The biggest trap an evaluator can fall into is: “Are they me?” That is, do they coach exactly as I coach? Instead, you should be evaluating their effectiveness as a coach and whether or not they actually connect with the people in front of them. Ultimately, it’s about how well people respond to them.
This video goes into what I’ve learned after years of evaluating coaches.
Are you a gym owner whose in the position where members keep coming to you about things instead of going to your coaches? If you want to redirect those conversations to your team, this video has a few ideas for how to establish coaches as authorities in your facility.
Know Your Product
When you opened your affiliate, surely you did it with the intent of selling CrossFit. You wanted to make people better by using the best strength and conditioning program that is attainable for all walks of life. How quickly after did you learn your product was actually coaching? Oh, spoiler alert: if you haven’t come to that realization already, your product is coaching.
CrossFit is self-sustaining. I can buy a few pieces of equipment, do main-site workouts or subscribe to programming or even create my own, and it would be a lot cheaper than paying a monthly membership. You might argue that there’s no community and the gym space provides that. To which I would ask, who is truly at the forefront of creating that community? Hint: Rhymes with shmoaches.
So, how well do you know your product? Are your coaches fully equipped to execute the vision of your affiliate?
“You Give Before You Get”
Great coaches are constantly giving. With every cue, every modification on the fly, every time they step into the gym, they are instantly in a state of giving (even if they’re not technically on the clock). They spend time thinking of what the perfect class music will be while remembering everyone’s injuries and how they’re going to drill the snatch and be entertaining at the same time.
When a person gives so much, they need to replenish their reservoir. They have to work in time for themselves, but how can they? Because the minute they stop, they’re not making money. This can be a recipe for disaster that then trickles down to the members and the whole community.
As a small business owner, payroll is probably one of your highest expenses. So, it’s understandably hard to justify high salaries and benefits. You might only have one full-time coach and probably a high number of part-time coaches. But, there are other ways you can set your coaches up for success aside from paying them fairly.
As a manager/owner, it’s important to continually check in with your coaches to ensure they are not on the verge of burning out. You must get ahead because if you’re not careful, it will happen. Take them out to lunch. Listen to what’s going on in their lives. What are their goals? What are their passions? Let them vent about that member and listen to their suggestions. The important thing here is that they feel heard, so make sure you listen.
Some coaches prefer mornings, some prefer two classes in a row, while others prefer to space them out. Take the effort to best accommodate their preferences. It’s difficult to do this all the time, but knowing that there is effort and that you respect their time goes a long way.
Focus Only on Coaching
Coaches should focus on coaching only. Hire someone else to handle sales or handle the gym cleaning. Don’t spread them too thin with other responsibilities. The only exception is if they’ve otherwise expressed interest in those areas.
Have a group text, newsletter, FB group, carrier pigeon, etc. Do what you have to do to always be in continuous communication with your coaches. Let them know updates about the gym before you announce anything to members. Get their feedback. This builds trust, and being in a trusting environment for a coach is very important.
We are in the business of giving. And it’s a constant cycle that will ensure the success of your business. It starts with how you treat your product. How you value your coaches will flow down to how your coaches value your members, which flows down to how your members value your gym.
Try these tips out and see if you notice a difference!
When I see new (or new-ish) faces in a class, I love to use icebreakers as a fun way to introduce them to everyone. Using these questions can totally change the vibe of a room. Everyone relaxes. The group feels more connected, more welcoming and open. And the newer people feel more a part of things, less like an outsider.
The best questions to use are ones that are quick and easy to answer — If you had one extra hour of free time every day, how would you use it? What’s the weirdest gift you’ve ever received? If you were a boxer, what entrance or walk-up song would you play? What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day? What’s your favorite vacation spot?
You could use these for coaches meetings too, as a way to have a little fun together before talking business.
The result is still the same: The feel of the room softens, lightening the mood or tone. A more familial energy settles in, making people feel more comfortable and connected to each other. And you have a bit of a laugh while getting to know everyone a little better.
You could also start with a little game of Would You Rather…
Would you rather go into the past and meet your ancestors or go into the future and meet your descendants?
Would you rather have more time or more money?
Would you rather be able to talk to animals or speak all foreign languages?
Would you rather read an awesome book or watch a good movie?
