Sadly, Black Dogs are often the last to be picked out of a litter. They can be outcasts and misfits, a little rough around the edges maybe, but always great companions. Lawton may not be your first choice when deciding where to spend a large chunk of your life, but like the black dog in the litter you will find this city has charm all its own and the people make it worthwhile. The same is true about Black Dog Health & Fitness. In true fitness fashion our building isn't shiny or pretty. It's always too hot or too cold. There is too much gravel or grass on the running route. "I love working out here!" Come and be a part of the family and as always, leave your ego at the door. Welcome to Lawton/Fort Sill!

Ten Tips to Start Strong

New? Check out these 10 tips to start strong. And get stronger.

We've all been there. The new kid in the group class, standing quietly against the back wall, trying not to stare gape-mouthed at the chick lifting twice your body weight. Working out with veterans can be a little intimidating. But before you sneak out the back door, or wrench your back trying to out-deadlift your neighbor, take a deep breath. Then take a minute to review these 10 simple tips on how to start strong, stay safe, and-most importantly-have fun.

1. Your biggest competitor is you.

Don't worry about how much everyone else in the class is lifting, how many rounds they're getting, or how quickly they finish. Pace yourself, keep the weight light, focus on getting the proper form and technique down - and the rest will come. Before you know it, you'll start blowing away your previous times, rounds and PRs (personal records). And that feels pretty darn good.

2. There's no shame in scaling.

Seriously. You've got nothing to prove, and your safety to protect. Use common sense and scale the weight down, do a modified version of the movement or a substitute for the more difficult exercises. Do the beginner WOD for a while before you tackle intermediate. No one's judging you. In fact, we can guarantee that everyone in your class is rooting for you, whether you're doing one push-up or 100.

3. Stop eating like crap.

If you want to see any improvement in your performance, you've got to put down that bag of Doritos, take a pass on the morning doughnuts at the office, and lay off the Diet Coke. We're not pushing any crazy fad diets on you or telling you to starve yourself. We're just suggesting some simple common nutrition sense. Eat vegetables and lots of them, quality sources of protein (grass-fed, wild, organic), some fruit, good fats like coconut, nuts and avocados - and stay away from sugar and starchy foods that turn into sugar.

4. There are no stupid questions.

If you don't get something, ask you coach to explain it again. And again. And again. Chances are, everyone else in the class could do with the refresher too. A lot of these moves and skills are difficult and require no small amount of technique. We're here to make sure you learn them properly, and feel comfortable doing them. So ask away.

5. Don't let training consume you.

Training should enhance your life, not engulf it. Yes, our group classes and athletes can get a bit competitive. But it's always a friendly and supportive environment here. You may leave some of the classes feeling destroyed, but you should never walk away feeling defeated, discouraged or depressed. You should end each WOD with a sense of accomplishment and pride. The minute it stops becoming fun, or starts becoming your entire life, it may be time to take a step back and put things into perspective. If you're not sure how, talk to your coach.

6. It will always suck, just not as bad.

Trust us, the guy banging out 100 pull-ups next to you is suffering just as much as you are. As you get stronger, faster, more powerful and more skilled (which believe us, you will, faster than you think), you'll up the intensity of your WODs. So while the workouts don't get easier (in fact, they'll get harder), the suck-factor becomes increasingly more tolerable - and weirdly enjoyable - every time.

7. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Some days, you're just going to be tired. Some workouts will not be your fortu00e9. And sometimes you just can't seem to get the moves together. It happens to all of us. Even on your worst days in the gym, you're still getting an awesome workout. So don't skip a WOD just because you think you'll suck at it or are feeling less than rock-star-ish. Get in there and just do your best.

8. Lighten up.

We're not just talking about weight loads. Remember, you're here to have a great time while getting into the best shape of your life. We've got an awesome gym, with a great group of incredibly friendly, funny and interesting people. Don't be shy. Introduce yourself. Feel free to joke around and laugh at yourself. And soon you'll be making some very cool friends.

9. Tap your inner rock star.

Firebreather. Beast. Rock star. You'll hear a lot of different terminology used to describe those athletes who kill every workout, and blow everyone else away. Here in our gym, we consider every one of our athletes a rock star. Hey, it takes huge cojones just to show up and do these insane WODs. Be proud of yourself and what you accomplish here. We sure as heck are.

10. Give yourself a break.

Training is addicting. The more you suffer, the more you want it. But resist the urge to train yourself into the ground. Rest days are crucial to how well you perform in the gym. So are a good night's sleep, good eating habits, and a good vacation every now and then. If you feel yourself getting worn down or crazy tired, take an extra day or two off. Listen to your body, and it will tell you when you need to slow down, take it easy, lay off certain moves, and allow for some recovery. Then when you're ready to get back in the gym, you'll rock it even harder.

-Modified from CrossFit Citadel-

So there you have it: 10 tips that all of us can benefit from - newbies and old-schoolers alike. Pretty soon, you'll be sharing your words of wisdom with the next bunch of newbies. Welcome to Black Dog Health & Fitness, and we'll see you in class!