Becoming a CrossFit® coach: some advice.

[written by Lee Steggles, 16 APR ‘21] 

We [Shapesmiths] go through periods where almost weekly, we receive lovely job applications to work as a CrossFit® coach at Shapesmiths. Some are super experienced CrossFit® coaches, some have no experience in the fitness industry, some have experience elsewhere but not in CrossFit® coaching and some have just passed their CF-L1. 

This article is to give those with little experience in CrossFit® some insight and advice on what you can do to get experience and work towards becoming a fully rounded CrossFit® coach. 

Insight: first and foremost at Shapesmiths we really care that our coaches care. Totally and genuinely. Those whose natural state is to help others and care for their mental and physical wellbeing stand out miles from the crowd. This is the foundation upon which it is easy to build the requisite skill-sets as a Shapesmith.  

How do I become a coach / get experience if no one will give me experience?

Well, after sending in a CV and covering letter to make contact and state your intention to coach or develop as a coach, start by booking a class and afterwards meeting the owner/s. Get a feel for the community, the coaching and the facility that you could potentially be working in. 

Past this point we have laid out some of the key things that we would advise you to do, to get more experience and continue your CrossFit® coaching development. 

  1. If you haven’t already taken your CFL1 Online or IN PERSON. It’s literally the first step to take that shows you are serious about coaching CrossFit® as a career.  It’s a very well designed course that will light a fire of continuous professional development, in a variety of ways. 
  2. Head to oc.crossfit.com and take a look at the online courses. Start with the more practical ones, Scaling Course & Session Planning and build from there. 
  3. Consider gathering some friends and start a regular training group to coach and practice what you have and are learning. You’ll need to grab some insurance for that. It’s always good to cross the t’s and dot the i’s.  Plus, you will be able to use the insurance later on in a coaching job or when personal training.  
  4. Shadowing & observation are key. This doesn’t have to be exclusively in a CrossFit® gym. You may have friends that coach gymnastics, running, weightlifting, rowing etc. Check them out. You need to start to appreciate the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to coaching. 
  5. Visit other CrossFit® gyms. You’ll pick up an appreciation for other affiliates. How they operate, their values and how they make you feel when you visit. Their vibe attracts their tribe as the cliche goes.
  6. If you find a CrossFit® gym you really want to work in, join that gym. Day to day you will pick up, subtly, the way they do things from a coaching perspective.  You’ll form lasting relationships and you’ll know the team. 
  7. Continuous professional development. As a heads up, we should all know that learning never stops. I’ve been in the fitness industry for 20 years now, i’ve tackled two sport and physiology based degrees and I am constantly learning. What’s more, there’s heaps still to learn AND keep up to date with. Being open is highly important, as is being able to examine the efficacy of any information coming your way. 

Remember, even after following all of the above there’s still water to pass under the bridge. It could take some time before you are working where you want to work as a coach. Every aspiring coach develops at different speeds and so it’s important to be patient and persistent with your development. 

To go into this pursuit with your eyes open, you should consider that sometimes you may not be a perfect fit for a space, at the point at which you are NOW in your coaching career. But that’s not to say you won’t be in the future. In some gyms remember that the coaching roster may be full, with no additional hours available. Some gyms run an internship program and some don’t, for various reasons. Time constraints, financial reasons & hiring policy will all influence the decision to have one. For those that have an internship program, remember that there may or may not be a job waiting at the end of it but it’s all good experience (as long as that internship is paid in some way). 

Below I have listed out some practical examples of CPD learning you could use to enhance your CrossFit® coaching abilities, with a view to becoming a CrossFit® coach.  I would even go as far to say that these examples are important for those who are already CrossFit® coaches. In fact they feature in the Shapesmiths CPD Guide, which our coaches receive during their induction phase. 

I hope this article has been helpful and if you have any further questions, drop us a line via hello@shapesmiths.com

N.B. This list has been adapted from work done by the Allied Health Professions’ project ‘Demonstrating competence through CPD’ (2003)

Work-based learning                                        

–  Learning by doing                                     

–  Case studies (covering diabetes, metabolic syndromes, aging, cancer, obesity etc)

–  Reflective practice after coaching. 

–  Conversations with members about their learning styles.

–  Coaching from others or being coached. 

–  Discussions with fellow coaches.

–  Peer review sessions.  Get a peer to watch you coach and feedback on the good the bad and the ugly.              

–  Involvement in the wider, profession- related work of your employer (for example, being a representative on a committee)

–  Work shadowing.

–  CrossFit® Journal Club, start one / be in one.                           

–  In-house training through team meetings. 

–  Supervising Apprentice Coaches. 

–  Expanding your role

–  Significant analysis of events

–  Filling in self-assessment questionnaires

Professional activities

– Organising CrossFit Journal club sessions or other specialist group gatherings.

– Maintaining or developing specialist skills.

– Giving presentations at conferences. 

Longer term this could be:

– Being a tutor/examiner (CF Flowmaster or Seminar Staff or SME)

– Supervising research or new coaches. 

                    

Formal and educational                    

–  CrossFit® related subject matter courses in person or online.

–  Further Education (Degrees, NVQs etc)

–  Research into pertinent topics (Disease states, Mental Health and the like) 

–  Attending seminars & conferences. 

–  Writing articles on subjects you are keen to distill your knowledge down on. 

–  Distance or online learning

–  Going on courses accredited by a professional body

                            

Self-directed learning

– Reading journals or articles

– Reviewing books or articles

– Updating your knowledge through the internet or TV

– Keeping a file of your progress

                            

Other

– Relevant public service or voluntary work

–  Involvement in a professional body, specialist-interest group or other groups

–  Lecturing or teaching

–  Mentoring

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