Three years back, I was preparing myself to leave the 6th grade classroom after four years of teaching and four years of training and eventually, coaching CrossFIt. It was a crossroads–for me–for where I wanted to go, and since that leap of faith, I haven’t turned back since.

A lot has changed since I first went “full send” into the fitness space. It first started off as an opportunity to spend more time on my physical/competition training and to learn more about my craft as a nutrition coach. I had already learned so much from working with my own coaches, and experimenting with my own nutrition for different goals, that I was extra invested in wanting to help others do the same with their nutrition.

Over the course of the past three years, which I can’t even begin to fathom how quickly it’s gone by, there are some pretty big lessons that I’ve learned as a role as coach at CrossFit Des Plaines, and I want to share some of my biggest three in this post. I’ll keep it brief, but if you want to chat more with me about these, you know where to find me!

Top 3 lessons I’ve learned as a Coach at CrossFit Des Plaines:

People often resist adapting to changes or challenges, but are often much more successful with structure and support. Change is difficult. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is difficult. And to repeatedly change and challenge yourself on a daily basis, in addition to doing that in the realm of your fitness can be intimidating! However, I’ve learned that most people who walk through our doors, from the OG founders to the newbies looking to “Just Move” — they’re all in there to become better versions of themselves, and they came with a resistance, looking for structure and support. At CFDP, we have both from our exercise programming, coaching and community all around, and here, our athletes overcome that resistance to change.

Singularity of focus takes you a long way. I’m the first to admit that I can be very easily distracted by all the many things I could be doing at once, but I’ve come to find out that a singularity of focus, at one time, can vastly improve your output. Most of this I learned in training, but also learned in coaching as well. Focusing on “one movement at a time” instead of all the other movements left in the workout allowed me to move well, breathe efficiently and get further in workouts than if I worried too much about the next step. With coaching, we like to use 1-2 focal points for every athlete, and not more. Focusing on cueing and correcting TOO many faults at once can lead to confusion and even discouragement for some. The same holds true for coaching nutrition: focusing on what food goes into your mouth before how much of it often leads to greater long-term success rather than focusing on too many new habits or skills all at one time.

CrossFitters are humans too. It’s kind of hard to believe when we continuously yearn to experience the discomfort and determination to push through some WODs we have done, but it’s true: we’re all human. We all have a unique story, reason for walking through those front doors, and all have a way to connect to one another in some way. It’s amazing how many different people I have met through classes, one-on-ones, consultations, coaching moments and even rejections–that have taught me to be a more patient, compassionate, and even a more outspoken human being. My most authentic self, through it all. We all have a voice within us, and a story of our own, and when you start opening that up about yourself to others, you’ll find that you have more in common than you think.

I’ve been to many CrossFit gyms as a drop-in, for learning seminars and even as a friend tagging along for a workout, but there’s truly none like home base. I’m incredibly humbled and thankful to have been a part in being able to see this community of athletes and coaches grow together. I’ve made some lifelong friends, and am constantly learning more each day.

It’s a pretty cool thing to be able to respond when people ask me “What do I do for a living” and I say “I get to change people’s lives.”

Coach Cheryl

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