Getting to Know Coach Brianna


CARING | HONEST | DRVEN
These are the core values that we hold as a staff and coaching team.
And we are so fortunate to have such highly skilled and passionate Coaches at The Hill.

Welcome to Part 1 of our “Getting to Know the Coach” series.

Getting to Know Coach Brianna Walters!

Many would not recognize the Brianna I first met nearly six years ago, at Liberty Memorial Park. Timid and shy, Brianna went way out on a limb to join a CrossFit class. Shortly thereafter, Bri started up through our Fundamentals program and began to blossom into the athlete you know today. I’m incredibly proud of the coach she is, but more importantly, the person she is- and is becoming. She’s an adoring wife, fiercely loving mother, and someone who pursues excellence in everything she does. Coach Bri is a shining example of our core values for coaches and we’re incredibly thankful to have her on the team. -Matt Scanlon

Name AKA: Bri. Breezy Fo’ Sheezy. Burrrrrito.

Where did you grow up? Bates City, Mo.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

It changed a lot. A veterinarian. A homicide detective (thank you Diagnosis Murder). A horse trainer.

Favorite class or activity in high school? I mostly just socialized.

During high school known for…

Mmmmm. I was probably most known for dating the most popular (shoulder brush) guy at our rival school.

Most interesting part time job? Construction Manager for a family construction business. I also did all of the construction cleans for him (Rough-in, Sheetrock, final).

Song or movie you love to quote/know by heart?

Super Troopers is the most quotable movie of all time. And I can rap all of Usher’s – ‘Yeah’.

Got any hidden talents? I sing, or used to. It’s been a minute. Second alto ya’ll.

What do you like about KC? I’ve always lived here. It’s comfortable, it’s where my family is, and it’s centrally located to the whole U.S. of A!

Coaching:

Your Job Title at The Hill: Epic Noon Coach and other stuff.

How & when did you get connected to The Hill? January 2013, I was given a Fundamentals package for Christmas.

How long have you been coaching? I’ve been coaching for 3-1/2 years.

How would you describe your coaching style? Lighthearted and welcoming, with a hint of “stop your whining”.

Why Coach? – what motivates you personally? I love being with people, and helping our athletes realize and achieve their potential.

What do you love about your job? Seriously? It’s the best place to work. The support of the leaders and staff. The friendly and hard-working athletes. Spikeball. I always feel at ease and excited to be there. I’ve never had a “bad” day at The Hill. My mood always changes when I walk in the doors.

What certifications do you hold and of which are you most proud? CF-L2, ACE CPT, PN1, Movement and Mobility. I am proud of all of them. They represent hard work and dedication. Some were harder to obtain than others, but they’re all apart of what makes me the coach I am today.

What continuing ed are you planning? I’d like to get the MWOD Performance Cert next year, and perhaps a CrossFit Specialty certification.

What’s something you wish everyone knew about health and fitness? It doesn’t have to be so hard. Have fun, be consistent, and give your best. And don’t take yourself so seriously. Laugh when you mess up, dance party when you find success.

What is something you are working on improving as an athlete personally? Ugh. Gymnastics, because I’m not the best at them. Back Squats, because I love them.

What are you looking forward to in 2018? Living life!

Anything else you would like to share with The Hill family? Thank YOU, for making this place all that it is. Without my friends and family here, I’m just someone who claps and cheers alone.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Early Healthy Eating Mistakes


meal prep

Nothing excites me more than when someone first considers healthy eating. Nutrition, after all, is where exercise and results meet. “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” is a cliche, but oh-so-true. Unfortunately, there is so much noise in the world of fitness and nutrition that new, well-meaning healthy eaters are easily distracted.

Avoid these 5 Healthy Eating Mistakes to Optimize Your Nutrition (and your wallet).

1. You’re not eating enough protein.

Seriously. You’re probably not. Most people I’ve met with feel like they’re eating enough and it typically ends up being 1/2 the recommend amount. A good place to start is to eat a piece of lean meat the size of your palm at every meal. That’s about 6-7 ounces, or roughly 35-40 grams of protein per meal.

