What I learned in Invictus University
Written by Kisha Wilson
After running my own CrossFit gym for nine years, I was well accustomed to “scaling and modifying” workouts to meet members’ needs but I have omitted those words from my vocabulary, after taking this course. I now live and preach a “culture of customization”.
Scaling and Modifying vs Customization
Even though the words scale, modify, and customize could be easily interchanged, there is actually no class, movement, weight, or workout that is better or less than the other, which is what “scaling” implies. Scaling and modifying might sound to some like “less than” an RX or prescribed movement, which is something we should strive to avoid.
Everyone has different goals and fitness levels and we want to make sure that our members know that. Sometimes when we see things on the whiteboard, we can be really attached to that weight on the barbell or that ring muscle-up. At Invictus, we rarely write “RX” weights on the board. Instead, the coaches customize the workout – and teach members how to customize themselves – for their specific goals and how they are feeling that day.
Customizing can be progressive, recessive, or even lateral. It’s important to get to know your members and their goals. That is going to be the number one tool in helping you to customize for that person. Also getting to know them as a human, what’s going on in their life, and what kind of work do they do. SO many factors go into how a person feels and each day – sleep, nutrition, stress, traffic, life events – so your members walk in as a brand new person from who they were yesterday. It’s important to “meet your members where they are” for that day and help guide in the best way possible. You will also get tips on how to start better conversions with members, what kind of questions to ask and how to ask open ended questions to get the answers you might be looking for.
What is Dual Track Programming?
Instead, we offer “dual track programming” – both “Performance” and “Fitness” workout options during one class period that hold the same stimulus and movement pattern as each other – and the reason for this is because it allows us to increase our capacity to appropriately load and program for a broader range of client needs. An example of dual track programming could look like this for the strength portion of the workout:
Performance Part A
Every 90 seconds for 15 minutes (10 sets of):
Hang Snatch x 3
(Build in weight over the course of the 10 sets)
Fitness Part A
Every Minute on the Minute for 15 Minutes (3 sets of):
Minute 1: Landmine Press x 6-8 (right side) @ 2111 tempo
Minute 2: Landmine Press x 6-8 (left side) @ 2111 tempo
Minute 3: Single-Arm Dumbbell Row x 6-8 (right side) @ 2111 tempo
Minute 4: Single-Arm Dumbbell Row x 6-8 (left side) @ 2111 tempo
Minute 5: Flutter Kicks x 40- 45 seconds
Why Use Dual Track Programming for Group Coaching?
With this structure, we are able to help more members reach their goals while everyone in class is working the same muscles and getting the same intended stimulus as someone next to us doing a completely different movement. This allows the coach to design warm-ups, skill work, and cooldowns that work well for both groups and it allows the members to be able to move between the two tracks throughout their week, or even in the same workout, so they aren’t duplicating efforts in one area or missing out on others, and so they can choose the track that best fits their need for that particular training session.
It can be quite overwhelming for a coach to figure out just how to effectively get everyone warmed up and prepared while making sure each group knows what to do and how to do it. In Invictus University, you will learn how to better plan warm-ups, consider class flow and logistics, and utilize equipment and space.
Within these chapters of the course, we discuss what each program at Invictus entails, it’s stimulus, and who each program might best suited for. Anyone can choose whatever class they want but it’s important for us as coaches to really hone in on what the members goals are so we can steer them into the most appropriate class. I come from a very traditional gym where we did not use dual track or have Muscle or Motor class so it was helpful to discuss each program type and what it entails.
Building and Personal Connection in a Large Gym
Another really cool thing I learned was how to build “tribes” within the gym. Each coach has members assigned to their tribe which helps create an environment where coach and athlete can really start to build rapport and relationships together. While not every gym is like Invictus with 400+ members, it becomes much more personal and manageable for one person to handle say 20-100 people rather than all 100 or 400 members.
Tribe engagement is HUGE at Invictus. It’s our job as coaches to constantly check in with members, see how things are going, and make sure that they are getting what they need and want from the gym and/or program.
We also hold them accountable. Invictus has streamlined how to make sure that no one falls through the cracks with things such as last visit reports and through the client management system where all coaches, admin staff, and members can easily communicate with each other. I truly wish I had incorporated some of these protocols in my old gym! I think it would have helped me not feel so overwhelmed by feeling the need to take care of everyone. I also believe that I would have been more successful with client retention with some of Invictus’s practices.
Warm-Ups and Movement Analysis
The most fun and interactive part of Invictus University were the Movement Analysis and Warm-Up Prep chapters. This was especially fun with our large group of coaches. We all had homework of videoing movement faults and programming warm-up exercises. We had to capture funky or even very subtle movement faults inside the gym and share them with each other and then in weekly Zoom meetings, we had the chance to share and go over all these things together.
It was truly a learning experience to hear what others had to say. Each coach looked at the movements with a brand new set of eyes and all had different options and cues. In addition, we had several assignments of programming warm-ups for specific workouts. We had to identify what muscle groups were being worked, the intended stimulus of the workout, and then explain why our warm-up was effective. Coming from a place where I was always on my own, I never really had other coaches chime in and say, “This is what I see and this is how I would correct it.” Or, “Why don’t we try this for a warm-up?” To me this was very refreshing and I definitely learned a lot from what others had to say.
Resources for Coaches
There are tons of other valuable takeaways from Invictus University. You’ll find extra resources on all the topics we cover, videos from the Master Coaches on different topics, and a look into what it’s like at our Downtown San Diego location.
Who is Invictus University For?
This course can be for a new or experienced coach or gym owner. I know that I personally wish I had a system like this when I owned my own gym! If you are looking for a way to create the most successful, “member centric” environment, then you want to learn the “Invictus way”. Taking the Invictus University Course is a great place to start. The next 5-week cohort begins May 1, 2023! Use code: InvictusUTake10 for 10% off through April 8th!