I’m taking a moment to expand on my concerns with appearance-focused goals. I will always encourage clients to have less of an emotional attachment to aesthetics and to give more attention and awareness to the vision of the life they want to live, the things they want to do, and the experiences they want to have in a fitter body. That said, I understand context matters and everything is nuanced and situational.
When Ashley’s top coaches walked out the door with 40 of her members to open a gym 2 miles down the road, she contacted Chris Cooper (of Two Brains) to figure out where she’d gone wrong.
– What mentorship is and how it can benefit you
– How to use extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to build and maintain a solid business
– What makes Two Brains special in the crowded, sometimes shady world of fitness business coaching
– What does “successful” mean now?
– A formula to help you determine how much to invest in mentorship
– How to manage big changes at your gym
A reminder for CrossFit coaches and trainers to end ALL classes — not just kids and teens — at the height of fun OR at the right time. Know when it’s time to move to the next thing and keep your people flowing.
My thoughts on why there’s so much confusion about what CrossFit is, and what it all means for coaches and programmers.
CrossFit has changed so much in the past decade that it can be helpful to consider our history, remember how things have evolved within and alongside CrossFit, and think about the full context of what happens to anything when it moves from the fringes to the masses.
Which means we’re going to receive emails filled with love and hate for the next several weeks. :)
Nothing too out of the ordinary.
Typically in our Gym Program session plans, we include articles and videos that go deeper into a specific movement. We call this section “For Further Study” because it gives you the deep dives, the nitty-gritty, so that you can build confidence, skill-up, and hone your craft as a coach.
This month, for instance, we have a fair bit of For Further Study material on Running.
Still, our members have asked for more.
We love that about our community — the desire to continuously improve — so we’ve created this list of content specific to running technique, mobility, injury, breathing, and so on, with the hope that something here will help you better serve your clients.
If you’re into the sort of material listed above, there is a section in EVERY session plan titled ‘For Further Study,’ where we include articles and videos that are relevant to the session. So, if the session includes running (like we discussed in this post), you’ll have additional material on breathing while running, running mobility, or something similar. The idea is to give coaches the resources they need if they want to go deeper.
The For Further Study section also includes material on things like communication, emotional intelligence, and topics that go beyond just fitness. By building competencies in these things, coaches can be your allies in creating more positive cultures and communities that everyone wants to be a part of.
You can see what else is included in our Gym Program, or take a look at the box below to explore a free session plan (no email or obligation required).
With a lot of kids at home because of COVID-19, we thought it’d be fun to give you some warmups and games you can do at home or in small CrossFit kids classes. You can do these as a family or as a coach/trainer with kids ages 7 -12.
We’ll start by listing some fun warmups then move into games you can play with a minimum of 1 – 4 people.
(Can be drawn on the sidewalk with chalk)
Jump forward 2, then back 1
Right foot only
Left foot only
High knees (two feet per square)
Lateral steps (two feet per square) right, then left.
“Fancy Feet” — Both feet start on the left side of the ladder. Move right foot into the first box on the right followed by the left foot, move the right foot to the outside right of the ladder followed by the left. Then move the left foot in the next box up and repeat the in-in-out-out-in-in pattern moving up through the ladder.
10m Bear Crawl — crawl with only hands and feet touching the ground
10m Bunny Hops — hop with feet and knees together in small “bunny hops”
10m Kangaroo Broad Jumps — jump for distance, like a kangaroo, land in a quarter squat
10m Crab Walk — crawl with only hands and feet touching the ground, belly up
Then 30-second cone to cone race — kids try to see how many times they can run from cone to cone in 30 seconds
Set up four cones around the room to serve as the “bases.”
Kids perform 1 burpee to get a “hit” and then run to first base, second, third, and back home to score a run.
At each base, kids must perform 3-5 reps of whichever movement you designate to be there.
As an example, first base could be squats, second could be push-ups, and third could be mountain climbers.
Once a child has cleared first base, the next in line may begin. Their goal is to get as high a score as possible! (5 minutes is usually plenty of time)
Follow the Leader Run
Take the kids on a short run in which they must “follow the leader,” and copy whatever the leader (you) does. You can skip, run, run backwards, crawl, shuffle, etc. You should also stop randomly and perform basic movements like squats.