For active people, you can shoot for about 1/2 gram to 1 gram of bodyweight. Simply track how many palm-sized portions of protein you eat daily and shoot for 3-5 servings.

2. Fruits and Vegetables ARE NOT the same thing.

When you were first learning about healthy eating, you probably looked at the Food Guide Pyramid. In the original pyramids, fruits and vegetables were on the same level. Lumping them together is prevalent in our discussions of healthy eating. “Eat your fruits and vegetables!”

Both fruits and vegetables are “healthy” foods, but are VERY different nutritionally. Fruits tend to have lots of sugar (albeit “healthy” sugar) and are calorically dense. Vegetables, on the other hand, tend to be less calorically dense, have tons of fiber, and very little sugar. As a ratio, you should aim to eat 2-3 times as many vegetables as fruit. So, for every apple (about 65 calories) you eat, aim to eat at least twice as many vegetables. In the case of an apple, you should aim to eat about 4 CUPS of broccoli. That’s a lot of veggies.

Chances are, you’re eating more fruits than vegetables. Aim to have the majority of your meals consist of vegetables and save fruits for after a workout or as a dessert if you have a sweet tooth.

3. You’re drinking your calories.

Smoothies, juices, and shakes. These all sound super-healthy, right? Yes, they can be healthy and they’re certainly convenient… Convenient. Convenience should immediately sound off an alarm in your brain. The more convenient a food or food-like substance is to consume and transport, the less likely it is to contain adequate nutrients, fiber, and protein.

Remember what we said about vegetables and fruit NOT being the same? Smoothies that taste even halfway decent usually taste that way because they’re loaded with sugar (fruit). If you’re in the habit of making a smoothie each morning, try chewing the individual ingredients instead.

There’s a caveat to this one, though. If you need to gain weight or struggle to consume adequate calories, by all means, drink your calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’d be better off chewing 500 calories over the course of 20 minutes instead of drinking them in two minutes.

4. You’re eating food-like stuff.

This space is full of powders, pills, supplements, and “health” food. There’s only one type of health food – single ingredient items that were once alive. Plants, animals, fruits, nuts, and seeds. A gluten-free pizza is still pizza. “Paleo” brownies are brownies. A “healthy” smoothie is still 500-700 calories.

You should be able to look at what you’re eating or drinking and identify each component of the meal. Salmon, potatoes, and green beans can each be identified in both their raw and prepared state. A smoothie cannot. A magical “vegetable powder” cannot either. Don’t mistake Health Food for healthy food.

5. You’re doing too much too soon.

Most people I see that are focused on healthy eating can maintain “total transformation” for about two to three weeks. Think: New Year’s Resolution transformation. You empty your cupboards of all junk food, do weekly meal prep, weight and measure everything, and start working out hardcore everyday.

This type of extreme transformation happens in momentary instances of motivation. The problem is that real life ultimately settles in. You get stressed, your schedule is challenged, or you go on vacation and then it’s all out the window. Unfortunately, you were just a few weeks from seeing results.

Think of your healthy eating habits over the course of a year. In 365 days, you should aim to be on the right track for the majority of those days. If you’re good Monday-Wednesday but fall off the wagon from Thursday night through Sunday, you’re still eating “healthy” for the minority of the time.

Instead of thinking of things in days and weeks, begin to think about sustainability in terms of years of generally good habits. Avoid extreme “challenges” or “diets.” Think more in terms of lifestyle changes over the long-term. You’ll begin to see positive results after about 12 weeks, then you’ll be motivated by more results.

CrossFit – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


When our athletes re-locate from Kansas City, I have the bittersweet pleasure of helping them find new CrossFit homes. Each time I do so, it’s a reminder that no two CrossFit Affiliates are alike. That’s my favorite part about the affiliate model. One may choose to do yoga after every Workout Of the Day (WOD) while the other could program bicep curls everyday.

The affiliate model is also precarious because it makes critique of the CrossFit training methodology incredibly difficult. Putting “CrossFit” in your blog headline almost guarantees a flurry of click-bait activity. With even a rudimentary understanding of the affiliate model, most people would realize that a criticism of methodology is a fruitless exercise.

