Running Resources for CrossFit Coaches

Taz Barber Coaching

Every month, we like to challenge members to improve skills that are difficult for the majority. We do this with our Monthly Projects.

This month (October 2020) = Project Running

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.

Go figure.

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.

Take what works for you and ignore the rest.

The Pose Technique
Running Mobility
Breathing While Running
 Additional Resources on Running
Final Notes

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).

Until next time, onward. :)

What Are You Selling, Really?

Taz Barber Culture, Gym Management

 

The first time we posted that quote was in 2017, and we’re just now starting to actually get it.

Yikes.

Ah…self-empathy, self-compassion…please kick-in now…

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:

AUTONOMY

choice
dignity
freedom
independence
self-expression
space
spontaneity

CONNECTION

acceptance
affection
appreciation
authenticity
belonging
care
closeness
communication
communion
community
companionship
compassion
consideration
empathy
friendship
inclusion
inspiration
integrity
intimacy
love
mutuality
nurturing
partnership
presence
respect/self-respect
security
self-acceptance
self-care
self-connection
self-expression
shared reality
stability
support
to know and be known
to see and be seen
trust
understanding
warmth

MEANING

awareness
celebration
challenge
clarity
competence
consciousness
contribution
creativity
discovery
efficiency
effectiveness
growth
integration
integrity
learning
mourning
movement
participation
perspective
presence
progress
purpose
self-expression
stimulation
understanding

PEACE

acceptance
balance
beauty
communion
ease
equanimity
faith
harmony
hope
order
peace-of-mind
space

PHYSICAL WELL-BEING

air
care
comfort
food
movement/exercise
rest/sleep
safety (physical)
self-care
sexual expression
shelter
touch
water

PLAY

adventure
excitement
fun
humor
joy
relaxation
stimulation

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:

Autonomy

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.

Freedom
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.

Connection

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.

Integrity
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.

Meaning

Challenge
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.

Competence
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.

Efficiency
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.

Effectiveness
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.

Peace

Ease
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.

Play

Relaxation
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.

 

Making Positive Habits Stick

Taz Barber Coaching

Why do we so often fail at making positive changes?

Why is it so hard to establish good habits? Even when we really, really want to.

That’s what’s been on our minds lately.

COVID-19 has brought many, many changes to our lives.

These past few months have been filled with much learning and unlearning.

It’s our experience that when things go wrong and get weird, amazing stuff can happen.

We’re forced to pick up the pieces of a shattered creation, feel the pain of it, and then channel our energy into making something new. Also, everything can shift. What was once a “nice to have” is now a must-have. What was unimportant is now the top priority.

It’s an opportunity to sharpen what was dull.

Before COVID and the uprisings, we weren’t thinking too much about communication skills. We’d thought about it a little — as something we might work on in the distant future when life is less hectic and there’s a quiet cabin near a stream we could stay in… or in a future when speaking about anything remotely political or debatable didn’t end friendships — but it wasn’t on the calendar. Now, we’re taking the Compassion Course, a 52-week course to change how we communicate and navigate conflict.

There are weekly practices and homework that are challenging and confronting. And we’re expected to do these in addition to everything else we have to do to keep our lives going.

Like a lot of people out there right now, we’re working harder to make less money. While also learning how to homeschool kiddos. And put the garden beds to use.

We know from years of coaching, that making too much change, too fast, often means it’s doomed to fail.

What is easy is sustainable.

We’re revisiting some strategies for how to make good habits stick so that we stay on track with our homework, and we’re sharing what we’ve learned so far in case it might help others out there too.

These are tidbits from one school of thought. Certainly not the only way of seeing things.

Habit loop of Cue-Routine-Reward

Habits Are Loops

A habit is a sequence of actions that has a clear beginning, middle and end. In behavioral science, these are called loops — a beginning, an action/routine, and an end.

The beginning and end provide the container around the action.

Getting very clear on each step of a loop, and then making the loop as small as possible, will help us build enjoyable, longlasting habits.

