In my opinion, the COVID-19 issue has had a more significant impact on CrossFit gyms than any other in-person fitness service that exists. CrossFit classes are innately unique because, unlike other offerings, they are heavily reliant on coaching, engagement, and community, things that our competitors are severely lacking. However, to do our part, CrossFit gyms around the world are temporarily closing their doors to encourage social distancing which can place an immense strain on the business. Clients who were regularly engaging with your staff and fellow members are no longer able to do so and quickly begin to question whether or not it’s worth it to keep paying their membership. For this reason, many affiliates are transitioning to online classes, but these online classes are inherently challenging, and specifically your member’s experience with your new platform. The loss of an in-person interaction will surely make for a more challenging experience when it comes to coaching, but that doesn’t let you off the hook. The best coaches and gyms will use this as an opportunity to sharpen their skills, so here are two things to address to keep your level of coaching high during this period.
The Soft Skills
The first skill to hone-in as you work to provide an online offering that is comparable to your classes are your people and communication skills. After a few days, the novelty of these new online classes will begin to wear off as members adjust to their new normal. As the novelty wears away, you can expect to see an equivalent drop off in motivation amongst your members, and your job is to nip that in the bud. Coaches should use this time to reach out to your athletes individually to check-in on how they are doing.
To properly motivate your clients, you have to know what makes them tick. Start the conversation by seeing how they are doing and if they have been participating in your online classes. If they aren’t taking those classes, try to determine what barriers are keeping them from doing so. Once you know how they are doing and any potential challenges they are facing, make a plan to keep them engaged and knowing that you care about them. This take may seem impossible, but most often, this is a simple 5-minute call/FaceTime or a quick email/text. Remember, a huge piece of our service is the accountability factor we provide. CrossFit works, we know it does, but it only works when someone adheres to the program, our job is to give them the support they need to stay engaged and accountable.
The Hard Skills
In addition to accountability, your members are looking for coaching, and it’s undoubtedly going to be a bit different now that you cannot be hands-on. As we’ve said in previous blog posts, the best CrossFit coaches utilize and employ visual, verbal and tactile cues interchangeably. While tactile cues aren’t feasible, there isn’t a better time to work on your visual and verbal cueing. The more robust your arsenal of cues is, the more effective you will be as a coach. As you all likely know, there isn’t a single cue to fix everyone’s problem, each person will respond to your cues differently, which is why having so many is valuable. A great way to practice this skill is to look over the next week or two of programming and think of three verbal and three visual cues for each movement. With your arsenal of cues ready, begin implementing them into your online classes. Do not forget that the best cues are brief and actionable on the fly, not three minute dissertations on movement efficiency and safety that stops your member in their tracks. During your classes, take scrupulous notes about which elicited the desired change you were after, and which did not.
Using your observations and notes, share your most effective cues and motivational tactics information with your fellow coaches. Remember that part of the Team Misfit mission statement is “to enable gyms everywhere to provide the best possible experience for their communities.” Keep fighting the good fight, we will get through this together.
Written by Matt Sherburne