What makes a CrossFit gym special? Is it a huge, graffiti logo painted on the wall? Is it tons of equipment? Is it a refrigerator full of fancy drinks? Or is it a bunch of WOD videos on YouTube?
The one thing that truly sets a gym apart is it’s coaching. Or should I say, the quality of the coaching. Everyone needs it regardless of your current fitness level or athletic abilities. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been training or whether or not you were the first member of a gym. You need coaching as much as you need to have an open mind. As a matter of fact, the more athletic and skilled you are, the more coaching you need.
Achieving elite fitness is analogous to achieving a black belt in a martial art. It takes years to achieve elite status across the 10 general physical characteristics of fitness as well as broad time/modal domains. Having an experienced coach is required in order to attain such levels and goals.
When you walk into an established CrossFit facility where knowledgeable and experienced coaches are on staff, it’s immediately apparent what you are getting into. As a beginner, there should be some type of ongoing program designed for you to properly learn the movements. In addition, all of your previous history should be discussed and accounted for. For example, if you have a previous injury, this should be something discussed and evaluated. It really comes down to coaching knowledge.
The importance of having someone who has the visual and verbal wisdom—a good reputable coach—is three-fold:
1) Safety: will the coach minimize risk of injury
2) Efficacy: are the methods of coaching effective
3) Efficiency: will the coaching allow me to do more work in less time
All three elements are crucial to CrossFit. Without one, you are not realizing your true potential. Without an experienced and knowledgeable CrossFit trainer and coach, achieving elite fitness can be a drawn out struggle.
Coaches, our first priority is to teach our athletes how to live a healthy lifestyle — how to eat right, how to recover properly, how to properly warm-up, and how to correctly perform the exercises used in their training program. A good coach believes in progressive steps and understands that technique trumps all else. An experienced coach communicates with the athlete — expectations are clear, injuries are prevented, and trust is developed.
Without experienced and thorough coaching, there can be no elite fitness. And without a humble, respectable, open mind, you will never grow as a person. So find a space that offers the opportunity for both and realize your true athletic potential.