This past weekend I went up to DC to attend a seminar with Carl Paoli at District CrossFit. I had a chance to meet Carl this summer when I was out at the CrossFit Games, and I was able to observe him working a little bit with Annie T. a few days before the competition began. Coming from a gymnastics background myself, I am automatically intrigued when I meet other people in the CrossFit community who have been around the gymnastics world as well. Just by watching Carl for those few minutes out in L.A., I could tell he knew what he was talking about, so when I found out that he was going to be on the East Coast doing a couple of seminars I jumped at the opportunity to attend one.
I think the best thing for me about the seminar was getting the opportunity to work with someone who speaks the same language as I do. Obviously, every sport has its own terminology and lingo, and gymnastics is no different; so getting a chance to work with someone who explains CrossFit movement in gymnastics terminology helped me to begin to think about the movements in a whole new way that made a lot of sense to me. No one has ever before told me to come out of my burpee as if I were doing a snap-down, but when Carl said that my immediate reaction was “Oooohhh that makes so much sense, why didn’t someone tell me that before?”
So much of coaching is being able to communicate well with your athletes, and I think that is one of the things that Carl is so great at. Not only was it easy for me to understand what he was talking about because we share the same gymnastics vocabulary, but he broke down the movements we discussed so that everyone could understand them not just a high level gymnast.
When I am training clients in the gym I’ll admit I fall in the trap of making “Don’t” corrections, as in “don’t arch” or “don’t pike” or “don’t round your back.” These types of corrections aren’t really all that helpful for an athlete because it does’t tell them what they are supposed to be doing with their bodies instead. Probably the biggest take-away I got from Carl’s seminar from a coaching perspective, was how to take a movement, even a seemingly simple movement, and explain it in a way that people can understand by telling them what TO do with their bodies instead of telling them what to stop doing. I learned a ton of great new drills to incorporate and new ways to explain concepts that make a lot of sense and are easy to understand.
Overall, it was a great seminar with an awesome coach and a fun group of attendees. I hope one day in the future I’ll get to work with Carl again, because I’m pretty sure he has a lot more tricks up his sleeve that I’d like to learn.