How to participate in Life outside CrossFit when everyone is posting up mean as training vids and you’re sitting on the beach.

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 11.39.11 AM.pngI had one outrageously good summer.

A typical summer would see me spread across  the entire country. Anywhere from Whangarei to Queenstown is on the potential hit list. Travel is marked with dollops of time consuming training sessions. Bro-sessions with the CrossFit Whanau all over Aotearoa.  The rest is spent in the water, diving, adventuring, wearing sun-screen, and hitting several events. I do this with zero training included at all for a week or so at a time.

This version of summer adventures leaves me severely blue on the eve of my return to work. I would want to quit my full time job (yes, I do have one of those) in favour of becoming a full time roamer. I nearly did quit one year, which is where all these methods to shift my perspective were born.

This summer was different.

For the bulk of the Christmas Break, I had roughly a 10km operating radius. I could probably narrow that down to the stretch of Moir Street, in the village. I didn’t get bored once. Freaky.

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Happiness was as simple as exploring what my home town has to offer.  I came away from the summer with my cup full to overflowing. Interestingly, I also trained more than I usually do in a summer period. The key difference was that alongside training, I had time to be in the right place at the right time with the right people. Which was generally always the same two people, with a combination of other special guest members adding flavour to “The Te Haara Trio” summer tour of Mangawhai. These two girls are my backbone, especially in times when I’ve lost my own.

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Let us Reflect;

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There was a time when – as my shoulders grew out of my dresses, I felt – I –  had grown out of my home town and my bonds to the land and people there. I struggled to fit – literally – or to relate to the stages of life my friends and family were in who weren’t part of the CrossFit world. At the time, as far as I knew, this version of living ‘my best life’ would be a permanent fixture. Thankfully, I was wrong. Finding balance and space for all dimensions of my person came down to making a conscious effort to define what it is I want to happen in my life – daily – that would make me smile. Training and CrossFit was one of those things, but not the only thing.

Paint for tomorrow with the actions of today

-I stole that off a horoscope.

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The last time I dug a fence pole hole. I got the holes dug, but bent the blades on Dad’s post hole borer in the process… No Finesse.

Home is a funny place, it hasn’t been able to support my need to train CrossFit well until this summer.

Sideline:

I was fortunate enough to have not only one, but two local gyms in Mangawhai, teeming with local people keen to share an hour or so of their time with me getting sweaty. This took care of my need to train, getting the apple cart upright with little admin, and also train with other people in one sweep. It also gave me back valuable time to do stuff other than train.

Prior to this last year, having a single training facility which is geared towards my own preferences for training has been non-existent. I am extremely grateful that this barrier to me spending more time at home has been removed. Now if the Kaipara District Council would kindly tar seal Brown Road – I would have no reason not to be at the Family Farm every Sunday for roast dinner.

If you are in Mangawhai or the surrounding area, I would encourage you to check out the local spots, each is different and awesome in their own right. You just gotta find your own tribe and work your vibe.

Level Movement is run by Jason Kingi.

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The Shelter Fit 365 is run by Aaron and Jo McIlwee.

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The influence and the opportunities that are now being providing with the respective spaces is huge. It’s an impact on a community health promotion level that I really admire. Each facility in their own way are shifting thinking about how people in the local community think about how they live and their personal human potential.

I have sat over summer – usually at the pub or over dinner at a friends house – and listened  to people tell me of their introductions to CrossFit. The tell me about their goals, what they are frustrated about, who they are chasing, the things they love about it and where they plan to take it. These are conversations I never would have had two years ago. Two years ago – my friends had no access to these places. I love listening to people tell me of their experiences so far. Every one of them is on a pathway, largely determined by them. Whether they carry on or not, I’m just happy to hear that people are exploring their options and of course I am happy to hear they are enjoying the trip. So thank you. You’re awesome.

I used to feel immense guilt when I couldn’t train. This internal feeling of losing all my fitness overnight – in the bottom of a trifle bowl, somewhere in the pavlova hangover – was unshakable. I’d drive an hour each way to Whangarei, just to get a gym sesh in. Sacrificing time I could have spent with my friends and family doing any range of things at home. All that admin to train. I didn’t know I was missing anything until I started looking specifically for it though.

