Yesterday, I showed up for a workout that included 110 box jumps and 110 kettlebell snatches.

I mentioned to my coach, Lauren that I was “probably just going to do step-ups instead of jumps.”

Lauren asked, “Why?” When I told her my excuses (tired, out of shape, blah blah), she sort-of snorted and said, “Um, NO. You’re doing the box jumps.”

If it were up to me to motivate myself at the gym,

  1. I would probably be at home drinking wine and reading a book instead
  2. I would come up with a million excuses to avoid hard work
  3. I would underestimate my own abilities and settle for a lot less than I was capable of doing

You see, Lauren has known and coached me long enough to know when I’m trying to get out of hard work, and she’s not putting up with that.

She also knows when I am making excuses because I don’t believe in myself. A few weeks ago, I was pretty sure I would not be able to perform the heavy squat cleans that were listed on the workout board. I decided to shoot for about 30lbs less than the prescribed weight.

She didn’t snort this time, but challenged me to try as many heavy cleans as I could manage at the higher weight, and if I started failing reps, to pull off some of it and finish.

Needless to say, in both of these cases (and in many others), I finished the workout at the more challenging level. I may not have been fast, but I was so proud of myself and surprised at my capabilities.

The beauty of a good Crossfit coach is that they see you every(-ish) day, in all of your glories and failures. They watch and celebrate with you in your victories, challenge you on your off-days, and pick you up in your defeats.

A good coach won’t let you hide behind others in the group. They can sense the exact minute that you lean over, hands on your thighs and begin playing the “I hate crossfit, I’m leaving” tape in your head. That’s just the moment they will call out your name and tell you to keep working.

A good coach won’t let your ego get in the way of your safety. Many times, Lauren has made me go back to Crossfit preschool because my snatch form sucks or because I’m trying to rip a power clean off the ground rather than move the weight correctly. She has no problem making this 4-year veteran swallow her pride and use a training bar with all of the newbies until I get my act together.

When friends ask me how to go about finding a good Crossfit gym, I always start with the coach. The building doesn’t have to be fancy; the programming doesn’t have to be complex. The coach is everything. Find someone who is nice enough to make you feel welcome, but who is mean enough to call you out on your bullshit. Find someone who makes you feel like she or he’s invested in your success. Lauren is kind and beautiful and intelligent, but she’s a little scary. That’s the sweet spot, and we’re lucky if we can find those coaches to walk our journey with us.