Monday
Jan132014

The Benefits of Introductory Programs at Affiliates


As we mentioned in our article “Screening Policies for New and Transfer Athletes,” a fairly standard entry point for newcomers into CrossFit affiliates is an introductory course, often named something like Foundations, Elements, or On Ramp. In my opinion, a thorough, well-executed foundations program is one of the best ways an affiliate filters new members into their existing Group Class programs. In this week's article, I'll talk about why I think our Foundations program is so important, describe our philosophical approach to it, discuss some other options, and provide the syllabus for our most current curriculum.

I started CFSBK in a park in Brooklyn—back when very few people knew what CrossFit was—and only five months in I started requiring Foundations courses for new or interested members. Three of those initial few months involved only a handful of people, training two days a week. But at the time I implemented Foundations in early 2008, I'd developed a consistent following of about 10-20 people attending the small number of group classes I offered. Even with such a small group, it was obvious to me that having to review the most elemental features of every exercise as new people showed up was a disservice to my most loyal members. Additionally, it created a potential "wild card" situation for every class, given that someone I’d never met or seen move could show up to any of my group classes.

CFSBK has since run well over 300 Foundations cycles and countless private sessions over the last six years. While the basic template and class structure have evolved (and continue to evolve), the intent of the program remains the same.

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Sunday
Jan052014

Continuing Education: A Sample Test About Cleans


In our November article “Continuing Education: Giving Coaches Tests,” we wrote about our ongoing in-house education, and how almost two years ago, I started creating and administering graded tests as an attempt to increase the quality and consistency of our coaching staff. As our gym grew, it became clear that we all needed to be on the same page regarding our basic understanding of the information that we’re accountable for on a daily basis. Christian Fox, one of the coaches who’s been with our gym the longest, just wrote a new test for CFSBK, called “Clean Foundations and Progressions Part 1,” (Part 2 to come!) which can be found below, along with the study guide. Let’s meet Fox and hear some of his thoughts about his test…

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Monday
Dec302013

The Benefits of Leveled Programming


In the summer of 2012, we modified our group class programming format to include two levels of participation. We adopted this concept from several other CrossFit affiliates that had already started offering similar programming, and we implemented it out of our desire to best serve all our members. Almost immediately, we found that leveled options actually made both writing workouts and running classes much easier. In another post, I’ll discuss how we actually write and come up with the programming at CFSBK, but in this article, I’ll talk about our execution of this type of programming and underscore some of the benefits.

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Monday
Dec232013

Screening Policies for New and Transfer Athletes 


This article is going to kick off a new category about policies that I’ve found to be helpful for running an affiliate. Many of the policies we’ve created were born out of necessity. Over the years, we encountered certain types of situations and started to realize that instead of dealing with people on a case-by-case basis, it would be easier to have set policies that we could refer to, both to make our jobs easier and prevent people from taking decisions personally. Additionally, people inherently respect and respond to order of operations. These policies also help keep coaches and any other staff on the same page.

Any athletic facility that primarily works with the general population (instead of training elite or specific athletes) caters to a steady stream of folks with vastly different physical backgrounds. As any experienced coach knows, some of these people are going to be extremely inflexible or uncoordinated, and they may also have significant preexisting orthopedic issues. Additionally, they might have a stubborn personality that is harder to coach. In this week's article, I'll talk about some ways we screen new members and transfers. The ultimate goals are to consider best practices that maintain a standard of entry into your group class programs and keep people safe.

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Monday
Dec162013

Organizing Lifting Segments


As discussed in the article “Using Time Stamps to Manage Group Classes,” different types of training segments may require drastically different approaches. In this article, I'll talk about how CFSBK organizes and manages lifting segments—the portions of class when athletes are lifting semi-autonomously or in small groups. During these sections of class, our coaches walk around triaging issues on a case-by-case basis. Because you can't work with everyone at once, you'll need some tools to ensure these segments run smoothly and that people are training in an intelligent and safe manner.

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Tuesday
Dec102013

Building Community through your Blog


A blog is an essential tool for communicating with your members and cultivating an authentic, exciting community. There is a psychosocial element built into CFSBK’s business philosophy that recognizes that people don’t just walk through our doors to get fit, but also to be part of something larger than themselves. As an affiliate owner, you have an enormous and meaningful opportunity not just to facilitate athletes connecting deeply with the CrossFit program, but also with other likeminded people. And of course, that connection does nothing but make your business more exceptional, by encouraging retention, loyalty, and investment.

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Monday
Dec022013

Using Time Stamps to Manage Group Classes


As mentioned in a previous article, “Starting Classes with Introductions,” quite a lot of movement and coaching needs to fit into a 60-minute CrossFit group class. A typical class might include a compilation of three to five segments involving barbell warm-ups, reviews at the white board, WODs, lifting, skill development, and cool downs, etc. Especially as your affiliate grows, you'll need to have consistent and effective time management strategies to get large volumes of people through each class in a clear and practical way. At CFSBK, we constantly use time stamps—by which I mean specific, pre-set amounts of time—to achieve our planned programming within the hour.

Below I'll discuss some different class segments we typically use, how long each segment takes, and how we manage the segment’s time limits. As you'll see, we're heavy users of wall-mounted digital timers.  If you're only using timers to measure WOD finish times, you're totally under-using them. We have four digital clocks in our gym—one always displays the actual time, and our coaches use the others to communicate time stamps and run WODs. Having multiple clocks is also helpful when running more than just Group Classes at any given hour.

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Monday
Nov252013

Equipment Hacks: Labeling Barbells, Bumpers, and Kettlebells

To offset some overhead costs, most young affiliates start out with economy bumper plates and kettlebells. The cheapest versions are usually all black, and the more of them you accumulate, the harder it can be for you and your members to properly identify during equipment selection and clean up. Unlabeled 10lb and 15lb bumpers can easily get stacked together and a sea of black kettlebells can lead to lots of individual inspection in a hunt for the desired "pood". Of course, more expensive versions come handily color-coded, which—when you can afford them, especially the bumpers—are totally worth it.

Until those purchases are feasible, you might have all black or mismatched equipment. Here are three easy steps to labeling equipment and making it consistent with more colorful and pricey counterparts:

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Monday
Nov182013

Compensating Coaches Part 2


In Part 1, I mentioned that the fundamental principle behind CFSBK’s pay philosophy is that staff is our most important investment. I addressed the first category of a coach’s income, which was Group Classes. Today, I want to discuss the other three categories:

Personal Training and Special Programs
Administrative Duties
Additional Benefits

As I said in my last post, without offering competitive and sustainable wages, you will not be able to hold onto highly skilled professional coaches.

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Sunday
Nov102013

Starting Class With Introductions


A longstanding tradition at CFSBK is to start classes with introductions and a short Question of the Day (QOD) while we do our general movement preparation. We’ve been doing this since the days when were still meeting in a park and over time, it’s become a staple of our class template. Initially, I just thought it was a nice way to start classes and get people acquainted, but it has since proven to be a valuable tool for setting the tone of the class, learning people’s names, and showcasing the personality of our members and coaches. The QOD reflects the importance we place on both having an on-going, continual conversation with our members, and creating opportunities to foster a sense of community.

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