Why didn’t I get ‘get outside’ build a fence, go for a run, do some real work? you say… Well, for one – It’s not hard enough. It doesn’t make me sweaty and I can’t do it for reps or time. When you do work on a farm you’re doing it for quality, you need to be thorough, diligent and do everything properly. Follow the process. This doesn’t mix that well with the high intensity hit I’m searching for when I train. So no, building a fence won’t cut it.

Then there was the shame if I did train at home on the farm. I look nuts. Out there on the lawn doing lunges with a cast iron anvil above my head, up and down the driveway, getting a rash from doing burpees on the grass – which I’m literally crazy allergic to – and running up and down the road for no actual purpose other than to do fitness.

Juxtapose my pointless physical exertion against the rest of my family, sat on the patio under the umbrella – relaxing, drinking Dad’s latest drop of Pinot Noir, Mum smoking a durry….

This is the norm – I feel rude disturbing the peace like that.

Excessively challenging physical activity feels extremely inappropriate in this context.

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I still get really envious of people who go away with their Whanau and everyone gets stuck into a workout together. Having people to workout with is one of the conditions I found I need for a prime training environment for me. I hate doing it alone.

To me training alone is like drinking alone.

I’ll do it sometimes, but never that well or with much enthusiasm. Compared to drinking with good company; It’s nine times out of ten – a better experience. I do it well, and hit the mark with enthusiasm – usually, before I even knew what was happening.

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Completely different athletes, Rebecca Connew and I. We always ended up within reps of each other when dropping the hammer in competition and training.

That is my own personal training preference. I need an adversary. I find I’m not only more engaged, I am lured into a much more interesting and challenging training session than I will be able to create alone. Pain is just pain, I can test my resolve a lot better when I’m training with other people. It’s almost more fun to hurt, if I’m feeling like this is the limit, I know for damn sure they are pushing their limit too.

I’m not really ever hung up on what I do when I train, over the break was no exception. I just needed to get a few sessions in to balance out the social activities. Sweat out a few well earned and totally worth it hang overs.

Lesson One:

I stopped giving a fuck about Outcomes, and invested energy in process

I stopped aiming for validation and recognition of how awesome I am based on leader boards, rankings and competitions, and spent my energy instead, exploring what conditions make me happy.

I stole this from Uncle Google, but it summarizes basically how I went about that.

In a practical sense it looks like this:

I journal nearly every day – I write down three things I am grateful for today. Which helps me define the things I need to put in my cup each day to create personal happiness. It helps you form the habit of looking for the good in the world instead of seeing things through moments of shit. Over time, it gets easier to see those things in the moment. Identify they have happened and respond to them appropriately.

Here is today’s example

  • I am grateful to Hala for sending me the most beautiful and delicious treats. For no other reason than she enjoys my vibe.
  • I am grateful for the lack of reception at the farm and how much work I get done there.
  • I am grateful for the abilities I have worked for and my appreciation of never being a finished product.

I also write down a recount of something that happened in the last 24 hours that was awesome to me. This helps me to bank the good things, leaving positive breadcrumbs throughout my brain. Strengthening my ability to use the parts of my brain that think and remember positive experiences. It also makes it clearer what is important to me, what I notice and what I prioritise. That helps to inform what I need to do to create a balanced environment for myself to thrive in.

24hour

I had the most fun, unexpected, adventure filled, and epic weekend. I completed the Open workout early and moved on to spending time doing stuff completely unrelated to CrossFit with people completely unrelated to CrossFit. I didn’t have any stress about the workout or having to do it again. Instead I went out with my friends, went away to Whitianga, went diving, got injured and had an absolute blast with some of my favourite people to play with. Not once did I worry about how diving and getting injured would affect my ability to do the next CrossFit Open Workout – I’m taking every opportunity to laugh and enjoy the space in between that I can over the next five weeks.

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I spend my time, energy and attention figuring out what kinds of training environments, living conditions and working conditions work best for me, which ones do I get the most satisfaction and enjoyment out of. I reflect on those things regularly and it helps me cut loose the things in my life that are not feeding into the conditions I need to thrive. I can recognise much easier now, when something isn’t working, or feels off. That’s because I’m a lot clearer in my mind when a situation feels right – having reinforced those neural pathways consistently for over two years now. I’m definitely not a finished product and I still make some stupid decisions for sure. But I struggle to put things into perspective without reflection alongside the odd necessary reality check from the two aforementioned wahine.

Start a journal if you haven’t already.

