What It Really Takes To Be A CrossFit Coach

By Marcherry Garnica
Aug 22 2022

What It Really Takes To Be A CrossFit Coach

As a coach, your high standards of performance, attention to detail and -above all- how hard you work set the stage for how your players perform.

Don Shula

If they are tired, haven’t rested or recovered, had a bad day of work, have fights at home, injury, illness or any other ailment that prevents them from being at their best for that class, I personally take to heart. “How can I approach this?” How can I get through and not annoy or irritate”? “Have I simplified and or given a demo correctly?” They may not care for anything you say at that particular moment but you also have an opportunity to find an approach they can walk away feeling different.

Tons of interactions where clients are already frustrated, tired, hurt, hangry you name it. I have less than 60min to find those, recognize the imbalance and give an easy productive approach to help the athlete move forward!

I have trained CrossFit for almost 8 years. I have been coaching in classes for over 3 years and managed a gym for almost 2.

Being a CrossFit Coach can be tricky, because you often have athletes of all different skill-levels in the same classes, at once. Skill levels and also personalities galore.

Every person you meet in a single class has a different thought, opinion, approach, capability, intensity, learning structure, and modification to movements needed to succeed. Some pick it up some take more time to teach! As a coach I try to approach each situation on its own. Never similar, never routine!
So it’s important that you’re able to scale your coaching up and down as needed, based on the personalities and abilities of your clients.

Coach the person, not just the movements.

Read your athletes, get to know them. Through that, you can also get to know their limits, who responds well to what (personally it doesn’t phase me to be yelled at, but it very well can upset others), and when you need to reign it in, or give more. -wodprep-

Multiple classes a day, many clients a class, day in and day out for years and years. We see, we hear, we know, we work to create the best possible 30,45 and 60min classes we can offer.

Faults are inevitable! Most coaches know when to admit they are at fault, it’s humbling but character building at its finest. We aren’t perfect! We don’t know everything! We do get frustrated! We continually grow and learn out of pure passion and willingness to do what it takes so each person walks away feeling their best!

I hurt as others do, I make mistakes as other do..but I learn from them!

I’ve always said I challenge anyone to try to coach or teach! Why? To see the challenges that seem mundane and simple to some but leave our heads off our pillows in a tizzy late at night!

Safety, efficiency, efficacy! Simple you say.

I’ve been called names before, names of a person who degrades and is careless, destructive and distracted. Un-empathetic to some. She can be mean, is she talking down to me? Some may think….

These are names and thoughts from those who don’t understand a day in the life….the studying, the reviews, the video preps, the meetings, the classes, the reads, the certifications and the communications, the heart, the drive, the fight, the overthinking and the ever increasing juggles of work and life. All represented in the first few moments of a class, where I get to say, “good morning”, “good afternoon”, “good evening class” all with a smile, so each person training under me can receive the best possible care and experience!

In response I think….

  • Complain when you don’t have someone sharing their knowledge and passion with you.
  • Complain when you are cheered for rather than instructionally prepared!
  • Cheering-“Great job, everything looks perfect”!
  • Coaching-“try this now, I’m noticing some imbalances in that position”.
  • Complain when your thoughts are ignored.
  • Complain when you feel un-safe and un-important!
  • Complain when you don’t hear “Great Job!” “Keep fighting you will get there”! “I believe in you”!
  • Complain when you feel lost, un-engaged, or even bored!

This is no way compares to the ones who come in everyday, ask questions, listen, perform the mobility and warm-ups as written or taught, who scales as coach recommends, who rests when coach recommends etc….these are the ones you find progressing the fastest. They have and get the most fun out of each day because their ability to trust.

You have to trust the process:

Worries when training…Programming, movement scales, accessory work, physical therapy, two a days, goals, and nutrition.

I try to remind my clients that you get out of training what you put into it! You are the machines! You are the ones who make success possible! Things like programming, nutrition, accessory work, PT, goals..these are all just add ons. The bonuses package.

How do you explain the challenges of starting a class on time and others stroll in whenever to then say “what are we doing?” When everyone else is there listening willing to hear what you have to teach.

How do you explain the challenges of explaining things over and over and over but because clients would rather find out what everyone did last weekend and stand around rather than move and listen so your body is correctly prepped for the workload you’re about to put in…remember if you complain about not being warmed up or not understanding the workout because of talking during instruction, you’re not giving yourself or your body the best chance.

How do you explain to people the challenges of setting up a class where 2 out of 13 are in their beginning months so load, volume, time, weights are all scaled. Then turn and set up athletes 3-5 with their specific progressions and stimulus to keep them moving without fault or limitations.

Not to forget athletes 5-10 who need to progress forward, leaving behind where they are comfortable and pushing them to the next level I know they are capable of. Or athletes 11-13 with an above average approach to exceed their own and our expectations so that the sky becomes the limit in their success!

Don’t forget, 3 out of 13 are late, 2 out of 13 are having a bad day or morning or week or what have you! 3 just want to hang out and get a sweat, not really caring about movement progression or technical skill. And almost always, always 1 or more are working through injury.

Did I mention there’s a new client fresh off the block? No training, no experience just looking for a change. All looking at coach and asking “where do you want me today”?

I ask you….as a coach “can you handle that”?

If you have a coach who says….”Yes”, I can! Then damnit give them the time. Let them guide you, trust they have your best interest at heart! Better yet, communicate with them so they and you leave feeling like…. “their isn’t one more thing coach could have done for me today!”

Your journey, your progress, your results! -coach Tab-

Remember to thank a coach today! It is not easy to balance and they deserve some credit!

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