For a habit to stick, it needs to have minimal friction. That is, it needs to be easy, obvious, attainable, measurable, desirable and rewarding.

Just keep thinking easy and fun, easy and fun, easy and fun

A fully formed habit, or loop, has 4 distinct parts:

  1. A trigger or cue — Something that tells us it’s time for this behavior to happen now.
  2. Desire — We need to have a sense of “I really want this to happen.”
  3. Action
  4. Reward — Often another set of behaviors, like making a cup of tea, eating chocolate, or going for a swim.

If we’re trying to create longlasting habits, we want to slice them up into the smallest loops we can — because long sequence chains don’t work — and we want to make the reward mouthwateringly enticing.

So, small and simple + delicious.

Let’s say it’s January, and you’ve made your New Year’s resolutions, and you’ve decided you’re going to meditate every day for 30 minutes because that would be good for you (according to all the experts and smart people). By the third week of January, you’ve stopped. Why? Because thinking you should do something “good for you” is not reinforcing or rewarding enough. Also, you’ve created a long chain loop. It’s too much for too little.

(Side note: Goals or habits with “I should…” as the foundation are asking us to pause and reflect so that when we step forward, we do it with authenticity. Do we actually want this? Or do we think we’re supposed to want it?)

Here’s how a meditation process could look if we made it easy, obvious and attainable: “I’m going to listen to a 5-min meditation that begins and ends with a chime bell. Then I’m going to drink my favorite tea and eat my favorite chocolate.”

  1. Trigger → Behavior: I’m going to sit on my bed, pick up my phone and earbuds from the bedside table, put in my earbuds, and press play. The meditation begins and ends with a chime bell. When the meditation is over, I will put my earbuds away and then reinforce the behavior with a reward.
  2. Reinforcement: After the meditation, I will fix myself a cup of my favorite tea and eat a piece of chocolate.

With our communication course, it might look something like this:

  1. Every day, after lunch, I’m going to sit down at my desk, pull out my notebook where I’ve written down this week’s lesson and homework, set my phone timer for 10 minutes, and I’m going to choose one practice to do. When my timer goes off, I’m going to put my notebook away.
  2. Then, I’m going to make myself a cup of coffee and eat a square of chocolate.

These steps are simple, specific and follow a repeating pattern or sequence. There is a ritual, a routine, a recipe that is easy to remember and follow.

As parents who cook with our kids, we’re thinking of it like we’re creating a recipe for someone who’s not experienced with baking or cooking. We would never hand them a recipe with a mile-long list of ingredients if we want them to succeed. Likewise, our habit loop (or recipe) needs to be simple and fun.

What Gets Rewarded Is Repeated

Whether it’s a dog, a person, or a parrot, positive reinforcement just works.

We like our treats.

In the language of behavioral science, rewards are called reinforcements because they incentivize (or reinforce) certain behaviors.

To make habits stick, we need to ask ourselves: What can I give myself at the end of the behavior that’s reinforcing?

One way of looking at it is to consider the feel-good neurochemicals.

These are:

  1. Dopamine —
    • Motto: “I got it!”
    • It can be anything from chocolate, a cup of tea, a Facebook like, 5 minutes surfing on TikTok, 10 minutes of a game on my phone, or my preferred tribal unit (like my favorite team or political party) winning over the other tribe. That last one deserves some caution…and contemplation.
  2. Serotonin —
    • Motto: “I’m the best!” or “I’m good enough that I’m getting respect from a group for which I have respect!” or “We did it!”
    • I have achieved something in the eyes of my peers that we all think is good.
  3. Endorphins —
    • The exhilaration of physical success. When we push our bodies to our limits. When we top out.
  4. Oxytocin —
    • Motto: “I am loved.”
    • Parent-child, partnership, caregiver-pet, friendships. Love, care, nurturing relationships.

For fitness, the benefits of endorphins (and maybe even serotonin) are built into the loop naturally. We can increase that reinforcement by thinking about how we could bring more dopamine into the loop. Maybe, a favorite snack or treat we can eat in the car on the way home from the gym.

