The transition from athlete to coach can be daunting, and sometimes, depressing. Coming from a collegiate football background where I was a student-athlete at Sacramento State University, I’ve had my share of lonely nights in my thoughts about the process and what my destiny should look like. I have been coaching and participating in CrossFit for 2 years now. I already knew that I would transition from gym to affiliate, I just didn’t know when. My experience in CrossFit has been very positive. I have grown both as an athlete, and a coach in a variety of ways, and I continue to learn something new about myself every day.
Coaching is artistic. Coaching tests your empathy, your emotional intelligence, your knowledge, and your ability to develop relationships with people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, athletic talent, and life views. Every day is a challenge that needs to be met with understanding, and enjoying the journey of coaching and fitness. You are either participating in fitness for life, or for the hour that you are in class. As an athlete, it is easy to get caught in the midst of AMRAP scores, times, lifted weight, etc. in a facility full of competitive people. I get it, I have been there. I have empathy for you. I’ve heard way too many “I wish I was as strong as Jim,” I wish I was as gifted as Ashley,” I wish, I wish, I wish. Reflect back on why you like working out, and how it makes you feel. Stop wishing, and start enjoying fitness for what it’s meant to be. Once you switch your mindset to viewing/doing fitness for longevity, and valuing it in the affective domain, you’ve won. Only a small minority of CrossFit members actually want to compete. Whether it be local, or higher staked competition, continue the process of asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing.
Fitness and life are similar in many ways. There are periods of time in an individual’s fitness journey where days, weeks, and months are tailored towards a specific goal. Tracking macronutrients, sticking to strength and workout cycle’s, sleeping correctly, and eating on time are all a part of the process for a dedicated Cross-fitter. On the inverse side, there are periods of time where an imbalance of food and beverage choices, poor sleep quality, and missed workouts get in the way of an individual’s routine and goals.
Similar to life, every individual goes through trials and tribulations. These trials and tribulations are all a part of the process, and the process of self-awareness, and who we are. Use the fusion of both to propel you to excel every day as a coach and an athlete. Continue coming in every day with the goal of pushing yourself to get better, and learning something new. Once you understand that the grey area in the middle of fitness is the process, you can understand your why. Use your coach to figure out how to pull from opposite ends. On one end you have the hour class. In that hour you want to maximize your potential. Your potential consists of what is written on the board for the day. Use that to measure your potential for that hour. Scale, ask questions, modify a movement, because on the other end is fitness for life.
Although we want to get a good workout in for that hour, we also want to value fitness and play the long game. Don’t worry about what other people are lifting, how fast they are going, and how good John may be crushing the workout, worry about yourself and worry about being the best that you can be for that hour(s) you do fitness. I find myself having to remind my athletes this all the time. As a coach, you have to figure out what is driving members to show up every day. Is it their competitive aspirations? Is it their home away from home? Is it some sort of escapism? Or, is it just you, and who you are? Continue refining, and developing yourself to be the best possible asset you can be for your members. Listen to podcasts, read articles from different coaching and athlete perspectives, and continue challenging yourself to be the best that you can be. Every individual learns differently. Some athletes are visual learners, some are kinetic, and some need actual tactical touch to be put into the right position. Coaching isn’t as simple as writing a warm-up on the board, and telling people what the workout is. Dive deep into why you should be squatting properly, why concentric and eccentric contractions need to happen, and why we need to be doing long Metcons and short Metcons, etc. A lot of the times members are actually interested in the “why.” As a coach, I want to be well-rounded in every area. I don’t just want to be the aerobic capacity guy, or the strength guy, I want to be everything. I want to know something about everything. I want to make a difference, it’s part of the process.