Just about every athlete I’ve ever met has dreamt of turning their sport, their passion, and their hobby into a living. Given the explosion of CrossFit gyms across the globe in the past three years, I believe this holds true of CrossFitters especially.
Truthfully, I had no aspirations to own a gym when I started CrossFitting; I wanted to be an acupuncturist. Then it happened. I had an acupuncture patient who came in to see me for “weight loss.” We talked about her diet (atrocious), her exercise regimen (there wasn’t one), and some other lifestyle approaches. Long story short, she ended up arguing with me that walking around her block was stupid and she had every right to consume not one, but two Big Macs the night before seeing me for weight loss. Why? A coupon for a buy-one-get-one-free had come in the mail the day before – I was simply there to melt the fat away with hair fine needles.
That one patient made me realize that most people, Americans especially, need honest help more than they needed needles. We need education, exercise, and the power to make intelligent choices on our own behalf – and CrossFit was a far better education delivery device than acupuncture was at the time.
For those of you who are interested in becoming a CrossFit coach, here are three things to consider before you make the leap.
1. Do you absolutely love to teach the air squat?
Muscle ups are sexy, butterfly pull ups are sexy, deadlifting 500 pounds is sexy – teaching the squat is not, but that’s what you’re going to be doing over and over and over again.
The vast majority of your clientele will never get a muscle up, or a butterfly pull up, nor will they pull 500 pounds off of the floor. They need basics, taught well, explained clearly, and drilled time and time again. If you’re not prepared to fall hopelessly in love with teaching the squat and the positive effect that such a mundane, basic movement can have on your clients’ lives, then this isn’t the profession for you.
2. How will you separate yourself from the herd?
The barrier to entry to become an L1 certified CrossFit coach is currently a thousand dollar deposit to CrossFit Headquarters and a weekend of your life. CFHQ is pumping out hundreds of coaches every week, so ask yourself, “What unique contributions can I bring to my clients?”
Will you educate yourself both in the CrossFit modality and outside of it? Will you study health, nutrition, mobility, leadership, wellness, recovery, rehabilitation, and the like with the same gusto that you bring to your current level of physical training?
3. Do you love people more than you love CrossFit?
This is a biggie. Beneath every one of your client’s PRs; beneath every missed lift, every tear shed in frustration, every tear shed in joy; beneath every aspect of your business in this wild and crazy game is a human being. All have their own sets of fears, hopes, dreams, quirks, and foibles. Some you can yell at, some you have to speak to very quietly, all of them can benefit from your knowledge and experience, and all deserve an equal share or your time and energy.
If you’re willing to open yourself up, to speak honestly, listen, listen, and listen some more, then you will find this game is not about fitness, it’s not about health, it’s not about nutrition. It’s about humanity, and community means that you are also included.
You will be as much a part of the lives of the people in your community as they are yours. You will share meals, hugs, tears, triumphs, and failures alike. Some days your clients will hate you and some days they’ll love you. How you learn to react to both days will teach you more about yourself than CrossFit ever did.
If being a CrossFit coach is calling you, ask yourself if you want to coach CrossFit or if you want to coach people. If the answer is people, prepare yourself for one of the most rewarding careers available today.