When you first signed up for CrossFit, you probably showed up in shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of running shoes. If you were really prepared, you brought a water bottle and a towel because you were afraid of overexerting yourself, and ending up in a sweaty puddle on the ground in front of a bunch of people you don’t know; don’t worry, this happens all the time - you weren’t the only one!
As your CrossFit addiction grows, messing yourself up on a daily basis becomes a regular thing, and you start to find ways to make your life easier at the gym. Word to the wise, it never gets easier! But the following equipment list may make you more comfortable, less irritable, and probably a whole lot cooler at the gym!
Here are the top 5 pieces of equipment I can’t live without:
I couldn’t just pick one. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Even though I try to look stylish, that’s not always my priority. It’s all about functionality. All I really need is my Nanos, Lifters, and running shoes.
A good pair of training shoes is a must! If you only have or want one pair of shoes for the gym, this is you’re all purpose shoe that you can do everything in. Reebok Nanos or Nike Met-Cons are your best options. They have hard, flat sole, and are built to take the punishment CrossFitters dish out. These shoes can handle everything from lifting, to running, and even rope climbs. My choice: Reebok Nanos (whatever the latest addition is)
Weightlifting shoes are man’s best friend (and women's, too). No matter how good or bad your squat is, lifters will make them better! If you’re someone who has mobility or squatting issues, weightlifting shoes will change your world. Not only will you see short term gains, but lifters will help put you in better squatting positions, saving your joints over the long haul. My Choice: Pendlay Weightlifting Shoes
Running shoes aren’t a necessity but can make longer runs and running WODs a lot more comfortable and enjoyable. If you like logging lots of miles, adding a running shoe to your equipment bag is a good idea. My Choice: Pearl Izumi
2. Jump Rope
This one is usually overlooked by most new CrossFitters, but for the cost they can make the biggest difference on the frustration meter. You can get a quality jump rope for under $20, and once you have it sized up properly, you can start practicing with consistency. I’m not guaranteeing you double unders with the purchase of a rope, but I can tell you, you will be better off if you’re willing to put in the time.
My Choice: Jump’nRope
3. Knee Sleeves
Whether you have knee issues or not, I believe knee sleeves are a must if you’re serious about squatting. They keep the knee joints warm and the compression adds some stability. There is an argument that lifting gear, such as belts, lifting shoes, wraps, and sleeves are a crutch and cause an athlete to become dependent on gear to lift or move weight. I would agree to a certain extent, but our number one concern is to protect the longevity of our body/joints.
In the case of a belt, it can aid in the protection of your back and your ability to move extremely large loads, but if you are always using a belt (even with light load), you are failing to develop core strength. Leg strength will exceed core strength and you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
In the case of knee sleeves, we are still putting the knees through a full range of motion when squatting with them on. There is little (if any) over development of muscles around the knee that would make the knees less stable when you don’t use sleeves.
My Choice: Rehband Knee Sleeves
Athletic tape is a CrossFitter’s go to for hand, wrist, and finger protection. Tape can be used to protect your palms from tearing, thumbs from hook grip, and wrists when lifting overhead. I’m sure there’s a number of other uses for athletic tape, which means it’s a great item to have in your gym bag.
My Choice: whatever the store is selling
5. Compression Shorts/Tights
This may just be a guy thing, but with the amount of running, jumping, and squatting we do it’s worth having a few good pairs of compression shorts to keep everything in place! I’ve also discovered (courtesy of Coach Jason) that compression tights are a must on Olympic lifting days. Anything that ends below the knees and prevents bar rash on the thighs is fantastic and is definitely worth the investment. I haven’t worked up the courage to workout in just my tights yet, but some day I want to be like JT: a real weightlifter!
My Choice: Under Armour, ¾ length (I’ve tried a few different brands, which are all full length tights. All are good, but the ¾ length are nice in the summer. Make sure they fight tight!)
Don’t be the guy that geeks out too much, you still have to show up and work hard! It’s worth finding the equipment that works for you, and makes your daily WOD a little more comfortable and enjoyable. If anything else, maybe you have some good Christmas ideas for the avid CrossFitter in your life!