This little blog is about something that I did a terrible job with when I first started coaching and probably because I was a competitor first. I’ve always been competitive, started out doing CrossFit and almost immediately did the competitions, so after I got my L1 and started coaching the gym, I sort still had that mindset.
When I first started coaching in Fort Worth my class were small. Maybe 3-4 people as I was just fresh out of active service. When the classes were small, I would actually lift with my clients and workout with them. After all, I wanted to make it to Regionals again and pretty much redeem myself of failure. I was progressing well, my technique was getting a lot better, and still being the competitive person I was, worked hard to be the top athlete in the gym. I personally was racking up second place finishes(by 1 point each time) in local competitions in both Rx’d and Scaled and was hitting the numbers I needed to hit to make regionals. (Keep in mind this is from 2014, take a gander at the regional qualifying totals and you’ll get my point.) Here are some of my stats to compare it to: 245# Snatch, 325# Clean, 300# Overhead Squat, 390# Back Squat, 350# Front Squat, 475# Deadlift, 2:17 Fran, 1:30 Grace, :54 400m Sprint, 5:13 Mile, 1:19 500m Row, 50 Pull Ups unbroken, 25 unbroken handstand push ups strict, 5:17 Karen) all at roughly a 190# lb body weight. I’m not bragging here, because this will definitely make sense why I bring this up later, but I was proud of of my accomplishments, I was the fittest in the gym and slowly working my way to making a name for myself locally and hopefully regionally.
It was around this time that some old injuries (military related) caught up to me. My body was not moving how I needed it too and 5-6 years of rucking on some rough terrain and having more spills than I count, hard landings from fast roping out of helicopters and just general wear and tear from an active life style since I was young. It really affected me, I had worked so hard, and the open was coming(2015) and everything I had worked for had to be halted. I’m not going to lie, I thought about doing something else at that point. It was short thought, but I was just pissed going to the gym. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. I have to modify workouts, it was frustrating.
Ultimately, what I was doing was focusing on my status as a competitor. I held my own fitness in high regards. Ask anyone, as a coach, I always have and always will put my clients first, and I was, but I was judging the success of the gym and the program off of how fit I was. I turned the classes that I had clients paying to be in, into a class about me. Yes, it pushed my clients, but it was their workout, not mine. I didn’t understand or grasp the fact that a successful program was not based on how good the coach is.
I soon figured out that #1, I’m a coach first. The gym does not get it’s success from me, nor is every class an opportunity for me to work on something I need to. It’s my time to help our clients get a return on their investment. Not to say I won’t do a work out now and then in a small class with basic movements (I.E. Rowing with Sit Ups and Step Ups), but my primary focus is making my clients better. Who cares if I can workout well, how are my clients improving? Is the programming making them stronger? All these things I put secondary to myself.
I also figure out that the clients, although having a sense of pride in me as a coach, need me to be a coach 100%. The more results and more coaching they received the better they progressed. So what I had a chance of going to regionals as an athlete again, did I have a client who was progressing to that level? The answer to that is yes, multiple, but not as quickly as they could have with more attention from me.
That’s when things started to change, in my opinion. My goal was no longer to make it to regionals. I didn’t dictate a good day at the gym if I had an awesome workout, I started dictating my success by the success of my athletes. Once I started doing that, things changed. My athletes changed and started making progress that is almost hard to believe and taken athletes, no lie, from beginner to advance in about a year. Under description of “advanced” it says most athletes work 4-5 years to get there. These athletes work out 1 hour a day, 4x per week and were there in a year. My goal switched from me becoming a regional athlete, to making my clients regional level athletes. That would be true mark of great coaching and successful programming. If I made an athlete better than me, then I would have all the validation I needed and proof that as a coach and as a gym, what we do is correct and successful.
So with that said, like me in my early stages as an athlete, you shouldn’t dictate a good gym by their competitors or by how many competitions they have won, or how awesome of a competitor their coach is. What should dictate the quality of the program and the quality of the coach is how hard they work to make you move like they do and become athletes like they are. Aside from brand new athletes, the best way to see if a program, gym and coach is worth your time and money is too what the average athlete is doing. The competitors, well I hope if they spend 2-3 hours a day crushing WODS they are beast, are not the best gauge for the quality of program. The everyday client and athlete is. Yes, I understand the importance of a competition team and understand close to competitions they may get a little more focus, but it shouldn’t totally compromise the rest of the gym.
If you are a coaching doing this, don’t feel bad. It happens. Just like we tell our clients, they need to make time to come and workout, and if they want to compete they have to do extra work. It’s important, as coaches, to follow our own advice and for us to make time to workout. If you have extra coaches on staff, switch off working out with classes, or maybe make a coaches classes like we do. Our job as a coach is to do just that, coach. You can workout before class, after class, or even do what I do and have a class for people that want to compete. Ensure they are trusted athletes, who have great technique and can listen to a cue and make a correction, but ultimately your job isn’t to be the CrossFit Games champion. Your job is make one of your clients the CrossFit Games champion, or help them reach their goal, that in their eyes is equal to that.
Clients invest in you, invest in them.