Kids play tag, but the trainer may yell “freeze and ____________” (fill in with any basic movement) at any moment, and to un-freeze the kids must perform 3 reps of the given movement.
Jump Rope Challenge
How many can you get without missing?
How many can you get right leg only?
Left leg only?
Set up a series of obstacles for the kids to climb over and under (chairs with broomsticks across works great for the “under” obstacles), a ladder to run through, and something to jump on.
Kids have to do one burpee before entering the obstacle course and then circle around to complete the obstacle course as many times as they can in the 5 minutes.
Feel free to add/modify obstacles based on what you have available!
Fill 2 buckets with small balls or bean bags and place them on one side of the room.
Place two buckets opposite of them on the other side of the room.
Divide the kids into two teams and have the teams do a sprint relay, trying to fill up their empty bucket on the other side of the room.
Sit-up Circle Catch
Kids sit around the trainer in a half-circle, with an ab-mat behind them.
When the trainer throws the dodgeball to them they must perform a sit up and throw it back.
Add in an additional ball once the kids start to get the hang of it to make it more challenging. If it is more of an advanced group, you can have them all sit in a circle and throw the ball to each other (reminding them that they have to say the name of the next person and make eye contact with them before throwing it). Add in another ball for greater difficulty and challenge.
“Walk the plank”
This is a balance drill. Set out planks (pieces of 2×4 boards work well) of varying widths to have kids attempt to walk across without falling.
To begin, kids must perform 3 squats to attempt to walk across, and there is a 3 burpee penalty (touch their chest to the ground, jump up and clap their hands overhead) if they fall off. Each child should get multiple attempts.
To increase the challenge and difficulty, have them attempt to walk backward or with their eyes closed.
Minimum people needed: 1
Throw a balloon into the air and tell the kids that they have to work together to keep it off the ground.
Add more balloons as time passes to increase the difficulty.
If a balloon touches the ground, kids have to do 5 reps of a movement called out by you (burpees are great for this), then the game resumes.
Bean Bag Toss
Minimum people needed: 1
Have kids stand on a line and set up 6 Hula Hoops (or draw 6 circles with sidewalk chalk) about 5-10m away.
Hula Hoops that are closer are worth more points than Hula Hoops that are further away.
Each kid gets 2 throws and whoever accumulates the most points gets to choose a movement (squats, push-ups, superman to hollow, burpees, etc.) and everyone else has to do reps of that movement equal to how many points that person achieved.
Make sure kids get multiple chances to throw bean bags to make it fun! You can also increase the number of throws that each child has depending on the number of kids in the class and the amount of bean bags that you have.
Duck, Duck, Goose!
Minimum people needed: 4
Arrange kids sitting cross-legged in a circle, and start as the first tagger.
Circle around the kids, tapping each one on the head and say, “duck.” When you tap on a head and say, “goose” that child must jump up and chase you around the circle, trying to tag you before you can sit in their spot.
If you make it into their spot, they must go to the center of the circle and perform 3 squats, then become the tagger.
If you get tagged, you must perform the 3 squats, and then sit in the open spot, as the child becomes the new tagger.
Try to ensure every child gets a turn as the tagger!
Farmers and Lumberjacks
Minimum people needed: 4
Divide kids into 2 teams. One team is the “farmers” and the others are “Lumberjacks.”
Set up the room so there are cones randomly distributed throughout, all upright.
The lumberjacks’ goal is to knock over/turn over as many cones (trees) as possible, and the farmers have to stand them back up.
The lumberjacks begin with a 5-second head start, and the round concludes at 30 seconds.
Count the score for each team (cones knocked over vs. cones upright) and repeat for at least 3 rounds of 30 seconds, switching the kids’ roles.
Minimum people needed: 2
Have all the kids stand in a circle and give them an object to be the “hot potato” (a more advanced/older class of kids can use a small 4lb. med ball, younger classes of kids should use a bean bag or dodgeball).
Start the music and the kids pass the “hot potato” around the circle clockwise. The player who is holding the “hot potato” when the music stops is out and has to do 3 reps of a movement of your choice (burpees, squats, etc.).
Play continues until only one player is left. We recommend keeping the game fast-paced (starting and stopping the music frequently) so the games end quickly and those who got out get back in quickly.
