Ballard Crossfit is built on two main principles: Fitness at any level and the comrodarie that accompanies said fitness.

Let’s face it, going into a new environment can be intimidating. When everyone around you seems to know each other and the movements, it can be hard to do anything aside from surviving the workout. – esp if you are the shy type!! Anyone who has known me for five seconds or five years is well aware that I do not care for working out (insert ironic pause here). What has kept me doing my fitness? The easy answer is you guys. I call it commiserating, you can call it whatever you like. I will let you in on a little secret though: being outgoing, talkative, and engaging takes EFFORT and PRACTICE. While nobody would call me shy now, I can tell you that this is a skill I have worked on for years.

That being said, as a coach it is my job not only to keep you moving and your fitness growing, but to help you make personal and social connections that will ultimately help you to grow as an athlete – the reason I still love Cross fit and am still doing my own fitness. The more you enjoy showing up to your fitness the more you will show up and enjoy your fitness…. am I right?

So, let’s talk tips for getting out of your comfort zone on the personal/ social level! I’ll start by telling you my number one thing that gets me out of my comfort zone and forces me to connect – touch. That’s right, I make a point to physically ‘touch’ as many people as I can. My dear friend Coach Carlos many years ago made a comment to me that stuck. He’s a big time hugger and he once commented “that hug I give might be the only time someone touched that person all week”. Now while hugs aren’t always necessary I made a conscious effort to put a hand on someone’s shoulder or arm, something just to let them know I’m aware they are alive! Not being a touchy feely kinda gal, this is something that I’ve worked hard to practice when it doesn’t come naturally.

Okay, now it’s your turn! Here are a few no brainer things you can practice next time you are in the gym.

-Come 15 minutes early, and stay 15 minutes after. Obviously you have to be present for any of this to work.

-Engaging your coaches so they know more about you and can more easily help us connect you to other athletes. We are great at getting info from you guys but you have to meet us half way. Basically, if you give us the some material we can take it from there to make connections with other members who you might enjoy engaging with.

-Smile, make eye contact, and say hello – start with your coach. I CANNOT tell you how many people we see daily that do not make this a practice. Imagine a coach going out of our way to say hello, use your name, and smile – and in return we often get nearly a smidge of response. Same thing when you leave…..My son (he’s four) does not leave the gym before approaching the coach on duty to tell them ‘thank you coach and goodbye’. I want him to learn the important skill of connecting with the coach so they remember him next time he returns, and that they look forward to seeing him in the future.

-Tackled the coach greeting? Now its time to move on to a less familiar face or even a STRANGER!!! This one gets a little harder. This is a great time to deploy the ‘commiseration’ technique.

“Wow this workout looks _____________ (fun/hard/long/devils workshop)”…whatever. It is universally accepted as communication in the gym since everyone is there to do just that and creates a simple way to form temporary common ground.

Ready for some next level skills?

Engage someone during your 15-minute after class hang out. Since you guys aren’t always the greatest conversation starters I’ll give you some of my go to questions for getting the ball rolling.

  • How long have you been a member at Ballard?

  • Did you play sports or have athletic hobbies prior to this?

  • What do you like to do with your fitness outside the gym?

  • Do you have any trips planned soon?

  • What did you do for the last holiday or the one upcoming?

I hope this gives you some food for thought or at least a jumping off point for examining your own approachability. We say it in onramp, this fitness experience is totally dependent on what you bring to the table. If increasing the quality and quantity of your relationships at the gym is something you want to do I hope this helps!

-Coach Paige