It helps me for training too. For example; In training – I’ve learned through reflection happiness means classes, not training alone or on an individualized programme. Individualized programmes make me stressed and anxious. I have no ready data to compare myself to, no one to play with (therefore no intensity) and I stress about what work to prioritize. I do need class programming that is challenging though. I’m not keen on General Physical Preparedness programming that cuts out the high skill under  fatigue stuff. No lame ass – low expectations – low skill – basic boring workouts for me please. I also need a variety in my training buddies and places and almost a social level of participation. I enjoy training with lots of people. I enjoy training in the afternoon and I enjoy not taking anything other than the work written on the board seriously. Even then, half the time I don’t know what I’m doing. I deliberately seek out opportunities to train like that. When those conditions are met, I enjoy putting in the work and I love it.

Lesson Two:

Balance is a myth

Balance is an impossibility. Get used to the flux of constant variables and changing conditions that you will spend your entire life attempting to pre-empt, respond to and regulate.

The search for balance is an exact replica of the body constantly battling internally – without your conscious awareness – to reach a state of homeostasis … it’s a process that never ends, right up to when you die.

Something will always trip up the apple cart.

I generally won’t give up training just because I’ve been out. It doesn’t make sense to not train just because I had a good time with my girls the night before and I’m a bit hung. Training actually makes me feel better. Which leads me to the final lesson in maintaining life while the Open approaches.

Lesson three:

Keep your non-negotiable rules simple and achievable across a broad range of scenarios and situations.

I have two rules:

1. Always be “Yea The Girls”.

2. If you’re going to trip up the apple cart of your routine, get it turned back up ASAP.

Number one means that if the girls want to, I do too. I consciously choose them and their company.

Number two means that I will get my routine back on track as soon as I can after social events. The longer I let my habits slide, the closer I am to forming new unhelpful habits. 

If we’re talking about how I approach training, I can honestly say that every one of the four years I qualified for regionals. It didn’t occur to me that my life was out of balance. I honestly didn’t feel that I was giving anything necessary to my own happiness up. I had different non-negotiables then to the ones I have today and in retrospect I was looking to maintain my postion in the pack. To prove myself. Something I care less about these days. Plus, I enjoyed the training, the stress and the roller coaster that was finding out how fit I was. I loved refreshing the leaderboard, the pain and the disappointment when I missed the mark and had to repeat. I believe it is impossible to see anything as sacrifice when you enjoy what you’re doing. When you like something, you do it heaps. Think of it like the honeymoon stage in a new love interest. Would you rather the fun infatuation stage, or the boring TV dinner stage.

This year will be my Seventh CrossFit open. I’m probably at the TV dinner stage with CrossFit. I figure out how far I want to take CrossFit on the day making sure I leave enough time and space for the other life ingredients I need in my day to thrive.

My wero to you would be to see what happens if you explore the lessons I learned about maintaining some sense of balance in your life.

What conditions do you need to be happy in your own life?

What actions are you taking to create a favourable environment for happiness to not only exist, but thrive?

 

How cats, sleeping, mutton and chocolate will all help you hit the CrossFit Open better.

Be a cat. Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat.

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Curiosity is the most powerful training tool I have ever held. I didn’t realise this until I lost it.

The only reason I set written goals – was because the coaches insisted on it. I didn’t take them seriously or drive towards them with anything resembling unrelenting vigour. It was an exercise in going through the motions to please someone else.

What led me to achieve those goals, may be slightly attributed to having written them down. I seriously don’t think it was though. I was taking the piss when I wrote down “Go to Regionals.” (Regionals was also much easier to fluke your way into back then.) The one thing that consistently got me not just at the gym, but engaged in what I was doing there, was curiosity.

Interestingly, one of the indicators to predict successful academic outcomes, and also employability is plain old curiosity. “Curiosity is basically a hunger for exploration” What it boils down to is when we find something we are curious about, we are more inclined to ‘do the homework’ required to learn more about it. Curiosity, I believe is the driver for intrinsic motivation. That also adds weight to the old wives tale “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” meaning, some people (and animals) have zero curiosity about the same things their coaches and teachers feel they should invest time and effort into learning. Don’t take it personally. Engagement in any deep learning requires the learners curiosity to be piqued. Find ways to make that happen and the horse will likely drink your water.

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With regard to CrossFit; My curiosity grew insatiable (before it disappeared completely for about two years). I used to wonder daily about what was possible. Back when pulling my chin over a bar seemed an insurmountable task – having a sense of wonder helped me to make consistent progress.

