CrossFit is an investment. Its an investment of your time, energy and resources. These three are in limited supply and we must choose wisely how we use them. In order to get the most value from this investment I think its important to know the difference between a coach and a cheerleader. Below there are some main concepts you should look for when determining what will suit you best in reaching your goals.
Evaluation/Assessment: Wether you are trying to remain healthy and fit during a pregnancy, staying fit to better prepare you for your job, be a more active parent or grandparent or have aspirations to compete in the CrossFit Games, it should all start with a conversation about you. About your “WHY”, your goals, your lifestyle and your current level of wellness. There should be a baseline assessment of how your body moves through basic movement patterns. All of these insights into your life will help a coach determine a clear vision and set a path for success.
Direction: Based on the above points, a coach will give you a clear direction of travel that provides you with consistent progress. Based on that progress, the direction you follow will change at times to ensure you are constantly being challenged within your ability level. A good coach will tell you to take a step back or keep pushing forward.
Feedback/Continued assessment: During your journey a coach will provide you with feedback based on a constant assessment of your growth. There needs to be a lot of truth in those conversations. Sometimes its not always what you want to hear. A good coach will tell you if some thing is not good, but will also praise when things are done correctly. As long as the feedback is logical and emotion is kept out, the feedback and the assessment of your progress will be inline with your goals.
Support: Life happens, we get sick, we have hard days at work and at times, kids and other relationships can be a pain. This is life. A coach’s job is to be there to listen, help you through these tough times but also keep your mind focused on YOUR vision.
Don’t get me wrong we all need cheerleaders along our journeys. That push of motivation when things get tough or when we are having an off day helps with our success. But there is a major difference between a coach and a cheerleader. Although both are necessary for success, a coach’s role needs to be much more prevalent than a cheerleader’s role.
It takes a long time, a lot of mistakes and continuous education to be a coach. It takes even longer to be a good or great coach. But ANYONE can be a cheerleader. Anyone can yell “you got this”, “keep going”, “go harder”. It takes a true to coach to watch from a non-biased point of view and really dissect areas that can be improved and provide you with the feedback in a way that is understood and can be applied so you get the most value out of your investment.
Finally, don’t be fooled by fancy certifications. A lot of people can regurgitate what they read, take a test and walk away with a certification. Some of the best coaches and instructors I have ever had didn’t have fancy certifications. In fact, they had the minimum requirements. But they read books, they had experience, they had trial and error and above all else, they had the trust of their clients. Certifications allow you the opportunity to be a coach or trainer, but it doesn’t make you one.
Education and well executed instruction is one of the biggest differential factors between CrossFit and all the other fitness programs out there. Its what you are paying for. If all you are getting is “nice job” and high fives after a workout, although emotionally important, you aren’t learning anything and you will never reach your full potential.