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.

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?

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.

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.⠀

Coaching Challenge: Connecting = Trusting

Pat Barber Coaching, Coaching Challenges

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship… Connection is why we’re here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.”

Brené Brown knows her stuff.

And every coach knows that we’re in the business of relationships.

We cannot push people to their thresholds and force them outside their comfort zones if they don’t trust us.

Trust requires connection, relationship.

So the first order of business is to connect with people more often.

Start with 3-5 people each class if you want to keep things simple.

Ask yourself, how can I make these 3-5 people feel more seen, heard and valued?

It’s a natural, in the moment thing.

Be where your feet are.

Fully engage in conversation.

Pause, take an extra moment to make eye contact and really coach someone.

Ask more questions. Listen carefully. With an open mind and heart.

Let them be vulnerable. Angry. Confused. Shy. Loud. Human.

Notice how truly connecting with someone makes you feel in your body.

How could connecting more make you feel differently about being a coach?

Coaching Challenge: Greet Your Clients

Pat Barber Coaching, Coaching Challenges

Every single time a client walks into your gym, you need to connect with them.

You need to look them in the eye, acknowledge them and say hi.

If they’re new, if they’ve been a member for three years, just say hi.

It seems like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget something so small when things are a little hectic at the gym.

Which is a bummer because this simple gesture breaks down barriers and helps people transition from the outside world (and whatever has happened in their day) to your gym.

For a community to thrive, people need to feel welcomed and acknowledged.

We all want to be noticed, to belong, for someone to care that we showed up.

Sure, we want that accountability, but we also want to connect.

We are social creatures who want that tribe, village, clan, fitness family, whatever you want to call it. We want it.

So make it your goal this week to greet every person that walks into your gym.

Give everyone the experience of belonging.

Coaching Challenge: You are a Performer

Pat Barber Coaching, Coaching Challenges

One of the skills that has been most useful to me as a coach is my history with performance.

I don’t mean workout performance.

I mean theatrical performance.

I studied musical theater and went to a high school where we all participated in multiple shows throughout the year. Pirates of Penzance. Into the Woods. I loooove it.

Transitioning from the stage to the front of a CrossFit class was totally natural.

I wish I could give that type of training to every coach with a snap of my finger.

For today, all I can offer is a reminder that when you walk through the doors of your facility, you need to have the mindset of a performer.

You are there to provide an experience.

You are there to serve.

Leave your problems outside.

Leave your bad mood, your excuses, your tiredness outside.

I’m not saying you can’t be human.

But you can’t chronically take away from the experience members are there to have.

That facility is a container, and you need to bring a certain energy to that space. From this hour to that hour, you are the absolute best version of yourself that you can currently offer.

What you might need is a ritual to help you transition from the outside world to the facility. Or, put differently, to help you get into character.

Maybe it’s a playlist while you drive. Maybe it’s a few minutes of breathing.

It’ll totally depend on whether you need to unwind or get pumped up.

My point is to have a few simple rituals on hand to help you transition from your everyday personality to your performer.

That’s this week’s challenge: A). Remember you’re a performer providing an experience; B). Try a few rituals to get into the right mood/mindset.⠀

Coaching Challenge: Respect Your Space

Pat Barber Coaching, Coaching Challenges

This week, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to treat the facility as though it’s your second home.

Not a disorganized, untidy second home.

But something you respect, a place you’d be really proud to show your loved ones.

This, of course, is pretty broad.

To reign it in, and make it measurable, we’re challenging you to look for things that are out of place as soon as you arrive at the facility.

As your greeting and mingling and settling in, look for things that need to be picked up or re-organized.

Maybe there’s trash on the floor.

Maybe someone didn’t put their equipment away, or they put it in the wrong place.

Maybe the bathroom is out of toilet paper.

Tidy things up as if your mother is coming over. Treat the place as if it’s yours.

Try to find at least 3 things every time you get there.

See. Notice. Do something about it.

This will not only show people that you care, but it’ll also remind people to respect the space. ⠀

Coaching Challenge: Faster or Slower?

Pat Barber Coaching, Coaching Challenges

Today, in every workout you coach, we want you to ask yourself: Should this person go faster or slower?

That’s it.

That’s your coaching drill.

Ask yourself that question with every person.

Do they need more intensity? Are they missing the stimulus of the workout? Are they resting during their weakness/deficiency so much that they’re missing the point of the workout? Speed ’em up.

Do they need to work on mechanics? Slow ’em down and cue ’em into better positions.

(Are they complaining that the workout wasn’t hard enough? Here’s an intensity test to try.)

Coaching Challenge: Make Contact

Pat Barber Coaching, Coaching Challenges

During today’s workout, as you cruise through the group, make sure you touch base with each and every person at least once.

You can make contact in a variety of ways.

Call them by name and give them a cue.

Walk up and watch them.

Make eye contact and encourage them to speed it up or push harder.

Check for safety, ROM issues, inefficient movement, if they’re going too fast/slow, and if they need motivation.

Just make contact in whatever way they need in the moment. With every person in the class. At least once.

To kick it up a notch, go for 3. Make contact at least 3 times with each and every person.

Good luck out there.⠀May the force be with you.