For other personal growth work like courses, mind-training, etc., we’re thinking our strategies are going to be pretty dopamine-heavy:

  • a slice of homemade sourdough with fancy butter (a much-loved treat of ours),
  • diving into the pool (because we love the water),
  • fruit snack (cuz we cannot get enough fruit lately).

If our new habit still isn’t working, it means we’ve chosen a reward that isn’t rewarding enough, so we’ll up our reinforcement to create a better incentive.

Maybe two slices of sourdough… :) Just thinking out loud here…

 

For us, coaching isn’t just about fitness or movement medicine. It’s also about helping people build lifestyles that are more authentic and meaningful to them.

Before we can coach others into different ways of being, we have to test-drive our strategies first.

We’re still learning.

Additional Resources

We mentioned The Compassion Course. It’s too late to join the course, but The Compassion Course Book: Lessons from the Compassion Course is available on Amazon and (probably) your favorite indie book store.

Also, our blog post When Things Fall Apart touches on some similar themes.

 

When Things Fall Apart

Taz Barber Covid-19, Gym Management

As you might already know, we’re taking The Compassion Course, a communication methodology rooted in something called “needs-based relating,” which, simply put, is this:

Everything we do, we do to meet a need, consciously or subconsciously, successfully or not.

The long list of needs is sorted into these categories: Autonomy, Connection, Meaning, Peace, Physical Well-Being, and Play.

It’s not that this way of thinking is necessarily true — it’s just one way of seeing the world.

For us, we’re less concerned about what’s “right” or “fact” than we’re interested in answering, How can I think in a way that helps me create the world I want to live in?

What interests us most right now is learning how to communicate in a way that leads to more understanding and connection, and less shame and blame.

Four weeks into the course, we’ve explored Needs, Feelings, Judgments, and Strategies to meet Needs.

And that’s what we’d like to think about right now — strategies to satisfy needs.

Actually, what we’re really interested in thinking about right now is what happens when things fall apart, when your strategies for meeting needs fail.

That is, what happens when you’ve envisioned a future, tended to the fire of its creation with long hours of hard work, and then everything goes sideways.

Or, what do you do when you’ve done everything you can to prepare for every eventuality, when you’ve done your due diligence to make sure this scary, awful thing doesn’t happen, and then that scary, awful thing walks right into your life.

In CrossFit, we train for the unexpected. We prepare for “surprises.” When things get weird, we say it builds resiliency.

But what about when uncertainty creeps into every bit of our lives.

Like now.

Simon Sinek defines a “finite game” as one with a clear beginning and end, fixed rules everyone agrees on, a clear objective, and identifiable players. “Football, for example, is a finite game. The players all wear uniforms and are easily identifiable. There is a set of rules, and referees are there to enforce those rules. All the players have agreed to play by those rules and they accept penalties when they break the rules. Everyone agrees that whichever team has scored more points by the end of the set time period will be declared the winner, the game will end and everyone will go home. In finite games, there is always a beginning, a middle and an end.

Infinite games, in contrast, are played by known and unknown players. There are no exact or agreed-upon rules. Though there may be conventions or laws that govern how the players conduct themselves, within those broad boundaries, the players can operate however they want. And if they choose to break with convention, they can. The manner in which each player chooses to play is entirely up to them. And they can change how they play the game at any time, for any reason. Infinite games have infinite time horizons. And because there is no finish line, no practical end to the game, there is no such thing as “winning” an infinite game. In an infinite game, the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game… there are no finish lines and no winners. There’s no such thing as coming first in marriage or friendship. No one is ever crowned the winner of careers.”

The tricky part is cultivating that awareness, identifying what game we’re playing (finite or infinite) when we’re standing in the heat of the moment, and then developing more appropriate strategies before we shout “onward!”

Speaking of strategies…

Needs

According to this needs-based way of thinking and relating, all human acts can be seen as attempts to meet needs.

