When I started CrossFit I had a pair of “training” shoes that probably looked as hideous as they would be to wear during heavy squats. Oh wait, I did squat in them…they were awful. They were the equivalent of squatting in sand. I didn’t have my own jump rope (most of the ropes I would borrow were 6” too long or so short I would whip my shins every shot). I didn’t have knee sleeves, or tape, or gymnast grips, or a super cool gym bag (though that was a given seeing how I had no gear). Yes, this was “Preebok” (2010 for those keeping track at home, before Reebok got involved….actually just before Under Armour was a Games sponsor, not that I knew what the Games were then). But yes, I still trained, I still got better, and I still increased my athletic performance and quality of life.
But if I knew then what I know now it probably would have been an even better start to my CrossFit days.
There’s a lot of nonsensical products out there of course, but if you’re doing some last minute holiday shopping, here’s some of the things I recommend in general to anyone coming out of the starting out Ephase in CrossFit (and if you receive some of these as gifts, just consider me Santa):
Proper Footwear: Yes, this matters. Trying squatting in shoes made for marathon runners. Heavily padded, built to support running and with a forward lean. When squatting you want to feel the ground and have your feet flat. Big difference. Reebok Nano and Nike Metcon are all the clubhouse leaders (Inov8 has also hung around the market for a long while), but find a shoe that you like that is flat and firm enough for lifts and consistency, but still has enough give for general running and impact movements. Bonus points: Weightlifting shoes (personally I would recommend Adidas AdiPowers or Nike Romaleos if you go this route) for those wanting to be serious about Olympic lifting and pursue meets in the future.
Jump Rope: Typical moment at the gym: two minutes to find a jump rope that fits you, get frustrated, just grab whatever you find, three reps in you realize you made a horrible mistake. $20 for a good basic rope, $50 for a great rope (RPM, RX Smart Gear are the two main companies)…this is easily worth the money.
Knee Sleeves/Wrist Wraps: If you have issues keeping your knees or wrists healthy and happy, this is a no brainer. Both will provide support for the joints (knee sleeves will also help keep your knees warm). If you go with knee sleeves, look at 7mm thickness for added support. Rehband is the market leader in knee sleeves; other companies like RockTape, Eleiko, SBD, Mava and Slingshot make well liked ones as well. Wrist wraps are more simple, though I would typically lean towards Velcro ones (they’ll wear down a little quicker, but will provide more consistent support).
Gymnastic Grips: For the longest time I just put up with hand tears as being part of the fun of CrossFit. They’re not. They’re an injury (future blog coming on this topic actually). They ruin the quality of training for a week or two. Why put up with that when you can wear hand protection to keep it from happening as much (or even at all) in the first place? Rogue, Victory, Wodies, Jaws, Natural Grip and countless others are out there; my personal choice is Bear Komplex (best fit for me and I love the build and material). Find what works for you and use them.
Stocking Stuffers: Shaker bottles for the pre/post-workout consumption (again, future blog post alert)…tape (self-adhesive is great for taping up thumbs, standard athletic tape for all other spots…Weight belt (not on the main list because it’s not a replacement for developing a strong midline, but if you borrow one from the gym often, may as well get your own to have).