Today I received one of the best compliments ever!

A friend of mine, who I’ve coached in CrossFit for a long time, pulled me aside after class and said, “You know, I love coming to your classes, but I hate it, too!” Obviously I needed him to elaborate on this one a bit.

He went on to explain that when he works out on his own, he never warms up properly. It takes too much time, it’s not glamorous, and honestly sometimes he just doesn’t know what to do. When he comes to my classes, he said he always feels as though he is warmed up sufficiently, and ready to go!

Why share this compliment? It’s not to brag. In fact, quite the opposite! While I’m completely humbled and flattered by his words, it could have been me saying them aloud, myself! I ALSO don’t always spend enough time warming up when I work out. And it’s for those very same reasons. I’d rather “use the first round of the AMRAP to get warm” or “warm up as I go” to save time. Butttttt, I know that’s not the right thing to do!

As coaches, I feel it’s our job to prepare the athletes in class to be as safe as possible. That will typically involve some dynamic movement to get blood flowing, a bit of stretching and mobility to work through tension or soreness that may exist, and then some sort of skill work to prepare for the day’s training requirements.

At a previous job, I would write warm-ups for every single day, that would be completed by every class in the gym. To be completely honest, I dreaded doing this some weeks. Why? Because while I could have thrown something together in 20 minutes, that wasn’t my style. I wanted to keep things fun and varied. I wanted to introduce new movements to athletes and give them skills to learn. I wanted to make sure that regardless of ability level, the process I selected for that particular day would be effective for both national-level athletes and beginners alike.

It’s important to realize that as “CrossFit Coaches,” we’re tasked with far more than simply reading words on a white board to a group of people. The responsibility, and quite frankly the privilege, we’ve been given is to make our athletes better than they were when they walked through the door. This could mean helping them prevent or recover from injury, improving strength or range of motion, giving them a safe place to disconnect from the stress of life for sixty minutes, and any combination of the above plus countless other options.

The next time you find yourself preparing to lead a class or train a client, try to remember that. Yeah, my friend told me that he always feels warm when he takes my class, and that feels great to hear. But really, it served as a reminder to myself that by striving to never “phone it in,” I’m actively working to ensure that every athlete I work with has the greatest likelihood of success. I don’t take that responsibility lightly, and don’t think others should either.

Also, it reminded me that I need to warm up more effectively myself before I work out alone. 

Stay safe and have fun out there, friends!

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