Set the right expectations…for EVERYTHING. Usually we set the expectations for movement standards, culture, and attitude, but we also need to remember to set expectations for equipment usage. I had an athlete drop a completely empty bar from overhead 5 feet in front of me. My heart and soul were crushed.

Be prepared for handling ‘front desk’ logistics. Since we don’t have a front desk, I need to be better prepared to receive drop-in’s and getting waivers filled out. I always forget to ask for waivers for athletes’ guests.

Learn everyone’s story. It’s important to understand why each member shows up. Is it to get fitter? Look better in a bathing suit? To be around longer for their grandkids? To be around good people? Knowing what makes them tick will help you connect with each athlete. Seek first to understand, then be understood.

Speak to the average skill level of the class. If the class has an average intermediate skill level, then you can focus a bit more on the advanced techniques, then have side conversations for the beginners or advanced athletes. Don’t get caught spending too much time explaining modifications for one beginner if the rest of the class is a bit more advanced. And vice versa.

Inspect equipment regularly for defects or malfunctions. There was a resistance band that snapped during class. These things will happen, but make sure to mitigate it by routinely checking items.

Coaches need coaches. It’s not enough to just pass seminars or get certificates. Just like in other industries or aspects of life, a mentor is needed for continual growth. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so learn from others that have already walked the path.

Learn by observing other classes. You don’t have to always be coaching or participating in a class. I learned how to scale for a 60+ year old grandpa with Fibromyalgia by just observing.

Youth doesn’t translate to higher fitness level. I had a 15-year-old that I had the mistake of assuming he had greater capacity, but moved similarly to a deconditioned 40-year-old.

Use the warm-up to assess fitness capacity and movement mechanics. This was useful for the above scenario of testing a new athlete, regardless of age.

Get your reps in. Just like with anything that we’re trying to improve in, experience is important. It’s hard to become a great coach if you only do 1 or 2 classes per week.

After I got my CrossFit Level One certificate, I immediately dove into getting hands-on experience by doing some co-coaching with the coaches at CrossFit Citrine. Each CrossFit class can be seen as 5 different pieces:

  • Whiteboard Briefing
  • General Warm-Up
  • Movement Teaching & Specific Warm-Up
  • WOD (Workout of the Day)
    • Strength (2-3 times a week)
    • Metcon
  • Wrap Up / Cool Down / Scoring

For the most of June, I was able to lead a piece or two for each class I was assisting in. At the end of the day, I would reflect and journal at least one lesson I learned that would improve my coaching ability. Here are some of the lessons I learned.

Say less, be clear and concise. When I did the whiteboard briefing and talked in circles. Explaining a lot during the whiteboard brief is unnecessary. As coaches, we’re not here to show off how much we know. Be quick and clear, so we can get the athletes moving right away. It’s about them, not us.

Come to class prepared to be able to teach the movement to someone with zero fitness background. During my first time teaching a movement, and I had no clue how to explain the box jump in simple instructions to an athlete that’s never seen them before.

When a prescribed movement leans towards high skill and less GPP (General Physical Preparedness) focused, modify to a GPP variation. Example: Hang Squat Snatch modified to Hang Power Snatch with an Overhead Squat. Athletes looking to compete in CrossFit can still do the Hang Squat Snatch.

Instructions need to be short and actionable. Don’t ‘suggest’ to the new athletes, direct and tell them what to do. This is necessary for the new athletes that may get overwhelmed with all the modification/scaling options. Many look to the coach for specific directions and guidance.

Teaching movements means reinforcing the points of performance. Only teach strategy for intermediate/advanced athletes after proper mechanics are visible. I realized that teaching strategy to new athletes just overwhelms and confuses them even more and can introduce bad habits or bad technique in the WOD.

Also know how to teach the warm-up movements. Don’t assume that everyone has a small background of fitness knowledge. I need to be able to know how to teach warm-up movements just as well as teach WOD movements.

Plan scaling modifications before class. When reviewing the lesson plans, think about scaling options for athletes in class. Not only do we have constantly varied movements, we also want constantly varied modifications. Ex. If an athlete always does ring rows for pull-up modifications, switch to jumping pull ups.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight or you’re trying to improve your performance, we all will hit a wall at some point during our journey. I’ve personally rode the roller coaster of weight loss and it’s not fun. I’m sure many of you can resonate with that struggle of losing weight and gaining it all back.

When we hit that wall or undo all the good we’ve done, we start to question if what we are doing is even the right way to do it. Or our friends just say, “Come on, you can treat yourself just this one time. “Or we forget why we’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and just stay in bed for 5 more minutes.

I had the honor of being a guest on a national conference call with hundreds of my partner company’s business partners to share my fitness journey. I talked about the three crucial puzzle pieces that most people are missing when they start chasing after their health goals.

1. You’re missing a coach.

Trying to tackle this journey on your own is one of the more difficult paths. You’re where you’re at because of the knowledge you possess or lack thereof.

This person can be someone you hire such as a personal trainer, or this can be a friend that is living the lifestyle you desire. They don’t have to be a complete expert on the subject of health, but they do need to be performing at a higher level than you. They are someone that has to know more than you and someone that you can go to when you have a question or get stuck.

2. You’re missing accountability partners.

Aside from your coach, you need a group of people to help keep you accountable. The accountability partners that work best are the ones that are on the journey WITH you. Having friends cheer for you on the sidelines is great, but there’s something to be said about the power of when you’re in the game with your friends.

I recommend daily check-ins with your accountability partners to discuss what went well, what didn’t, and provide daily encouragement so that you can push through this journey. The power of accountability partners isn’t what you get FROM them. As their partner, you have to keep them accountable and continue to push them forward. And in order for you to do that, you have to hold up your end of the deal first which causes you to take action too.

3. You don’t want it bad enough.

It doesn’t matter if you have the best coach and the best accountability partners. If you don’t want it bad enough for yourself, you’ll find an excuse. If you do want it bad enough, then you’ll find a way.

When you have the burning desire to succeed in taking control of your health, that’s when you’re willing to do whatever it takes. That’s how the consistency, good habits, sacrifices, and commitment all come into play on their own.

When times get tough where you want to give up, you’ll need to remember how bad you want it. You must remember your WHY. Why do you want to take control of your health? Is it to live your best life? Is it to be around as long as possible for your family? Is it to inspire others? Is it to prove to others that you can do it? Is it to prove to yourself that you can do it? Whatever your reason may be, it has to be strong enough to push you through the difficult times.

When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.

~Eric Thomas

If you’re struggling with your fitness journey, look to fill these three missing puzzle pieces so that you can take your health to the next level.