But, I also believe that no methodology is – or should be – above reproach. For that reason, I’d like to offer up a critique of the methodology’s various interpretations. After all, a fair critique of methodology would require over 13,000 unique critiques to account for the over 13,000 unique interpretations. It would be absurd to state “Personal Training is bad,” right? Are there bad personal trainers? Sure. Are there great personal trainers? You bet.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular click-bait titles and parse out best – and worst – practices.

Critique – Working out for time is dangerous.

THE UGLY – Going to the gym everyday to complete a soul-crushing workout as fast as you possibly can with the sole end goal to be at the top of the leader board is absolutely dangerous. Completing the movements of that workout with zero regard to form or movement proficiency for the sake of a better time is also absolutely dangerous.

THE BAD  – Going all-out everyday, day in and day out, also has it’s risks. Maybe you do pay attention to form and “only compete against yourself”, but still insist on going balls-out all day everyday – you’ll probably have a fairly short shelf-life. The risks here are less acutely dangerous, but will expose themselves within several months to a year.

THE GOOD – The clock is a tool to provide context to work performed. By putting context to work, we’re able to illicit ideal metabolic adaptations. For example, if I asked you to run at a 12:00 mile pace you would have a much different metabolic change than if I asked you to run an all-out 100m sprint. Good affiliates use “the clock” to make sure athletes are using appropriate weight, complexity of movement, and scaling options to illicit a similar adaptation for everyone in the room.

Critique – Olympic-style weightlifting is dangerous.

THE UGLY – The barbell snatch and clean and jerk are incredibly effective tools for improving body composition, strength, power, and speed. One could argue that they are the most efficient (most benefit for time invested) training tools. But, yes, the olympic-style lifts are incredibly risky. A poor interpretation of their effectiveness would be to expect every person in the room to perform the lifts at the same weight, with the same range of motion, and at the same speed. It’s ludicrous to assume that everyone should be performing the lifts in the exact same way.

THE BAD – Let’s say you do opt to perform the snatch and clean and jerk in a CrossFit setting. Let’s also assume that you’ve adjusted load and speed for each person in the room. That’s a great start. But, I still believe it’s irresponsible to assume that everyone can and should perform the olympic-style lifts regularly.

THE GOOD – A good affiliate recognizes the efficiency and effectiveness of the olympic-style lifts. Most coaches enjoy the lifts. But, it’s important that we coaches not project our own affinity for the lifts onto our clients. Truth be told, there are some instances where a client may never be able to safely reach the bottom of an overhead squat. That is completely OK! A good coach will be able to translate the benefits of the olympic lifts into a similar progression. For example, you can get the similar motor pattern of a power snatch by using the American kettle bell swing.

Critique – The competitive nature of CrossFit makes it intimidating and dangerous.

THE UGLY – People are inherently competitive. Get several competitive people doing something physical with a clock and it’ll get ugly. CrossFit is currently experiencing a unique separation between sport and hobby. Sometimes those lines are blurred. Most professional sports’ off-seasons last between 152 (MLB) and 215 (NFL) days. In the case of CrossFit, the professional offseason lasts roughly 210 days (keep in mind there are often times a month or two between competitions). THAT’S A LONG OFFSEASON. Poorly executed CrossFit fails to recognize “seasons.” You simply can’t act like everyday is a competition without injury.

THE BAD – So maybe you don’t walk into the gym everyday acting like you’re in the Colosseum. Good work. You’re beginning to differentiation between training and competition. But, let’s say you still want to “throw down” at a local competition. It can be tempting to forget that you’re not a professional athlete. You will probably never make a dime off your athletic performance. You should absolutely throw down and compete – but never to the point of injury. Over three times as many people will seek medical attention this year as a results of weekend running races than at CrossFit events. An injury is not worth it in either scenario.

THE GOOD – A good coach should encourage you to sign up for competitions and events. Why train for a marathon if you’re never going to run it, right? Your coach should guide you through why you’re doing it – to challenge yourself, to have a goal to train for, and – most importantly – to have fun. On Monday, you’ll still need to pay the bills, raise your kids, and be your best self. The risk in never worth the reward for the amateur.

