What’s the best part of any magic trick? When you scour the Internet afterward to figure out how it’s done, obviously. That level of curiosity and fascination with how things work are what separate humans from everything else — well, us and cats. Functional fitness is no different. The coaches are the magicians of the CF world. They hold all the cards. Consider this your cheat sheet to figuring out what’s really going on between your coach’s ears. Here are five things your coach is thinking, but won’t tell you.
5 Things Your Coach Won’t Say
1. They See More Mistakes Than They Let On
Despite what you may or may not believe, that first ever clean you just did may not have been as picture perfect as your coach led you to believe. The truth is they probably saw a ton of mistakes, but might only tell you about one or two. The reason for this is they don’t want to overwhelm you.
There’s kind of an order of operations, a checklist every good fitness coach goes through when watching a movement. Certain things take priority. In a complex movement such as a clean, a coach may willingly choose to ignore that your elbows are a little low in the catch or that your feet jumped out a bit too wide, if you’re pulling off the floor with a rounded back. That takes priority. And once that’s been sorted out, then we can move on to smaller hurdles like elbow position.
2. They See You Cutting Reps
Who do you think you’re fooling? We see you, we always see you. Usually, athletes tend to fall into one of two camps: the group that, no matter how hard they try, can’t manage to figure out how to work out and count at the same time, or the group who intentionally shorts reps, AKA the scum of the earth. Ricky Garard would be ashamed. Harsh, maybe. Thankfully, in my experience, people usually fall into the former group.
3. You Might Get Hurt
This one is a tough pill to swallow, but as with any physical activity, there’s always an assumed risk of injury. I can see the keyboard warriors sharpening their axes… that their moms laid out for them on their bed this morning. But it’s the truth, and this sport isn’t immune.
But that should come as no surprise. Unfortunately, I think functional fitness catches a bad rap. It’s a stereotype perpetuated through message boards and false information. My greatest piece of advice, especially if you’re new to the sport, is to shop around a bit. Try different gyms, meet different coaches, and experience different coaching styles. We all fall under the umbrella that is “functional fitness,” but all CF gyms are not created equally. Find a space you can vibe with that prioritizes proper mechanics and attentive coaches.
This can easily turn into an article all its own, but I will say this: there is an inherent risk in everything, from walking down a flight of stairs to playing soccer, to rolling out of bed in the morning. It’s important to take stock of what’s important to you, weigh the pros and cons, and make an informed decision. In my mind, the prospect of a healthier, more fruitful life outweighs the risk of a few bumps and bruises along the way.
4. You’re Probably Not as Fit as You Think
Everyone — and yes, I mean everyone — regardless of their training or athletic background, walks out of their first class with a delicious serving of humble pie. It’s inevitable and it’s one of the reasons you’ll either return for seconds or run for the hills.
The bright side is there’s only one place to go from here — up. The first few months of training are a magical time filled with conquering new movements, hitting PRs, and making new friends. Enjoy the honeymoon stage while it lasts, because then the real grind begins. You want to know the dirtiest secret in CF? It never gets easier. I’ve been doing CF for roughly nine years now and there are still days I leave the gym wondering what the hell just happened.
5. They Talk About You Constantly
You know the worn out Internet joke — “How can you tell someone does functional fitness? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” Hilarious. But really, if you think athletes are bad about talking about functional fitness nonstop, the coaches are worse — except their topic of conversation doesn’t revolve around fitness. It revolves around you.
Coaches may not take their work home in the traditional sense, but their members — what they did, things they said, slip-ups they had — dominate their headspace and conversation. It’s the reason we had to put a ban on talking about anything gym related at our holiday party — a ban that failed miserably, I might add.
It’s because functional fitness is about community, about family. When you walk through the door we don’t see a bank account statement. We see you. We see your struggles and triumphs, your kids, that time you faceplanted on a box jump. We see you as a part of our family. It’s what makes this sport different from any fitness program on the planet.