CrossFit is known as ‘the sport of fitness’ and it’s gathered somewhat of a cult following in recent years. It can be a great way to lose weight, build muscle and make new friends. If you’ve always fancied giving CrossFit a go, read on to find out how to get started.

1. Don’t be intimidated

It’s easy to be intimidated by CrossFitters. Don’t be. Yes, some of them are uber-fit, tyre-flipping maniacs. But, many CrossFit enthusiasts are just normal mums, dads, students (and even grandparents) like you.

If you’ve ever watched the CrossFit Games on TV, you’ll be familiar with the ‘CrossFit physique’. Remember that the CrossFit athletes you see the television train for hours and hours every day, for years, to look like that.

Most regular CrossFit fans work out for an hour a few times each week and look totally normal. They’re also generally really nice people who remember what it was like to be a newbie, so don’t be scared to walk into a CrossFit gym for the first time.

2. Research the basics

CrossFit uses some specific terms and abbreviations such as WOD (workout of the day) and AMRAP (as many reps as possible). Even the gym isn’t called a gym, it’s called a ‘box’.

Watching videos on YouTube about CrossFit can be a good way to learn the lingo and get an idea of what’s involved.

Many of the movements are based on the same basic foundation movements such as squats and presses. If you’ve never really had training in weight-lifting before, watching videos of how to do these movements correctly can give you a head start before your first class.

3. Find the right CrossFit gym

CrossFit gyms are popping up all over so, depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to have the choice of a few different ones. If you do, take the time to visit them all and get a feel for each place before committing to join.

Every gym is different so take the time to find one that suits. Some CrossFit gyms are more competitive than others – some people like this, others don’t. You’ll also want to check that the class timetable fits in with when you can attend.

4. Get the right shoes

CrossFit workouts require a very specific type of shoe which must give you the right support to train safely. The best CrossFit shoes for women and men alike will have flat soles that are stable enough to keep your weight distributed in the middle of your feet when you’re lifting weights. CrossFit shoes also need to be comfortable and light enough for running and jumping.

If you try to do CrossFit in normal running shoes, everything will be that much harder. The cushioned sole will shift your weight back and forth between your toe and your heel which will play havoc with your centre of gravity. Good shoes are a necessity.

5. Sort out your diet

Diet is almost as important as exercise in the CrossFit program. If you don’t eat right, it’s like trying to row with only one oar.

The CrossFit nutrition guidelines recommend a macro split of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% fat. You should avoid junk food and focus on whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean proteins.

It’s a myth that you have to eat lots of meat and fish to give you the energy needed to workout. In fact, several vegan CrossFit athletes do incredibly well on a plant-based diet.

6. Take your time

For your first few CrossFit sessions, take it slow and don’t try to compete with others. Doing too much of a new thing can result in painful delayed-onset muscle soreness or injuries that can put your out of action for days.

Focus on getting your technique to where it needs to be before upping the intensity of any of your workouts. There’ll be time for that later.

7. Track your progress

One of the things that many people love about CrossFit is seeing their progress, whether it’s increasing their one rep max for lifting or how they look in the mirror after a session.

There are several apps available which you can use to track achievements like as how fast you can run a mile and how many push-ups you can do, as well as your weight and measurements.

Don’t forget to take a mirror selfie, you might want to look back on it one day and celebrate how far you’ve come.