Critique – the movements are too complicated and executed with poor form.

THE UGLY – Doing a complicated movement for the sake of doing a complicated movement (i.e. “everyone else has a muscle up”) as fast as you possibly can will undoubtedly result in injury. Forsaking intensity over mechanics will also absolutely result in injury. Attempting to do movements that you’re not ready for will also absolutely result in injury.

THE BAD – You’ve probably heard the term “scaling options.” Scaling is great. Scaling is taking a more complicated movement and making it less complex so that it can be completed by the athlete at that level. Scaling has its limitations, however. Scaling assumes that the end goal is the complicated movement. The reality is that most people will never be able to do a muscle up. Again, that’s OK.

THE GOOD – The good gyms will opt for “progressions” over “scaling.” In my opinion, scaling denotes deficiency. Progression is just that – progression; moving forward. A coach that offers progressions will give that athlete a meaningful workout that is safe, yet challenging and suited to their current level today. When I was 19, I was in a fairly traumatic mountain biking accident. I was riding a very technical downhill trail, trying to beat my previous time, at a speed that was way too fast. Does that make mountain biking inherently dangerous? Of course not. It makes going too fast while doing something too complex inherently dangerous. It is the coaches responsibility to intervene with this happens (I wish I had someone do the same for me).

When it comes to creating internet click-bait, there are a few buzzwords that guarantee a flurry of comments and shares. Vegan, yoga, intro/extrovert, and… you guessed it – CrossFit. And, when you’re trying to get clicks on your blog to sell ad space, you’ll resort to what’ll get the most press. Like everything in life, the truth lies someone between the click-bait. Aim for a little nuance.

How to Find Time to Work Out


It’s the #1 reason everyone has for not doing something they know they should – “I don’t have time to work out.”

Whether you’re looking to start a workout routine, adopt a healthier diet, or begin any new habit that requires time and effort the first reason people give for falling off the program is that they just don’t have the time to work out. You’ve probably heard or said it yourself. I have a saying that reflects this for most people: “The last habit you started will be the first one to go at the first sight of difficulty.”

Last weekend we spent time with some friends with two small kids – ages 2 and 4. When it was time for the 4 year-old to go to bed, he fought brushing his teeth like he was defending the Alamo. This got me thinking about adults brushing their teeth. I don’t know a single adult that despises oral hygiene to that extent. I’ve had plenty of nights when I was so exhausted that I couldn’t fathom taking 5 minutes to brush my teeth. But I did it anyway. Unlike the 4 year-old, I have about 30 more years of this habit so the likelihood of me going sans brushing is pretty unlikely. It’s an ingrained part of my day. It would feel weird not to do it.

We’re All the Same Species

I can’t remember where I came across this idea, but I was listening to an audiobook the other day and the author kept making note of how astoundingly adaptable we are as humans. There is such an incredible range of output and capability from within the same species. We have plenty of examples of humans enduring outrageous hardship in war. We also have examples of people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk accomplishing incredible feats of industry and invention in the same 24 hours we’re all given.

I don’t see many other examples in nature where an individual within a species can accomplish two, three, or ten times that of another’s capability. The range of speed for a Cheetah is 68-75 miles per hour. That’s a really narrow range. It’s not like one cheetah is only clocking in at 35 while another is hitting a blazing 120. Black bears can go up to 100 days without eating. Every black bear falls somewhere pretty close to that range.

You’re Capable of More Than You Think

Our adaptability is our clear strategic advantage as a species. In fact, our entire history can be summed up with two words: Discomfort & Adaptation. Too uncomfortable to hunt and gather? Boom. Let’s figure out agriculture. Summer getting a little too hot? Let’s invent air conditioning. No other species has adapted to circumstances like we have. But there is one key ingredient to adaptation: discomfort.

It’s tough to find actual discomfort today. What does this look like for most of us? A full inbox, too many social obligations, and carting the kids around to soccer practice. But, we’ve found pretty incredible ways to adapt to even these discomforts – Siri, dating apps, and virtual assistants.

You’ll Find the Time You Need

Think back to when you were in high school. Your curfew probably felt way too early. You didn’t have enough time to hang out with your friends. How great does an imposed curfew sound today?

