That Time I Became a CrossFit Coach

In the spirit of full disclosure, I may as well tell you *all* the exciting things going on lately!

In September, 2012, I walked into Big Horn CrossFit, completely unsure of what to expect. Turns out, I didn’t need to stress; I loved the sport and I loved the gym. Since then, CrossFit has become a regular part of my fitness routine. Sometimes I go three times in a week, other times it will be more like five or six. Either way, it’s important for my physical health, my outdoor endurance, and my sanity.

The owners and coaches have approached me a few times about applying for their coaching program, but the timing never seemed right. As a former ski instructor, adaptive ski instructor, track coach, and dance teacher, I truly love coaching. But life is busy and it is a big time commitment, so I never felt ready.

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PC: Will Rochfort from last year’s Schoolyard Showdown

This time, I decided I was ready. I’m going to be a CrossFit coach!

Big Horn does this a bit differently than a lot of gyms out there, and I really like their approach. To be an entry-level CrossFit coach, one must acquire the L1 certification–this is the rules as per CrossFit HQ. Near as I can tell, many gyms ask their experienced members to go pass the test and be a coach…and that’s it. But not Big Horn.

Instead, I’m about ready to embark upon a 3-6 month Instructor Training Program. It begins at the end of September, giving me a few more weeks to sort through my life. During this program, I’ll meet with my trainer twice per week: one training class per week and one “shadowing” class per week. The training classes are to teach me *how* to coach: the proper cues, the methodologies, class maintenance tips, and safety precautions. The shadowing classes are for me to see these practices in action. Once I pass my ITP program, then I take the L1 certification.

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I love how Big Horn manages this trainer certification and wish more CrossFit gyms did the same. Of course, I’ve heard the knock on CrossFit that it causes injuries. Like most enthusiasts, I’ll tell you that 95% of the injuries are caused by a lack of personal responsibility or poor coaching. To me, poor coaching stems from having ill-prepared trainers who don’t know what they are doing or what they are looking for. If you throw someone into their certification without any prep, then I expect this is exactly what will happen. But if I spend 3-6 months learning, practicing, and training, I know I’ll be better prepared for my certification and for my actual instruction in the gym.

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My friend Marilyn is kinda awesome

Y’all, I’m psyched. I miss coaching! Sure, the timing is less than ideal since the training begins a month before my new book deadline. When combined with my regular job and my other freelance duties, it will make for a hectic couple of months. But I weighed the pros and cons and I’m excited for this opportunity and didn’t want to wait another full year. What’s a couple weeks without sleep when I have a lifetime of fun opportunities ahead?!

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8 Comments

  • Reply Lesley Glenn at

    As always, you inspire me to take my outdoor/fitness goals to the next level. Even if it means just another 15 minutes of cardio…..or one more step up because one more day of sweat and perseverance might possibly mean another year for me of outdoor adventure!!!! And I dont want to miss that.

  • Reply Kim at

    Whoa. I’m super impressed by the extra training your box expects prior to L1 cert. That’s awesome! I agree, many people would benefit from doing that before just diving into certification/coaching! Best of luck!

  • Reply Christy at

    That is super awesome!

  • Reply RFC at

    I LOVE WHAT YOUR BOX DOES! One of my biggest frustrations in the fitness industry as a whole (and not just CrossFit) is the fact that people can go from zero to certified in practically 48 hours, with absolutely no hands on experience. Obviously as a Crossfit athlete yourself, you’ve had plenty of the hands on experience, but sometimes doing and teaching are two totally different things! So standing ovation, Big Horn CF, I LOVE the program you have created to truly mentor and teach new coaches! And Heather – congrats! What a big, busy year you have going on! I was just thinking to myself yesterday that I wanted to reach out to you to see if R2R2R was still on the table for this fall, but it looks like you have your hands full! So happy for you!

  • Reply Lynn @ The Not Dead Yet Blog at

    That’s awesome! I’ll admit, I’ve always been somewhat wary of CrossFit because of the injuries. This looks like a great program. It’s so important for a coach to actually know what they’re doing in practice, not just on a test.

  • Reply Elle at

    I love this! How great and inspiring! My life is pretty busy and I often find myself slacking on even just working out but you are committing to becoming a coach! Now i have no excuses to just get my workout in! You are such an inspiration to badass ladies! Congrats and i know you are going to rock it! Wish i lived a little closer to Boulder so i could learn from you!

  • Reply I'm Not Too Busy - Just a Colorado GalJust a Colorado Gal at

    […] Big Horn coaching training has been going well! I’m spending two hours/week at the gym, shadowing and learning from our gym owner. I moved beyond shadowing and will likely start running some warm-ups soon, and I’m psyched for the progress. But of course, the dark side of my mind is screaming at me: “Hey, you do know the only time you’ve set foot in this gym in three weeks has been for coaching training, right? You haven’t lifted a barbell in almost 21 days!” Nor have I gone for a run. Or a hike. Or any type of activity that lifts my heart rate above a sit-at-the-desk level. […]

  • Reply Recap: CrossFit Level 1 Certificate Course -Just a Colorado Gal at

    […] began my CrossFit coach training back in September, 2016, and have been gradually working towards this goal ever since then. You […]

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