These are the specific needs you’re asked to refer back to:

Autonomy
choice
dignity
freedom
independence
self-expression
space
spontaneity

Connection
acceptance
affection
appreciation
authenticity
belonging
care
closeness
communication
communion
community
companionship
compassion
consideration
empathy
friendship
inclusion
inspiration
integrity
intimacy
love
mutuality
nurturing
partnership
presence
respect/self-respect
security
self-acceptance
self-care
self-connection
self-expression
shared reality
stability
support
to know and be known
to see and be seen
trust
understanding
warmth

Meaning
awareness
celebration
challenge
clarity
competence
consciousness
contribution
creativity
discovery
efficiency
effectiveness
growth
integration
integrity
learning
mourning
movement
participation
perspective
presence
progress
purpose
self-expression
stimulation
understanding

Peace
acceptance
balance
beauty
communion
ease
equanimity
faith
harmony
hope
order
peace-of-mind
space

Physical Well Being
air
care
comfort
food
movement/exercise
rest/sleep
safety (physical)
self-care
sexual expression
shelter
touch
water

Play
adventure
excitement
fun
humor
joy
relaxation
stimulation

*Notice how long the “Connection” list is in comparison to others. Interesting…

Strategies to Meet Needs

Sometimes it seems like there’s conflict between our needs, like say, the need for progress with a project but also the need for rest and relaxation. These needs seem to oppose each other — progress and productivity vs. rest and relaxation.

But the conflict isn’t between the needs. It’s between the strategies we come up with for fulfilling those needs.

Thom Bond, the course creator, writes, “When I focus on needs, instead of the strategies I might engage in to fulfill them, I can see things that I simply couldn’t see before. You could say that when we are in “strategy mode”, we only have two choices, do the strategy or not. When we are in “need mode”, we have ten thousand strategies available to us to meet any need (metaphorically speaking, of course).”

With this way of seeing the world, a lack of strategies is a lack of imagination.

Okay, but how do you tell the difference between a need and a strategy?

If you look at the Needs list above, you won’t find “job” listed there. But you will find needs that are met by having a job.

Coaching or running a gym is a strategy to meet needs. It’s not THE strategy, it’s A strategy.

Just like joining a CrossFit facility or a gym is A strategy to meet needs.

There is no ONE way to meet needs.

This is hard to keep in mind when things fall apart.

Like when we lose our job. When half our community loses their jobs. When we shift from coaching in-person to coaching mostly online. When we don’t know if our business will be open in 3 months. When we’re not sure how to show up and serve our communities anymore.

Life can get very sad very quickly when we’re stuck on making one strategy work.

Part of this week’s course homework is to do this practice:
“Needs Liberation — Think of someone that you think is preventing you from getting a need met. Write down the need from the Needs List. Then, think of 3 ways you could get this need met without that person. It helps to use your imagination a bit here too.”

Blaming and shaming is part of our overarching culture. In a lot of ways, it’s what we were trained to do, to become. We’re taught to judge ourselves and others as doing and being “good” or “bad/evil,” and to create a world of heroes and villains.

We’re learning to unlearn those habits.

 

 

It’s interesting to contemplate all the people or things we see as “in the way” of our needs getting met.

To explore your needs and strategies, and the so-called obstacles in your way, try sitting down with the needs list and ask yourself what needs you’re fulfilling with a career in fitness. Be as specific as you can and stick to the words on this list.

You might also ask new clients what needs they’re trying to meet by joining your gym or hiring you as a coach. Helping people learn about and connect with these needs makes it possible for you to show up and serve your community more effectively — by providing solutions to problems people may not know how to put words to themselves. For us, coaching and mentoring is not just about fitness or movement. The relationship is about lifestyle, unlearning unhelpful beliefs or mindsets, and letting go of validation to make more room for what’s meaningful. Basically, it’s about living a truer, richer life.

This spreadsheet might help you keep track of needs and levels of met-ness.

When Things Fall Apart

If one strategy falls apart, it’s time to create a new one.

We are only limited by our imagination.

Resources are limited, true. Time, energy, money, and so on. But this has always been a fact of life.

Again, we are only limited by our imagination.

