – you don’t need to study the finer points of performance for each movement prior to coming in (these will be reviewed in class), but you should have a general understanding of the movements you’ll be performing each day.
    • Fuel your body. It should be noted that this varies wildly by individual, and by personal preference. You’ll need to experiment a little bit to best understand what works well for you. That said, here’re some general recommendations you can use to can help you establish a solid baseline you can use in order to determine what best works for you:
      1. Make sure that you’re not coming in on an entirely empty stomach. Again, this varies by individual; if you know what works for you, go with it. If you’re unsure, we generally recommend that you have a little something in your belly prior to starting a WOD. We recommend having a light snack 90 minutes to 2 hours prior to the start of class. Can you eat sooner? Sure…but generally speaking it’s not a good idea to gorge yourself less than an hour prior to coming in.
      2. Make sure you’re not dehydrated when you walk through the door. Drink water throughout the day to ensure that you’re properly hydrated in advance of class. Chugging water immediately prior to class won’t help with anything – make this a sustained effort.
    • Listen to your body. The human body doesn’t’ distinguish between different types of stress. Any stress you have in your daily life, be it physical or emotional – takes a toll on your body. When you begin a rigorous training program, you have to account for such stress. If you wake up one morning, and you’re so tired that you can barely get yourself out of bed, then take a day off! Your body is clearly trying to tell you something! Generally speaking, our bodies do a pretty good job of communicating with our brains on this topic. When they do, it’s important that you listen.
  2. Be Proactive With Your Movement Prep
. Everyone needs to do a little personalized maintenance on their bodies. Even 10 minutes of DIY movement prep before class can go a long way in keeping you fit and pain free. After you’ve arrived at class and changed, take advantage of the time you’ve got and start working on a trouble spot with a lacrosse ball, band, foam roller, or mobility exercise. Alternatively, take a few minutes after each class to do the same.
  3. Log All of Your Workouts. 
Training without logging is like driving without a road map. You don’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going. Taking notes on each training session helps you track your progress and helps us make informed decisions about how to assist you in choosing weights and scaling movements. Each day should list some quantitative and qualitative notes about your training session. IE don’t just log your weight, but perhaps include some notes about how you felt, your strategy, what went well, and what didn’t.
  4. Start Slow and Maintain Perspective
. We take our training seriously at CrossFit TT. With that comes with a good deal of responsibility. Our movement pool uses serious strength and conditioning exercises in order to develop broad, inclusive fitness. If we don’t treat these movements and workouts with respect, training plateaus and injuries are sure to follow. The best way to ensure your success and training longevity with us is by starting slowly and developing a rock-solid technical base. In fact, the first few months you start CrossFit, intensity should not be a significant concern. The movements are potent enough that just consistently performing them will create a favorable adaptation. After you feel really comfortable with most of our exercises and have a working knowledge of your weights, only then should you start ramping up the intensity. 

Training with a lifelong perspective is incredibly important. Remember that you’re here to build yourself up, not break yourself down. Scaling workouts properly, listening to your body and checking your ego at the door will allow you to work out successfully for years to come. Most importantly, have fun with this stuff and enjoy the process.