We’ve all heard the story: “Discovering CrossFit changed my life…it made me stronger/faster/better, in all realms of life, as a better spouse, parent, friend, co-worker”…the list can go on and on. If you are reading this, you have perhaps experienced this in a personal and profound way.
One of the many joys I experience on a daily basis as a CrossFit coach and manager of CrossFit Mission Gorge is seeing this transformation. For many of you, I vividly remember your very first day, whether it was a quick tour; a half hour of questions, which I patiently answered; or you jumping right into a WOD. There is no other way to explain the feelings of joy that overwhelm me as I watch that spark of pride and accomplishment grow from within an athlete when things suddenly start to make sense, whether it is a movement they’ve been struggling with for months, a gain in strength, a mental breakthrough, a technical cue that suddenly makes sense, or an athlete who completes his/her first Whole 30.
Trust me, as your coach, I remember it all. As you have discovered, we are more than just a gym where you work up a sweat for an hour. We become part of your lives. Your CrossFit Coaches strive to make your time in the gym the best part of your day. We want to know about your kids, your dog, your spouse, or that amazing vacation you just took. We jump in to help you when you become sick or injured, driving you to the grocery store because your medication doesn’t allow you to drive. We celebrate your graduations, engagements (many partnerships were found through this very gym), attend your weddings and baby showers, make meals for you when you have your baby, and attend your children’s birthday parties. We baby-sit, dog-sit, and invite you into to our homes for barbeques. We text you when we haven’t seen you in a while, give you a hug when it looks like you could use one, and review the kipping pull-up with you in the ten minutes before we coach the next class (even if it means we will miss out on our opportunity to eat dinner). We spend hours poring over research articles and journals to make us better coaches, and weekends away from home at seminars to increase our coaching knowledge—the list goes on and on (and yes, I have personally done ALL of these things and more). We do it because we are passionate about what we do, recognizing the impact we have on others, and lastly, we want to connect with our members on a personal level.
Everyone progresses at a different rate, but over time, our “beginners” transition into seasoned athletes, becoming more confident, both inside the gym and out. Someone who had never thought of himself as an “athlete” is suddenly contemplating purchasing his first pair of lifting shoes, or toys with the idea of entering her first competition. The gym is now considered a second home, and athletes use each other as motivation to do better, racing each other during WODs and setting PRs together, in that way that only CrossFit can breed “friendly” competition.
This change and growth is extremely satisfying to me as a coach, as I witness the same transformation and empowerment that I underwent when I first found CrossFit, over and over again through my athletes. One of the most fascinating things I begin to notice with this newfound empowerment is what an athlete chooses to do with it.
Some athletes want to become L1 Trainers, themselves, and they actively seek out knowledge and practice from their coaching staff. I’m proud to mention that the CFMG athletes who attend the CrossFit L1 Trainer Course have a 100% passing rate on the L1 examination, which displays the level of professionalism and talent in our coaching staff, as well as the dedication and application of our athletes. Other athletes take this a step further and branch out to open their own affiliate. I am delighted to note that, off the top of my head, CFMG has supported and encouraged 8 of our own athletes, who branched out and launched extremely successful affiliates, all of which we have wonderful working professional relationships. This is one of the reasons we are known throughout the community and frequently recommended by other boxes (and us, in return). Every year, Coach Ian and I pour our blood, sweat, tears, and general lives for 4 months of planning into a CFMG-hosted competition called the Left Coast Invitational. In addition to our work managing a gym, we recognize the importance of building our gym up in creating a community event that our athletes are excited to be a part of, and our brother and sister gyms seek out because of our mutual respect and support of each other.
CrossFit Mission Gorge chooses to embrace this empowerment of its athletes, in all capacities. We are proud of and encouraged by the steady stream of athletes, coaches, and affiliates that are consistently developed within our walls. All of our coaches have the experience of being “newbies” to CFMG, as we have exclusively hired “within” our gym through time spent getting to know them as an athlete and person. We offer our coaches the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and expertise through a coaches enrichment program that we developed, and allow opportunities for our coaches to continue their education by attending seminars and certifications, at our expense. We created an internship program, because we recognize that we have a wealth of potential coaches within our gym, and although we cannot possibly hire them all (believe me, we want to!), we want to develop them further and allow more opportunities for them both inside and outside of our gym, at no cost. We strive for excellence, and recognize that when we encourage and foster this in our coaches and athletes, from the top, down, the “trickle effect” benefits everyone.
This empowerment is a catalyst for change, within oneself, but more importantly, with what you choose to do with it outside of yourself. We offer you the tools to get better, stronger, and faster, coupled with the resources to take it as far as you want it to go--it’s up to you to continue that momentum.
It is up to the athlete to channel that empowerment and choose to GIVE BACK what they received. Whether towards the athletes in your class, to the gym as a whole, or choosing to empower others, this channeling can only create a situation where everyone benefits.
You know that welcoming, warm, inviting, encouraging community you walked into when you first started CrossFit? It’s still there, and up to YOU to continue and show the “new” CrossFitters how we do things.
This means, introduce yourself to people you don’t know. If you see someone walking around, looking a little lost (like we all did at one point), show him or her the way. Cheer people on during a WOD, especially the ones who are still working after you’ve finished. Spread that encouragement and love wherever you go, celebrating PRs and having fun (it’s just working out, after all).
To those of you who want a little “more,” in the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Do you want to compete? Seek out other athletes who you know will push you and train with them, or better yet, suggest to your coach that you want to take a team to Regionals and you can bet that your coach will happily work on a plan with you to make it happen. Do you have a unique skill/talent/education that finds you increasingly offering feedback and advice to other athletes? Offer that back to your box through a clinic or class. Do you have an idea to start a Charter School with CrossFit written into the guiding principles? We’ll support you and give you your first significant donation towards starting up! Did you see an amazing piece of equipment at a box you were visiting and want to bring to your box? Suggest it! Do you think the entire gym should all go out on a group hike or utilize a Groupon for Stand Up Paddle boarding? Rally up a community FB post and ask, “Who’s in?” Do you notice people putting equipment away while someone is trying to finish their workout? Immediately walk over to the athlete and loudly cheer them on, encouraging others to join you. Do you notice a new athlete hanging around after a WOD as you and a few other “regulars” head out for your regular Tuesday burgers and brew night? Invite them to join you! There are so many ways, on so many levels, that you can choose love and positivity and give a little (or a lot) of yourself back to your gym, and make it as wonderful as it was when you first walked through that door.
Above all, remember that your box invested in you, as a person and athlete, from the second you walked in our door. Our work is our passion, and we care deeply about our athletes. If you have a suggestion on how to make CFMG more awesome, speak up! If you want to continue your education and become a trainer, we’ll back you up 100%! Through empowerment comes growth, and it’s up to you to continue to grow and invest back in your gym to enrich the experience for all.
As one of the first affiliates in the area, we are proud to be sneaking up to our 5-year anniversary. We have set goals in place for where we want to take our gym for the next 5, 10, 15 years and beyond. In owning a business, change and risk go hand-in-hand, but we recognize the potential for growth, and the value in “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable,” so we welcome it. We have so much more to offer you, and we recognize those members who have stood with us through 5 years, as well as the ones who just started out with us, have so much more potential, as well. Are you ready? Come with us!
By: Coach Betsy