Teaching Crossfit during COVID-19

In my previous blog i wrote a bit about my learning experience of starting as a crossfit coach. During these times i’m fortunate that the box i work out at is open as well as the box that i teach at. So i wanted to share how that experience has been.

Start of the pandemic

When the pandemic started, everyone and everything had to shut down. Including gyms. This was (and still is) hard on small businesses where there is usually not a whole lot of savings to endure a long period. So it was for our crossfit box but it was good to see that our community still paying their monthly fee, even though they couldn’t do anything.

So quickly our box came up with 2 solutions which were really appreciated

  1. Lending equipment: from barbells and plats to rowingmachines. Like a library you could pick a few items to take home and return them the next week. Everyone took advantage of this and really took care of stuff
  2. Remote video-WOD’s: which were ok, mostly bodyweight but not a whole lot of interest.

All in all we could remain busy. The box where i teach had to close down entirely and were in more trouble because they mostly rely on income from brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, etc… But because they just started crossfit and did not have a large crossfit community yet, that had to shutdown completely and could not provide an alternative.

Limited restart

Then before the summer the rules started changing which meant we could train outdoors. Luckily this was in the summer and it was good fun. However moving equiment out of the box to a small cemented area (and back) was not ideal, but great to just start working out again.

The distancing rules were applied but in practice it’s hard to prevent people from coming to close to eachother when moving around. Cleaning of equipment was done at the start and finish but the protocol at my box was far from perfect. At the gym where i teach we did have pump-spray which we used after each WOD but cleaning of hands was not mandated yet. Still good to start teaching again, but i had to be carefull with the distance and giving cues.

Summer opening

YES, gyms could open up again and there was light at the end of the tunnel! At both gyms distancing was tried but often not really looked after. As an intructor i tried to apply distance but was difficult when trying to give cues, so i often used the pvc for some pointers but i have to admit i sometimes got closer than adviced.

The box i teach at is smaller and with a max of 8 athletes already a bit crowded. The disinfecting of hands was often not done properly and cleaning of equipment after each wod was also often neglected. However, up till now there were 0 cased of covid in both gyms


Then the second (and currently the third) wave came after the summer holiday and rules got more strict. The good news was that the box could stay open but with stricter rules. They now created areas within the box with tape, only arrive 5 minutes before workouts, mandatory masks when entering and moving around the box, cleaning of equipment and disinfecting of hands at the beginning. At my box there rules were applied more strict. At the other box the rules were more loosly applied but the maximum number of athletes allowed was limited to 6, which is actually a decent fit for the limited space and equipment.

I do keep a mask at hand to help people out during the workout, especially if they are for example benchpressing of squating more weight. What i do tell people is not to help eachother out to keep the distance. But in practice it’s almost inhuman and goes against people’s nature to stay away from eachother.

However the rules felt moot, when working out you could take the mask off but that’s when the sweat and aerosols start moving further because of the heavy breathing. Also when getting equipement it was almost impossible to keep your distance. People forgot their masks now and then, and during a WOD you could still move around.

What was good is that the workouts were a bit more tailored to keeping distant but it felt really weird that up untill that moment we did without the rules and nothing happened.

What’s next?

Because the number of cases started rising really fast despite stricter rules, i fear that coming wednesday (16-12-2020) we’ll get stricter rules and, amongst others, gyms will have to close for a period of three weeks. It feels counter-intuitive, because if there is one thing that’s important is staying healthy and strenghtening your immune-system. So closing gyms feels weird and wrong. As i wrote in my previous blog, it does not solve the pandemic. And the box i teach at might be at risk if they have to close down again so fingers crossed (for them).

And then a few weeks later, if the numbers drop (doubtfull since X-mas is coming up) things will start opening up again with the same rules, but i guess we have to wait untill the summer for anything resembling the way things were for working out.

Crossfit critics

Not really related to this topic but i had to share this. Crossfit people know Jillian Micheals, she for some reason has it in for Crossfit and sees it as something dangerous. She recently posted another video which was hilariously replied to in this video by TeamRichey. TeamRichey also made a video replying to here criticizing crossfit last year in this video.

And i saw some more people criticizing crossfit, however, like most things, people on social media and youtube can blurt out anything they want without any proper information backing them up. And most of all it’s a monologue so they don’t have to worry about a discussion they can’t ‘win’ and can even turn off comments to avoid critique.

We get it, crossfit can be dangerous, but read up on this report with this quote “CrossFit injury rates were similar to those in other recreational fitness activities”. It all depends how you approach crossfit and the coach at the box. It’s about relative intensity and not thinking you can snatch 100 Kg after a few WOD’s.

When people start out i tell them to slow down on technical aspects, apply very light weights and for the first few months get a feel for the different combinations of modalities. Then SLOWLY start increasing the weight, reps and up the intensity. It’s like any other activity, think what you are doing, don’t overdo it all the time, be realistic, know what your limits are and have fun!

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