Chalk Talk: “The Coach, The Process, The Programming”

CrossFit is more than just a workout. If you really take the time to look into what is involved with getting fit inside the box, you’ll see that there are numerous elements in play. Attempting to discuss all the elements would be nearly impossible since CrossFit is constantly varying, so I’ll cover some of these element in three basic areas: The Coach, The Process and The Programming.

The Coach (pt. 1)

Not all CrossFit coaches are made the same. However, all coaches have the same certified training through CrossFit and are nothing less than a level 1 trainer. With that in mind, all coaches have the basic knowledge to assist you in reaching your fitness goals and more importantly, they have a desire to help you reach your fitness goals.

As stated in the last paragraph, not all coaches are the same. Ilze Malasevska, a CrossFit L-1 from AXT Berlin CrossFit wrote a great piece about CF coaches a few years back. Here’s what she said:

There are different types of coaches you can find at a Crossfit box. We searched and found: eight types, pretty common and very popular.

If you have a look around, you’ll notice different types of athletes, as well as different types of coaches. You can actually meet them at every box. And if you’re a little bit smart, you’ll recognize the type, the way they work and the benefits they can offer.

Let’s have a look at the different types of coaches I have met during my Crossfit years:

1. The Beautiful Dandy: shirts off, all out effort in WODs, high energy

How he starts the class: “Good morning, I am here, already smashed the WOD you’ll do today. Well, for me it was easy! I did it fast, it took me two minutes, but I could do it better. I just didn’t try hard, don’t want to go all out now. I am doing the strength phase currently, a WOD is not a good idea right now”, coach Dandy says when he finally covers his 6-pack and puts his box t-shirt back on.

Maybe sounds a little bit familiar? This is the type of coach who is clearly focused on himself, and on what and how he does things. Also, he loves Crossfit gear, always dresses in style, and his body, well it’s striving for perfection. He’s the image that screams: “you can push harder and that hard works pays off.”

My tip: enjoy the view, let him be seen and do your best. If you’re lucky, he will be very motivated for coaching as well, will be more creative and will put maximum effort into teaching you new stuff.

2. The Funny Clown: jokes, charisma and laughter

How he starts the class: “So, we will start. We‘ll do some squats, then the WOD, you know it, right? Ok, you’ll do the suffering and I’ll be watching you. For spotting you’ll need to pay me extra and give me a nice smile, as I do not earn enough”, coach says and everyone start to laugh.

Well, of course it was only a joke and no one takes it serious. He does his job, drinks some protein shakes, chats with his friends who do the Open Gym, but does not make a big deal out of coaching. He is an entertainer and you can have fun in his classes. Enjoy it fully!

My tip: If you want to learn and get better at Crossfit you need to understand the difference: when he’s having fun or his serious period, when he can actually teach you something. If he’s only an entertainer, then you need to be ready to work more on your own.

3. The Wise Guru: science talk you don’t always understand

How he starts the class: “I’ve been studying sports for over 15 years now, experimented on my own, tried stuff, realized, found out, came to a conclusion…We’ll go first into biomechanics and motor control of explosive movements, then upgrade it with focusing on control parameters for improving efficiency and… ” Whatever, you don’t understand a lot.

His ego speaks very loud, but he also has great things to say. This coach has more then 5, 10 or 15 years of experience. He also studied sport science or human biomechanics and has a huge ammount of expertise and knowledge to share. And he is very aware of that!

Prepare for a direct approach and to get feedback honestly. Things won’t be pretty, but they’ll be useful. He is self-confident, can also be a great athlete. Very often he can be a master, the golden lion of knowledge. The outlooks don’t matter, his experiences do, so better listen carefully!

My tip: you can learn a lot. A lot! He will give you a huge amount of theory and information to handle, but he’ll also be able to improve your technique, and work on your overall development. Just keep your eyes opened, your ego down low and let him do the job. Listen to what he has to say.

