Finding Your Best: Meet Coach Fran Gutierrez
Phil Jackson used to say “The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome.” He was talking about coaching.
If you don’t know Jackson, that’s ok. Even without having heard him, Fran Gutierrez had the same perspective when he decided he wanted to coach not just top athletes in CrossFit, but people who’ll overcome anything by having a strong mind and a powerful spirit.
Gutierrez’s training camp, “Busca Lo Mejor” which translates to “Find Your Best” is the third most successful camp in South America, only surpassed by Juan Coronel (coach of Simona Quintana and Santiago Comba, to name a few) and BSB Strong, who coached Brazilian wonder Gui Malheiros. BLM’s methodology has led 8 athletes to compete at the CrossFit Games, every year since 2017–except for 2020, which was held during COVID restrictions.
Starting From the Ground
You know those stories of underdogs that make us cry in the movies? Well, they’re real and closer than you think. Francisco Gutierrez, Venezuelan by birth, started coaching CrossFit as a means to make his Martial Arts athletes stronger and faster. He learned about weightlifting and how to improve strength, speed, and agility. He read about CrossFit’s 10 physical abilities and realized that it was something he needed to pass on to the people around him.
- “I fell in love with the methodology,” he explains. “I read main site content and listened to Glassman. His vision of CrossFit as a pathway to health, fitness, and performance made an impact on me, and that’s when I decided I wanted to be that kind of coach.”
By 2016, Fran had made the tough decision to leave Venezuela by himself, while his family stayed behind.
The constantly declining economy and severe political issues in the country made him one more of the 7 million Venezuelans that now live as refugees in other countries, mostly in Latin America.
He landed in Medellín, Colombia, and started working as an Uber driver in order to bring some food to the table.
- “I used to sleep on the floor and work until 3 or 4 in the morning. I loaned a car and worked every day, with no rest. I still wanted to become a coach to the best athletes in the sport of CrossFit and bring my family home, so I kept that motivation in mind.”
He then approached the owners of Hakuna CrossFit, a Colombian affiliate, and asked for a part-time job as a coach. He would work the morning classes, starting at 5 am, just an hour after his last drive.
Gutierrez’s wife and kids joined a year after, and they started a new life. By having them by his side, he was able to focus more on his goal of becoming a professional coach.
Once he was able to coach full-time, he joined BullBox MDE CrossFit and worked on his goal to improve people’s lives and overall health through sport. The words of classic CrossFit methodology resonated in his head: expect the unexpected, find magic in the programming, and make a community and build something great.
He has coached athletes such as Emiliana Guerra (2018 Games Teen athlete), Fransiela Jimenez (2017 Teen Games athlete), Arturo Mora (Nicaraguan National Champion), and Juan David Ocoro, one of the top Adaptive athletes in Latin America. This year, the goal is no different: continue the streak of sending –at least– one athlete to the Games. Most of them, like Luanette Alveo, now live in the US and train or work at different CrossFit programs.
Creating Great Humans First
What’s the core of Fran’s programming? He believes, first and foremost, that you have to create a great person, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually, in order for them to become great athletes.
- “If you work on the mind and the emotions, physical abilities improve and flourish,” he says.
- “Everyone has an X factor: something that moves them and that can be used to,” he added.
In Gutierrez’s case, this is hunger. Real hunger.
- Gutierrez also works with children and young adults who are also refugees from other Latin American countries; people who’ve been displaced from home due to war, politics, or violence or live with little to no resources. People that cannot afford food on their tables, but want to get better and improve their lifestyle.
Gutierrez, along with the two affiliates he works with, have created an informal scholarship program that seeks to create top athletes and give them the opportunity to make a name, maybe earn an income by coaching or having sponsors, and build a home, travel, and, at the bottom of the list, become champions.
The community from both Hakuna and BullBox joined efforts in his quest. People from the gym share their homes and sometimes take in new athletes; they share their food and chip in to buy knee sleeves, grips, ropes, shoes, and gear.
The five-year plan includes building dorms and what Fran calls, a fully equipped training center for the next generation of CrossFit athletes to help others succeed in what Fran mentions is the true core of the community: resilience.
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