If you’ve had the opportunity to drop into more than one CrossFit gym, you are aware that CrossFit gym’s are not created equal. There are many factors that attribute to this, but the biggest one is the quality of coaches. It’s what makes or breaks a gym. Not the fancy equipment, not the cool logo, and not even the programming. It’s the coaching that keeps people in the gym!
When looking up the definition of coach, I noticed a few interesting synonyms. Teacher, mentor, and guru were the ones that stood out the most. CrossFit uses the word coach intentionally. A great CrossFit coach is more than just someone who rolls out the equipment and explains the workout of the day.
If you are a CrossFit coach, these are some things you should be striving for every day when you teach a class. If you are a prospective member looking to join a gym, these are the things you should be looking for in your coaches. Here are my top 5 qualities of a great CrossFit coach.
Sure it’s important (and a prerequisite) to know the basics of CrossFit. No coach can pass the Level 1 Certification course without knowing the 9 foundational movements of CrossFit. But do they really understand fitness, nutrition, and movement? A great CrossFit coach has a deep knowledge of human movement, different exercises, and what each workout is intended to achieve.
A coach needs to understand how your body is supposed to move (and that every body moves slightly different). Your coach needs to have a broad understanding of exercises. This is especially true for making substitutions and modifications for when an athlete cannot perform a certain movement. The coach needs to have a deep understanding of what each workout is trying to accomplish. This will help tremendously when the coach gives advice, makes modifications, and primes your body for the workout to come.
Does your coach want to be there? I mean, truly truly want to be there? Do they really want to help you? Or are they there so they can workout right after they coach?
Passion is arguably more important than knowledge on the heirarchy of what makes a great coach. I have heard over and over again from members’ reviews of coaches. One common response is, “Yea, he/she was awesome but they seemed like they weren’t excited to be there.”
I’m not saying we need to be jumping up and down all class showing excitement. What I am saying is that if your coach has passion for helping you, that passion will show. It won’t always look the same, but you will know that they want to be there and they want to help you. A great CrossFit coach has a passion for fitness, helping people, and CrossFit as a sport/exercise program.
Your CrossFit coach is there to help you. For that one hour of the day, their needs come second. They are not there to workout themselves, they are not there to socialize, they are not there for a free membership. They are there to help you get to where you want to be. Your coach needs to have your best interest in mind.
Empathy is a big one if you ask me. It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Is your coach able to understand where you’re coming from? Are they able to put themselves in your shoes? Are they able to get out of their own head and understand what it is you need?
This is HUGE for the person who is getting back in shape, needs modifications, and doesn’t necessarily have the competitive drive that we see a lot in CrossFit gyms. Your coach needs to be able to place themselves where you are and understand where you’re coming from. This is necessary in order to help you get to where you want to be.
Patience is a must as a CrossFit coach and it is valuable for so many reasons. How many times have you heard your coach repeat the same thing over and over and over again? Yup, that requires patience. Seeing someone struggle for weeks, months, years on a movement and then FINALLY get it right! That requires patience. Waiting for people as they show up late, take a mid warm up bathroom break, or are conversing off to the side while the coach is trying to say something. That requires patience! If a coach doesn’t have patience, they aren’t a great coach.
These are 5 qualities that make a great CrossFit coach. If you are a coach, ask yourself if you have and are displaying these qualities in your role. If the answer is yes, hold yourself accountable every day to meet these expectations. If the answer is no, strive to attain these qualities.
If you have any questions or need help, don’t hesitate to reach out!