Minimum people needed: 1
Hold a PVC pipe that kids take turns trying to “Limbo” underneath without touching.
Each child has to perform 3 reps of the trainer’s movement of choice (burpees are great) before they can attempt to pass under the PVC pipe.
After each round, trainers lower the PVC pipe slightly to make it more challenging.
If a kid fails on an attempt (any part of their body touches the PVC pipe or the ground), then they get to sit in the bottom of a squat until there is a winner and everyone gets back in to try again!
Note — If you don’t have two trainers then you can always have some of the older kids switch out to help hold the other side of the PVC or ask a parent to help too.
Minimum people needed: 2
Kids form a circle facing each other in the top of the plank position.
The goal of the game is to stay in the plank the longest.
There are two ways to get “out.” Dropping from the plank (any body part other than hands and feet touch the ground) or getting scored on.
Trainer introduces a ball to the circle and kids start rolling it back and forth between each other in the circle. If the med ball touches the chest, then that athlete has been scored on and is out.
After a couple of kids get “out,” have them form their own circle and begin another round of the game. To make it more difficult, add more balls to the circle.
Red Light, Green Light
Minimum people needed: 3
For the first round, the trainer stands on one side of the room and kids line up 10m away. The trainer designates a movement (ex: bear crawl, kangaroo jumps, etc.) and then turns the other way and says “green light.”
Kids begin moving toward the trainer. After a couple of seconds, the trainer announces “red light” and turns around quickly. Any kids who are not “frozen” and still moving, have to go back to the start line.
Trainer then turns around again and announces “green light” and so on until one child reaches them. That child becomes the new “leader” until another kid reaches them.
Make sure to remind kids that YOU are the only judge of who has to go back to the start line.
Stuck in the Mud
Minimum people needed: 4
This is a basic tag game. When a kid is tagged, they stand with their legs apart (stuck in the mud) and are freed when someone does an “army crawl” underneath them (remind them all that they have to crawl through without touching that person though).
Minimum people needed: 2
Set up 9 hula-hoops in a 3×3 square (or draw the circles in a grid with sidewalk chalk) with a line of cones 10m away.
Split the kids into two teams and give them each 3 bean bags of a designated color.
Both teams line up behind the cones and one kid at a time sprints up, places their bean bag in a hula hoop, then runs back and tags the next teammate.
The next teammate also grabs a beanbag and places it. Once all 3 bean bags are out, teammates can sprint down and move 1 beanbag from one hula hoop to another in an effort to get 3 in a row.
Once a team places 3 bean bags in a row in any direction they win!
Rules — only 1 bean bag per hula hoop, no tossing — they must place the beanbag down, and the next partner cannot pass the cones until they are tagged by their teammate.
Minimum people needed: 2
Shuffle a deck of cards and deal each player 10 cards.
This is a typical game of war where players flip cards over and high card wins (takes other cards for themself).
However, prior to the flip, name a movement and everyone but the winning player has to do that movement.
The number of reps is determined by the high card’s value. Numerical value is represented on the card (i.e. 2 is 2 reps, 8 is 8 reps), all face cards are worth 10, and Ace is worth 11.
Play until one player has all the cards, or out of time.
Our Kids Program: These session plans give you everything you need to succeed with a kids program (age 7 -12). 30-min classes, each with a fun game to keep kids wanting more.
Our Teens Program: Session plans that make life easier on coaches while building capacity, confidence and resilience in teens.
* To make sure you’re getting the most from these programs during COVID-19, you’ll have a 1:1 call with me (Matt Lodin) so I can make recommendations based on your specific context. The goal is to give you effective advice on how to adjust the programs to meet your needs.
Back then, we had no roadmap for exploring why we do what we do and what our members/clients get from that why. We couldn’t answer the question, “What do our session plans give our members?” in a way that wasn’t super obvious. We could only see features — “You get 7 session plans a week, and they each include…” — which was preventing us from seeing how what we do benefits our members on a deeper level.
But things recently clicked for us in an entirely new way because we’re taking a course on needs-based relating, The Compassion Course.
The foundation of the course is that everything we do as humans, we do to meet a need.
Going for a walk.
Buying a house.
Getting a job.
These are strategies to meet needs.
Going for a walk = movement, space, beauty…
Buying a house = freedom, acceptance, belonging…
Getting a job = security, meaning, purpose, connection…
The strategies and needs depend on the person and their context.
