So far, we’ve found out what I have learned as both a member and a competitor in the world of CrossFit. This week we look at the top five things I have learned as a coach.

Classes are better. I know I am repeating this from what I learned as a member but I think it’s a hugely important and often overlooked lesson. Classes work, simple. It’s not uncommon for people to forget this fact. As they progress in CrossFit they feel they need to hit open gym more in order to focus on certain aspects of training. In reality, what I see as a coach is people falling back into ‘traditional gym’ type sessions where they lose intensity and achieve 20 minutes of work in an hour. The majority of us joined CrossFit because we liked the structure, the coaching and the atmosphere. The class format is what provides this, utilise it. Whenever you can, choose a class over open gym – I guarantee you will get a lot more from it.

Simple is more effective. As a coach and an athlete, it’s easy to get caught up in workouts being sexy. Making workouts complex, with technical movements and cool elements might make you seem like a great coach but in reality, simple is much more effective. Everyone, experienced or novice can get an outstanding workout in from pull ups, squats, kettle-bell swings and burpees. It might look boring compared to the CrossFit Games but it will fulfil my goals as a coach and my members goals – to make them fitter. There is obviously a place for the sexy shit but it needs to be sprinkled in amongst a shit ton of the basics!

Knowledge is key. This isn’t just in terms of having knowledge as a coach, though obviously that is incredibly important, but of imparting that knowledge to your athletes. It’s easy to show someone how to do a certain movement or use a certain piece of equipment but getting them to understand why they are doing something is a much more effective tool. Getting athletes to understand what triple extensions means and why it is important will help them to master weightlifting faster than just cueing them to lift. Explaining to athletes which muscles are being used in a movement and why will help them to maintain control and function in a workout.

It’s all about the fun. People love fitness, working hard and achieving goals but above all else people love fun. People definitely work harder, achieve more and leave happier when they have had fun. This doesn’t mean the workout needs to be a laugh or even particularly ‘enjoyable’. It just means the session as a whole needs to be inclusive, engaging and let’s face it, fun. Conversation, banter, jokes, demos and talk throughs can all be entertaining – if the coaching is on point.

You can’t get it right all the time. ‘Fuck this is harder than I wanted it to be.’ ‘That time cap is a bit tight.’ ‘Should have spent longer on that demo’. These are all thoughts I have had more than once whilst programming for and coaching classes. It’s very easy to pretend you know everything and every single workout and class goes exactly how you planned it. But I don’t and it fucking doesn’t. Every class I coach I learn something new. Every workout I programme or complete I learn something new. Combined with the courses, study and reading that I do I know that week on week I have less of the ‘Should have done…’ moments and more of the ‘Nailed it’ moments. Any coach who thinks they know it all is a tosser, simple.

So, there we have it, the top 15 things I have learned as a member, a competitor and a coach. All of these experiences have taught me much much more than I could ever put into a blog post but these handful are some of the most important and most overlooked. I guess I’ll rewrite these in a year and see what else I have learned.