Like many interests we pursue in life, as we open one doorway, we generally find another five to explore. My curiosity with training and CrossFit was hinged on uncovering all the secrets along the way.  I evolved alongside my experiences and progress.. “How fast can I go?”… “How much can I lift?” …  “How many rounds can I squeeze into that time frame?”…. evolved into “Is it possible to..” questions. We would hang around the gym after the class jamming, playing, exploring for far too long in the early days.

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The moral of the story here is that the fun got lost when I found myself setting expectations of what I ‘should’ be on myself; Expectations are a curiosity killer. Which in turn took me further from caring about doing epic things.

The kicker, is I see this in other people often. People who are definitely capable of achieving that goal they have their heart set on. It’s just that they have given the goal too much of the wrong kind of power. If you lack curiosity and your not engaged in training or executing in competition you have to ask why the hell you’re even doing it. My best, I ever have been – I felt excited to get up early in the morning and leave work to train before and during nearly every training session. When I’m competing, curiosity and engagement looks like not adding in tactical breaks to pull up my knee sleeves, chalk my hands, or adjust my grips. I’m in a total state of flow – completely engrossed in the task. Beyond what we had programmed on the board, I’d be just as excited to see who would be there to play with. ‘The unknown’ wasn’t something to be feared – unknown didn’t equal falling short, or being incompetent of reaching my own impossible standards. This ‘unknown’ was more like not knowing what you’re getting for Christmas, but you wanted a bike and it’s shaped like a bike, sounds like a bike and is probably a bike… every day.

Sleep more, pay attention to what you’re dreaming.

This is a short one. There’s not much you can do to control what you dream about.

As a general rule of thumb, I only dream about things I care about.

When I’m really into something or curious about if its possible to do something, the decision has already been made to pursue it. From here my brain will build the path to make it happen, I feel that’s why I dream about those things. Example; I really badly wanted to get a muscle up. So much so, that I dreamt of myself flying up through the rings with effortless grace and weightlessness. I had ‘the muscle up dream’ every.damn.night for a month before I got my first one. During the day, I would be diligent about getting the progression homework completed. During the night, my sub-conscious mind would put it all together and consolidate the learning to help me along. The dreams made me crazy – in my dreams I already had them. In my dreams being the operative words there. Now I know better, as to why that happens. A study out of the Harvard Medical School, found that test subjects who dream about a challenging task performed it better than those who didn’t have such dreams.

Boom, dream more folks.

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Maybe she’s born with it, or maybe it’s Maybelline

Well informed people with much more experience than me, who have read and written screeds on the topic of achieving excellence have shared some common themed thoughts.  Factors influencing performance in the 1% include: Grit, resilience, drive, grinding, work and accepting pain. These are common essential ingredients from which champions are forged.

I believe that some people are raised that way, knowing how to work hard. “The Mutton Factor”. Doing something less than their all out at the time – is just not an option.  Other people have to read books about it, learn ways to try and transfer from other dimensions of their experience or develop those tendencies from scratch to overcome the self-limiting default setting they showed up in life with. “The Maybelline Factor”.

Maybelline athletes hurt my soul. A good training session is not looking broken-assed and dragging your way backward and blindfolded until its complete. Don’t train like that. I literally leave the gym when I feel that around me. It seeps into my own training wairua and sucks all the enjoyment from my session.

If you’re not seriously curious and excited to find out things like; how deep your tank is, or how far you can push. If common behaviour is to complain or sandbag your training, but, you also believe that doing tonnes of personalized programming will get you to the top; You’re dreaming (not the good dreaming). It doesn’t have to be like that. You may have your purpose outlined and made the decision, but your path is going to feel like walking on broken glass if you can’t find that curiosity to push the limit of what is possible.

It’s unrealistic to say that every training session is going to be sunshine and rainbows. But I do think that some people love to explore near every crevasse of what’s possible on good and not so good days. This intrinsic motivator helps them to reach those dark places where the wild things live, and thrive there.

How to combat being a Maybelline athlete; Give your training some purpose. Figure out a couple of things that you find super interesting and find all the ways and means to approach it until you’ve turned the puzzle over enough times for the door to unlock and you find yourself in a whole new dimension of training that you never knew existed. On a daily basis – in your training sessions – find ways to make everything a game in your head. I find games are fun, very distracting from pain, and they motivate me.

Tell Steve to take a break, have a Kit Kat.

