“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”- H.G. Wells
CrossFit’s James Hobart on On-Ramping Programs for New Members
As a CrossFitter for over a decade, CrossFit Games athlete nine-times over, CrossFit Seminar Staff, coach and one of the key leaders of CAP (CrossFit Affiliate Programming), James Hobart knows a thing or two about creating a killer experience for members. We caught up with him for Coffee Break Conversations last week where we dove into several topics; one of which was his opinion on having an on-ramp class, or something similar, for folks newly joining the gym.
Anyone who’s owned a box, coached at an affiliate or even been the fresh-faced trial member probably knows there’s a few different ways to go about incorporating someone into the regular classes. Some choose to offer personal training sessions first, others require a “test” or in-house on-ramp course, many let you just jump right in. As with many things in the affiliate model, there isn’t one “right” way, but Hobart’s experience informs a unique approach you could consider offering.
“I think the first thing is it’s dependent on the structure of your affiliate and what resources you have. For example, when I owned an affiliate (CrossFit Boston), we had enough people there and enough coaches and enough resources where if a new person came in and I was at the gym, I would ask them, ‘Have you ever done CrossFit before, yes or no?’. The next question I would ask is, ‘Are you comfortable with group classes?’”
“And if they said yes, great, I’m going to be your workout caddy. I’m just going to shadow you. We’re going to take class. Any question you have, I’m just going to be right there, you let me know,” he said. “And that process was really successful for us because it’s probably pretty nice to step into CrossFit and have someone who will bring you your barbell and grab your plates and tell you what all the words mean and just kind of walk you through it — that’s how I would do it.”
Not being confident in a group workout setting, for example, is something seasoned athletes may take for granted, but could be a foreign concept to those making the switch to functional fitness classes.
“If they (the new member) said something like, ‘No, I’m not comfortable with group classes;, I’d say, ‘Hey, let’s just sit and watch a group class together’,” Hobart explained. “And we would sit and watch a class and typically afterwards they would (realize) no one’s really paying attention to you, not the coach, but other athletes. The fear is always that when you’re in class, everyone else is going to be laughing at how unfit you are. But the reality is everyone is literally struggling to just survive, just like you survive CrossFit.”
Hobart went on to share that alternatively, the gym he currently coaches at, CrossFit Mafia in Colorado, runs a one-on-one on-ramp program new members complete before joining class, consisting of three sessions that are done while the class in the background is going on. Being able to see the group class in action during these appointments, and having a low barrier to entry for the course, are two key components Hobart notes as important.
But again, it’s certainly worth noting that not every gym has the ability to staff their location to offer the former.
“I do think it comes down to resources. I really love the model, if you have the ability in your gym, to have someone who can be like a workout caddy,” expanded Hobart. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but it can be really helpful to introduce people to all of those things you’re talking about, all those little things that could stop people from going into a gym — the names (workout movements, lingo, etc.) and just the craziness and the chaos and the music. Sometimes it’s just a lot of information overload, for sure.”
In the same interview, Hobart shared his thoughts on providing standardized programming to affiliates (spoiler alert: it’s not for everyone), how folks enrolling in the Level 1 course have changed over the years, and much more.* And, he even shares what’s kept him interested in CrossFit for so long, which we can definitely relate to.
“Here’s the dirty secret: CrossFit never gets easier, you only get fitter. And then they start loading more weight on the bar and asking you to go faster…but the reason I’ve stuck around so long is the people — it’s the amazing people you meet, the new people you meet (and) the different stories you hear.”
*Rx only. Coffee Break Conversations are weekly interviews with an industry expert, exclusive to Rx members. Join here for just $1 for the first four months.
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In case you missed it: Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil spoke to Tal Short, the Senior Product Manager of Reebok’s training footwear, to get a first look at the newest Nano, the X3.
CrossFit HQ update: Conor McEleny (Oceania) and Carlos Albaladejo (Asia) have been given region exemption status by CrossFit, a list that now includes Roman Khrennikov, who moves to the North American East region.
Competition update: The fifth annual Northern California Classic‘s qualifier registration is now open for the event that will take place Sept. 8-10 in Lake Natoma, Rancho Cordova, CA.
Another comp update: The deadline for the online qualifier for The Crown by The Progrm 2023 has been extended to Feb. 5. Athletes from 14-21 years old will head to Mallorca, Spain to compete to wear the crown in the competition that was founded by John Singleton and is back after a three-year hiatus. 🇪🇸
Shoe drop: Danielle Brandon’s R.A.D. shoe is out and it is well, pretty rad.
How to Crush the 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Open
The 2023 Open is just over three weeks away and the anticipation and excitement has begun to stir across the CrossFit community. Each of us may have different reasons for participating, but the Open will equally challenge and test us all. Each year, the unknown element of our sport tends to drive the community a little crazy, so we’re hoping this helps ease some of those nerves.
Part 2: Will Oceania Get Less Additional Games Tickets Without Tia?
The 2023 CrossFit season is officially upon us, but we still have several questions about how certain stages will play out. Morning Chalk Up’s Lauren Kalil sits down with sports analyst Mike Halpin and Games athlete Brent Fikowski to discuss what we do know, and what questions we still have.
CrossFit Games Masters Champion Cal Cherrington to Pursue Wrestling Glory
Cal Cherrington, the owner of Stand Firm CrossFit in Granby, CO, capped off his 2022 CrossFit Games season by winning the Masters division (65+). Now he will retire from the competitive side of the sport in order to pursue another championship, one in wrestling.
The details: The 2023 U.S. Open, presented by FloWrestling, will take place in Las Vegas on April 26-30. Cherrington will register and compete in both the Freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions while trying to add a win to his resume.
“So I’ve always wanted to get back into competitive wrestling in the last – say five or six years – but the US Open is held the same week as the online qualifier, or what they’re calling the Quarterfinals now,” Cherrington said. “And it’s in Vegas, and it’s like if I go out there and try and do those workouts the next couple days, I’m just not gonna be able to do it.”
“So this year, I’ll do the Open because I love doing it, and it’s definitely a high point of the year in our gym because we all do it. But I probably am not going to do the qualifiers and stuff because I want to go wrestle in the Open. If you win the Open, you can go wrestle for a world title.”
A new division: As Cherrington explained, there have been some changes in recent years. The Masters’ division in wrestling used to refer to anyone over the age of 35. Now, however, there are age groups, much like in the CrossFit world. Cherrington will be able to face off with other athletes in the same age range.
The background: A high school wrestling coach for 33 years, Cherrington learned about CrossFit from one of his former students. He said it was either 2011 or 2012 when he received the recommendation. He Googled CrossFit workouts to see what they were, and he stumbled across Murph.
Cherrington gave CrossFit a try, and he immediately became hooked. He started training this way while also using it to help the kids in his small Colorado town.
“Of course, I started using it with my wrestlers and it changed the game completely. It made practice so much more fun. And they were in so much better shape. I mean, we were always really good, but we got really good and fit. And the kids had fun.”
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