BarBend Podcast: CrossFit’s Past, Present and Future

Pat Barber Coaching, Podcast Interviews

I recently spoke with David Tao of the BarBend Podcast about:

  • What I look for in great coaching
  • My experience with the L1, L2, L3 and L4
  • How word-of-mouth marketing is even more important now that CF has shut down some of their social media accounts
  • My thoughts on the 2019 Games
  • Why I think some people in the community dislike the competition side of things

One of the most interesting parts of the conversation, for me, happened right at the end when we talk about living “the good life.” I’m still learning, still growing, so don’t hold me to this forever, but something that’s been pretty transformational for me in the past several years is my mindset around the word “happy” and what it takes to live in that state. Here’s where I’m at now: It’s not about adding happiness to your life. It’s about removing things that make you unhappy. It’s a minimalist approach that is about creating more space, not packing life even more full. So, I’m trying not to add more stuff to make myself happy. I’m removing the people, things, processes and systems that make me unhappy (as best I can).

If you’re into giving it a listen, here’s the podcast episode. Oh, and if you’re more of a reader, they include transcripts below the audio player that makes it super easy to read the interview.

30-Minute CrossFit Classes

Pat Barber GPP, WUWO

We’ve received a lot of questions about 30-minute CrossFit classes — bootcamps, low-gear workouts, etc. — and we’d like to share our thoughts on where they fit in an affiliate space. Then, if you’ve stuck around, we’d like to tell you a little about our new program.

 

The highlights:

  • Ask yourself why you want to start a 30-minute CrossFit class. What’s its purpose or end state?
    • Is it a stepping stone to a regular class membership? Are you trying to lower barriers and make your gym more welcoming to outsiders? Are you trying to build trust and get people to buy-in?
      • These classes are not long-term solutions. People don’t stay with these programs for years and years. So how will you move them up? Can you run 30-min classes alongside normal classes so people can see what those sessions are like?
    • Do you need this program to create significant revenue?
      • Will you use it as a funnel to get more people through the door and then convert them to a regular membership? What does that funnel look like, and what systems will you put in place to track members and help them graduate?
      • And, if you plan to use these classes for retention (that is, to keep people around who might not have the time to work out for a full hour right now), how does this program deliver what they need? If you want to offer a solution for people who love your gym but are experiencing some big changes — changing careers, having new kiddos, caretaking for parents, etc. — this can be a great program for those transition times in life, or a bonus/perk for regular paying members who might want to do both the 30-min classes and regular 60-min classes.

Our New Program

There have been a lot of transitions for us over the past few years. Recently, we brought our third child into the world. And with that, it’s become increasingly difficult to consistently make it into an affiliate to workout.

The reason why we haven’t entered the individual programming space, even though we’ve been coaching for quite some time, is that we couldn’t connect with it. Working out at home wasn’t our life.

But it is now.

To help others in those in-between times, we created Outside the Box. It’s 30-minute fitness (including a warmup) that you can do anywhere, and all you need to get started is a pair of dumbbells.

We believe that if you want to get the fittest you can be, you need to find a local CrossFit affiliate you like, and then regularly attend classes. But we also understand that for some people, that’s not possible. Maybe they’re short on time, on cash, or they live too far away.

So…why does this matter to affiliates and gym owners?

We’re giving members of WUWO free access to Outside the Box workouts so that you can use them if you want to.

To find the workouts, log in to your Member Dashboard –> Info –> Member Resources –> Outside the Box.

We’ll post the workouts there every month so you can play around with them.

If you’re curious about how our beliefs and values translate to the 30-min fitness space, or why we’re offering individual programming now, here are some videos and blog posts that might help answer some of your questions:

  1. Fitting In Fitness
  2. What Fitness Means to Us Now
  3. The Problem with Dumbbell Workouts

We still believe in GPP. We still believe in coaches. Our definition of fitness is still the same.

Movement & Body Dimensions

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

This week’s coaching challenge is about noticing body dimensions and how they affect positions.