We’re struggling with this work right now. Analyzing our needs, then coming up with multiple strategies on how to meet those needs without requiring someone else to show up and contribute to our needs is not easy stuff.

It feels like important work, though.

Especially with so much uncertainty in the world right now.

When plans and futures are falling apart or fading away, slipping through the fingers like smoke.

We cannot give everyone peace, safety and security. We wish we could.

At the very least, maybe this needs-strategies way of seeing things will help you see your situation differently so that you dream up more creative solutions to your biggest problems.

As Viktor Frankl, said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Additional Resources

It’s too late to join the course, but The Compassion Course Book: Lessons from the Compassion Course is available on Amazon and (probably) your favorite indie book store.

Being the Change

Taz Barber Coaching Development, Culture

For us, WUWO has never been about just fitness.

That’s why we give a lot of our time to talking about empathy, emotional intelligence, othering, the power of human connection, and stuff that has nothing to do with functional movements executed at high intensity.

Yes, we want your people to be fit, and to eat and have access to nutrient-dense foods.

But, also, to have the skills needed for navigating conflict or difficult conversations.

To have the tools necessary for nurturing themselves and their relationships.

To have the courage to be the change they want to see.

We want people to live lives that are meaningful and joyful to them. And for the world to be better because they lived.

Fitness is one tool in the kit for this kind of impact. It teaches you about resiliency, makes your body more capable and powerful, and can change your outlook on so many things.

To stop there, as a gym or coach, would mean ignoring all the other ways you could positively impact someone’s life. Coaches are agents of change, and that change shouldn’t only be about pounds or PRs. (Though for us, fitness isn’t about those metrics anyway — it’s about being healthy enough to live fully and do the things you want to do.)

If we want to help our members be more loving partners, parents and people, if we want our friends to witness our pain instead of trying to solve or diminish it, if we want to be in a community where people can live in peace even though they look, think and feel differently, then we have to get serious about the skills that make all that possible.

And for us, that’s communication — how we speak, how we relate, how we connect.

We all need training and practice to strengthen these muscles.

Which is why we’re committing to a year-long course on communication: The Compassion Course.

The name isn’t great. We’re somewhat allergic to new-age-y sounding things. But the resources and materials we’ve studied on the course are legit.

Here’s a sample lesson: What Empathy Is…And Isn’t

You get 50 lessons in total, one lesson every week of the course.

These lessons will cover topics like:

  • What to do when judgment and blame show up in conversations
  • Power-with vs. power-over dynamics
  • How to be more aware of your needs and desires
  • How to have less painful, more effective conflicts
  • The difference between requesting and demanding
  • How to stay connected and empathetic in an anger-fueled conversation

Plus a whole lotta other stuff.

As people intentionally place themselves in echo chambers so they don’t have to interact with people who don’t believe as they believe, as people become more and more obsessed with labeling themselves “right” and others “wrong,” as we feel more threatened by those who are different than us — be it they look differently, worship differently, love differently, parent differently, believe or think differently — we grow more isolated, more alone, more afraid.

If a gym wants to call itself a community, then it needs to function as a community, which means more village-mindedness and less “difference is dangerous, sameness is safe.”

The fact is, people are labeling differences of opinion or belief as a threat to their existence.

We don’t know how to respect someone whose values are not in alignment with ours, so to other them, to put them beneath us, we diminish their humanity.

We take the few breadcrumbs of a story we know, and we fill all that negative space with “facts” and stories that confirm our own biases and prejudices. Because they’re Poor. Middle-Class. Rich. Christian. Muslim. Atheist. Californian. Southern. A mother not breastfeeding her newborn. A mother breastfeeding too long. White. BIPOC. Hetero, cis-gendered. LGBTQ. A Democrat. A Republican. The assumptions never end. And you know what they say about assuming…To assume makes an ass out of u and me.

That’s granny wisdom.

We believe that if we’re responsible for the energy we bring into a room, then we should also be responsible for all the judgments and baggage we bring to conversations.

