Last week, a beginner’s course started at our gym. And being the wee-intern I am, I get to help.
My role? Make sure no one is doing anything stupid. Basically, I am another pair of eyes in the class. As the Coach instructs, I can move around and help where needed. I’m accessible for questions and concerns of the athletes.
It’s proven so far to be a great structure. First, my benefit is I’m getting to watch a Coach teach a class of newbie CrossFitters. From the air squat to the deadlift, I get to see it instructed from Square One.
Second, having the ratio of athletes to Coaches/interns that we do is excellent for making the newbie feel comfortable. They have more eyes on them, helping them through the class. No one is floundering for more than five seconds before a Coach is there, helping him or her out.
Plus, while the Coach is focused on teaching and knowledge building, I’ve given myself another role: ramping up the community aspect.
Once you join CrossFit and have been in a Box for a few years, it can be easy to forget that even your vetran member was once scared and new, unsure about everything and terrified of the guy doing muscle-ups in the corner. They knew no one and probably felt they’d be crushed by the weight if someone put a barbell in their hands.
Watching the new class last week, I became nostalgic for that time. I remember wanting to quit and give up and feeling out of place. Now, I can’t imagine life without the friends I’ve made at the gym. And if nothing else, I want that for those newbies.
Technique and mechanics are essential in the foundational beginnings of one’s CrossFit career. But let us not forget about the all-important community aspect. Just because you have a great Box full of wonderful people doesn’t mean the newbies will automatically feel included. It’s something you — and your members — have to work toward and pour effort into; otherwise, those members will be lost between the cheering and friendships already formed.
One thing I’ve learned to be valuable is knowing each new athlete’s name. I first learned it, then used it every chance I got, and I even repeat their names silently to myself as I look about the room. What’s also helped is asking about their lives, their weaknesses and truly listening to them. And finally, we’ve tried to instill in them a sense of camaraderie by having them cheer each other on in the workouts.
It takes work and effort, or it will fall by the wayside. So while you’re teaching your newbies the ins and outs of technique, don’t forget the just-as-important aspect of community.