Would you rather explore space or the ocean?
Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone you strongly dislike?
Would you rather be too busy or be bored?
Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?
Would you rather be a little late or way too early?
Would you rather live in Antarctica or the Sahara Desert?
Would you rather be able to take back anything you say or hear every conversation around you?
Would you rather be a werewolf or a vampire?
Would you rather be fluent in all languages or be a master of every musical instrument?
Would you rather have your own boat or your own plane?
Would you rather sing like an opera star or cook like a gourmet chef?
Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly through the air?
Would you rather live without music or T.V.?
Have fun with it. Keep the questions light, easy to answer, and free of triggery stuff.
Coaches, find a gym who shares your ‘why’ if you want to be valued for the energy and effort you put into coaching.⠀
If the gym you work for has a different value system, they’re never really going to recognize or value your work.⠀
Even when you go an extra mile.⠀
In this scenario, it can feel like “nothing is ever good enough.” ⠀
You’re a coach for one reason.⠀
And they opened a gym for another.⠀
You want different things. You’re offering different products. You have a different vision, different priorities. You do not share the same mission. They want x, you want y.⠀
Square peg, round hole.⠀
Stop trying to make it work. It ain’t gonna.⠀
Find your people.⠀
And give them your energy.⠀
Otherwise, you’re wasting it. ⠀
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:
The coach doesn’t feel valued.
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.
As coaches, our goal is to make people forget about their lives for an hour and just “be” in our space.
This means we need to give them a good show and deliver a great experience. If we are having fun in our job and community, so shall all who interact with us. The energy we put out, we will get back.
If you’re not having fun coaching because you’re bored with the monotony, then we challenge you to identify your default (or go-to) cues, substitutions and scales, and then ban yourself from using them. Challenge yourself to use new cues, scales and subs.
If that doesn’t work, try harder to personalize your cues, targets, etc.
Also, try to connect more with people. Treat their goals as your goals and invest yourself in their success. We find that when we focus less on ourselves, and more on others, boredom sort of fades away. So focusing on the lives, the goals and the struggles of our members and other coaches can be a great way to renew our interest in what we do and why we do it.
If you’re not having fun because you’re overworked or burnt out, talk with your team about taking a few days to refresh. Or maybe you need to switch it up a little and help with a specialty club, start a new club, or take a few days to shadow someone in a related field (nutritionist, etc.) so that you can deepen your knowledge of a subject and bring what you’ve learned back to your community. Come up with a few solutions and bring them to your team.
Because, ultimately, how much fun you’re having at work is up to you.
I mean, most facilities have small teams about the size of a friend group at a backyard bbq. But do we sit at a long table and share good conversation, some laughs and decent food? No, 99% of us do not do meetings that way. ⠀
I think that’s a mistake.⠀
Let me explain. With a hypothetical story.⠀
I’m sitting at a table with my team. We’re snacking and going through the agenda. Someone gives me some negative feedback. I’ve just stuffed a nice bite of guacamole in my mouth, so now I’ve got to chew on my food and swallow before I can respond. That gives me a few extra seconds to really think about (or chew on) what they’ve said and how I’ll respond. It also means, that while I’m chewing, I have to listen to someone give their whole story. I cannot interrupt their train of thought. ⠀
Just having food for people to chew on can lead to less defensive, more productive conversations.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that huge business deals are often brokered over dinner. These people know what they’re doing.⠀
Highly successful restaurants also do this, by the way. Before service, the back of the house and the front of the house sit down and share a meal together. It’s called “family meal.” It powers people up for a shift and helps people connect in ways they wouldn’t otherwise have time for.
Coming together at a table is powerful.
Food matters. It’s comforting. It makes us happy. It changes the mood or vibe of the room. It brings us together, no matter our differences. ⠀
So, I think we need more potluck team meetings. More family dinner team meetings.
Meetings that feel less corporate. We all try the more corporate, serious meetings because it makes us feel more grown-up and legit, maybe even more important. But is that really true? And, what are we sacrificing in the process? ⠀
What do you think? Have you experimented with bringing food into meetings?
Try it for a month and take note of how the meetings change.
Is there more openness? More creativity? More honesty? Better communication? Do you have more breakthroughs? Better collaboration? Are people more willing to share?