Box Development September 7, 2022

Why Your Coaching Staff Should Do Your Gym’s Programming


If you want your athletes to trust and do your gym’s programming, your first step is to have your coaches do it too. The shared suffering we have come to know and love extends beyond the folks who take the group classes and includes the coaching staff dishing out the pain.

Too many coaches fall victim to thinking that it is their capacity in a workout that validates them as a coach. It’s not — it’s the effort the coach puts forward despite their ability in any given workout.

Let’s look at a few examples of how this can play out.

How Coaches Set the Tone

Example #1

It’s 5 p.m. on a Tuesday, and one of your coaches calls the group to the whiteboard.

“Oh man, that looks like a doozy,” says one of your athletes. “Did you do it?” they ask the coach.

“Ah no, I didn’t, I’m doing another program right now, and I’m in the middle of this huge strength cycle.”

…Wah wah.

That single instance just created a small ripple in the belief in and effectiveness of your gym’s programming. Create enough ripples, and you’re left with anarchy. 

When your athletes learn that their coach is not doing the same workouts they are, it leaves them feeling disappointed, alienated, and questioning why they should trust you for coaching and fitness advice.

Example #2

The next day, your athlete drags themselves to the gym to do the programmed (and dreaded) Run 5K. They don’t like running, but they know that training their weaknesses is one of the tenets of the program. Deep down, they know they should do it.

They walk in and ask, “Have any of the coaches done it today?”

You reply, “I don’t think any of us has run it today.”

…Double wah wah.

The emotions run strong as the athlete then questions why they made an effort to show up. It becomes one more reason not to come when the gym programs something they aren’t thrilled with. It sets an underlying message of, “If you didn’t even do it, why should I? This can’t make that much of a difference.”

How Your Coaches Can Motivate & Inspire Confidence

On the flip side, when that 5K comes out, and your coaching staff shows up in droves, it shows humility, a commitment to the programming, and an ability to see beyond their personal reservations and fears to the bigger picture of gaining a balanced level of fitness. It says to your athletes that you’re putting in the work too, and to that, they can relate.

As an aside, you can insert any workout into the 5K example — it could be a coach on 5×5 back squat day who will get out-squatted by half the gym or a coach who can’t yet do a muscle-up who shows up for 3 rounds of 14 clean and jerks and 7 muscle-ups.

4 Reasons Why Your Coaches Need To Follow the Programming

Following your gym’s programming allows your coaches to do a few things to strengthen the foundation of your gym and community:

1. Lead by Example

We talked about this in a previous post, but we’ll reiterate it here: If you want your members to commit to and believe in your programming and their membership, your coaching staff has to set the example. This includes the days when they will shine in their capacity and the days they will work a weakness and be at the bottom of the leaderboard.

2. Understand the Effects of the Programming

Whether you program your own workouts or subscribe to a programming provider, you won’t get a full picture of what you’re putting your athletes through, what you can expect of them, or the needs of your community if you’re not actually doing it.

3. Up Their Coaching Game

Maybe the scaling option fell flat, maybe your coaches thought the workout was about grip when really it was about the midline, or maybe they just had no idea what to expect. If your coaches want to be able to give your athletes advice on the shop floor, it has to be grounded in experience.

4. Increase Member Attendance

When your coaches do the workout and post their scores — letting the virtual world know that they did the workout — athletes are more likely to sign up and do the workout too. Increased attendance means more consistency, which means more belief in your gym and longer-lasting clients. 

Want More Coach Development Tips?

Download the full “How Your Coaches Can Improve Retention” guide.