In order to have a nutrition conversation with members, you have to disseminate the right information.
““From a Coach’s perspective, it’s really important to understand the chemistry of what goes on in your body with the foods you eat and how they affect your body. That’s everything from energy development, how we provide energy to our body, what kind of hormonal reactions we have from the food we eat and then being able to communicate that down to our members.”” said Dave Greene of CrossFit Spero in Oak Park, Illinois.
At CrossFit Amundson in Santa Cruz, California, Owner Greg Amundson focuses on holistic nutrition – combining one-third physical nutrition, one-third mental nutrition and one-third spiritual nutrition. “We start to look at nutrition in a very, very broad, general sense. And it’s not just physical nutrition. It’s not just the foods that we eat or the liquids that we hydrate our bodies with. It’s the totality of how we are utilizing nutrition in our lives. And there’s even a lot of science behind it,” said Amundson.
He explained foods are digested differently and create diverse hormonal and chemical responses. “Certain foods are just going to be digested in such a way that the hormonal and chemical response in the body is going to allow a peak performance state. It’s been shown that thoughts and words have the same effect on the body,” he said.
If an athlete’s words, thoughts, food intake or spiritual center is off, Amundson explained an athlete won’t be able to perform to his or her full potential. This is why he believes it’s important to have the conversation about holistic nutrition the first day an athlete comes into the gym. “To have a conversation about CrossFit and not talk about nutrition is like having a conversation about CrossFit and not talking about a deadlift. They’re one in the same,” said Amundson.
Brian Arthun agreed. He used his own experience to “cut through the noise,” or explain how important nutrition is to CrossFit. Before he opened CrossFit Perris, Arthun lost 90 pounds through diet and exercise. He knew what worked for him, and he wanted to tell his members his story.
“I tell my athletes when they walk in the doors, ‘I’m not interested in supporting you the one hour out of the day you’re in my gym. I want to support you the 23 hours you’re not in my gym. And the one way I do that is to educate you through the nutrition process,’” explained Arthun.
Greene knows in terms of nutrition, what works in with one person may not work with another athlete. He received his Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification, and is working toward his Level 2. He felt it was necessary to get the certifications in order to educate his members on nutrition both through food and lifestyle habits, such as sleeping enough.
To get another perspective, Greene invited Jason Ackerman, founder of the Flexible Eating program, to his Box. “Just to have an authority or somebody with an outside voice come in and provide a different viewpoint has that much weight with members,” he explained.
Ultimately, all three Affiliates encouraged gaining a diverse set of knowledge on nutrition, in order to educate the membership. “It’s important to reach for as many sources as you possibly can and make your knowledge-base as diverse as you possibly can, so you can be that filter. I like to reach for the sources of information that are completely antithetical to what I preach, just so I have a better understanding of what I don’t necessarily agree with,” said Greene.
Amundson cited The Zen Philosophy’s belief of “emptying the cup,” meaning once an Affiliate is knowledgeable in a subject, he or she passes that knowledge onto members. Then, the Affiliate’s cup is ready to be filled again. “The challenges for a Coach, the tendency because they’re in front of students that are looking up to them, there’s a tendency to think that we’ve learned it all,” said Amundson. “But if you look at people that are really gifted teachers, what you’ll see is they spent a lot of time being great students.”
But Greene knows that like dieting, gaining education in holistic nutrition isn’t going to happen all at once. He said to be happy with the small steps, even if it’s simply a member coming to the Box three times a week.