“Movement, specifically technical movement in exercise and sport, is subject to anthropometric and geometric influences. This means that how people’s bodies are put together and the relative sizes of the various parts affect how they look and perform when doing certain movements. Just think about obvious cases of this truth—NBA centers and NFL offensive linemen, for example. Their build suits the demands of their sport and position, and so the best players in a given physical sport usually have similar dimensions. Soviet sports scientists even had a set of target anatomical dimensions they used in selecting developmental athletes in various fields to increase the likelihood of individual and team success. Championship teams are frequently built by recruiting players with the right bodies and skills—as much as by elite coaching.

The average trainer, coach or physical educator must have a functional understanding of how differing anatomical phenotypes (different body dimensions and body-segment lengths) affect the way proper technique looks.⁣

…⁣

Being able to see, at a glance, how a trainee’s body dimensions compare to an average template helps us place the trainee in correct, efficient and safe exercise positions. Being oblivious to anthropometric considerations means that we cannot teach our trainees how to exercise to their best benefit for the biggest gain in fitness. Being oblivious means that we may, without intending to, place trainees in positions that can decrease their efficiency and even increase their risk of injury.”⁣

Words by Lon Kilgore in the article The Measure of Man (CF Journal).

 

Read the article.

When you coach this week, choose at least 3-5 people per class where you really pay attention to how their body dimensions are affecting the positions they can get into. Work with them, maybe even video their movement for them, and educate them on the topic so they have a deeper understanding of their own bodies.

Because if they have very long legs, and a compact torso, they need to understand how that could affect their squat (and so on). Or, said differently: they might really like to know it’s why their squat looks different than someone else’s. This is a super surface level example, but you get the idea.

GPP and the 3x a Week Member

Pat Barber Coaching, GPP

Pop Quiz:⁣⠀
⁣⠀
You’re a coach at a GPP or fitness-biased gym.⁣

A member who comes in 2-3x a week approaches you after class.⁣

They’re upset because they don’t get to touch the barbell every time they come in.⁣

They feel like they’d get stronger and fitter, and get more bang for their buck, with a strength-biased program.⁣

What’s your response?⁣⠀

 

For some potential answers, look here.

Or cruise our blog post archives on GPP.

Coaching Challenge: Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

If you were to study the world’s best CrossFit or fitness coaches to figure out what makes a great coach so great, we believe the answer would center around connection.⠀

Great coaches know how to connect with other people.⠀

Which is to say, great coaches practice empathy and emotional intelligence.⠀

Those two terms — empathy and emotional intelligence — are often lumped together.⠀

But they’re not one and the same.⠀

“Emotional intelligence includes a cognitive awareness of empathy, which is less natural and more contemplative, but after some practice and familiarity, can produce the feeling of empathy if it’s not already present. Empathy is an inclination while emotional intelligence is developed through practice and immersion, reflection and comprehension, analytic ability and consideration. One who has empathy but lacks emotional intelligence, has an innate ability of being able to imagine how someone else feels, but might not necessarily know how to properly act on it to achieve a positive outcome.” ⠀
— Aimee Sparrow⠀

Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) has many definitions but, ultimately, the idea can be distilled to this: EI is your ability to be aware of and manage your own emotions while also being sensitive to the emotions of others. It is a practice of self-discipline and self-evaluation. It asks you to be a better listener, opens you to different viewpoints and helps you maintain boundaries. It’s about reading a situation and choosing the most effective path for a positive outcome.⠀

It is not something you have to be born with. It’s a choice, something that can be practiced.⠀

The challenge this week is one of reflection.⠀

We’re asking you to give these questions some thought:⠀

  • How does empathy show up in my coaching?
  • How does emotional intelligence show up?
  • How could I practice emotional intelligence?

Behaviors Build Culture

Pat Barber Culture

When we’re talking about gym culture, we’re talking about how you do things. It’s what you expect from your community, and what they can expect from you. It’s what makes people feel at home or amongst their people. ⁣⠀
⁣⠀
Culture is the set of shared attitudes, values and goals that characterize an organization.⁣⠀
⁣⠀
To us, it’s what builds and drives community. It’s what attracts the right members and coaches to your facility.⁣⠀

We believe behaviors build culture, and then culture builds community.

To us, “behaviors” include all your systems, processes, words, traditions and actions.
⁣⠀
And we think it’s important to reflect on these behaviors to see if they’re in alignment with the type of gym culture you want to steer. ⁣⠀


⁣⠀
This is just one way to check-in:

Let’s say that you’ve succeeded in building your ideal, or dream, gym culture. If your members were describing that culture to some friends over dinner, what words would they use? How would they explain it?⁣⠀

If that’s not clicking for you, think about the type of community you’ve always wanted to be a part of. Now think of the culture that defines that community, that gives it shape. Culture is, in many ways, a container. What’s that container filled with?

