Listen, folks, I see no shame in admitting the truth—I love the KoolAid. I took my first sip four years ago during a late night workout in NYC with a motley crew that have become the CrossFit kings of Queens (and the entire Northeast, actually), and I've been mainlining it ever since. My functional fitness journey led me to membership at CrossFit gyms in Boston and Washington DC, and finally to a career in fitness, competition, and coaching here in Philadelphia.
I was fortunate when I started; the sport (or brand, it is after all, both) was thrown at me by a dear friend and long-time CrossFit coach, who promised me that I would love it. I did. I immediately found the closest CrossFit box to my house (at that time, there were only two CrossFit gyms in Boston), which happened to be an extremely well-respected gym with an educated, talented, and nurturing coaching staff. I didn't seek that out, though—I had no idea what to look for, all I knew was that I wanted more.
This is the position in which many new-to-the-game, would-be-CrossFitters find themselves. They see it on ESPN, maybe they try out a WOD or two from the "Main Site," or their friends from work do it and they want to try it. So what's an athlete, desperate for that KoolAid, to do? As a point of reference, at the end of July 2009, there were approximately 1,350 CrossFit Affiliates worldwide, according to a CrossFit Journal article bearing the same date. At present, there are around 6,100 (according to the CrossFit Affiliate Map). Which one should you pick?
Do some homework. Don't just sign up for any ol' Groupon offering a discounted week/month/year. Diligence! There are minimal qualifications that one must possess in order to coach at a CrossFit gym (read: $1k to spare). There are no additional personal or educational qualifications that one most possess in order to open a CrossFit gym. The sport is, at its base, functional movement that is infinitely scalable (appropriate for all ages, bodies, and abilities) and when coached appropriately, an extraordinarily safe fitness program. The unfortunate part is that it's not always coached appropriately, and preventable injuries happen on more occasions than us KoolAid-chuggers would like to admit.