We’ve worked with well over a thousand CrossFit® coaches across the globe. We speak with coaches daily about their goals and their struggles. These dialogues have offered us unique insights what works and doesn’t work in the fitness coaching as it relates to CrossFit®.
Inside all of these conversations we’ve discovered the top six common problems CrossFit® Coaches face as well as how to overcome these challenges.
Many CrossFit Gyms and coaches utilize free trials or low membership prices in an effort to acquire more clients. While this strategy does get more clients into the system, it brings the wrong type of clients into your system. People who enter your gym through low price offerings typically aren’t going to be very well aligned with your beliefs or view of fitness.
This massive influx of the wrong type of clientele ultimately drains you business system, your coaches, your current recurring clients and yourself. These practices dilute your gyms services, not enhance it.
Don’t get lost in the idea that more clients today will help you reach your business goals.
You need to spend time today determining who the best clients are for your fitness services. This leads to a stronger message, better results, and a proper platform to run your business.
Create a vision: Understand who you are and define your business., otherwise you will consistently reach out to the wrong ‘type’ of client.
Identify your ideal client: Take the time, do your research, and determine what type of client aligns with your vision. You shouldn’t have to price down your gym services in order to find them.
Market to those ideal clients: If you market that you have the “lowest price in the city” do you think that you will sign up clients who will be loyal when a cheaper option opens up next door?
Not a chance. Marketing to your ideal client will not only preserve your brand identity but it will also make it easier for the ideal client to find you.
Deliver to those ideal clients: If you claim to be the best gym in the city, then consider
these two points:
1. how can you prove it?
2 what are you doing to ensure that you actually deliver that quality?
It’s a cliche because it’s completely true. Actions speak louder than words.
When you walk into the gym everyday and write the workout on the board, do you KNOW how your clients will respond?
Let’s take “Fran” for example, after running a group through the workout, is everyone lying on the ground coughing in pain? Or, when you look around are some only slightly sweating and are already putting their weights away? The challenge is that each person responds differently to all workouts depending on their muscle endurance, mechanical ability, strength, skill, speed or capacity. In the case of Fran, the workout was originally designed to simulate a 2 minute gymnastics ring routine that left them gasping for air. So, if you are wanting to test your clients in a 2 minute time domain, is Fran really the right test?
Most CrossFit Coaches have no understanding of how to program an effective and targeted Workout of the Day. Much of this has to do with the manner in which they were taught in the Level 1 CrossFit Certification courses. They simply were not taught how to program workouts in a way that tackled the various energy systems.
Everytime you create a workout, it needs to have a purpose. Constantly varied functional fitness movements performed at high intensity does not imply that you slam random movements and time domains together.
Determine the purpose of your workout: Are you testing or are you training a
specific fitness domain: endurance, strength, stamina, speed, power, coordination, etc.
Design a workout with a specific response in mind: If you’re trying to test
a client’s 2 minute capacity to tolerate pain and they can go unbroken in thrusters and
pull ups, prescribe Fran. If your client is not proficient in either of those movements,
prescribing 21-15-9 of slam balls and no push up burpees may be a better test for that
Reflect: Constantly evaluate and refine your programing to ensure that your clients are
progressing, avoiding injuring and getting results.
Training is a very small part of the journey to health and fitness. If you were to calculate how much time a client typically spends in a gym compared to everything else they do weekly, the gym only constitutes 3% of their total time commitment each week. This leaves 97% of their life unaccounted for.
This is where nutrition coaching and lifestyle coaching come into play.
Your clients originally came to you for results. They had some goal in mind and they believed that you could help them reach it. When you sat down with them to discuss how your program could get them there did you casually mention nutrition or did you lay out a specific plan? Did you offer any lifestyle guidance and advice?
Nutrition plays a very important role in someone looking and feeling better as well as their performance. If you cannot address the nutrition or lifestyle side of the equation your clients may not reach their goals.
It is a mistake to believe that a client will implement your nutrition or lifestyle advice if you have never had a conversation with them and truly understand where they are starting from. Every person has different goals, unique metabolic systems, and changing lifestyles. If you are giving “one-size-fits all” advice or running challenges because you don’t have knowledge on nutrition you will lose both credibility and clients.
