The Barber Seat

Although Pat Barber, 28, is better known as an athlete, he’s also a well-known Coach. So, when he’s not competing at the elite level, you can find him within NorCal CrossFit’s walls in Santa Cruz, California, helping other athletes improve their CrossFit game.

Barber was introduced to CrossFit in high school, after two teachers suggested Barber’s volleyball team give it a try. At first, Barber looked at CrossFit as just a great workout. “Now, I understand how amazing the program is,” said Barber. “The entire backend of why we do CrossFit and what it is, is completely backed by data. Arguing with people is amazing for me now because you can’t really argue belief, but arguing data is easy.”

One argument Barber has to continually combat is the misperception that the CrossFit Games is an all-encompassing representation of CrossFit. According to Barber, the majority of people actually focus more on bettering themselves than competing at the Games level. “Ninety-nine percent of CrossFitters are not trying to be at the Games because that is not what it is about,” he said. “It’s about beating the old you and making small improvements over a lifetime, so that every day is a more enjoyable thing.”

As a Coach, Barber gets to do exactly that — help athletes improve their fitness so that every day is better than the last, a fact that he enjoys immensely. “As corny as it sounds, coaching CrossFit has given me a serious purpose in life,” he said. “Helping people really find their physicality is a truly amazing thing and that is what I try to do day in and day out.”

One of the most common struggles Barber witnesses athletes grappling with is not being able to complete a move, such as an Olympic lift, and getting frustrated as a result. When this happens, Barber explains to them that some of these moves are very difficult and mastering them can take time.

“I help people out by telling them how long it took me to feel comfortable with things like the snatch, and clean and jerk, which was about five years before it started clicking,” said Barber. “I then ask them to be patient. It usually helps give some perspective.”

Barber believes great Coaches have open minds and passion. “People who are passionate will do research and work really hard, because what they are doing means something to them,” explained Barber. “They won’t become stagnant because they are always looking into new stuff to share with everyone.”

CrossFit has changed Barber’s life, and coaching allows him to return the favor. “Never before have I seen so many ‘good’ people in one place than at our NorCal Affiliates,” he said.

Rachel Zabonick is the editor-in-chief of Peake Media. Contact her at