I’ll cut straight to the point on this post - your coaches should take group classes.
By doing so, your coaches support a healthy gym culture that is built on trust and belief in your product and programming. Also, when your coaches take group class, they have a tremendous opportunity to set an example of the application of CrossFit principles and the culture you want at your gym.
I’ve heard many objections to this and most of it stems from fear - fear that the coach will look bad in front of their clients, fear that they will finish last, fear they can’t do a movement or fear that a poor performance might diminish their authority as a coach.
Let me clear this up - your athletes will respect you and your fellow coaching staff a 1,000 times more if you immerse yourself in the same set of expectations you hold for your athletes.
Your athletes will respect you and your fellow coaching staff a 1,000 times more if you immerse yourself in the same set of expectations you hold for your athletes.
Lead by Example
When your coaches take group classes, they set the example for your members regarding consistent class attendance and how athletes should carry themselves in group classes. When athletes see coaches in a group class at a regular time, they see an example workout consistency with life’s other factors and commitments. Ideally, you have a staff that listens to the coach, happily receives cues and corrections, and scales the workout appropriately and within the same allowances as the rest of the class. All of this models to athletes how you expect athletes to carry themselves. It also reinforces the coach’s instruction and overall respect when they are dishing out the expectations while leading a class.
Understand the Effects of Your Programming
Many coaches do the programming at their gym; however, they do it on their own timeline, outside of a 60-minute class.
The work that might be reasonable to accomplish in a leisurely afternoon coaches’ training session over 1.5 hours might feel like complete chaos and a beatdown when packed into an hour. By immersing yourself in the same environment and time constraints as your athletes, you learn the effects of your programming in greater detail.
Show that the Product Works in the Form it is Offered
When coaches take group classes, improve and PR over time, and as an additional bonus, have a physique that the member establishment would also like to have, it shows that your product can work for members in the exact way they consume it. When the staff all does different or extra workouts, it can lead to athletes feeling they must need to do more to get the results they want and that the hour a day they once subscribed to will no longer get them the results they seek.
Practice What You Preach
Suppose you are coaching a class and constructively tell an athlete that the rep scheme they want to do is too ambitious based on what you know of them as an athlete and what you have seen in their warm-up. Now, imagine you’re taking a class, and one of your colleague coaches lets you know that based on what they have seen of the workout today, they recommend your scale the rep scheme to the first scaled option. You politely smile and say, “sounds good.” Right there, you just gained a ton of respect from the athlete who overheard this conversation and has taken scaling guidance from you numerous times.
You can help your coaches understand why they should go to group class by reviewing the above reasons at a staff meeting. At CrossFit Roots, class attendance is part of our staff requirements laid out in our Employee Handbook. It’s a non-negotiable and something we are sure to make clear and explore during the interview process. If a coach does not want to go to group classes, it is a good indication to us that they will not be a good fit for our team or believe in our product.
Download the full "Lessons for the Coaches at the Gym" eBook here.