Are your behaviors today laying the groundwork for your bigger vision for the future? Are your behaviors actively making your dream a reality? Think about all the little details of your facility, from the top down.

If we want our gym to be the home of the best CrossFit coaches around, then we have to ask ourselves these types of questions. And answer them honestly. With genuine self-reflection. And a willingness to face hard truths, without feeding our fragile egos.

We must care more about progress than perfection.

Onward.

Coaching Challenge: Using Positive Language

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

Daniel Wegner, PhD, was a Harvard University psychology professor who is often referred to as the founding father of suppression research. He discovered that if you tell someone not to think of a white bear, they will think of a white bear several times a minute. Interestingly, if you tell those same people to think of white bears, they will do it less often.

So, telling someone NOT to do something can result in them doing it much more often than if you’d told them to DO it.

Another Harvard psychologist, B.F. Skinner, proved that true learning takes place when good behavior is rewarded. We do not learn nearly as well when people criticize our negative or bad behavior.

As parents, we find this all very fascinating.

But what does it all mean for CrossFit coaches and trainers?

Well, we guess we would ask you how often you coach the positive?

How can you change “Don’t…” types of cues to more positive language?

It’s the difference between…

“Don’t let your back round!”

vs.

“Keep your chest up!”

Watch your words. Pay attention to how many times you say “Don’t…” in a class.

Oh, and one last thing: How do you acknowledge or reward positive behavior or good technique?

Fun things to think about.

Our aim with these coaching challenges is not to give you just CrossFit coaching tips and tricks, but to create a space where you might rethink a perspective, belief or mindset so that you can keep progressing.

We’re in this too, still learning, still making mistakes, still growing. It’s a process of lifelong learning.

Onward we go.

Are you focused on the competition or the contribution?

Pat Barber Coaching

Success is not about competition, it’s about contribution. — Adam Grant

We can be so focused on winning, on being the best, that we forget we’re in a career that’s about service.

As CrossFit coaches, we’re paid to show up and serve our community.

That’s how we contribute.

That’s where our attention and energy should be.

So, it’s worth it to wonder:

  • How could you contribute more?
  • How could you contribute more effectively?⁣
  • What behaviors, habits and mindsets keep you from contributing?⠀

Keep on pushing for growth.

Onward.

Coaching Challenge: Clients Who “Need More”

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

One of the things I hear at a lot of CrossFit facilities is “I need more.”

More lifting. More difficulty. More workout (less warm-up).


A few members might need more.⠀

Maybe.

Usually, though, it’s because they don’t go hard enough in a workout.

To show them how intensity feels, have them do The 10 Burpees Test.

Step ONE: Have the person do 10 burpees nice and slow.

Then, have them pay attention to how they feel after those 10 burpees.

Step TWO: Once they’ve recovered, have them do 10 burpees as fast as they possibly can.

Then, have them pay attention to how they feel after those 10 burpees.

If this isn’t how they feel after workouts, they’re not going fast enough.⠀


What you’re seeing (and they’re feeling) is doing the same amount of work in less time, and that’s how we get results.

A lot of people don’t go hard enough and think they need more.

More is not always better.

In fact, it can create a whole lot of problems.

What they need is education on intensity. And then, they need to move from “knowing” to “doing” by actually maintaining intensity in their workouts.

Short story shorter: Make people push. That’s your job.⠀

It’s Not the Program. It’s Your Behavior.

Pat Barber Coaching, Competitions, GPP

This one’s for the WOD addicts, the fitness junkies, the two-a-dayers who never stop.

You’re probably not going to like what I have to say, but I’m saying it anyway with as much kindness as I can muster. Because someone needs to hold you accountable and to remind you to take responsibility for your own life.

If you’re burnt out, don’t jump to blaming CrossFit or your program before you self-reflect on your behavior.

Was a coach or program what truly led to burn out?

Or was it a series of choices and actions that you made?

Why do you feel like you need so much volume? What void are you trying to fill with fitness?

Just something to think about as we head into competition season.