Now think about college. An 18-hour semester was a really full schedule. Throw a 20-hour a week part time job or sports on top of that and you probably felt incredibly overwhelmed. Can you imagine how easy an 18-credit hour semester would be today?

Now think about your first job out of college. You probably gained a little autonomy, had daily – maybe weekly – deadlines, and managed your own schedule for the first time ever. You didn’t have a ton of responsibility, probably got some health insurance, and had some decent PTO. Compared to that 18 hour semester, a 40-hour work week and a full inbox felt insanely busy.

Think about the first promotion you got after that first job. You probably started managing people and became a non-exempt employee. Now, you leave when the work is done not when the clock strikes 5 o’clock. You answer emails from home, go in on some weekends, and can’t seem to find time to use your PTO. You probably regularly put in some 60 hour week. This is busy.

If you have kids, think about that first year. You probably slept 3-4 hours a night and still put in a 60 hour work work. You cook a separate meal for the kids, shop for them, cart them around to appointments, and find time for their extra-curricular activities. Looking back on time before kids, you have no idea what you with all that free time.

You Have Time

The point of this thought experiment is to look back on all the stages of your life. In each stage, you felt as though your current schedule and responsibilities were the maximum amount that you could handle. Then, you move on to the next stage of life and the discomfort forces you to adapt and realize that you can make time for things that are important.

So, it stands to reason that right now – in this very instant – you are capable of more than you are doing. Regardless of your life stage, you have the ability to adapt your schedule. You’ve probably done it 3 or 4 times throughout your life and you’re capable of doing it again. The difference between being forced to adapt and choosing to adapt is that you’ll always find a reason to not do the latter. Getting a new job forces you to adjust your schedule. Having kids certainly forces you to find time. Starting a business mandates you to become more productive.

When it comes to nutrition and exercise, the only thing that will force you to adapt is a major medical event. My hope is that it doesn’t take a heart attached or Type II diabetes diagnosis to force you to adapt. I hope you choose to adapt. I hope that you opt to wake up an hour early, scramble some eggs, and do some burpees. After 12 weeks you’ll realize that you actually do have time and that you’re actually more productive and judicious with the hours that you do have.

We’re all the same species, after all.

CrossFit Sucks.


I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon since my response to the question “What do you do [for a living]?” has shifted from something related to low-level management to owning and running a fitness facility: strangers voluntarily (over) share their feelings & experiences as it relates to their own fitness hopes, fears, self-doubts, and advice. I’m not complaining; I really enjoy it. Plus, it’s given me thousands of reps at reading and communicating with people on such a visceral level.

If this conversation lasts more than 30 seconds it will undoubtedly turn to one about CrossFit. This conversation goes one of two ways: 1. “My _________ does it (CrossFit) and has great things to say about it” or 2. “Oh my gosh I want to try it but I could never ever do that because of ______.”

Those of you reading for whom CrossFit literally puts food on your table, probably have the same response I’ve always given. Something like this: “Oh, no, you could totally do it.” “Everything is scalable.” “Even your grandma could do it.” “We have great coaches who will help you along the way.” “There’s an On-Ramp/Foundations/Fundamentals/CrossFit 101…” Ad nauseam. Most coaches who have taken the plunge to full-time all typically feel a deep connection to helping others see a better version of themselves. We’re helpers, coaches, mentors, and probably a tad co-dependent. Our canned answer for “I could never do it” is our attempt to mitigate someone else’s self-doubt.

Over this most recent Thanksgiving I had a shift (and some Merlot) in my approach to this. For the thousandth time I heard the same refrain of self-doubt: “CrossFit? I’m sure I could never do it.” My response changed. “CrossFit sucks. Not because the movements or the workouts or the coaches suck, but because change worth having sucks.

CrossFit sucks because change sucks. CrossFit will force you to look back on how you’ve treated your body for the past decade or two or three. It will force you to meet new people. It will force you to look at your diet. It will force you to move. It will force you to invest your time and finances toward your long-term health. You’ll be told your moving incorrectly. Your ego will be checked.