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Finally, let’s talk about self-limiters. Everyone has them. That’s the voice in our head or more like our gut that tugs on our sense of reason and lets us know if something is way off. We need self-limiters. They assess the threat. Their like the nerdy, slightly overweight, button down shirt and a pair of khaki’s wearing, clipboard carrying – health and safety officer of your life. I call mine Steve. Steve’s job is making sure I’m scared when I need to be.  Steve’s sole purpose is to raise alarms when required and significantly influence whether I choose one of three things: 1. Pull my sleeves up and get stuck into it. 2. Run away. Or 3. Choke.

I went through a crazy training patch where I really learned what pain was. Steve showed up most days screaming at me. But eventually he went quiet, after he realised that once we are in the depth of pain, it really doesn’t get any worse. It just stays like that. Until you stop anyway. The contrast from moments after the work ends isn’t dissimilar to the immediate temperature contrast felt when you walk into the Super Liquor Chiller. Except this is a chiller full of pain and you grabbed the most expensive box of 24 types of cramp with lactic acid build-up and unrelenting discomfort which no measure of writhing and wriggling will ease.

Curiosity to play the game out is the key that keeps the health and safety Steve distracted for me. If you know how to work, and work hard – then wondering what is possible helps quell the 2nd and 3rd options from eventuating. These options are a seriously bad times, especially when you’re competing or trying to do something special. We can’t let Health and Safety Steve hold us back from expressing true potential. But he does need to be bribed well in order to turn a blind eye.

Especially during the Open Season.

T.

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Is your new intern a shadow or a ghost?

With the close knit community vibes synonymous with CrossFit classes comes those keen to learn more about how to coach.

There’s a stack of reasons why someone would choose to offer up their free time to learn the ropes of coaching from those who are currently practising in the building.

In my altruistic world view I like to think the reason is at least partly because being people of the community – who feel they belong – they harbour the desire to serve. It feels good to return the favour, working from their own positive experiences with the training methodology. They naturally progress towards becoming more community minded instead of self interested. That’s pretty cool, especially considering most of these people are volunteers, with full-time jobs.. At least, that’s how it was for me. Actually to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to coach at all. I just wanted to show up and train and leave. 5 years later, I’m glad I took the step towards thinking of people other than myself.

If you have someone who is keen to learn from you, take that as a compliment.

we have all seen shadow coaches who struggle with confidence; Unable to find their place in the swift moving, fast paced classes. In my mind, I have to ask, how are the established coaches contributing to that? Having a shadow coach is not an opportunity to bolster the coaches feelings of value, superiority, or competence. It’s not suppose to implicitly highlight the shadow coaches perceived lack of ability to contribute anything. Whether this is conscious positioning or not, when you add no value to the time your shadow coach has investing in being present to learn – This is the message you send.

They may turn out to be a great coach or a terrible one, they may coach in your gym for a long time, or they may not. The outcome doesn’t matter. The real question is are you here for the development and bettering of people – or something else?

How do you make your interns feel when they are on the floor with you? Do they look like they are having fun when they are slouched against a pole with glazed droopy eyes, barely conscious?

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On the flip-side – Yes – if you are doing a great job as a coach, you are probably highly engaged with your members leading into a session. This means your available time to add purpose for your interns shadow coaching on the floor is limited. I encourage you to think of your interns who are shadowing your classes as another member; One whose experience you are also trying to influence, motivate and encourage for improvement. If you can teach 30 people to snatch, surely you can give your intern 3 things to look for and feedback on at the end of the session.

TOP TIP: Keep it simple.

Here’s a snapshot of how we have worked together to develop a custom made guide for interns to follow each time the take the floor at CrossFit East Tamaki. It’s helped to add purpose and value to those interns time during the awkward shadow coaching stage. The guide is administered externally to the coaching staff – by myself. Modes for collaboration and sharing of observations are done via our Intern facebook page. This was a deliberate act to reduce the impact for the coaching staff on and off the floor.  The intern knows in advance what they are heading into the building to look for and feedback on, the coach can be brought into the loop quickly and efficiently, there is consistency of focus across the eight sessions regardless of which intern or coach is timetabled for the session, and the coach can get stuck into the main guts of the mahi – which is delivering a great session for the members. In this case – the interns were taking the floor for the first time. This is the first three in a series of eight sessions.

