How good is your CrossFit Coach Part 2

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by Joshua Otero

I made a point of ending my last article by saying I was going to interview 3 great CrossFit coaches to see what they have in common. Some similarities I found were: quest for more knowledge and experience, a passion for helping others and a love of the sport. I’ll bet other great coaches share these characteristics.

Here are the 3 coaches I interviewed:

August Schmidt – East Valley CrossFit:

1. What brought you into CrossFit?
~In the fall of 2000, I moved to San Diego and became friends with Coach Burgener. Two years later, I relocated to Arizona, but stayed in touch with Coach. I don’t remember the year, but at some point he started telling me about CrossFit. He was using Kettlebells and other methods that we hadn’t previously used to train weightlifters. During that time period I was working as a Strength Coach at a school in Mesa, Arizona. For the most part, I still stuck to fairly traditional strength & conditioning methods and didn’t really look into CrossFit.

In the summer of 2006, I left my job at the school to pursue private business opportunities. This change led me to set up a gym in my garage, where a few of us trained. We tried a lot of different things and had fun. One of my good friends and training partners, Stu Christiansen, had been exposed to CrossFit through his father (who was a Phoenix firefighter). Stu was pretty insistent that we should try CrossFit. Eventually, I broke down, tried a CrossFit workout, and the rest is history.

2. What do you think makes you such a good CrossFit coach?

~ Several of the qualities that I think are important to being a good coach are: caring about the people you’re coaching, being passionate about what you’re coaching, and having experience in the field that you’re coaching.
Your athletes need to know that you care about them. It’s important that they understand that you are working together to get the best out of them and the team. They need to know that you care about their well-being, and that you aren’t going to put them in unsafe situations. Once your athletes know that you care about them and trust you, they’ll give you full effort and commitment. It’s kind of a tacky saying, but it really is true: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

People can sense when you’re passionate about something. If you’re passionate about what you’re coaching, the passion will spread to the people around you. Being deeply passionate about your sport or craft is a big part of what keeps you going once the novelty of your chosen sport has worn off. It’s the passion that keeps you coming back day after day. It’s the passion that drives you to study your sport, learn the history, study the theories and methodologies, and build relationships within the community.

Finally, experience is vital to being an effective coach. There are a lot of lessons that can only be learned through living. Every time you compete, you learn. It takes years to develop a deep understanding of any sport, craft or art. After years of studying your sport, you’ll see things that only other experienced coaches see. We all have to start somewhere and the enthusiasm of a rookie coach is powerful, but nothing can replace the wisdom that comes with years of experience.

3. What do you love most about coaching?

The two things that I love most about coaching are the people and the beauty of the sport. Everything boils down to relationships; the coach-athlete relationship is very special. A coach has the privilege of mentoring athletes, and the right coach can be a life-changing influence. Coaches have the opportunity to teach people how to approach problems, and how to work in structured and focused ways towards accomplishing their goals. Possibly most important of all, the coach creates the culture of the team. The coach can teach athletes how to treat people, how to build people up, and how to create a culture for the betterment of everyone on the team.

4. What’s one thing you would change about the CrossFit community?

Every community has challenges, and I think that there are very few challenges that are unique to the CrossFit community. Based on what I’ve seen, CrossFit is comprised of hardworking, successful, and generous people. CrossFit is hard. It can be uncomfortable, but it is also very rewarding. I want to be surrounded by people who work hard, who understand that it’s okay to be uncomfortable, and who are supportive of one another. CrossFit has been an extremely positive force in my life. Because of the opportunities created by CrossFit, I have been able to find a situation where I can apply my talents—where I am passionate about the things I’m doing, and am surrounded by great people!

Grant Peterson – Gainey CrossFit, WODStar, Vertex Performance:


  1. What brought you into CrossFit?

I was introduced to CrossFit from a friend/coach.  I had just relocated states and was one of the newer personal trainers at a health club.  Jason Fine a former mentor of mine, who had various certifications and credentials, got me hooked right away.  He taught me how to integrate Crossfit with other methodologies to produce a great blend for people.

  1. What do you think makes you such a good CrossFit coach?

I think continuously educating myself not only with CrossFit’s method, but with others has helped me tremendously.  Constantly working on how to adapt programming and movements to private clients and group classes.  Also being a full time coach. If you really want to make a difference and be a quality coach, you have to put in the hours.  Part time will only get you so many reps.

  1. What do you love most about coaching?

I think I love the variety.  I have a lot of private clients, and coach classes during the week.  I love being able to take what I know and adapt it to someone that has physical or medical limitations.  As well the classes have so much positive energy.  I love seeing the changes in people in both settings.

  1. What’s one thing you would change about the CrossFit community?

The community is so huge.  I am not sure that I would change anything about the community specifically.  I am a huge fan of the new levels of coaching that HQ has come out with.  I think if I were to change anything, it might be to avoid over saturation of boxes in the future.

Devin Thaut – Power in Motion Institute:


  1. What brought you into CrossFit?

I wanted to become a UFC fighter/ military. So I thought I might as well get into great shape, joined a crossfit gym and the rest is history.

  1. What do you think makes you such a good CrossFit coach?

Never being satisfied with what I think is enough; always wanting to learn more to make my members the strongest, healthiest and happiest person I can make them. I have had all sorts of coaches throughout my life. Taking the experiences from both the bad and good coaches I’ve had to become the best coach I can.

  1. What do you love most about coaching?

I love seeing someone accomplish something that they once thought impossible and making them think bigger and reach further than they ever imagined. As a coach, once that’s happened, the doors that have opened are now endless. There lives have changed in ever aspect of their life and for the better and there is no greater feeling as a coach.

  1. What’s one thing you would change about the CrossFit community?

I love the community and what if does for people. I guess I would say a higher level of coaches that know what they are teaching and why they are teaching it. Also knowing when to put in heavy load and intensity and when you should be close to a heavy weight or high intensity.

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