This is the time of year that people begin to look at making healthy choices. You’ll hear about fad diets, starvation challenges, 8 easy steps to six-pack abs, $10 gym memberships. I’m going to clue you in on a very simple litmus test: if it’s not uncomfortable, you will not stick to it. Think about times of change: marriage (or its dissolution), having children, changing jobs, moving to a new city, or starting a business. The two common denominators in all of these examples are: 1. They all have times of complete, utter sucky-ness and 2. The growth and change on the other side of the suck would not have occurred without the suck.

Whatever your resolution is this year, I sincerely hope it sucks 🙂

The In-Between Notes: Holiday Survival Guide


I started playing drums at 5 or 6 years old and went on to be trained in Jazz, classic percussion, rock, Samba, and on and on… I loved Jazz. After 10 years of playing some iteration of Jazz, I sought out the instruction of a Jazz expert. We did some jamming, after which I expected the typical accolades that I’d grown accustomed to receiving once surprised listeners discovered how young I was. Not this time. He tore me apart. Said it was some of the worst Jazz drumming he had heard. “Why?” I asked. He went on to explain that I had great chops, but I was too focused on the notes I was playing. Jazz, he went on, exists in between the notes you play. The pregnant pause of anticipation, being slightly behind or in front of the beat, the in-between notes.

In the world of fitness, we often focus solely on the hour of training we have. There’s not enough cardio. There’s no barbell in this WOD. I need to go heavier/lighter to reach my goals. I need to work in the 20:00+ zone. I need to _____ more. Blah. Blah. Blah. Why are we so focused on that single hour much more than a lifetime of movement and wellness? Simply put: It feels like the only time we’re in control. We want to control everything. Unfortunately, when it comes to our health we feel like the environment and our circumstances are constantly de-railing us from our goals; we’re losing control.

Take this holiday season to relinquish a little control. Enjoy a couple days outside of the gym. I promise you’ll come back renewed and engaged in your training. Now, with a shift in perspective, here are a few practical tips for survival:

  1. Pig out…Proportionately.

Since the dawn of humanity, there have been times of feast & famine; times of plenty and times of scarcity. The holidays are a time of plenty. Go into your holiday celebrations knowing you’ll eat more than you need…and be OK with it. But, give preference (stuff yourself) to the best quality items on your plate and, with every trip back to the buffet, make sure you keep those proportions. For example, fill ½ your plate with turkey, ham, duck…the main protein, ¼ of it with a veggie or other fibrous green, and ¼ with all the fun stuff – stuffing, yams, potatoes, gravy…anything you want! This will keep you satisfied but not deprived.

  1. PLEASE DON’T SKIP DESSERT!!!

For a lot of you, this will be the only time of the year that you treat yourself to a giant slice of pie. Please enjoy it and don’t beat yourself up! You’ve been training hard all year and I promise that a slice of the good stuff won’t erase a year’s worth of hard work. In fact, many studies show that increased levels of sedentary Cortisol caused by feelings of stress, anxiety, and self-deprecation threaten your gains as much, if not more, than that pie.

  1. Don’t lift anything heavier than a lacrosse ball

I know you’ll feel like you need to go jog off some stuffing but, unfortunately, biology operates more like a Roomba than a Magic Eraser. Your consistent efforts in training leading up to and after the holidays will more than account for whatever you eat or your lack of working out. Months of regular strength training will have your metabolism geared up for whatever you throw at it for a couple days of chowing down. So please, enjoy a little recovery time. If you must do something, hop on a lacrosse ball or foam roller and watch some football. My faves can be found here and here.

  1. (Re)connect

Chances are you’ll have a little time off work. Use your time off work and out of the gym to hang out with those folks you see in the gym. You probably won’t recognize them without a sweaty t-shirt, but it’ll be worth it. If you’ve yet to hang out with someone or another couple from the gym, this holiday season is your chance. Make plans & stick to them!

Happy Holidays from all your coaches at CrossFit Memorial Hill!

How to choose a CrossFit gym


There’s no Carfax for fitness, but you should be just as diligent in seeking out your fitness community. Here’s a basic template for choosing the right fit.