 

The immediate change we all observed was that with clarity of purpose, the new shadow coaches were proud, instead of shy. They stood tall, instead of leaning against the pole. They were highly engaged with the members and attentive to what the coach on lead was doing, instead of struggling with presence of mind. They all had a notebook which was not a requirement, and they took notes throughout the class to help with the feedback loop at the end of the class.

Disengaged habits are common and irritating when you see them. The default position is to say ‘they have a long way to go’, or ‘they lack initiative’, or they ‘don’t appear keen’. If these habits show up all the time in the majority of interns who are shadowing, it’s not the interns who need to use their initiative – it’s the way we engage them to learn which needs to change. Setting expectations and contracts for initiating the intern process may appeal to some, but actions always speak louder than words. Just like you show your members what to do explicitly, you need to do this for new coaches too.

Because lets face it. It’s frikkin boring watching CrossFit classes, and even worse when you can’t participate or contribute in a meaningful way.

Another benefit of the feedback loop was the reciprocal development which resulted from having an intern watch a coach with a specific focus. Coaching on the floor was more deliberate, coaches focussed more on role modelling the aspect under observation so the intern had a clear picture of how that element of coaching worked in practice. The feedback at the end of the session was great for the coaches. It’s not often you get feedback on your practice and while it was no more than a 5 min chat at most, it facilitated a deeper conversation and clarity of thinking for both coach and intern. It gave the process of coaching and interning purpose.

If you like what you see, try setting out some clear objectives for your interns to look for when they shadow, so they are a shadow and not a Ghost.

 

If you’d like some help, hit the button below.

 

6 Signs You’ll Make a S*** Coach

You sat bolt upright this morning, having experienced a deep epiphany. Your job sucks and you love CrossFit, so why not quit and become a CrossFit coach at your gym? Maybe one day you’ll even be able to open your own CrossFit gym next door… Not until after you have passed your Level One CrossFit Trainer Cert of course. You are no fool.

What evidence do you have to support your hunch that quitting is the right thing to do? Well, for starters the coaches at your gym look like they have the best job in the world. How hard can it be to hang out with your buddies all day training whenever you like? Those coaches are finally free from the constraints of management, KPI’s and deadlines.  The constant monotony of working life does not appear to loom over their heads. They don’t look sick to death of accounting for every one of those 40 hour weeks they rack up – like tally scratches on a prison wall. In fact, they look like they absolutely love their job.

Let me fill you in on a secret. There is a good reason they look like that. It’s their job to. You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last to fall prey to ideals of living the ‘easy life’ of coaching.

Before you go ahead and push send on that resignation letter – freeing yourself from the 9-5 chains – let’s get the low down on whether you’re cut out for this. Then, you can proceed to skip home – and proudly update your status on Facebook to “between jobs”.

1. If you don’t like talking to people, or the sound of your own voice – you won’t make a good coach.

This one is pretty obvious.

Imagine – you are 13, back at high school – you’re standing in front of your year 9 English class about to deliver your atrocious speech about the life cycles of cats.

How did that experience shape your current feelings towards public speaking?

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As a coach, you’ll be addressing groups of glazed over expressions daily. Not only will you need to get the integral info across to them in as least amount of words and time as possible; you will be expected to somehow inspire, teach and motivate these beings with mere words. Every one of the members names will be your job to know, how else will you be able to hold a conversation with them for what may feel like an awkward length of time. This is all before you’ve even thought about how to advise members on how to access the best version of the workout for their stage and ability level.

If your coaches are the kind that stand and read what the whiteboard says, turn the clock on and shout out encouragement during the work phases, this is not coaching. Leave your gym. Today.

Once you walk onto those black mats as a coach, giving maximum energy and enthusiasm to the members is crucial.

If you struggle to crack a smile when you’re having a bad day, or you have a short fuse – members deserve a better coach, who appears to actually enjoy their company. Stick to your office cubicle – please.

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2. If you love and prioritize your own fitness more than other people’s experience of fitness – you won’t make a good coach.

So you want to make it to the CrossFit Games. Nice. You see the logical step is to become a part time coach so you can train all day and not work. As a future games athlete on this path you’ll need to have a Sugar muma/daddy putting food on the table to sustain such a life, or an extremely understanding partner.

Let’s say you don’t have a mortgage, dependants or any significant debt – this is a good start. Interestingly, are you also happy to live in a shed out the back of your Uncle’s place for $50/week to keep living costs down? Will you do what it takes while you pursue your dream of success on the games podium? Remember, Matt Fraser lives in a basement apartment at his parents place, has no ‘job’, other than to train and do competitions for money. Which is his main source of income. Because he wins them. When will your first pay cheque come in?

