Trying to please all of your clients with CrossFit group programming is a near-impossible task. There will ALWAYS be things that your folks want more or less of – this is inevitable.
It’s important to be conscious of the fact that our clients’ goals are modest at best – improving how your clients look in a bathing suit and how they feel day in and day out is a reasonable task.
However, if we aren’t giving our clients the tools to hit these goals and our programming revolves around the comments from a few clients, then we’ll likely miss the mark on both of these areas. Always take feedback, but don’t let that feedback compromise your mission statement.
Something I hear occasionally from our clients is that their client misses things like “muscle-ups” and “snatches” and the classic hero workouts. That’s not to say we don’t program the aforementioned modalities, we do, but far less than most programmers.
The logic is simple: we see our clients for roughly 2% of the total time in a given 168 hour week (roughly 3-4 hours/week). If we spend that time prioritizing higher-skill work we’ll miss the bigger picture.
Higher-skill work and hero workouts have their place and shouldn’t be completely disregarded, but it just comes down to simple math; seeing that our time delivering fitness to our athletes is so limited it makes it tough to actually devote chunks of time to these areas without compromising progress.
There is always a tradeoff with programming and we can’t “have it all.”
What about cycles?
Block periodization is inefficient for a number of reasons, but to read more about why you shouldn’t program cycles to check this article out here.
Specifically, in a group setting, we have many variables and things to consider:
- Clients varying schedules
- New clients that enter group classes regularly
- Can be confusing to some of your clients and prevent them from showing up
- Delivered to a mass of people that have varying levels of skill makes it tough to predict the actual outcome.
- After 3-weeks I’ve found many people loss engagement and “check out”
You may be saying, “We’ve run a maximal strength cycle like 5/3/1 with great success!”
I’m not saying you can’t be successful programming this way, you can. But, is this really the best course of action when considering the above items? I’ve found it is not.
A major driving factor is the variability of our clients’ schedules and running cycles for longer than 3-weeks at a time presents more challenges than benefits.
Instead, a better option if running specialty programs. This allows you to increase your gym’s revenue and allow your clients to specialize in certain areas of their fitness.
High-Intensity All the time
Look, more is not more – if it was you’d have 3-4 Rich Froning-like members. The body simply does not respond to stress the way your members think it does and when we consider things the SAID Principle and General Adaptation Syndrome it makes sense that there is a point of diminishing returns.
By and large, most people are chronically stressed out from their lifestyle. Adding stress on stress is a recipe for overtraining.
In reality, your body does not know the difference between the stress of a workout or the stress of your job. To that end, the answer isn’t more high-intensity work – the answer is actually more LOW-INTENSITY work. Put simply, low-intensity work will improve your clients’ aerobic system which will, in turn, improve their recovery.
This has a cascade of effects like improving their ability to recover during high-intensity workouts and thus improving their work output. Oh and not to forget there is a correlation with the aerobic ability and life-length – there are a number of studies that can corroborate this.
This one is a hard one to sell, but at the end of the day, results are king. This was always the missing piece in my own training and the catalyst for doing the best I’ve ever done in the CrossFit Open despite training significantly less.
Remember why you got into this industry? To help people not hurt or overtrain them – this may be the most critical aspect of their success.
There are a few things all box owners should know and be comfortable with:
- You’ll never please all of your clients: End of story.
- Programming Tradeoffs: If you add high-skill work some people will be happy, but there are some people that will also NOT be happy. There is always a tradeoff and not all of your clients will be vocal about their opinions.
- Don’t be indecisive: Having a set path for your clients and stick to it. There is an ass for every seat and my programming certainly isn’t the “end all be all,” but it’s important we pick a path and not deviate. If high-skill work and more classic CrossFit is the route you think is best for your clients, great! Stick with it and be confident that you’re putting your clients in the best possible position.
- Don’t overthink what your clients need and want: Again, EVERY.SINGLE affiliate owner I’ve talked to over the last 3 weeks says the same EXACT thing, “we just have regular folks and no one wants to go to the games.” If that’s the case for you then why not give your clients what they need to train at your facility for the next 20 years!? For this to happen, they’ll need to make consistent progress, not get burnt out with too much intensity, and they’ll need to NOT get injured. Oh yeah, they’ll also need to enjoy your programming and like your coaches =)
- Program high-skill work and hero workouts from time-to-time: Make sure you account for this in your plan (weeks leading up and weeks after). This work can certainly be done safely and effectively and is a great way to change things up for your athletes.
In short, I hope this article makes you feel a little better about not pleasing everyone. Affiliate owners often take feedback to heart as we put our hearts and soles into our boxes!
When you put everything you have both physically and emotionally into your business when even one person isn’t happy it stings! Chances are you’re doing a great job already, so don’t be too hard on yourself!