One of the issues with being a coach six days a week is that you forget what it is like to be an athlete. Coaches tend to see the world from one perspective, that of a coach. Recently I went home over the Holidays to see the family, while there I dropped into TC Total CrossFit, the gym where I trained when I was in high school. Switching gears from coach to athlete helped me regain an athlete’s perspective. Most importantly, it reminded me about some ways to get the most out of every CrossFit class.
- Arrive 15 Minutes Early
Arriving early will give you many benefits. First off, it will make your coach happy by coming in early and not at the last possible second. Secondly, and more importantly, it gives you a better opportunity to warm-up. Coaches do an awesome job of fitting in a lot of fitness into an hour, but no matter how you slice it, an hour is still an hour, and we can’t cater to everyone’s specific needs when it comes to a warm-up. It is on you to come in early and take care of yourself. If you are sore take time to roll out beforehand. If you know your overhead mobility is sub-par and there is snatches that day come in early to stretch out. Everyone is different and has different needs. Take time to address your needs.
- Leave 15 Minutes Late
Bouncing off the previous point, a proper cool down is extremely important to improve recovery, reduce muscle fatigue, soreness, and improve your performance the next day. Spend a few minutes to bring your heart rate down slowly; rowing at a real slow pace for 3-5 minutes is my preferred cool down. Then spend time to hit your main mobility points as well as rolling out the main muscles used during the workout. Please, if at all possible don’t finish a crazy WOD grab your water bottle and go sit in your car without any type of cool down. You’ll regret it getting out of bed the next day.
- Ask Questions
Let’s face it a lot of the movements we do are extremely complex. Kipping, weightlifting, hand stands, etc. If there is something that you don’t understand or want clarified please ask. When you’re in a class of 10 to 20 people in can be intimidating to ask a question because you don’t want to sound “stupid”. If you have a question it’s more than likely that at least two other people have the same question. If you are worried that the coach will think less of you because it might be a stupid question; don’t be. Coaches want to see you take an interest and learn as much as you can. Asking questions is one of the best ways to learn and grow. So next time the coach asks, “any questions” pull a Pat Benatar and fire away!
- If the Coach is Talking you Shouldn’t Be
I am really guilty of this one. I think I am being quiet, but I tend to have a loud mouth and it is distracting to everyone. Be courteous to the coach and everyone else in the room (yourself included). If you are being a Louie loud mouth, you aren’t listening to the coach and could be missing some important information. So zip it, lock it, and put it in your pocket.
- Don’t Feel the Need to be a Back-up Coach
Sometimes it is important to take a step back and realize you are not the coach. It is easy to start correcting someone else in class and worrying more about what they are doing than what you are doing. For the most part however, try to focus on yourself. Obviously there are a few exceptions to the rule i.e. someone is doing something highly dangerous, the athlete or the coach asks you to watch them, or it is something quick mid-lift, “knees out”. Besides those instances let the coach handle it. It is better for everyone. First off, the coach sees and understands things that you might not and will give athletes very specific and relevant cues. Coming in right behind the coach and trying to give that same athlete more advice or contradicting advice is only going to confuse that athlete.
- Challenge Yourself
You get to the gym look at the workout on the board and realize the weight is heavier than you have ever done in a workout. At this point you are faced with an option. Go Rx, really challenge yourself and take longer or go with the weight you always do and get done quicker. I will say this if you are able to handle the weight safely take the challenge. There are few feelings quite like the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a workout with a weight you weren’t sure you could handle.
- Have Fun!
This is one of the most important points in my opinion. It is true we go to the gym to have a good workout and improve our fitness. This doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. If you are not having fun you probably won’t get after the workout with as much intensity or stick with it as long. Some of the best and most productive workouts I have ever had have been the ones that I decided to have fun with and enjoy.