Your first question should be "Why would I want to?". That part's easy. It is the best, completely comprehensive, and "proven" program for functional fitness around. It's so simple it's easy for the critics to poke at. But it works. It's not flashy - but it is - "3, 2, 1, Go!? Come on! It's not new age - but it is because we now make things so complicated they don't work and they're...well, too complicated. You're not hooked up to expensive machines to "prove" it works (the way proof seems to be welcomed these days). In fact, in an era where a recession has hit and we're conserving our pennies, it's the most cost-effective, instructor-led program around - when you add "results" to your pick list of requirements. CrossFit does prove fitness - you squat better and heavier, daily tasks are easier, your pain has subsided and you've voluntarily elected to get your diet cleaned up (and now you know how), and finally you found new friends and support so you're happier. All of these things are "progress". N=1? Yes. Empirical? Yes. But over and over again, we get these results. It's truly undeniable.
But how DO YOU choose a gym? For older folks - even out-of-shape 40-year-olds (and up), walking into a bare-bones, warehouse gym is intimidating. It was for me when I found CrossFit in my mid 30's...and the coaches were even MORE intimidating. "Military". Yikes - they're so strong, bold, fit, and steely-eyed....double yikes! Over the past 12+ years, I've had the honor to help an athlete find a new gym when they move to another city or state, or a friend says "I need to do this but not sure how." It recently happened again, and let me tell you how to do it.
Step 1: Go to: https://map.crossfit.com. This is the affiliate map from CrossFit.com. Find your state, then the bubble representing the area nearest your city, and click on it. (image above) It will expand into a smaller geographic area and show you the "PIN" where the gyms are located. CLICK the pin and it'll tell you the name, address, and contact information. If you CLICK the linkable name of the gym it will take you to their website.
Step 2: Look at every gym's website in your area. Most gyms will let you come in for a 1:1 before joining so that you can get a feel for the coach(es), atmosphere, and ask questions. Look for what "feels good" while reading the website.
Find the About Us or Coaches page and read about them. Can you get to know them from the website? Is the owner on-site? What are the credentials of the team? Do they vary in age? If you're older, sometimes having an older coach to relate to is a positive, but not completely necessary. One of my favorite coaches was a younger coach. Also, while a CF-L1 is amazing, having a coaching staff that is hungry for knowledge and has educated themselves above that tells a story. CrossFit has an arsenal of coursework from Aerobic Capacity to Weightlifting to Gymnastics. Additional coursework outside of CrossFit is also notable: bachelor's and master's degrees (while not as "functional", a lot of times, as the CrossFit coursework, lay an anatomical and physiological background that only amplify the education from CrossFit).
Look at the Schedule of classes. Are there class times that fit your needs? Can you tell which coaches coach which classes?
Look at photos and peruse the website. Do you get a good feel? Can you relate to anyone in the photos? Your age? Your size? Your starting point?
Do they have an Instagram or facebook page? If so, go there and check around. If you're older, you may be looking for a specific feel, like education: "look at what this person did" (old or young - displaying progress is key), "why do we do this", "why will this particular workout or movement help you be healthier or in your daily life". A gym that produces relevant content is a good sign. What's relevant? Speaking to the to which age this post is pointed? You're not looking for a "show", you're looking for real-life work, real-life inspiration. You'll know it when you see it.
I had the pleasure of searching for a gym in Flint, Michigan for a visitor to our gym. CrossFit 810 was on my list close to her city, and I loved the Coaches Page. Yes, this is a little about design, but I have an opportunity to get a quickie to feel about the coach, and then "Read More".
Step 3: Contact the gym. Set up an appointment to come in and meet with the owner or the coach that coaches the classes. Hopefully, that's the same person. If you don't get a reply, that's a bad sign 😬. You may have to visit a few gyms to find the right feel. When you find it you'll know.
Step 4: Be patient. Do not set time limits on this fitness journey. It will take you at least 30 days to even get comfortable. BUT...embrace being uncomfortable. Our world today is waaaaay concerned with not hurting people's feelings and accommodating everything. In a CrossFit Gym you're going to be uncomfortable - embrace it. You're going to feel lost with all the terminology and movements - embrace it. You're going to fail - we want you to. How else will we know your limits? But you're also going to learn to love to fail - and this, my friend, will make you a stronger, more resilient person with everything in life. Trust me! I'm an expert at failing and kind of enjoy it now 😉.
Joining a CrossFit Gym at any age is the best decision you'll make for your health, both mental and physical. Good luck!