So, we’re committing the next 50+ weeks of our lives to learning and unlearning.

These lessons build on each other, and there will be video conference calls offered by the course leaders. (We’re not affiliated in any way.)

We’re also going to host a discussion group for WUWO members so that we can explore the material together.

If you’re interested, the course starts June 24, 2020. Regular enrollment closes on June 23rd, extended enrollment closes on July 1st. Pricing is scaled at $36 and $72 for the full year, but they also offer a free option. (Read more about that in their FAQs.)

PS — This isn’t the ONE and only thing you can do right now, as growth comes in many forms. That said, this communication methodology could be a stepping stone we could use as we create a new path through the woods.

Meaningful Goals in the Middle of COVID-19

Taz Barber Coaching, Covid-19

Before COVID-19, when we talked with coaches about helping their people set meaningful goals, the conversations were around intrinsic motivation and digging down to the root of why people wanted more fitness in their lives.

Our first concern was the “motivation problem.” That is, Why are so many people so unmotivated to do something that would improve their lives? When people lack motivation, does that mean their goals lack significance or meaning to them?

So we started looking into motivation. Turns out, there are some sinister shadows at play here.

Here’s what we dug up:

  1. Intrinsic Motivation: This comes through the inherent enjoyment of the activity itself. “I train because I like it and it’s fun!”
  2. Integrated Motivation: Acts that are in alignment with personal goals and values. (Notice how “Integrated” and “Integrity” share the same root.) “I train to inspire others.”
  3. Identified Motivation: Based on the value people see in the doing of the thing or the results. “I train because I find the benefits of physical activities important.”
  4. Injected Motivation: Self-imposed pressure in the form of contingent self-esteem, guilt, shame and the urge to external valuation. This is wrapped up in how you want to be perceived. It’s the pressure you put on yourself in order to keep up appearances or maintain labels. “If I don’t exercise, I feel guilty” based on the belief that “Good people workout, bad/lazy/worthless people don’t.”
  5. External Motivation: Compliance of external pressure or rewards. “I train because my husband/wife/father/mother thinks I need to lose weight” or “because I’ll get more likes on Instagram.”

There are many other motivational models. This is just one. But it got us thinking…

If a goal is rooted in Ego, does that make it a “bad” goal? Do ego-driven goals lead to ego-driven training?

If a goal is dependent on external validation, does that make it an inappropriate goal? Does the goal need to carry personal significance, or can it be for someone else and still keep you motivated?

The answers to those questions are nuanced and situational and worth exploring.

We started asking ourselves those kinds of questions because our objective with WUWO is resiliency. And to make humans more resilient, we need to first shift mindsets around working on weaknesses and create an environment where people can drop external validation and ego-driven goals at the door.

For us, some simple solutions to the goal-setting problem were:⁣

  • CrossFit/GPP/Fitness-biased programming⁣ to continually push up against those thresholds
  • Encouraging members to get clear on what they want from fitness
  • Building culture around more meaningful goals⁣
  • Tracking and testing⁣

But to build a mission-driven or why-focused culture, we had to set some boundaries too.⁣

We had to think deeply about how our behaviors and systems:⁣⠀⠀

  • Discourage members from cherry-picking workouts so they only train their strengths⁣
  • Help members set meaningful goals and track progress⁣
  • Give coaches tools for providing education around GPP

To be completely honest, we started speaking about intrinsic motivation because we noticed a trend in the fitness industry that bothered us: Some gyms were trying to build a weakness-positive or weakness-focused culture with certificates or cheap little trinkets as rewards.⁣

That’s not our jam.⁣ Our belief is that if people are more interested in a badge or treat than achieving the goal, it wasn’t a meaningful goal to them.⁣ Progress is the reward. If that’s not enough, then we need to dig deeper.⁣

What we need is to disrupt a particular way of thinking, of moving through the day (and through life).

These are the questions that kept running through our minds:

  • How can we help people set meaningful goals?⁣
  • How can we create the conditions within which members motivate themselves?
  • How can we help members drop external validation at the door so they can connect back to what they want from fitness? How is fitness going to help them live their best life?⠀

What became clear to us is that external validation was a much bigger player than we realized.

