Developing Coaches: Part Two

developing Coaches

As the industry changes and professionalizes, your Coaches need to change and professionalize as well.

But how do you decide what to develop a Coach on, whether through in-house knowledge or by sending them to a seminar? In Part Two of a two-part series on developing Coaches, Box Pro sat down with Samantha Orme, the owner of CrossFit Virtuosity in Brooklyn, New York.

She said they have a specific coaching program to grow the gym’s staff in a variety of skills in order to make sure they have the tools to effectively coach a class. Orme shares the lessons she’s learned over the years in developing Coaches, as well as advice on how other Affiliates owners can grow their own staff:

BP: How do you decide what to develop a Coach on?

SO: Our coaching program is very specific on what skills we want Coaches to develop until they’re very competent at leading group CrossFit classes. That’s a combination of technical skills — identifying good/bad movement patterns; correcting poor movement; creating relevant warm-ups; planning a class timeline; managing the group — and “soft” skills; building a fun and engaging coaching persona; and employing the best possible communication strategy to achieve best performance from each athlete.

BP: What are three things you have learned when it comes to developing master Coaches? 

SO: First of all, there’s no substitute for on-the-floor experience. Secondly, Coaches learn a lot from having private clients — that tends to lead to specialized knowledge about specific issues a Coach might not take the time to research if they came up in a group class, but will find a solution for with a private client.  And thirdly, thinking really broadly about continuing education is great.

BP: How do you advise Coaches on where to develop/grow next?

SO: Once they become more advanced, I encourage Coaches to develop an area of specialty they can do a real deep dive on. Sometimes it’s not super obvious what a good focus would be, and I do sit down with Coaches and do an analysis of where their interests lie/where they can make the biggest impact on the gym/what would be best in terms of developing their private training business and personal brand.

BP: What is one area the industry could improve on in terms of developing Coaches?

SO: I think there’s an under-appreciation overall for the amount of time and energy it takes to become a truly great Coach. There’s a definite tendency to become complacent and just go about your business teaching basically the same class over and over again because you know it works and people just want to sweat, right? It’s exacerbated by this new trend I’m seeing toward sort of globo-gymming CrossFit, i.e. I see quite a few new CrossFit gyms whose owners aren’t Coaches, who are hiring “trainers” for minimum wage and having them run a clock for what’s usually a crazy-long WOD so they don’t have to do much actual coaching. If your Coaches can’t fill an hour class when the programmed workout is “Fran,” they need some serious developing.

BP: Any other advice?

SO: Always get out there and see what other people are doing. Even if it’s just going to take class at another CrossFit gym, go do it. There will be something you haven’t seen before that you can bring back to your athletes and make your coaching better.

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at