It’s only human nature to be cognizant of the energy in the room. These vibes guide us in situations that will dictate whether we feel safe, stressed, comfortable or open to explore.
We’ve all been in a CrossFit class that lacked organization or was rushed. I think one would agree that this kind of uneasiness is contagious in the room, too. But there are class experiences in which everything seems clear and nothing feels rushed or stressful. Master coaches can create a comfortable environment for a 60-minute class, from greeting and warm-up to calling “time” and cleaning up.
I’m writing this from a coffee shop in Seattle not far from Pike Place. The experience I just had at CrossFit Belltown inspired me to take a moment to expound. The surgical professionalism that I last experienced at my CrossFit Level-2 course came rushing back when Kelly, a newer Belltown addition, coached us through a free-flowing hour of mastery. Naturally, she’s had good guidance. The owner, Nadia Shatilla, is a staple on the CrossFit seminar staff and has instilled a certain level of excellence at her gym.
So far, my offering in this article has been quite obvious. I might as well have asked, “Puppies are better than parking tickets, wouldn’t you agree?” Though an ease and flow in class is obviously more desirable than its opposite, more stressful scenario, it’s still common to get inside of a rushed class that lacks clarity.
This begs the question, how can more coaches create a simplified atmosphere to train in? For me this is twofold.
Planning. The first, most obvious key to setting the tone for a simplified, stress-free training space is having a plan. In my experience, many young coaches first learn to coach classes by designing minute-by-minute class plans to help guide the pace. However, as they gain more experience and coaching time, these class plans often fall to the wayside and are replaced with an approach that says, “I’m going to wing it because I can.”
Though a coach may have developed key coaching skills and management time in the early days with class plans, some coaches may benefit by holding on to the habit of creating detailed plans. Regardless of how mature a coach is, the math doesn’t work when you have 15 minutes for a class to do 18 minutes of work. Plus, that’s always a vibe killer and a source of stress.
Less talk, more rock. I first heard this gem from Adrian Bozman, and it’s stayed with me ever since. Time is of the essence in class, and in my opinion, not having enough of it is the most common source of stress. If more coaches did less talking and pushed for more movement, they could better evaluate the students’ needs. All too often coaches feel the need to do a dissertation on a movement like the push jerk, for example, and before you know it, it’s been eight minutes and all the room has done is listen to a story about push jerking. Get them moving!
Whether you’re an athlete or a coach or both, I think we all can agree that a safe, stress-free environment is best for learning and great performances. Furthermore, I think we’d all agree that if we had all the time in the world, classes would be less stressful. The reality, however, is that we don’t have all the time in the world and that these two simple yet key points may make the difference between a good vibe and a stressful one in your next class.