Giving Guidance to Your Members

Educate your members on appropriate modifications.My double-under attempts weren’t even attempts. I think the rope had gained a mind of its own, flinging itself in a path around my head, biting at my legs without remorse. It was like I was trying to do singles as fast and as ungracefully at possible.

If that had been the workout, I would have smashed it out of the park.

At my Box, the programming of each day’s WOD is broken into four different levels — from level A, the beginner level, to level D, the crazy firebreather workout. I am proud to say I’m a level A and often I struggle with even its modified WOD. However, there are other times, like the workout mentioned above, where I think I need a bit more of a challenge. And then sometimes, I realize I was wrong.

See, level A had to do singles — I’m talking hundreds of them. But, I’ve gotten pretty good at singles and decided I wanted to push myself. So, I took on level B which required you to attempt double-unders. Yeah, it was a bad choice for a gal who can’t even get close to one.

However, this got me wondering. What kind of programming and levels do you have set up at your Box? Is the posted WOD what’s prescribed and then each individual modifies as need be? Or are there levels, like my Box, that give the WOD already broken down into its various stages?

Now, both have their positives and negatives it seems. In the first, the individual can choose whatever he or she wants in terms of modifying. However, to a newbie that would be overwhelming and I personally think I would tend to lean on the easier modification for fear of the inability to complete the WOD. This goes with the second option as well. If people see all the options, they can pick and choose and piece together their workout — a fact that can be negative and positive. But, again this can be overwhelming to a newbie who may not know exactly how hard or easy something might be.

All in all, I suppose I wish for some more guidance in such things like this. Yes, classes have more than one person in them and a Coach has a million other things to do. Yes, I’m still a CrossFit newbie and am still learning the ropes of all the moves, and over time I’ll probably be able to better discern what I am capable of. But, I think especially at the early stage, it is key to set your eyes on those new members and help them along.

Nobody wants to fail all the time. Hopefully, nobody in a Box wants it to always be easy. That balance can be hard to find. Maybe it’s time to restructure, setting levels and requiring members to graduate from one to the next. Maybe it’s time to keep a closer eye on members, new and old alike. Maybe when giving modifications, explain what kind of limitations mean you should do said modification.

Overall, I think your members need to be educated on not only how, but when to modify moves. Be on the lookout for those who look confused or scared; I talked to a Coach the other day, Diane Fu of San Francisco CrossFit, and she brought up the importance of intuition. True, not everyone is born with a strong sense of it, but Fu explained how it can be strengthened over time, how it takes practice coaching to be able to know and read people quickly.

Strive for that intuition to know when people are ready for this move or that one. Be watchful. Give guidance freely. And most importantly, help your members succeed.

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