One of the things people say the most when they ask what I do to stay in shape and I tell them CrossFit is... "oh, that's hard," followed by "don't you get hurt?" In order to help you find a great CrossFit gym that you enjoy and is focused on you, your goals, your progress and your safety I wrote down some of MY must-haves.
1. People say hello to you when you walk in and want to know how they can help you, who you are there to see, what your name is, etc. CrossFit is about community. That is why it is so popular. If people keep walking past you without saying anything then that is a bad sign. (Unless they are in the middle of a workout). Then they should say something and ask you to wait until they are done.
I know the first CrossFit gym I went to didn't even tell me how to read the workout, and all they wanted to do was sell me their supplements. Not sure why I went back one more time before I decided I might die, and no one would notice. I definitely want you to learn from my mistakes and insight.
2. The owner/coaches should insist that you start with the beginner classes to learn the moves, proper form, and terminology before moving onto classes with everyone else. Most gyms (we call them boxes in CrossFit) call them onramp classes or foundation classes and some boxes charge extra for them. In my opinion, the cost for these classes should be included with the regular membership fee even if you came to them on a Groupon. They are necessary for you to learn and succeed. I recommend taking them even if you are familiar with weightlifting. They should not be optional but mandatory. You can always learn something new or improve your form.
3. The box should be clean, and the equipment should be organized and in good condition. Some dirt on the floor is normal. Most CrossFit gyms are in a warehouse. Don't expect it to be spotless; however you should see people wiping down equipment when they are done, putting stuff back where it belongs just like you wish your kids would do, mopping up their sweat, etc.
There should be 2 or 3 clean bathrooms with at least 1 shower. Most athletes (yes, you will be an athlete once you start CrossFit) will go home to shower but on that occasion that you have someplace to be and don't have time to run home you shouldn't be afraid to shower at the gym.
4. There should be a safe area for your babies and well-behaved children to be while you workout. I don't mean a daycare facility but if they have one of those that is even better. You don't want your kids to get hit on the head by weights, a swinging jump rope, or kettlebell. At the same time, you don't want your kids to distract an athlete as they attempt to make a lift or do the workout. That is not safe for anyone.
5. The coaches should care about your goals and what is important to you and help you get there. Everyone has different goals. Some people want to get the The CrossFit Games you see on TV but the majority want to be fit and healthy. Some just want to get a quick workout in and others want to work on their speed or endurance. Maybe you just want to do a handstand against the wall or a pull-up.
When I started I just wanted to get in better shape and lose the rest of my baby weight.
Whatever gym you walk into keep these things in mind. Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions. I hope this gives you a little insight into what to look for if you are considering CrossFit.