- This article was originally posted on Don’t buy ads | Grow your box.
When I was fifteen, I was shipped – with a small group of other ‘gifted’ kids – to France and England for a whirlwind tour spanning a total of about 10 days. We were met at the airport by a guide; shown to our bus; dropped at our hotel; met by the guide in the morning; taken to lunch by the guide….for ten days. Our days were scripted down to the last statue, from the wakeup call to curfew. There were a few very short periods of exploration on our own, and of course, those are the times I recall best: getting served beer in a pub; following a monk through his island monastery; jumping to see over the sea of heads surrounding the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.
A few years later, I went to Australia for a month. Our vacation included a rental house and car…and no itinerary. We saw a bit of the coast, spent a day walking around Old Sydney Town, and checked off the typical Touristy things…but also spent many days watching television in our rental. Without a clear plan, we stagnated. Sure, we climbed the Blue Mountains, and had a few other highlights, but the time between those was….well, wasted.
Yesterday, I posted about Perpetual Motion: keeping people engaged by letting them specialize, prioritize, and play. The idea has one scary downside: it’s not simple. There’s no clear path through the garden, no recommended road. People are free to do anything: personal training, CrossFit, special groups for Olympic Lifting or Gymnastics or Running, or just play on their own. All of these things are fine – I’d argue they’re necessary for long-term success.
Our biggest struggle is the creation of a MAP. Since no one follows a particular path – but everyone seems to stick around for a LONG time – at Catalyst, there’s a tendency for bad habits to go unchallenged sometimes. In the pursuit of excellence, constant betterment means seeking the advice of a coach. Our system doesn’t necessarily push everyone into every group, and that means a few members don’t progress as fast as they could. Most seek out coaching on their own; some are encouraged, through competition and comparison, to ask for help. We could do a better job of telling them WHERE to seek it, that’s true.
Luckily, I have an army of volunteer Tour Guides. Sometimes, I invite new gym members to “try the 9am group on Saturday!” It’s a trap. After the warmup, I pair each newcomer with some fabulous maven (male or female) who is absolutely terrific at making them feel welcome. They hold their hand through the workout; stretch beside them afterward; and ask about their intentions while I quietly sneak into the background for awhile.
These tour guides talk about stuff. “Oh, you should try OnRamp.” “Wait until you do Barbell Bettys! You’ll really improve your strength!” “I did Personal Training with Mitch to help with my snatch….”
I still need to develop a map to make things easier, but it will be a list of “Don’t Miss This While You’re Here!” items, rather than A-B-C-D. A map will help the tour guides (not replace them.) A map, and guides, are necessary because our Gym isn’t simple. However, I believe it’s better to catch people in a web than to send them up a rope.
This article was written by Chris Cooper, of Catalyst Fitness/CrossFit Catalyst. He has his own blog, Don’t buy Ads, where he shares relevant info for CrossFit boxes. Chris has also partnered with 321Go Project to offer affiliate business mentoring/coaching to affiliates who are either stuck or are ready to take it to the next level. Find out more about our affiliate business mentoring/coaching strategies >>