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Coach Chris here! Over the coming weeks as we prepare to open Ripple Effect in our new space, I’d like to shed some light on the goals, beliefs, and core values that will drive everything we do in the gym, and the decisions I make as a business owner and coach. These are the values that make Ripple Effect what it is, and will be in the future.

In my 3.5 years as a gym owner, and the last 8 months roving around coaching and working out at many local gyms while working to find a home for Ripple Effect, I have learned a lot. I’ve seen and tried a lot of different methods of coaching and running a business. I’ve made my share of mistakes myself. Now, it’s time to take the best of what I’ve learned and put it all into practice at Ripple Effect.

A common misconception is that CrossFit is a franchise, which it is not. CrossFit is an affiliation model. This means that every CrossFit affiliate has the freedom to run their business in whatever way they see fit. It’s not like a McDonald’s franchise where every restaurant has the same menu, policies, hours, uniforms, etc.

There are pros and cons to this Affiliation model. As a business owner, I love that I can write my own workout programming, choose my own color and branding, my own schedule, my own pricing, etc. This means that a given population can sustain several different CrossFit gyms, because they can cater to a variety of people, attitudes, and preferred workout styles. It allows us to work together to serve different parts of the community.

However, because there is very little quality control by any central authority, there are times when this affiliation model can fall short. Quality of coaching, programming, and relationships are the places where I see some gyms taking the easy way out, which hurts their members and their business in the long run. I believe that my members deserve better in these crucial areas. These areas are where my focus as owner & head coach will be from day 1.

Today I want to dive into quality coaching, which I believe is one of the single most important pieces to creating the atmosphere and results I want for my members.

What is coaching?

“Coach” is a title that I do not give out lightly. I don’t care what credentials you have. If the extent of your role in a class is writing the workout on the board, reading it to the class, managing the clock, and giving high fives at the end of class…that’s not coaching. That is more like a “class facilitator.”

Coaching requires much more. A combination of knowledge, emotional intelligence, patience, and pursuit of excellence.

A coach does need to manage the class effectively. Starting & ending on time, organizing the athletes effectively, and utilizing time wisely are the basics.

A coach gives individual attention to every person in the class, every time.

A coach can spot movement flaws, use a variety of tools & cues to correct them, and do it in a way that inspires confidence & motivation in the athlete.

A coach pursues greater knowledge and self-improvement, and is proactive, not complacent.

A coach practices their craft regularly, and seeks feedback to become more effective.

A coach consistently and relentlessly pursues better movement and effort from athletes, but also has the emotional intelligence to tell when to back off or change course.

A coach knows their athletes well enough to assign scaling, weights, and modifications for each athlete in their class.

A coach practices what they preach.

A coach strives to make every class the highlight of the members’ day.

Quality in coaching is something we will not compromise on. It has a direct correlation with the results, experience, and long-term commitment of our members.

How do we make sure this happens?

To best facilitate these beliefs about coaching, we have to create an environment that is conducive to this type of work. We do this via:

Small class sizes.  All classes (with the exception of some partner days, community workouts, & special events) will be capped at 12 athletes. If there are more than that in the class, it makes it extremely difficult for one coach to effectively give individual cues and attention. The bigger the class, the more likely someone can slip through the cracks without the opportunity to interact in a meaningful way with the coach. It is important to us that the coaches and members form a relationship built on trust and understanding to make the best possible use of time at the gym. That can’t happen with 20 people in every class.

Regular coach training & development. Our coaches will continuously improve their knowledge and communication skills through staff demo sessions, readings, videos, and seminars. Our coaches will regularly be evaluated and given real feedback to ensure they’re giving their athletes what they need. Financial assistance will be provided for coaches to pursue continuing education and certifications.

Keeping our staff small, and dedicated. This is a BIG one. Coaching CrossFit well is hard. We have to know a lot of information, about a lot of complex topics & movements, and communicate it effectively to all ages and abilities. If you only get to coach an hour or two a week, and nobody evaluates you on your coaching, it’s going to be very difficult to improve your coaching skills. Just like any other skill, it takes practice. We will keep our staff small to ensure we keep quality as high as possible. Our coaches will get sufficient coaching hours to consistently improve, and develop strong relationships with members.

Hiring the right coaches.  We will not hire a coach because they’re our friend, our member, or are a high-level athlete. We will hire a coach because they have proven that they are an effective coach, are driven to continuously improve themselves, demonstrate leadership, and have the emotional intelligence to make every interaction with our members valuable and positive. We want to give a handful of superb coaches the chance to make a real living at the profession, which the staffing model at many affiliates does not promote. We will be dedicated to our coaching staff, so they will be dedicated to our members, and our members will be dedicated to their fitness.

We expect a lot of our coaches. Yes, we want our gym to have the best client experience, for our members to get the best results, and be a place that people LOVE to come to. But we also want to be THE best gym to coach at. We’re committed to putting the time and money into investing in our coaches to further their knowledge, skills, and career for the long term.

Final thoughts on Coaching

The bottom line is, we want to have the best coaching staff around. It’s a lofty goal to aspire to, and isn’t something we can readily measure. But we will go for it anyway. While the industry trend is to add more and more coaches who have less and less experience (with lower and lower pay), we are committed to quality coaching as one of our core values. If we expect our members not to cut corners with their fitness, we cannot cut corners when it comes to our staff!

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