At The Box: What Makes a Great CrossFit Box? (Part 2)

We want to pick up right where we left off from last week’s discussion on what makes for a great CrossFit Box. You’ll remember that we discussed the 3 C’s: Coaches, Community, and Core.

Let’s break that down even further this week by taking a closer look at our 1st C:

The Coach.

Great CrossFit Box - Part 2 - The Coaches

The CrossFit Coach is an integral aspect of what makes a great Box. In fact, one could have the largest warehouse space for a Box with brand new equipment from Rogue and state-of-the-art flatscreen monitors hanging on the wall, but if there’s no coach then there’s no CrossFit. The coach is the glue that holds the Box together. So, what makes for a great coach? Let’s break it down into 3 categories, which for the sake of fun we’ll designate as F.I.T. (Functional, Inspirational, Transitional).

1.) Functional

CrossFit coaches are all about functional movement. What is functional movement you ask? Well, it’s part of the official definition of CrossFit, i.e., “constantly varied, functional movement, performed at high intensity.” The functional movement aspect focuses on real world movements (squats, deadlifts, presses, etc) that carry-over and are used in our daily lives.

Things like picking up our kids, groceries, (or even rocks in the back yard) and lifting something from the ground to over our heads… all become easier with functional training. We also run, jump, and pull ourselves up over things on a regular basis (you know, because we’re always preparing for that impending Zombie Apocalypse!). …But seriously, getting stronger and being able to efficiently perform compound functional movements will increase your quality of life no matter what your age or profession may be.

Great CrossFit coaches are those who are constantly growing and learning more about functional movements and the most efficient ways to do them. Boxes that desire to excel and continually push their members to the next level also support their coaches by encouraging and enabling them to continue in their own growth and learning via lifting, gymnastics or certification training/seminars.

2.) Inspirational

A great CrossFit coach is also inspirational. We’ve all been in the midst of a long, chipper WOD where the end looks to be no where in sight. We question ourselves as to whether we can actually do it and get to the end of the WOD. In the midst of that questioning, a great coach will be there as our counselor, our guide, our friend, and our cheerleader.

As our counselor the coach will take the self-doubt and fear out of our minds and replace it with confidence and belief. They will help instill in us a sense of assurance that we are indeed capable of performing and finishing that workout.

As our guide they will help show us the way to the most efficient lift or sequence of movements to complete the WOD. They will help us keep track of where we are in the WOD, reminding us of the rep scheme and count (because we all know how easy it is to get lost in the midst of an AMRAP or reverse ladder). Simply put, they will show us the way.

part 2 - The Coaches

As our friend they will be there to tell us what we don’t want to hear. You see, that’s what a real friend does. When you’re eyeing the whiteboard, wondering whether you should push to Firebreather that day or stay at RX or scaled, a good coach will help you face reality. Why? Because they are interested in your safety. When you are over-training and not listening to your own body, you know what a good coach will do? They will advise you to back down or, if needed, send you home and force you to take a rest day. That’s because a good coach is not there to massage your ego; no, a good coach is there to tell you what you need to hear and keep you on the safest path to fitness.

A good coach is also our cheerleader. The great coaches are always in our “corner,” cheering us on when we are low; inspiring us to reach new heights (oftentimes, literally) and gains. When we are tired and getting taxed in the middle of a WOD, vision blurred from the sweat in our eyes, a good coach will suddenly shout into the midst of that malaise words of encouragement (or perhaps even a stiff word to kick us in the butt). You see, a great coach knows what we need to hear and when we need to hear it. Those words will often come out of no where, from some corner of the box, and you’ll be startled at first because you didn’t know the coach was watching. But a good coach is always watching, because a good coach cares.

So in the end, the great coaches are often there to inspire us to reach new heights and gains. A great coach is engaged with the people under their watch. Great coaches do not sit back passively while the strength portion of the workout is being done. They instruct, correct, and encourage. They are active with their class; they inspire their classes, and you, to reach new ground. And that leads us then to the final aspect of a great coach…

3.) Transitional

Great coaches focus on the transitional. What does this mean? They focus on taking their classes, their people, from being mere “exercisers” to athletes. Very seldom does somebody walk through the door of a Box knowing exactly what they are doing and what CrossFit is all about. Perhaps they are coming from a background of working out at the local “Globo-gym“, or from running hours on end by themselves. The world of WODs and Olympic lifts is foreign to them. So a great CrossFit coach will show these people the way. They will train them, inspire them, and then transition them.

Gone will be the thinking of “I can’t,” or “I’ll never be like that guy.” Instead, as coaches instill that strength and belief in their members, such self-doubt will be replaced with a confidence that says, “Yes, I can do this, because this is what I train for.” Great coaches are about the transitions…they will always take you to the next level.

But you see, the transitional does not end here with mere “exerciser” to athlete. The great coaches will also show you how CrossFit applies to all aspects of our lives. For you see, CrossFit truly is functional. What we learn in the Box has real life application. The intensity, passion, drive, focus, and determination can all be applied to daily life. The good coaches, the great coaches, the best coaches will show you how to take what you have learned in the Box and apply it to where it really matters. Great coaches are all about the transitional.

Well, there are just a few thoughts on great coaching. Remember, coaches are the glue that hold the Box together. Find them, they’re out there. Trust me. I know.

Next week we’ll continue our exploration of the what makes a great CrossFit Box by looking at the Box community.

This article is Part 2 of our “What Makes a Great CrossFit Box?” series:

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