A Lazy Coach

Pat Barber Coaching Development, Gym Management

When we see a coach doing the bare minimum, not cleaning the space, not really connecting with members, not being the best version of themselves, we see a coach who isn’t taking ownership of their role in the community.

That coach doesn’t feel it’s their responsibility.

That coach doesn’t feel at home in the facility.

And that’s a problem.

This exact scenario can often be traced back to 2 separate issues:

  1. The coach doesn’t feel valued.
  2. The coach doesn’t feel like they’re making an impact.

Let’s break that down a little more.

When the Coach Doesn’t Feel Valued

If a coach doesn’t feel valued, acknowledge them more. Show them some friggin love. Let them know why you’re stoked they’re on the team, that you noticed when they did such-and-such.

Check-in to make sure you share the same value system and priorities. If you want to change lives and improve your town, and they’re more into the hustle of building a fitness empire, you’re offering two different products on the floor. If there’s conflict there, let them go so they can find a gym where they can thrive and love their work.

When the Coach Doesn’t Feel Like They’re Making an Impact

Laziness and procrastination have a bad reputation but they can be truly fantastic tools for self-awareness.

Laziness is an active choice. It’s a behavior.

Beneath every behavior is a feeling. And beneath each feeling is a need. And when we meet that need rather than focusing on the behavior, we start to heal the cause, not the symptom.

We believe laziness and procrastination come from a lack of meaningful labor.

So, maybe the coach doesn’t see the value in doing something, they don’t see how it matters. This could mean that they’re unaware of or not connecting with the “why” behind it. An easy solve for this is to give your team the rationale behind certain tasks so they see how things fit together, so they can visualize the bigger picture.

If a coach doesn’t feel like what they’re doing is meaningful, or that they don’t personally have much of an impact, that’s often pretty easy to solve.

Find out what excites them, energizes them, makes them feel curious. When our days are stacked with things that don’t make us feel that way, we feel drained, empty, indifferent. (Burn out is often just boredom, btw.) Give them space and creative control to bring that something into the gym. Let them expand their influence. Let them take ownership. Are they super into obstacle races lately? Great. Let them bring something related to that to the table. Figure out what makes them feel more energized and alive. What makes ’em super chatty? Then get out of the way and let them lead. Who knows, it just might set you apart from the box down the street.

Side note: This doesn’t mean that these projects or experiments have to work forever. They might have a great 18-month run and then the coach gets super psyched about something else. That’s okay. Humans like to grow, to expand. A more playful approach that encourages pleasure over obligation or “have to” is better for the longterm health of your community.

Create a text/email thread and share success stories, before and afters, etc., to remind everyone of what kind of an impact their making in people’s lives. Teams really need this sometimes. We can get bogged down by all the BS.

You might also try planning a few community events so that coaches and members can get to know each other a little better. Never underestimate the power of human connection.

We’ve found that when coaches are acting ‘lazy,’ laziness is rarely the problem. There’s something else going on. Some need that’s not being met. And it’s our job as leaders to figure out what that is.


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About the Author
Pat Barber

Pat Barber

You might know me from the CrossFit Games, where I’ve competed since 2008, but I have also been the Head of Coaches Development for one of the largest CrossFits in the world. I have the honor of being one of the few L4 coaches, and I still love teaching L1s and L2s for CFHQ (I’ve put about 15,000 coaches through their L1’s). I'm husband to the most wonderful woman in the world, and a father who loves surfing, Magic: The Gathering, knife making and good coffee.

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