• Rob Olson

How I Became A Coach; Then Vs. Now

Let’s start off with some history! When I first started going to CFS I was mopping the gym for a membership. I did it 5 days a week right after the 9am class. The job was simple, but I aimed to make it as clean as I could. At that time CFS was growing rapidly and Rob approached me one day and asked if I wanted to be a coach. I had absolutely no experience coaching and I was hesitant at first, but I accepted the opportunity. Back then there was no formal coach training; I got my CrossFit Level 1 certification and began to shadow Rob and Jay at classes. At first I was just listening and watching and sometimes I was thrown into the fire and asked to explain. Again there was no built process for this, which is not to knock Rob or Jay (they were great at teaching) but it was a very chaotic experience. Eventually I was allowed to coach on my own, and let me tell you it was terrifying. I was difficult to hear at the board and I was very hesitant to correct people that had been doing CrossFit far longer than I had. You can ask some older 9am members, it was a rough start. As time went on I began to build some confidence and slowly became a better coach. Now, years later, I have risen to the position of Head Coach! The reason for me explaining this is to help give you a comparison to what we do now.

Fast forward a few years and we now have the ATC [Advance Theory Course] program that I run to help teach and build coaches. The first run was interesting with some hiccups and changes along the way, but we now have some amazing part-time Coaches! JP, Isabela, Nicolle and Nicki have all become proficient coaches who help and guide members to fitness and health. They had to go through a series of stages and meet certain requirements to be able to coach CFS classes. In short we had to make sure they met the high standards that we are looking to achieve! They had to get their L1 certification as all CrossFit coaches do, they spent time shadowing and explaining workouts all while under the supervision of myself or Rob, and eventually they were graded on running a class all on their own. When it comes to running a class, we look at things like room setup, clock management, greeting, class structure, timing, community feel, help first mentality, and finally, coaching skill. There's a lot that goes into it, and actual coaching skills are only a sliver of the whole pie. We have created a course to build up coaches and their entire skillset to make sure that they can truly help those that attend CFS. The process compared to when I became a coach is night and day.

Because of the success of the first ATC we started another several months later! This time though we made changes and I have become a bit more experienced myself as a teacher. I tweaked the format of the ATC program and added in more continuing education with coaching seminars. On top of that we have started doing quarterly evaluations of all coaches (myself included) to make sure that we are constantly improving and providing the best possible service to all of our members. You can always fine tune and improve at something; coaches should never stop learning. That being said, Tim Colby, Kristin Ennaco, Kristin Carlile and Ryan Fontaine are all going through the ATC course and building skills to help make them the best coaches possible! I do want to emphasize that even with all the lessons and education, experience builds expertise. The number one thing that helped me become a better coach was coaching! That’s not to say that we are going to just roll the dice and see what happens, that's not our style at all, in fact, starting ATC does not guarantee one a coaching position upon graduation. They must posses attitudes and attributes of future leaders as well as our formal written and scored criteria. But as they begin their solo coaching journey, we know they will become better with time. In fact, we can track it, just like our workouts. We track our scored class evaluations, as it has a final numeric score, and we look for improvement every time. They may stumble along the way as we all do when learning, performing and improving new skills, but in time they will become experts as the first group did, as well as myself.

The point of this blog is to give insight to the "behind the scenes" of the coaches who give you all a professional and amazing experience at every class. The best coaches tend to already be among our membership. Sometimes all it takes a little nudge or some passive information to encourage the next group of members to take steps towards become future coaches! Maybe its you!

As a closing side-note, all of our coaches have done an incredible job from the start and during the COVID-19 shutdown. They have offered their help along the way and have truly helped to keep the ship afloat during this trying time and in doing so gained experience along the way. I can’t wait to see them crush everything once they get back into classes! And be on the lookout for myself or Rob doing a little Coach evaluation!

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