Discuss nutrition and lifestyle from the start: Make nutrition and lifestyle part of the initial consult. Find out exactly what they ate the last couple days, and ask them how they feel after they eat, during training and throughout the day/night. You should also ask about their levels of stress throughout the day as well as their daily habits and if they thoroughly chew their food. By doing this you will connect the role nutrition and lifestyle plays with the results they desire.
Create a plan and accountability: Give them a simple plan that sets them up for
success and adjust it when necessary. Create a system to check-in with them and hold
them accountable. You will see far better results with a phased nutrition plans and lifestyle guidelines, instead of drastic changes or 30-day challenges that they won’t be able to stick to long-term.
Keep educating: Educate yourself and your clients on nutrition and lifestyle guidelines. The more you understand lifestyle and nutrition, the more likely you are to get them results. When you get your clients results you create trust and lasting relationships.
Do you know what’s important to you and why you are a coach? Why do you wake up early, stay up late? Why haven’t taken a vacation in over 2 years? Are you aware of your clients and their priorities?
Your priorities in life can lead to biases which can have an impact on your ability to communicate and align with your clients. Who is your ideal client is and which ones do you seem to always butt heads with?
Have you ever noticed you can say one thing to one person and get great results and then completely lose another client with that same communication? Clients respond different to different forms of communication and a lack of understanding If you don’t understand yourself as a coach and you are not really sure why your clients have come to you or what they are hoping to gain, there will alway be a disconnect.
Emotionally and empathetically connecting with your clients is an important aspect of what makes a successful coach. It allows for excellent communication and encourages positive changes in your clients.
Pay attention: Listen to what your clients are really telling you. Take them through a specific path to see what they actually consider priorities. Over time you should make it your goal to understand why your clients are at your facility and what working out really means to them.
Recognize your biases: Just because you are passionate about fitness and being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean your clients are. They may have joined a gym to look and feel better and that always aligns with how you see it. Pressuring clients to do things that do not align with their goals and priorities is not effective and may even harm your relationship with them. Learn to recognize where your priorities lie and how that bias may be keeping you from framing fitness in a way that inspires and aligns them to succeed.
Soccer mom, business executive, ex-football player, college student, each of these potential clients have different backgrounds, training ages and lifestyles. Yet, you put them through the same ‘On Ramp’ or ‘Foundations program’ when they first start.
You examine their air squat, their pushup and pullup capabilities, teach them the basics of barbell work and then run them through a short workout to test their aerobic capacity. Then, like magic, they are ready to join in your regular CrossFit classes…not so fast.
What if one of those people just started an exercise program they can’t do any of those movements, what further information are you gathering to know where to start them. What if they’ve been training for 15 years and came to you to get over a plateau again where do they start? However, without fully understanding where they are starting you will have a hard time getting them the results they want, leaving them dissatisfied and uncommitted to your gym.
Every client needs a unique assessment. This gives the coach insight into where the client is starting from and where their program design needs to take them in order to fulfill the clients goals.
Have a purpose: Looking at a client’s air squat technique and putting them through “3 rounds for time” is not a true assessment. The purpose of assessment is to get a thorough understanding of where your client is beginning by gathering data. You should be gathering data about their individual capabilities and basic movement ability.
Use the data: After you have done a proper assessment, don’t let it go to waste. Actually incorporate that data within your program development for that client. Regularly check back and take notes to see how far they have come and what challenges/restrictions they are facing.
Let the results speak for themselves: When you really take the time to fully assess and understand where each client is starting and create a plan based around data, you are on your way to getting clients the results they want. Those results are a key factor in retention considering that is what most clients are paying for.
A lot of CrossFit Coaches feel trapped and stagnant in their fitness career. Most CrossFit coaches have part-time jobs with poor compensation at their local affiliates without a path towards a fulfilling full time career in the industry that they love.
In order to escape this vicious cycle you need to further your education and become a master of the whole landscape of fitness coaching.
Apply for the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program: The OPEX Coaching Certificate Program, also referred to as CCP, is the most comprehensive fitness coaching course on the market. Participants in this program master principles of program design, nutrition, assessment, consultation, as well as business topics. You will be given all the resources you need to pursue a career in the competitive fitness industry.