4. The Grumpy Expert: criticism, more criticism and finally a compliment

How he starts the class: “Omg, what was that? No, no, no, that’s nothing, you’re doing it wrong! Well, if you won’t use your hips during the snatch, you’ll never get this bar overhead. That was really horrible.” Prepare for criticism. And even more criticism.

It’s never good, never perfect, never… He is so picky and critical that he forgets to say „great job”. It will be hard for you to understand if he’s in bad mood or he hates you. Yes, it can happen that he also uses you as an anger management tool.

My tip: Well, get along with that. He will not change because of you and you do not need to take it personally. It can be frustrating if he helps and works on your clean technique, but there can be explanations for it – maybe they really suck? If you can learn something from his criticism and cues, do it. Do it! When he’ll finally gives you a compliment, you’ll be very surprised, but also you’ll recognize you did something extremely good. You earned it!

5. The Ghost Watcher: Silence is his weapon

How he starts the class: “…” He starts with silence.

He’s like a ghost. Being in a box, giving classes, standing next to you and watching carefully. But saying nothing. If you get a few correction from him, understand – this is a lot. And take it seriously, because he starts speaking when you’re on a verge of getting injured.

There is a thin line between „I do not care” and „I am who I am”. If it’s a personality thing and this person is not someone who should be a coach, someone who should motivate you to go to your full potential, and if you can’t see passion in his eyes, then you will be left alone. If he’ll be there or not, it won’t make a difference. There’s also no feedback or no beneficial learning from his work. I am telling you, a ghost.

My tip: Just let him play a ghost and use the knowledge that you get from other coaches.

6. The Determined Competitor: A little competition never hurt anybody

How he starts the class: „Is this your PR? How come you don’t know it? (..) Just take more weight for your workout. (..) Just a few reps more. (..)”

The Determined Competitor always makes a competition out of a simple WOD. He makes the box members battle against each other. Don’t ask him scaled or RX. It’s always RX, even if you’re not ready. He’ll pushes you to your maximum.

That makes you challenge yourself more and go harder, but you need to keep in mind – are you able to do that with proper technique? And, is your body playing with or against you?

My tip: If this coach motivates you, when your technique is good and safe, just go for it. But if he really only wants to have someone who does RX in his class, do not fall for that. Listen to yourself and your body, and quiet your ego.

7. The Old School Admiral: don’t talk, just focus on the mission

How he starts the class: „Don‘t mess with me. Just get this job done”, his body language and voice tone speaks for themselves.

There is a system in his or her class. A tough warm up, focused training and a dedicated WOD. There is a plan and there is work to do. No time for messing up with jokes or having fun. You will even skip those thoughts, because… Well, you will not have time for it anyway.

This coach wants to do his work well, takes care of you and makes you a better Crossfitter. It does not mean that he or she is boring, it only means – when you are in the class, you are training and doing your work. After class you can have fun.

My tip: It’s not a bad thing to train that way, because you’ll be focused on a mission: to train in a solid and effective way. You feel like you’re taking part in military training, but at then end of the day, that’s where Crossfit comes from: prepare for the unknown.

8. Coaches in Crossfit: The Perfect One – never let them go!

How he starts the class: “Hey, I am …, how are you today? Want to do some training, and yes also have some fun?? So who has injuries I need to be aware of? No worries, we can scale, everyone will have a great workout.”

He is not perfect, but he is a combination of each aforementioned coach. He has a system and knowledge, tells good jokes and knows how to be funny. Furthermore he can push you to go hard. Even criticism will sound complimentary. You’ll be motivated to improve more. He’ll also let you do your own thing, but carefully watch you to keep you safe.

My tip: Keep him closer and never let him go! He will be your mentor and, if you are lucky, not only a crossfit coach, but a family member or even a life coach.

As Ilze states, coaches perform in various styles. It’s up to you to choose which style fits you, but ultimately understand that their goal is to help! You have probably already visualized the coaches at EFC and put them into categories in your mind, so have confidence in them… they have confidence in you!

Until next time, Stay on the Grind and remember that Ability is Limitless!