Aug 23, 2010

Visiting a new affiliate

A CrossFit affiliate recently opened up in my hometown, so while I was visiting my parents I stopped in for a WOD.
Box jumps

Results:  18:31 -- 65# SDHP, 24'' box jump

I liked the combo this WOD put together, and I think I would like to try it again. I felt like the spot on the floor I chose was so uneven that my bar was bouncing all crazy at the bottom of my SDHPs. I wasn't able to do more than 5 in a row, and I know I've done more than that at 55# for Fight Gone Bad. Really made me mad to have to break them up so much! Also there weren't any floor mats where the boxes were setup, and jumping down from the 24'' box onto concrete was hurting my feet. Owie! I could probably cut 5 minutes off this time, but all in all I enjoyed it!

However, there were a couple things about the session that rubbed me the wrong way, and that's the reason I'm not naming or linking the gym here.

First red flag -- no movement demo at the start of the session. When I first started coaching I was drilled on the importance of this, and now that I've had more experience as a coach, I see just how important it is. Identifying movement standards and full range of motion is important to reinforce learning in your students, and it also introduces the cues that you'll use during the workout to correct their errors quickly, instead of having to stop them and go through a long explanation.

The trainer did reference the recently-completed intro session that all of them had taken, and said something like, "you all looked great on this in the INDOC". I don't know about you guys, but after going over all those different barbell movement, it took me months to learn all the names and the proper execution for each. It's something that needs to be reviewed again and again, by all athletes, no matter how long they've been CrossFitting.

Add to this there's nothing that bothers me more than horribly executed SDHPs, and there was some ugliness going on... It was literally making me nauseous watching one guy whose load was WAAAAAAY too heavy for his ability, not to mention the bad form. *URGH*

Which brings me to red flag number two -- the coach worked out with the group. This is a BIG ASS NO-NO PEOPLE! I guess coaches do this so they don't have to find time to do the WOD on their own, or they hate working out alone and want to take advantage of the group that's there, or they think it's somehow motivating or instructional for their athletes for the coach to participate. However, there is NEVER a good reason for doing this, especially considering the inexperience of the athletes in the group.

So now that I've checked out the gym, and I've seen what's going on there, I am torn.

This is the first CrossFit that's reasonably close to many friends and family members, and I so badly wanted to send them all there to experience the awesomeness of CrossFit. But now that I've seen the [lack of] coaching skills, I definitely won't be doing that, except maybe with my brother who I know is like me and will study on his own.

So what can I do to ensure that one day (hopefully soon) I will feel comfortable referring people to this gym? Should I give the coach some unsolicited feedback? No worries, I would be polite and deliver my thoughts in a more constructive fashion that what I've written here. But isn't unsolicited advice really annoying? Or should I not care if it's annoying, since I have the best interests of his athletes' safety and the growth of this business? I just get the impression he's a martial arts guy who started doing CrossFit on his own, really liked it, and wanted to make some money with it. I have no problem with that. I just think he needs some advice...

In my position, what would you do?

PS - I will say this -- I feel much more confident in my ability to start my own gym after visiting his. A big part of me wishes I was living closer and could try to get him to let me team up with him! :)


  1. If you remember I was in a situation like this when a friend of mine was trying an affiliate and telling me things I thought were huge issues. Like forcing her to start with a combo movement at 45lbs on her first day and then yelling when she did it wrong. And no intro classes. And having her husband teach her the movements on day 2 when he was too busy to coach. Yeah.

    I e-mailed the affiliation folks at CF main. Didn't do much good. I told my friend the dangers of working with a trainer like that. I tried to get her to leave. The last thing our community needs is people getting hurt by poor coaching. Crossfit is already a relatively dangerous workout when done without good info. I believe firmly in the free market and so does the founder of Crossfit. I'm Ok with the business failing if they supply a bad product.

  2. I would offer the advice! We don't need any bad Crossfit boxes!

  3. Ditto to Sara & Mags! The more CrossFit spreads and becomes popular, the more important it is for GOOD trainers (like yourself) to speak up when someone is not upholding the highest standards. Plain & Simple!

    What if you talked to the owners of your box and got permission for him to come do a WOD there to see how you guys do it? Maybe he'll pick up on the difference between his style and yours. You know?

  4. Oh, wow. All of those things would bother me too. The first CF affiliate I was involved with (who now I find out was never REALLY an affiliate) had some dangerous practices. Now that I am at an affiliate with much higher standards, and a world-class coach, I'd never stand for any of that nonsense. He demonstrates the lifts we are going to do every single day, even when it's all "veterans" and we "know" the lifts. It's just good coaching!

    I think perhaps an email to that coach might be a reasonable thing to do. Chances are he won't be receptive to your criticism, but who know...might help.