The Many Avenues of Coaching

CrossFit Invictus Coaches give tips and advice.

If you’re in the CrossFit world, you probably know CrossFit Invictus in San Diego, California, took first place in the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games’ team competition.

One of the Invictus team members, Melissa Hurley, is a Coach at the Box as well as the downtown gym manager. Michele Vieux, another Coach at Invictus and the director of operations, was on the team in 2010. Both said that this experience has played a role in their coaching.

For Vieux, it has been the ability to strategize with her members about how to best tackle a WOD or movement. For Hurley, it’s the ability to tap into all levels of CrossFitters. It’s also a way to connect with members. “Our members got to celebrate in our win this year,” said Hurley, which was the best part for her. “My why for competing has always been to inspire the members.”

While both Vieux and Hurley have competed in the Games, both have varying backgrounds that molded them into the Coaches they are today.

For nine years prior to CrossFit, Hurley coached college softball. During about six of those years, she said she felt like she fell on her face a lot. “I really grasped the fact that it wasn’t what I knew or what I said that ever mattered to them; it mattered if I showed I cared about them first and foremost,” she said. “So, I think what makes me standout as a Coach is the fact that every single person that walks into the gym, I thoroughly care about them and who they are and whatever their goals are … I’m able to tap into each person a little differently, really grasp the fact of who needs to be yelled at and who needs to be praised and encouraged, who needs both of it, and understand the right timing of each of those different styles.”

While Hurley has been with Invictus for about a year now, Vieux has been part of the gym since it opened six years ago, and had coached at a Box before that. She echoed a similar focus on the members as Hurley. “It really is about relationship building, especially with my personal clients and even with just regular members of the gym, getting to know them inside the gym, but learning about their outside activities, their family, what’s going on in their lives,” said Vieux. “We really do care about them and all parts of their lives.”

Plus, both Coaches agreed in order to be the best trainer she can be, continued learning is necessary. By asking advice from other Coaches, going to seminars, researching and using staff meetings to share any new tidbits learned, they strive for more and more education in an industry Vieux said is far from stagnant. “This is not a part-time job for us, and we spend a lot of time not only on the floor and in the gym, but in our spare time we spend time going to seminars and reading and really expanding our knowledge,” said Vieux.

“I think sometimes stretching ourselves to figure things out in many different ways and avenues allows me personally to be a better Coach because I know there’s not one cookie-cutter way to get to the end result,” said Hurley.

However, it can’t all be about knowledge. If you as a Coach fail to bring energy and excitement to each class, your members will notice said Hurley. So alongside knowledge and caring for one’s members, fun ultimately needs to be there as well. “That’s huge for the Coaches,” said Hurley. “They need to leave their stressors, their family problems, whatever it is bogging them down, they need to leave it at the door and bring as much energy and excitement and fun to each class as they possibly can. They need to be on when they’re on the floor.”

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