1. The Business

Before you set out on your journey of finding a new fitness home, you must first understand CrossFit’s affiliate model. CrossFit as a training program is guided by broad, generalized training principles defined as: “constantly varied functional movement performed at a high intensity.” From there each affiliate is as similar to each other as one restaurant is to another. All serve food but each varies in quality, service delivery, and price. An experience at one affiliate is just that – one experience. So shop around.

Action step: Email or call (leave a voicemail; most affiliate owners also coach and train) all the affiliates in your area. Don’t be afraid to travel for the right fit.

2. Cost

If you’ve had $11 auto-drafted from your checking account for the last couple years for a gym membership you never use, you will experience some sticker shock. If you’ve paid $60-$70 per hour for personal training, the value you experience will be astounding.

In every corner of the economy we understand value proposition – cars, food, houses, tools, wine, nightlife – that, generally speaking, when we pay a premium we receive a premium product. Unfortunately, our health is the last thing in which we find value since we don’t see the need until it’s too late. As a general rule (see #1), most CrossFit gyms bank on 100% of their membership showing up and working out 3-6 times/week. The gym you go to now is aiming for 8%-9% of their clients showing up — ever. CF gyms spend little money on marketing & air-tight contracts, but rather rely on the results and referrals of their small but engaged membership.

Action step: Add up your total monthly cost of social expenditures (happy hours, nights out, dinners) that are deteriorating your health. Make a choice.

3. Coaching

Credentials are important. At the very least your coach should hold a CF-L1 designation or be involved in an observed internship that culminates in this certificate. Other specialty certificates are also available and great additions to your coach’s resume.

Here’s the BUT – how well does your coach distill down all those letters behind his or her name into a relevant bit of knowledge to you, today? This is what distinguishes good coaches from great coaches – an uncanny ability for pattern recognition and communication. These are things that cannot be taught in a weekend seminar, but learned through a passionate pursuit of excellence.

Action step: Chat with a coach about your particular training goals and how they believe CrossFit will help you achieve those goals.

4. Programming

There was a time in CrossFit’s history when it was not uncommon for programmers to randomly select movements, loads, and rep schemes out of a hat and have their athletes get after it. This is fun every once and awhile, but will not give you great results for the next several decades.

Well that pendulum has swung violently in the other direction. I field hundreds of emails from traveling CF’ers who are convinced with every fiber of their being that they cannot miss a single repetition of an infinitely complicated 24-week Yugoslavian single-leg squat cycle. Here’s the thing: you can find hundreds of good programs online. But what makes a great program?

Great programs are tested by the programmers. Great programs are interested in not only what’s on paper, but how their athletes will interact with – physically, socially, and psychologically – what’s on paper. Great programs can answer why just as well as they can answer what.

Action step: Ask the prospective gym’s programmer why they program what they do. Common elements of great programs will consist of: progressive overload, testing, and de-loading.

5. Systems, not Snowflakes

As a consumer, this will be the toughest pill to swallow. A great CrossFit gym will have a system whereby every new member is on-ramped both physically and (more importantly) to the culture of that particular gym. A great gym will test, re-test, tweak, and constantly evaluate these programs to be applicable to anyone that walks in the door.

You will be tempted, as you shop around, to feel exempt from whatever system the gym has put in place. Maybe you played college football or you’re a powerlifter with a 600-pound deadlift. An exception to the system is indicative of a larger issue, however.

A great system has room to accommodate a really strong powerlifter or a former college athlete. Allowing you to be exempt from their system, a gym is saying a couple things: 1. Your money today is more important than your safety and the rest of my membership. 2. Burnout is coming – a gym full of individuals not invested in the good of the community is exhausting for your coaches and for the owner of the gym. It’s unmanageable.

Action step: Don’t push back on being “on-ramped.” A coach’s insistence on this process means their system is evergreen, manageable, and scalable. 

If you’re ready for some real, lasting results there’s no more efficient training protocol than CrossFit (maybe I’m biased?). I’ve never had a single person (out of the 2000 or so that have tried it out) say that it wasn’t a good workout or they felt unsafe. So try out some classes at a box near you. It may not be for you, but at least you won’t be saying so from the sidelines.