Thursday, 22 October 2009

What We Believe.

Lisbeth Darsh, CrossFit HQ Affiliate Program Manager and owner of CrossFit Watertown posted a request for affiliates to write a blog about 10 things they believe.  So here it is:  In no particular order, 10 things that we at Evolve Your Fitness and CrossFit Monterey believe.

1) Quality over quantity.  
I don't want to train everyone.  Don't get me wrong: I believe that absolutely anyone, from any background, in any kind of physical condition can do CrossFit, from a physical standpoint.  But not everyone will have the dedication, the heart, or the strength of character to train at the level of intensity (I remind you that intensity is relative to physiological capacity) which I expect from my athletes.

2) Don't judge anyone based on where they are on day one.  The other day I had a girl run a 1:36 400m; 4 months ago she couldn't even run 400m without stopping to walk.  4 months ago she also couldn't do a full range-of-motion pushup on her knees; yesterday, she did 70 full range-of-motion pushups on her feet.  On the other hand, the most gifted athlete I've ever trained is still struggling to develop the kind of discipline and mental strength that will allow her to access her potential.  What someone walks in with on day one, at least physically, says almost nothing about where they'll be in 3 months or 3 years.  Treat everyone with respect, believe in everyone, and make sure they know you believe in them.

3) Genetics mean nothing.  No, really.  I know, I know: the genetic freaks will eventually dominate as CrossFit gets bigger, yadda yadda yadda.  Okay, genetics don't mean nothing.  But they're secondary.  I've watched this over and over again, and will continue to see it.  I call this Natural Athletes Syndrome: sometimes, natural athletes are so used to everything coming easy to them, that when they come up against the things they suck at, as everyone will in CrossFit, they just can't find it in them to persevere.  "I have bad genetics" is not an excuse we accept at CrossFit Monterey.

4) Challenge, challenge, challenge.  Never let your athletes rest on their laurels.  It doesn't matter if they want to be elite CrossFitters or not.  Continuously encourage your athletes to challenge themselves in as many ways as possible:  Master the handstand.  Go strict Zone/Paleo for a month.  Try a new sport.  Run a 10k race.  Enter a CrossFit competition.  It doesn't matter what they do, so long as your athletes understand the importance of getting out of their comfort zone.

5) Be a technique nerd.  I don't mean that you have to insist that your athletes clean & jerk form is perfect during every rep of "Grace."  I mean that you need to be dedicating a significant amount of your athletes training time to developing technical capacity in everything we do.  I promise, this will pay serious dividends.  While you're at it, turn your athletes into technique nerds too: they should understand what makes a good squat, why it's important, and how to develop it.

6) Stick to the basics.  From the article "Virtuosity" by Greg Glassman: "What will inevitably doom a physical training program and dilute a coach's efficacy is a lack of commitment to fundamentals."  How many of your athletes have perfect deadlift form?  How many of them are as good at air squats as they should be?  Many, many, many affiliates have programming made up primarily of burpees, ball slams, and tire flips.  These are all great things to throw in once in a while, but they should be occasional additions to the bulk of your training.  Squat, press, deadlift, clean & jerk, snatch, run, pullup, pushup, situp, dip, handstand, muscle-up: these are the movements (not quite all of them, but you get the point) that should make up the bread and butter of what you program for your athletes.  Master executing these movements at high intensity, and burpees will come easy.

7) Remain a student.  There is always more to learn.  Read, research, debate.  Seek out new resources, and be as critical as possible of all information that comes your way.  This love for learning will make you a better coach.  Constantly encourage your athletes to mimic this behavior.

8) Obsess over your athletes successes.  It's a big deal: act like it.  One of your girls just got her first pullup?  Jump up and down with excitement.  One of your guys deadlifted 400lbs? Post it on your Facebook status.  Take lots of pictures and videos.  Act like a proud parent.  Make sure your athletes know that you LOVE seeing them succeed.

9) Measure, observe, repeat.  Quantify everything.  Get composition books (you can get two for $1.50 at Staples) and make your athletes log everything: skill work, new PRs, WODs, and notes.  The more detail you have, the better.  Looking over these logs 6 months, 1 year, 2 years later is like mining for gold.

10) Every CrossFit trainer and affiliate has the power to change – even save – someone's life.  It happened to me.  I've watched it happen to others.  Even CrossFit gyms with bad programming and mediocre coaching are helping people every day.  Forget work capacity across broad time and modal domains: CrossFit makes people happier.  I've seen people overcome depression, anxiety, and insecurity.  When you get to work each day, remind yourself: I can change the world. 


Jay Ashman said...

goddamn this is perfect

traucer777 said...

i second Jay

Terrance said...

jacob you nailed it brother... I have learned a lot of things about CF coaches this last year. 1. Some of our most knowledgeable coaches are Level 1 guys with another type of fitness training background. 2. Being a Level 2 isn't the end all be all. I follow your blog from here in Japan and was kind of sad when you took a leave of absents from blogging. Good to see you back brother....

osatts said...

If all affilates had the same attitude, the rate at which CrossFit could grow is incomprehensible!

Great work Jacob.

TexasPatrick said...

Thanks for that man . . . maybe I'm pissy, but I left an affiliate because basically they didn't do much if any of that stuff . . . or it was half-assed . . .

Stuff got really really random, it seemed that the dominant form of reinforcement was negative. Which works for some folks, but damn, yo, I get enough of that in oh, work . . life . . . AND between grownups it just PISSES me off.

I never saw anyone do a handstand push up that didn't already have one. I saw people stay on the bands for pullups for as long as I was there.

And it seemed like that after two years the only person interested in my success was me. And how I achieved it. But neither affiliate around here that was close was willing to work with me (so far, I haven't hit them all, they sprouting like weeds . . ) to help achieve what I wanted.

And I can be interested myself for a lot less than $1,500 a year . . . that buys a LOT of gear . . .