Although the Open is over, there are still lessons to be learned from those five weeks. In fact, in an attempt to perpetuate excitement ahead of 17.1, Jeff Germond, the owner and founder of CrossFit NOLA, which has three locations throughout New Orleans, and his team used a series of skill clinics.
“We started clinics to precede the Open, to get people excited,” said Germond. “We had four in a row in January and February. We had done clinics before but not with that frequency.”
Germond said CrossFit NOLA had hosted clinics previously for double unders and muscle-ups. But for the four-part series leading up to the Open, they added clinics for toes-to-bar and chest-to-bar, and handstand pushups because the team felt confident those moves would appear in the Open — and each of them did.
“We wanted to give people a chance to practice. We do a lot of the moves in regular CrossFit classes, but we can’t always spend the amount of time you might need on the progression of a muscle-up,” said Germond. “The clinics gave us an hour long buy-in of people being able to just come and see where they’re at and what they needed to get there and that was really nice. A lot of people enjoyed that.”
The Box owner explained the muscle-up clinic was the most popular because he believes it’s a skill every CrossFit athlete wants to be able to do.
“We had people who were new who wanted to see if they could do one, and we had people who have been with us for years, who just hadn’t crossed the bridge to be able to get one and they weren’t sure why they couldn’t — so we put those pieces together for them and showed them what they needed to do in order to get it,” he explained.
Germond added each clinic included in-depth instruction, beginning with a general warm up and a discussion about where athletes felt they were with each skill, giving Germond and his Coaches the opportunity to address specific questions and concerns.
“We went through progressions of the standard positions of each movement,” he said. “Where you need to be to start, how you initiate the movement, and we broke off and did drills for that movement,” he said.
Germond also explained the clinics, which ranged in size from 10 athletes to over 25, were centered around skills that not only did he expect to see in the Open, but also ones he felt people couldn’t necessarily figure out how to do on their own.
The intense instruction helped several athletes get over the hump, though. “We had a number of people get firsts, which was cool,” said Germond.
Germond added he was pleased with the way the clinics ran, but if he could make changes, he would attempt to better anticipate clinic participation and avoid crossover with regular classes.With larger clinics, like the muscle-up session, the gym got crowded at times.
To avoid that situation, Germond said he might consider hosting a second option and doing two clinics back-to-back to split up the crowds. He said he would also consider promoting the clinics sooner.
Most of the marketing around the clinics took place in-house on the Box’s private Facebook page for its nearly 400 members. Outside attendees were welcome and charged the standard $20 drop-in fee, while the clinics counted as a regular class toward members.
Germond acknowledged he could’ve charged members for the clinics, but he said the main goal was to encourage Open sign-up, and he’s happy he chose to go in that direction.
Skill clinics, however, can be great year-round to illicit Open-like excitement from your membership and Germond added that CrossFit NOLA will likely revisit the muscle-up clinic in a couple of months.
“We did it with the intent to make the experience valuable for our members and not necessarily to make money, and it worked for us,” he said. “The people who went had a very rewarding experience. We had lots of people get their first double under or their first muscle-up and that’s what gets people excited.”