The YouTube Coach


I’ve heard the hate loud and clear for years. Much of it is justified, too. “What’s the deal with all these CrossFit coaches thinking they are ‘elite’ because they’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos?” I feel your pain, Mr. Trainer-for-Two-Decades.

More recently, however, I listened to Ben Smith talk about his rise to his tip-of-the-spear–caliber fitness level. When asked if he’d ever had a weightlifting coach, he responded with a surprising, “No, I just read and watched a lot of stuff on the Internet.”

Oh, boy. I can already hear you asking, “Where are you going with this, Logan?”

I’ll tell you where. My point is that though I understand the stigma around rogue fitness practices, YouTube wars and whether or not the Internet is a viable resource for fitness instruction. However, at the end of the day, what is the ultimate equalizer?

That’s right, it’s performance.

What happens if five decades of trial and error, six peer-reviewed articles and 16 gold medals indicate that triple extension is the best possible way to clean and snatch, and an athlete steps onto that podium using the “catapult method” and has the biggest total?

Will the athlete listen to his national anthem play atop the podium or will the details be sorted out in the “comments section”?

It’s a stupid question, I know, but we can’t forget that performance is the ultimate governor, folks. Opinion, emotion or science aside, you can’t argue with performance. So, though it’s easy for a well-decorated longtime trainer to experience some frustration with self-taught, YouTube-hungry coaches, does it discredit them as coaches?

I’d argue that it doesn’t, given that they are legit. If Louie Simmons packed his skull with what he knows via YouTube videos instead of Eastern Block text, would it matter?


So, here’s the kicker: The Internet has changed the game. And no longer can trainers use the clout of their clientele or their years of experience as collateral. Can you produce or not? That is the question.

It’s a revolution, people.

— Logan Gelbrich