Sometimes our strategy for meeting a need succeeds and sometimes it’s a total fail.
The course lists these universal needs — shared by all humans, across cultures and ancestral heritage — as follows:
to know and be known
to see and be seen
According to this way of seeing the world, when we judge ourselves or others, or when we’re in conflict with someone, we can trace it back to unmet needs.
As someone who owns or operates a gym, you might be asking yourself how this applies to your current situation — running a gym during COVID-19.
We asked ourselves that too. As people whose livelihoods depend on gyms surviving and thriving, we’re trying to look at this situation from as many angles as possible so we might see strategies we couldn’t before.
With an open mind, we sat down with the list of needs, and then asked ourselves, “How do we help gyms meet these needs? How is our product a strategy for meeting their needs, or the needs of their people?”
As people who like a lot of examples when we’re learning new things, we’re sharing the results of our inquiry in the hopes that it might help you see your product or service differently.
We’ll go through the list alphabetically. At the end of this post, there are some resources to help you do this exercise too if you’re up for it.
Okay, from our perspective, here’s how we help gym communities meet their needs:
Choice Our Choose a Fair Price payment structure gives gym owners the freedom to decide what they pay every month. We do not want price to be a barrier of entry for gyms who want to be a part of what we’re doing. We’re also unlearning the scarcity or lack mindset that says more for you is less for me, and that tells us to believe that people are not inherently generous or fair-minded, which we know to be untrue from many personal experiences. If we want to live in a world full of abundance and giving, we have to change our inner world first.
Our very detailed session plans (videos, scales, subs, intention, coach notes, etc.) save gym owners and coaches time, which means they have the freedom to give more of their life to their loved ones and the activities that make them feel energetic, upbeat and rested.
Belonging and Community
With our private Facebook group, we give gym owners and coaches a space to connect with likeminded people from all over the globe. If you’re into GPP and variance and building resilient cultures that ask people to leave their egos at the door and chase difficulty, we’re your people. We share in the struggles and celebrate the good stuff together.
Care and Support
We provide direct access to us, Pat and Taz. We are not just the faces of the company — we are the people you call when you need to talk about something, we’re the ones directly answering help tickets or responding to Facebook group posts. You’ll also have the support of gyms in the Facebook group who often ask and respond to questions and share resources (like hiring manuals, SOPs, etc.). We’ve got your back.
We walk and talk fitness-biased, GPP, gen-you-whine CrossFit. After running gyms and writing session plans for 10 years, we know it’s the most effective way to keep people fit for decades. We’ve seen how members continue to experience growth and progress, while not being overworked and too exhausted to show up several times a week. Which is rarely true with daily strength + metcon programs. If that’s your opinion too, you can breathe easy and stay in alignment with your values and authenticity with WUWO, because we focus on fitness. You can read more about why we’re believers in GPP here.
Every month, we like to challenge members to work on skills that are difficult for the majority. We call this practice our “Monthly Projects.” You can expect to see things like Project Inversion, Project Squat, Project Midline Madness, Fitness Testing, etc. We find this keeps things exciting and surprising and builds confidence in a variety of skills and movements.
The Monthly Projects and a commitment to variance help us build competence in your members, but we don’t wanna stop there. We want to help you improve your product, the service you’re selling — coaching. We’re obsessed with expanding your coaches’ capabilities and skills. As former Coach Developers of over 60+ coaches, we love us some coach dev. We write our session plans to push coaches beyond their comfort zones and to invite them to step into the fullness of their gifts. You can read more about that here.
We’re integrated with SugarWOD, btwb, and Wodify, so you don’t have to enter the workouts into those platforms manually. This more efficient workflow makes life easier and calmer.
The tracking platforms help you monitor an athlete’s performance over time, but we also Fitness Test twice a year to make sure people are getting the results they want with our program. On a monthly basis, we usually aim for 3 – 5 benchmarks. We’ve found that number keeps people involved and excited without feeling like overkill.
Growth and Learning
In every session plan, you’ll see a section called “For Further Study.” This is where we push for growth beyond technical or mechanical knowledge because, for us, coaching isn’t just about fitness. In this section, you’ll find articles and videos on conflict resolution, communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, etc. It’s where we ask coaches to expand or challenge their reality, their way of thinking and seeing, so they may contribute to their clients’ lives in a meaningful way outside of movement. The skills that can be gained from this sort of growth make coaches your allies in creating the culture your dream clients want to be a part of.
