Thoughts on CrossFit Elements from a Skeptic

Over the last month, I took the six classes that comprise CrossFit Elements, which you need to take to learn the fundamentals of CrossFit before you can take “real” classes.


  • What I like best about it so far is that it feels like having a trainer, but for cheaper. You lift heavier than you ever would in any boutique-style class I’ve taken. I also really love the “constantly varied” movements, which is one of their principles. The workouts are pretty different from day to day, which helps someone like me who gets bored easily, especially when matters of lifting things up and putting them down are involved.
  • I also truly feel stronger already, despite having only gone 7 times over the course of a month (and doing no strength training on vacation.) While the Olympic lifting stuff is not my jam, baby, it does feel kind of badass to know how to do it.
  • You can cancel an hour before class if you need to, since the classes are much bigger. I get why smaller studios can’t do that, but this is a HUGE pro. I was going to sneak out for a 5:20 class today, but a 4:30-5:15 meeting got put on my calendar early this afternoon, and I was able to cancel around 3pm with no penalty.
  • There are approximately one million (or like 20?) classes a day, so it’s easy to find one that fits your schedule AND has availability.
  • It’s near work, so I can duck out for a late afternoon workout and come back to finish up work. (< This is also a job pro, obviously.)


  • I’ll admit that I’m still fairly intimidated by the whole atmosphere, which has more to do with me than the people there. Last night, I took a class with my coworker Amy (who talked me into this in the first place), and we got split up at one point because she’s stronger. We were doing front squats, and I wasn’t really sure how much weight to put on the bar or…even how to get the clips off. I was really nervous and the two other girls in my group were super helpful.


  • It is STINKY compared to the boutique fitness classes I often go to.
  • It’s not cheap. The regular rate is $200/month, but I got a discounted Elements media rate for the first month and work covers some gym expenses. (And at this point, I’ve been making fitness a big line item in my budget for a while anyway…)

To be honest, I don’t know where that nets me out. I’ve mostly enjoyed it so far, but I’m being cautiously optimistic as well as being cautious not to push myself too hard. My membership just auto-renewed for another month, so I’ll be giving it at least that long to see how I really feel about it. For now, I have not yet sipped the Kool-Aid.

16 comments on “Thoughts on CrossFit Elements from a Skeptic

  1. kATIE

    I’ll be waiting to hear the final call. I haven’t taken a crossfit class yet, but I doubt I will unless I move to somewhere that has one right next to me. Its seems too much of a team atmosphere, I like to do my own thing even when taking group fitness classes.

  2. Rebecca

    I’m about 6 weeks in to crossfit myself. My box (I hate this term) is small enough that I didn’t take traditional elements classes but the trainer helped me in the regular classes. I’m feeling just about where you are with it. There are parts I like (the personal attention) and things that are intimidating me still. Some of the lifts I’m really struggling with and I don’t like having heavy weight overhead and not have the confidence with my form. I’m going to keep trying, see what happens. I’d like to continue to hear your thoughts on it.

  3. Emily @esquaredsouth

    I did the elements class and an additional month at Crossfit NYC (The Black Box). I enjoyed the elements classes and also enjoyed my first month, but I never “sipped the kool-aid” either. I didn’t think the community – which so many boxes are known for – was there for me. I liked that I didn’t have to think about what I was going to do at the gym because it was spelled out for me. I also wasn’t a fan of the shower facilities at the box where I took my elements classes – they were pretty dingy. I’d like to try it again, but overall, not sure it’s my thing.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      That’s a good point re:the community there that I was wondering – since it’s so big. Black Box is where I’m going, too. I live really close and have showers at work so I know I probably won’t ever use the showers there.

    1. Theodora Blanchfield Post author

      The good thing about the elements classes that I should have mentioned was that they’re no bigger than 8 people. The regular classes are about 20 people. I’ve so far only been to one regular class. From my initial impression, they’re not as good as boutique instructors at asking upfront about injuries.

  4. Kayla

    I had a mediocre first experience with CrossFit… I guess you get what you pay for when it comes to a CrossFit groupon. I’ve heard it really comes down to the box and instructors, some are great, some are not so great.

  5. joelle (on a pink typewriter)

    Glad to hear the honest feedback! I took a similar foundations class program a few years ago, and it was just too expensive for me to sustain so I didn’t stick with it. Plus, hate to say it, but I just didn’t really feel comfortable with the vibe of the gym sooo that didn’t help… I’m sure that would be different if I’d tried a different location though.

  6. Jen

    I tried crossfit years ago. It was before elements and even before paleo. I did well and had good results. One thing is I was in a lot or discomfort and could do nothing else. I started to resent it even with the good results. It was a very over the top competitive environment. I ended up hurting my back while working out there one on one with the trainer. And all they could do is scream at me. So I never did go back. I found a different gym that includes strength and interval training. I am so much happier it took me a while but found my happy place. I totally agree with not ever sipping the koolaid. And the culture.

  7. Laura@SneakersandSpatulas

    I would like to try Cross Fit but it is so expensive I just can’t justify that to myself. I do most of my cardio workouts outdoors (running & cycling) and have access to a really nice gym at work for no cost which is where I do my weights. Going from paying nothing to paying the monthly cost of Cross Fit is just too high for me. I do think it’d be fun to learn all the different lifts and to get stronger like I’ve seen people become!

  8. Sarah W.

    You just have to find the “right fit” for Crossfit. Meaning, not all gyms are created equal. I love mine because its contract free (hooray!), they offered a student discount which was helpful while in graduate school, the coaches are super nice, they don’t drink the Kool-Aid, majority of people (at least in the morning class) are unconcerned about time, and records and just focus on having fun and getting a workout in.


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