Fitnessing for Them

Goal setting is tricky business. Shame and identity can muddy the waters when trying to get clear on what it is you want and why you want it — is it something you actually want, or something the world told you to want?!?

Ohhhhh that’s some mind-bending goodness right there. Just keeping it light and fuzzy around here. 😬⁣

In our experiences with goal-setting, issues of identity can surface. This is where you get into interesting territory: Setting goals that are more about external validation and pleasing other people than truly satisfying a real want or need.

There’s a lot of data out there that says the more autonomous people feel in their goal setting, the better.

If we’re going to create a culture of self-aware adults who take responsibility for themselves and are comfortable getting uncomfortable (qualities that mesh real well with a GPP or CrossFit program, btw), then we have to walk the talk.

We have to consider how our goals might be rooted in fears of being voted off the island because we’re not attractive enough, funny enough, cool enough, blahbidy, blibbidy, bloobidy.⁣

Here’s what we recommended people do before COVID-19:

Scribble down or noodle on these statements:⁣

  • I want to be perceived as…⁣
  • I don’t want to be perceived as…⁣

How did you come by these beliefs about who you should and shouldn’t be? (Or couldn’t be.)⁣

Now think about why you workout, what you hope to get from fitness, how you expect fitness to improve your life.

Ask yourself: How is fitness going to help me live my best life?

Give some awareness to how these underlying beliefs about how you want to be perceived could heavily influence your goals and your why for fitnessing.⁣

Are your goals even your goals?

Or are they echoes of other people’s words and expectations? (Are you being haunted?!?)⁣

Are your answers based on beliefs dumped onto you by the external world? All the “you should…” messages.⁣

Or are they tapped into the good stuff? The stuff that makes you feel turned up, more alive, and ready to keep rockin on.

Be real with yourself.

Have Goals Changed Because of COVID-19?

Things are different now.

The weird, strange beauty of it all might be that people get more real than ever about who they are and what they want.

External validation might not be a problem at all today.

Regardless, every single member came to your gym because you offered a solution to a problem.

With the world all topsy turvy, they have new problems.

Which means they need a new why, new meaningful goals.

We don’t know when this is going to be over. So don’t wait to check-in with your people to find out why they’re still working out. At home. Amidst the kids and the dogs and their jobs and the chaos of now.

We’re living in a different reality, a new normal.

What was a priority before COVID-19 might not be a priority now.

It’s time for a goal check-in.

It’s time for you to ask your people how they need you to show up and serve today, right now.

Stop looking in the rearview mirror.

Additional Resources:

What Are They Buying Now? That thing you used to sell isn’t what people are buying online.

Dare to Lead by Brené Brown

Taz Barber Book Club

Summer is slowing down here in the US of A, and we are looking forward to Fall with its cooler weather, pumpkin everything, and a slower pace for curling up with a good book (JK, we have kids…(lol)). The truth is, personal and business growth is important to us, and even though sometimes we feel like we are caught up in this hamster wheel of small biz life and parenting, we still want to make sure we are growing and learning. We need some accountability, though. This is where WUWO affiliates and coaches come in!

We are committing to reading a book every couple of months (that means 2) that will help us on this journey. Topics will range from business, leadership, relationships — everything is on the table! We want you to read along with us, and then at the end of the 2 months, we will all come together and discuss the book in a relaxed ‘fireside chat’ environment. Ok, ok, we are starting a Book Club. There, we said it. There is no pressure to join, and you can come and go as you please. We will post updates etc. to the Facebook Group and through email.

Our first book is Dare to Lead by Brené Brown. We’ll read it in September and October, and discuss it at the beginning of November.

If you’d like to participate, here are some resources for you:

Worksheets and other downloadables
Leading From Hurt vs. Leading From Heart

We can’t wait to gather together for an online chat about everything we’ve underlined and highlighted in this book. Brené is a wonderful human and we will forever be grateful for her work.