I had two gorgeous daughters, but physically, life was not fun. I remember feeling winded from the slightest activities, like tall flights of stairs. Clothes never fit right, and dressing rooms were a nemesis. I simply wasn't comfortable in my own skin.
I had never been athletically gifted; even though I did swim team and soccer in high school and a year of water polo in college, I spend the vast quantity of my school athletics' game time on some sideline or bench somewhere. Even though I had the desire to play and the dedication to show up for practices, in the end, I didn't possess the innate interactive know-how of technical plays, or good reflexes on the field. Even in an individualized sport like swimming, I didn't possess the grace and power that propelled my betters through the water, so I was at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to getting extra help, because swim coaches wanted to focus on their teams' biggest points-winners. Coaches did not give me a whole lot of thought in those days, probably because I was not in any way integral to the win/lose destiny of my teams.
I was anxious about starting CrossFit, even that much more when I had contacted my local CrossFit box and decided to sign up for the ramp up course. Would my experience with CrossFit coaches be any different from my previous athletic/coaching experiences? By that point I was in the worst shape of my life, and I had serious doubts as to whether any fitness professional would look at me be able to see potential where before them stood a sedentary gal who weighed well over 200 lb. and at the time was spilling out of size 14 jeans.
I am happy, though, to say that in the nearly 3 years since then, I have been thrilled by what I've discovered in the CrossFit community's coaching. Because of that, I want to write a little love letter to my CrossFit coaches (and by extension CrossFit coaches everywhere!).
Dear CrossFit Coach,
Thank you. No. Really. THANK YOU.
The job you do is complex and grueling. I know this from watching you faithfully do it day in, day out, through almost three years of my CrossFit experience.
Thank you for not judging me harshly in the first session you ever had with me. Thank you for treating me with respect and patience, despite the awkward moments my body was not doing what my brain wanted it to do, because of lack of practice or sheer fatigue.
Thank you for not telling me to head for the hills every time I had an injury. Instead, you helped me to work around my sore spots and still get decent workouts while those spots rested. Thank you for being open to other scales or progressions or options that I brought up as possibilities during those times, too.
Thank you for never being skeptical that I would make it. Thank you that my willingness to show up and do the work was enough to get your coaching eyes on me day in, day out. Thank you that I didn't have to be the best in the room to get coaching attention.
Thank you for not pulling your hair out and cursing the heavens and then throwing rotten tomatoes at me whenever I did that thing with my form that you are always telling me to not do. Thank you for instead taking a phone video or giving me a new set of cues or correcting me using a fresh method to draw my attention to the mistake in a compassionate and constructive way.
Thank you for checking on my diet, my sleep, my mobility, and the other aspects of living that support a solid CrossFit experience. Thanks for messaging me when I was absent too long - because it brought me accountability but helped to know that I was missed, too.
Thank you for those moments you spoke positively about me to someone else, and I was allowed to overhear you. You might not realize it, but tiny moments like those can help an athlete sail through an otherwise bad day.
Thank you for celebrating with me. Thank you for high fiving me and playing motivating music, and for every encouraging message you wrote when I hit PRs, milestones, or tackled new skills. Thank you for birthday burpees. Thank you for understanding how much it means when you show that you're just as invested in our successes as we are.
Thank you for all the "off hours" unseen coaching work that you put in planning programming, preparing and maintaining the box, dealing with technical glitches, and organizing classes around each other. Many of these things are rarely thought about by athletes, and that means you are doing a fantastic job.
Thank you for every time you go the extra step to cultivate a family atmosphere at the box - one where we can tease each other, compete with each other, spar with each other, cheer each other, and BE THERE for each other. That makes you the family chieftain, as it were, and we are grateful for your leadership and friendship as you guide us on our CrossFit journeys.
THANK YOU for proving how awesome coaches can be!
PK and many other CrossFitting homies out there