We’ve designed the plans to make life easier on gym owners and coaches. You have everything you need — Pat’s daily coach video, a custom warmup, workout scales, subs, the “why” or intention of the session, things to look out for, goals for different levels of fitness, etc. The idea is to give you everything you need so that you can focus on the delivery.
We’re a 2 in 1 solution: You get programming and a coach development tool. Which means more time for you to do the things that make you feel nourished and restored.
Practices for You to Do
Okay, to give this a try, here are some resources:
Needs List — Google doc — A list of all the universal human needs on one sheet of paper.
How Your Gym Meets Clients’ Needs — Spreadsheet — An exercise to help you connect with how you serve your community so that you can more effectively communicate these things on your website or social media accounts. Which could draw more of “your people” to you and help everyone better understand what exactly it is that you’re offering them. You’re essentially painting a picture of your culture, what’s meaningful or important to you, and the specifics of how you intend to follow-through so it’s not just pretty words.
Client Needs Check-in — Spreadsheet — You can use this with your clients or members as a tool to help them get clear on their needs and what’s missing in their life. As their coach, you can then help them develop creative strategies for meeting these needs and provide the accountability they need to put the strategies into their calendar and actually DO them. As coaches, we know the value of what we do goes beyond movement or fitness. We help people step outside of their comfort zones so they can build the lifestyles they truly want. Maybe that’s a breathwork practice or meditation or dancing or surfing or hiking…the list goes on and on. It’s our privilege to be trusted with this role and to give the guidance people have asked for so they follow-through on the life they’ve envisioned and longed for.
You can also read our Vision and Values page to see how we’ve articulated our beliefs and why we know our service can improve the lives of gym owners and coaches.
EC Synkowski runs OptimizeMe Nutrition, a company dedicated to providing solutions for anyone to improve their weight, health, and overall wellbeing through sustainable diet methods. Thousands have used her #800gChallenge®, a diet free of restrictive rules, to eat healthily and have reported weight loss, increased energy, improved performance.
EC has a BS in biochemical engineering, a first MS in environmental sciences (with a focus in genetics), and second MS in Nutrition & Functional Medicine. She has also trained others since 2000 and holds the Certified CrossFit Level 4 Coach (CF-L4) credential. Her professional experience includes working as a Program Manager for CrossFit Inc (2011-2017) authoring their training course materials and serving as a subject matter expert for their certifications.
We’ve known her for a long time and have a lot of respect for her work.
In this conversation, we get into:
What we appreciate most about her #800gChallenge® is that it’s not about removing things from your diet — it’s about finding delicious ways to add colorful, flavorful yumminess to your plate.
The question that inspired her quest: How do we measure “clean” or “healthy” eating?
Her biggest pet peeve with some nutrition advice
Her answer to How do you get someone to want to eat better, or to care about nutrition?
How she starts by asking, What did you eat for breakfast this morning? and then meets people where they’re at with small, sustainable changes.
The biggest pushback she receives on the #800gChallenge®, like weight gain, eating “too much” fruit or binging on one thing (potatoes, avocados, etc.), and issues with gastrointestinal disorders (IBS, etc.)
When coaches can shine
One solid strategy that’s so simple most of us ignore it — “Don’t buy it, don’t have it around the house.” Boring. :)
How we sometimes need to heal our relationships with food before starting a nutrition program — Eating more fruits and veggies isn’t going to help you love yourself, and if that’s the reason you struggle with food, changing your diet isn’t an effective strategy.
Loved this down-to-earth conversation on food and nutrition. I’m feeling super grateful that EC allowed me to selfishly ask her for the answers to my biggest questions and challenges with food. It was like a free, recorded consult. :)
EC’s Plug-n-Play #800gChallenge® package for gyms that includes email and social media templates as well as everything else you need to lead your members through the challenge. You can read more about the specifics of what you get with this package by reading how it’s delivered on platforms like Wodify and SugarWOD. You don’t have to use either of those platforms to take part in the plug-n-play, but those pages will give you a better understanding of exactly what’s included.