Becoming a CrossFit coach has, without a doubt, made me a better market researcher. That may sound completely unrelated, and it felt unrelated for a time. But as I’ve progressed as a coach, it has become apparent that the confidence, versatility, grit, and agility I was building in my gym belonged just as much in my boardrooms, my interviews, and my conversations.

I’ve been a CrossFit athlete for about 2 years, competed in a handful of local competitions, and fared well in the 2019 CrossFit Open. Like many athletes who try a new sport and succeed, I was hooked, line and sinker. So, when Vivisum offered a personal development grant, I jumped at the opportunity to take the Level 1 certification to become a coach. I wanted to know more, be a better athlete, and help others feel as welcomed and excited as I felt when I started.

When filling out the grant application, I had joked this would “improve my public speaking skills” and a smattering of other cliché business buzzwords. I had minimally envisioned this being relevant to work life. But while I was joking about “workplace ROI,” Vivisum saw the potential and value in my application.  They saw the truth that growth, in whatever aspect in your life you choose, can improve everything else. As a fitness advocate, that should have been intuitive, yet it still took me by surprise.

CrossFit takes people of all ages, all backgrounds, all experience and fitness levels and puts them together for an hour-long workout. As a coach, you are not only expected to be able to guide each safely and knowledgeably through a workout – you also strive to create the best hour of their day.  You are to be commanding yet caring, instructive yet listening, entertaining and fun within a set agenda in a set timeframe. Lucky for me, I’ve seen those traits a thousand times before … in every good moderator, good presenter, and good public speaker I’ve ever met (and obviously, my fellow coaches). I had a good model to strive for. I never imagined that being a market researcher would make me better at CrossFit.

It’s been two months since I’ve started coaching. While I still have much to learn- as a coach and as a professional, there are three lessons I’ve learned at the start of this journey.

  • Confidence speaks volumes – Whether you’re presenting to a boardroom of New York bankers or coaching a workout with ex-marines, confidence demands attention. I had once trembled to be in front of such strong personalities and balked at the idea of leading any of them. Now, the intimidation has subsided. While my NYC bankers still run intellectual circles (and my marines, literal circles) around me, I have seen the change and the attention my voice now garners.
  • Versatility is the only constant – They  teach you in the Level 1 certification that a good coach is someone who can customize to the athlete at the drop of a hat. No athlete, no patient, no customer, no problem, and no product is exactly the same as the next. So, we should never expect a message or tactic to work universally. Strength is embracing change.
  • Stay hungry – Intellectual curiosity can only make you stronger. Market research is nothing more than asking questions. “Why does this happen? Who is moved by this? How can we make this better?” Similarly, a good coach is someone who embraces that they will never stop learning. We will never have all the answers.

Jane Hardy

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