I don’t intend to post often about coaching. My editorial policy is that I’m not going to tell other peoples’ stories. It’s not my place. I don’t want to presume things on other people’s behalf and say things I shouldn’t. That being said when things happen as they did today, they seem worth sharing.

I have always said that Crossfit is ‘recess for grown ups.’ One of the things I enjoy most about coaching is having the opportunity to share that concept and demonstrate it to the folks that I coach. Today was a prime example.

We had a good mix of 10 or so athletes. There was also a nice mix of experienced folks and some folks who were in their first week of classes and so it was their first session with me.

As we went around the group introducing ourselves, I explained that in my Friday sessions, I expect everyone to come ready to work hard, but also invite everyone to come ready to play. Because afterall, any exercise program needs to be fun in order to get people to stick with it.

So after some quick stretches I took the group onto the playground out behind the building and per Coach Ami’s programming direction to do some “good cardio warm up.” I explained the rules to Burpee Tag.

This is a warm up I borrowed and modified from the Krav Maga class. In the Krav Maga class you match up in pairs of two or sometimes three. Then you essentially you square off and do light sparring trying to tag each other anywhere from the shoulder to the knee. In Krav Maga, naturally given it’s a self-defense class, you can and are expected to block. So only tags on the shoulder or thigh/knee count as successful tags. If you get tagged, you have to do three burpees.

For our purposes I took out sparring/defending element. Basically, everyone was “it” and everyone was a target. You scrambled and tried to simultaneously tag and avoid being tagged. I set a three minute cap.

It was fantastic to see 10 grown ups (and yes, I played) scrambling, dodging, weaving, running and giggling and hollering as they worked their way around the field! It was exactly the effect I was hoping for.

At the end of three minutes everyone was breathing heavy, dusting the grass off their knees and laughing as we headed back inside for the rest of the programmed work.

This was important in a couple of ways to my very young, but developing coaching philosophy.

First – it was free form exercise.

So much of what we do in the box is so structured. Movements are technical and sequenced. They have to be that way. I think it’s important to relax the rules a bit and make folks’ think creatively. In this activity, it’s not up to me to tell how someone how to move. It’s simply my job to motivate them to keep moving. There’s value in that.

“Can I catch that person? Wait?! Who’s that coming up behind me?! Crap! DUCK!”

Second – it was multi-directional.

The overwhelming majority of what we do in the box is very linear. It is by necessity very up and down and front to back. I’m not questioning these things nor am I critiquing them. I am definitely not calling anyone’s programming into question. It’s just that every now and then when the opportunity presents itself, I like the idea of introducing activities that don’t move in predictable ways and straight lines.

Today, athletes had to jog and sometimes sprint forward, they had to scramble backwards, move side to side, duck and weave to make or avoid tags. That doesn’t happen often and it was a great exercise today to put these folks through that and then talk about it afterwards.

Third – and in my estimation most importantly, it was PLAY!

Hey, it’s Friday, right? Time to relax just a bit and do something unexpected and off the beaten path. Any time a group of grown ups walks away from a work out and they’re smiling and laughing, I consider that a successful activity.