Welcome to the Foundations of CrossFit


If you’ve built a sand castle on a beach, you know it won’t last long against the ocean. Its foundation — more sand — is weak and yields easily to the waves.

Like a sand castle, your members’ CrossFit education needs to be built on a strong foundation in order to survive.

At Reebok CrossFit Union Square in New York City, new members are taught the nine fundamental movements of CrossFit, sticking close to what the CrossFit Level 1 teaches. Head Coach Christian Espinal explained by learning those foundational movements, members understand the whys and benefits behind each technique.

“In those foundations classes, we start to ingrain that thinking into someone where it’s, ‘Hey, you’re not going to just come in here and get your ass kicked, but you’re going to come in here, you’re going to have a good workout, you’re going to learn something that day,’” said Espinal. “And it’s something that you’re going to be able to use for the rest of your life.”

The Box offers its foundations classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, each class building upon the other. Espinal said he typically uses an icebreaker, like talking about the importance of posture. “It wakes them up and makes them stand tall and straight up,” he said.

At CrossFit 865 in Knoxville, Tennessee, new members go through a 30 to 60 minute session where goals are determined. Typically, they are then immediately introduced to the regular classes, while paired with a Coach. “The reason we do that is because we feel like the No. 1 reason someone’s going to come back is not just us, or the safety that we’re always going to ensure, but also to make sure that new person feels part of the community of the people that are there,” said Erin Gray, a co-owner and the manager of the Box.


She explained they’ve tried a few different foundations class methods — individual sessions and even a structured program — but the current method is what they found works best, while still giving athletes workouts at the beginning. “It seems to work really well and our retention has been far greater than we had anticipated,” said Gray.

Ben Isabella, the Affiliate of CrossFit Sayreville in Sayreville, New Jersey, has also evolved through several different foundation classes. However, his current, and what he said is his best, model is a hybrid of what he tried in the past. New members will take 10 classes. The first five will be one-on-one with a Coach, working on skill work. During the next five classes, the new member will join a class, but they will have a personal trainer in the class with them.

Isabella said before this method, he had just the five one-on-one classes with a trainer. But, upon leaving foundations, the new members were unclear how a normal class worked. Thus, the additional five classes were added. “So, they can get the feel, the dynamic, they can get [an] understanding of how things flow and how the normal function of the class moves a little faster,” said Isabella.

And for those 10 intro classes plus the first three months of membership, Isabella charges $300 up-front. Although it might seem like a big number initially, he explained as a business owner he doesn’t see much financial benefit until the fourth month of a membership. What he does see as beneficial is the three-month commitment. After their 10 intro classes, members don’t have to decide if they want to come back because they’ve already paid for three months up-front.

foundationsAs for the Coach teaching new members, Gray said she wants seasoned Coaches that have more than a CrossFit background. It gives them more points on which to connect with people, and with a past that includes mobility or injury prevention knowledge, the Coaches are better equipped to address new member issues.

Most importantly, Espinal explained the foundations class Coach needs to be personable and make new members feel comfortable. He said many times, people have been avoiding joining CrossFit for a long time, so making them feel safe and welcome is key, as well as having a bit of fun in the process. And it’s important members understand Espinal is there for them. “It’s going to be more than just a workout,” he said. “It’s going to be more of a lifestyle, and that we’re here to help.”

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at heather@peakemedia.com.