Fitness is as much about rest and recovery as it is training. However, to train with quality and quantity, you need an uninterrupted training environment. It’s very hard to attain that environment as a coach. Training in a gym full of members who want your help, advice and attention on everything from their diet and current injuries to questions on why they are not seeing progress in their snatch  – while you are also trying to max out your snatch – is the reality many face.

Conversely, when you switch to coach mode – 100% focus turns to the members; answering all those questions and providing them with an excellent training environment.

Working and training in the same gym makes the lines blurry between when to help members and when to switch off and just train. If you want to be an athlete, be an athlete. If you want to be a coach/athlete – get your time management, money and energy expenditure aligned pronto. Be very carefully to ensure one isn’t sapping from the other while ensuring you apply yourself 100% in both areas when needed.

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3. If you think people’s natural abilities and their limitations are ‘just the way that person is’ –  you won’t make a good coach.

If you’re the type to hedge your bets, cut reps while you think no one is looking, put all your energy into the quick wins or cherry pick workouts depending on what you perceive your natural strengths are; You will make a terrible coach and role model for members.

Training so you can apply the principles of learning and practising those methods across a variety of movements – the good, the bad and especially the ugly – has the deepest impact on performance. Alternatively, sticking to the stuff you are good at, and ignoring the stuff that you find hard to learn or even worse vocalizing your ‘reasons’ why your body can’t do that sends a message to members that they will not be able to improve on things they are no good at either.

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Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve

To be any good to anyone interested in improving their performance, practice what you preach. Understand that improvement in literally anything is a matter of applying the process of learning – regardless of where you start on the scale of talent – across all movements. Without this frame of mind, you will have trouble keeping your members motivated to continue working towards improvement in anything other than their training intensity and the volume they train. The quick wins. Invariably, they will end up hitting the ceiling on their lifts,  injured physically in someway – probably their knees or shoulders, then leave the gym and tell their friends that CrossFit broke them. That outcome, is entirely your fault.

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Can CrossFit Kill You?

4. If you believe what people do inside the gym is more important than what they do outside the gym – you won’t make a good coach.

Believe it or not, the reason you like going to your gym is because it’s a community of people who you probably have a few things in common with. Let’s even go so far as to call them ‘friends’. You will likely stay for the community even if the coaching degrades, to a point.

Coaches are like ‘friendship facilitators’ not just ‘movement specialists’.

Seeing members as a bag of body bits needing ‘movement fixed’ will limit the effectiveness of your coaching in the thing you prioritize most – how they move.

Step back, get a wider view of them as a total person and you’ll get a lot further. The last thing I want as a class member in my 1 hour away from the madness that is life is to be told right off the bat “Get your heels down”.

If you’re a movement junkie, remember;  people don’t come in pieces.

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5. If the concept of getting up at 4am and walking in the door at 9pm doesn’t appeal to you, you’re probably just human – but learn to grin and bear it if you want the coaches life.

Yes, you will get to train during the day. Maybe with your buddies. Depending on if you have any who are not at work between 10am-3pm.

More than likely, you’ll train alone – in the middle of the day – when you have time between cleaning the gym and running PT’s to supplement your coaching income.

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When your old training buddies come in to do a class, after a long day at work – you won’t get to play because you’ll be coaching them. You’ll finish up and hang around far too long afterwards; trying to usher them out the door so you can finally go home before 9pm.

You need to eat, and get to bed early. You’re on again at 6am, every morning this week. Yipee.

 

6. If you think coaching looks easy and you’d like to be a weekend warrior community contributor – you won’t make a good coach.

Awesome that you want to contribute to the community. Yes, it is a fantastic group of individuals and a real family vibe. If you’re not keen on the idea of being a life-long learner, and investing in your practice continually, constantly reflecting on your own practice and actively seeking out Professional Development to make yourself a better coach then you would be better off offering to help the current coaches with events coming up at the gym. These events don’t run themselves and coaches sure as hell appreciate all the help they can get when they give up their weekends to put them on for the community.

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Having said all that…

That doesn’t mean you can’t become an amazing coach.

A custom built development programme for existing coaches and new interns designed to bring the best out in your coaches while retaining the integrity and culture which personifies the gym and it’s community will be available soon.

Interested? Hit me in the DM below