“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” —Lao-Tzu
The same can be said of an individual’s CrossFit journey. Whether you are a grinder like me or a former professional or college athlete, chances are you have experience with the three-week introduction to CrossFit known as the On-Ramp program. With all the complex movements and training that go into a WOD, it is imperative that athletes be introduced and practiced in these techniques before they begin their regular CrossFit training.
This is why CrossFit’s program for new members is so instrumental as a key component to its growth and success on the local level.
From my first time at CrossFit, I knew this was going to be different.
I was petrified the first day I decided to commit to this beginner’s program. So many parts of it seemed overwhelming. I had never decided to invest this much money into a workout plan. I didn’t like the early-morning training, and I was completely out of my comfort zone. I have no gymnastics background, and when my trainer Brian started talking to me about pull-ups and Olympic-style lifting, I could hear the words, but I had no plan on doing any of that.
Despite the welcoming name and calming concept of the On-Ramp, it’s very difficult. At 36, I had never done a pull-up. I don’t want you to think that I just hadn’t done very many — I mean I literally had never done one single pull-up, banded or otherwise. In addition, I could tell by Brian’s reactions that my attempts at cleans, deadlifting and overhead lifting moves such as presses and jerks were nowhere close to the way a normal person would look if they did them. My double-unders were described as a monkey who had touched an electrical wire. I could only assume that was less than the desired technique.
But despite all my struggles, Brian patiently worked with me, and I practiced the movements until a few things began to happen. One, I actually got better. Not GOOD at them by any stretch (I’m still working on a lot of it), but better to where I could actually use a lot of it in a workout. Secondly, I became more comfortable and confident. A side effect of this confidence was that as more and more people came in and started their own journeys, I would actually begin to help them and share my own triumphs and failures.
This is a pattern I’ve seen play out over and over through the years. New people come in and learn the process and the routine. And then they turn to the next set of members and pass on their advice and experiences. This grows the relationships in our box, and it’s not by accident. Our owner and head trainer Brian further explained the importance of bringing people into CrossFit via the On-Ramp class.
“We needed a way to introduce people to the movements in a structured class,” Brian says. “Kind of get them used to what we do here and the way we do it. They need to learn to do the movements safely and effectively, and the easiest way to do that is through an On-Ramp program.”
There is a method to this program that makes it stand out from other workout experiences.
Brian explains: “The three most important aspects of the On-Ramp program is that it familiarizes athletes with the exercises that we do, it works to build the base for metabolic conditioning and strength so they can handle the demands of a regular CrossFit workout, and it gets them comfortable with the setting. People sometimes come in and get intimidated. In a way, it’s an intro into the community and gets people comfortable with the process of our training.”
Brian says that of the close to 200 people who have done our On-Ramp training since I went through it back in March of 2010, 99 percent have shown a measurable improvement in their scores from day one to the final retest.
The key for them is to take the skills learned in this introduction and make them translate to grinding WODs on a daily basis then ultimately becoming an Rx-level athlete.
If you’d like to share your own experience or what your box does for their intro classes, email me at jtolgrinder @ gmail.com or on Twitter @Grindersgrind.
Stay on the Grind.