Live like a Coach, Work like a Business

CrossFit Coach

Congratulations! You’ve now “made it” as a CrossFit Coach.

You took your weekend Level I and passed the test. And if you’re working anywhere like my gym, San Francisco CrossFit, or down in LA at Deuce Gym, you’ve even completed a multi-month internship program with its own rigorous interview and testing process.

Not to mention all the books you’ve read, YouTube videos watched and hours spent obsessing over all things CrossFit.

Yes, you’ve sacrificed a lot just to get your foot in the door.

So what if I told you the “real” work is just beginning?

What if I told you that very few Coaches actually make enough money to live teaching classes in the gym? Unless of course they own the gym and teach ALL the classes.

What if I told you that one-on-one training is not easy either? It requires a different skill set, an audience different from your Box’s general membership, and generally more time and runway to build up.

What if I told you that more and more CrossFit gyms are saturating the market, making it even harder for your gym — and your coaching — to standout?

If you want to live the life of a Coach, you’re going to have to think and work like a business. 

Of course you’ll need to continue refining your ability to see and correct movement, program awesome workouts and keep your group enthralled with your every word. In many ways, these skills are the easiest to improve because they’re the ones you most care about!

But these skills alone, especially in this day and age, won’t guarantee a pay check.

To keep members coming back to your classes, to get the word out about your coaching and to build other coaching-related income streams, you’ll want to add a few more “to dos” to your day-to-day.

Unless you are receiving a legit salary at your gym, you really are a small business of one person. Fortunately, there’s so many great resources out there to improve your small business skill set that you can be up and running in no time. Below I share some of my favorites:

Business Podcasts: Listen & Learn from Others

I confess, I’m a Tim Ferriss fan. He has one of the most interesting, inspirational and useful podcasts around. A signature of Mr. Ferriss is to examine the daily routines of creatives, CEOs, actors and entrepreneurs so that we can all benefit. Try this episode for starters: “5 Morning Rituals that help me win the Day”

Digital Marketing: Get Organized

In this day and age, powerful marketing that can drive serious traffic your way has never been easier or more accessible. Not everyone seems ready or organized to do all the work however. Which is good for you if you’re ready to go “back to school”. Digital Marketers are some of the best in the biz, with excellent articles and resources teaching you how to be a savvier more successful business. Start here with this article on “Customer Value Optimization.”

Social Media: What’s Your Call to Action? 

I’ve put social media in a separate category, but ideally your daily workout and paleo meal posts should fit into a bigger digital marketing strategy. So while regular posting is good, establishing a more targeted approach to drive traffic with a call to action is even better.

The same thing can be said for Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. The question to ask yourself: “What do I want my followers to do?” or “Where do I want them to go?” is helpful before you post.


The more good stuff you put out in the world, the more good stuff will come back to you. And if you put even a small inkling of planning and intention behind it, you can really double or triple your time investment.

That’s why taking the time to create content, even for free, can be so valuable to your business and your brand in the long run.

With so many different formats and styles out there, you’re sure to find a platform that suits your message and personality:

  • Write blog posts and articles for your site, or guest write for other businesses and websites, like I’m doing right now.
  • Instagram “how to” posts, workout videos, and inspirational quotes!
  • YouTube videos and VLogs
  • Facebook posts, shares, and “live broadcast” workouts and tips, etc.
  • Podcasting—hosting your own or getting on other podcasts for guest interviews
  • Periscope, Snapchat, etc.

Really for all of the above, you can build your own channel, do guest posts and collaborations on others, or better yet, a combination of both!

At the end of the day, a combination of discipline, creativity and long-term thinking win the day when it comes to content! So if you start something, be ready to stick it out for at least a few months before you pre-maturely “judge” its effectiveness.

To see an excellent Instagram example, check out this page. Word on the street is that each post takes six to 10 hours to create.

Also, be very clear on how you’re measuring success. More followers doesn’t always mean more money in your pocket. It’s all about connecting with the “right” audience that needs to hear your message and then become your clients.

Community Outreach: 

It’s good to remember though that “followers” aren’t just numbers — they’re people. And it’s by building these relationships over time that has really created so much success for so many CrossFit Boxes and Coaches around the world.

Whether it’s hosting a FREE monthly community workout at your gym, or better yet, going to volunteer at a local event, helping out with a high school team or hosting a local talk, building these real relationships with real people in your real community will, in the long run, lead to a real sustainable business with real dollars in your pocket.

Note the emphasis on “real” here.

So that’s it. Welcome to the world of CrossFit coaching. If you really want to live this coaching life, it’s time to start thinking like a business!

Nate Helming coaches strength and mobility for national and international-level road cyclists, mountain bikers, triathletes and ultrarunners at San Francisco CrossFit, as well as elite-level amateur runners and triathletes outside the gym. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and check out more of his videos and articles on his website,