Eat Meat, Veg, some Fruit, Nuts and Seeds, a little Starch, and no Sugar.

Photo: @lvnatikk @unsplash
Quote: @crossfit – from “Fitness in 100 words”

Since my journey with CrossFit began back in early 2011 (@rolybrading), I’ve dived deeper and deeper in to the world of strength and conditioning, and nutrition – the words above come squarely from Greg Glassman / CrossFit’s own “Fitness in 100 words”, as taught on our C.F. Level 1 Trainer course.

Paleo, intermittent fasting, zone, low carb, high fat, keto, clean, vegan, blood type……the list goes on. Every ‘diet’ appears with a doctor and backup science to espouse it. Every ‘diet’ has its devout followers who refuse to believe anything other than what their latest book tells them. Arguments break out, battle lines are drawn, and attacks are frequent. It’s no wonder that my own Level 1 course instructor, Karl Steadman (@karlsteadman) said of nutrition, “here be monsters”.

As I read each new book, and try to understand any genuine underpinning science, I am repeatedly pulled back to the guiding principles above, for general health and wellness. Sure, for specific goals you might tinker around but for general goals, where are these principles not sufficient?

It doesn’t say, “no carb”, it doesn’t say, “all fat”. It says, “balance”. It says, “no refined sugars” – the evidence against refined sugar is mounting, steer clear where possible. It says, “eat whole, real foods – nutrient-dense”. If you’re not a meat-eater then high five the nuts and seeds a little more. Where it does say, “meat”, read “animal based protein” with a preference for fish, then birds, then 4-legged land dwellers. Aim for organic, free range where possible but we know that cost and availability can make this inhibitive to many. But aim for it.

If I have any concerns, it is in the second of the statements. Just how much is enough / too much / not enough? The human body is a complex system of systems; it is a learning and constantly adapting unique environment. It is not a machine, despite many ‘diet’ books referring to it as such. It is the product of your entire life and is therefore, beyond basic principles, different to the person next to you. I see differences in my identical 6 year old twins that began in the womb and have already manifested in different preferences and appetite levels. No-one is the same and no two people will react exactly the same to the same portion sizes or precise food types.

So what?

Experiment. You are your own lab. Take the principles above and see how you feel. Start with general daily calorific intakes of 2100kcal for an adult male and 1800kcal for an adult woman, for moderately active people (desk job, 4 workouts a week) and see what changes happen. Use tools such as MyFitnessPal to give you an indication of what portion sizes actually look like – they do not look like restaurants want you to believe.Losing weight? Maybe add some more. Gaining weight? In muscle? Good! Increase in lumpy soft stuff around the middle? Reduce a little. Allow a few weeks for any changes – remember, this is about your whole life, not a quick fix fad. When you’ve found your balance, and you have all the energy you need to workout but you’re not gaining weight, then record it and start to tinker with the protein/carb/fat macro levels to suit any specific goals.

I believe these principles to be achievable, realistic, sensible and, more importantly than anything else, sustainable in the long term. You can have treats, you don’t have to be a dick about it and evangelise, you can have a beer and not beat yourself in to a frenzy as you ‘detox’ – 80% of the time is good enough.

Keep it simple stupid. KISS.


2018, Let’s Begin.

With goals established for 2018 (See previous post), and the final big family gathering (feasting) of the season complete, it’s time to kick off 2018.

Moving away from building strength and focusing on the looming C.F. Open 2018, it’s time to spend a little more time on MetCons and less on pure strength. This means more EMOMs instead of the AMRAP Plus One programme to supplement C.F. Watford programming. My weakness remains barbell cycling, a key likely component of the Open WODs, and so this is entirely logical; I know I can make big improvements here within the next 2 months.

Nutrition-wise, it’s back to the successes of the second half of last year. Keeping with 40% complex carbs, 35% protein, 25% fat, it’ll look something like:

Breakfast: 80g Huel

Snack: Huel Bar or pressed fruit bar

Lunch: 120g Flavoured Rice, 120g Chicken

Snack: 10-15g Nuts

Dinner: 1 x Takeaway tub-sized meal with rice / sweet potato, loads of veg, 200g (approx) chicken/fish.

Post-WOD: 40g Huel + 35g Whey protein.

Pre-Bed Drink: 200ml Semi-skimmed Milk + Cocoa powder.

This is pretty balanced and typically brings me up to the 2400KCal range; I do monitor as best I can with my Garmin Vivoactive HR, with heart rate monitor band, but it’s never perfect, only a reasonable gauge. I must ensure that I’m getting my carbs in about 30-45mins before the workout, typically in the evenings, so that I’m primed for the session.

My recent DNAFit Fitness Diet Pro test threw up a few added details in there which directly affect my nutrition but I’ll write about those in a future post.

So, until the next time, LET’S DO THIS! See you in the box.



Little Balls of Go Faster Food – A Review

All comments in this review are mine alone, without any influence from the product supplier/manufacturer.


Kate’s story, “Back in 2000, Kate radically altered her family’s diet to help her husband, Mark, who was struggling in his training for the New York Marathon. Mark’s performance was totally transformed! Kate didn’t last long playing the dutiful wife to the heroic marathon runner. She decided to run a marathon herself. And the rest is history!”. Not only did she take her nutritional knowledge and apply it to her husband, she subsequently “guinea pig’d” herself and enjoyed personal success; not content with that though, “Her best-selling recipe books and education programme are used by Olympians, Great Run, 220 Triathlon and the GB Youth Winter Olympic Development Squad.” – What better endorsement is there?

With thanks to HelsBels at  “HelBels – Running & Fitness Blog“…. I was given the opportunity to review “Kate Percy’s Go Faster Food“. As with previous nutritional reviews, this too is ‘all natural’; indeed, I am unlikely to review products that aren’t.

So it was with high hopes and expectation that I opened a neatly packaged box of 3 types of “Go Faster Bites” and the book, “Go Faster Food for the Active Family“. I’ve broken up the review below in to the “Bites” and the Book.


The Bites

Contents. The Go Faster Bites are a cold-pressed fruit product, similar to others on the market, but have been specifically tailored to suit pre / during / post exercise. Not only that but rather innovatively they have been delivered in 3 mini-mouthful-sized balls; you don’t have to eat a whole bar in one go! Gluten-free (key in my house), dairy free, and with no refined sugar. The contents are all natural and are as inflammation-free as I think it’s possible to be.

Boost. Date, Raisins, Coconut, Gluten Free Oats, Coconut Oil. Higher in fruit sugars and starchy oats, these little balls of energy are designed to give you a literal sugar boost right in time for an intense workout, or to kickstart and endurance event.

Refuel. Sultanas, Dates, Apricots, Sunflower & Pumpkin Seeds, Linseed, Oats, Honey. Delivering a slower-release carb inject, these are tailor-made for “on the go”, to keep you going throughout endurance events, or in between competitive events such as CrossFit comps, 7s Rugby events, 5-a-side comps, etc.

Repair. Dates, Raisins, Roast Hazelnuts, Dark Chocolate. Some fruity carbs, a dollop of protein, a little chocolate, -ideal to recover from any event.


Quality. One thing I noticed from the outset was the high quality ‘processing’ of these balls. All too often with similar products, I’ve come across small pieces of pit or a fruit stone; I think you just come to accept it – however, when you dive in to a cold lake for a long-distance swim, only THEN to discover a sharp fragment wedged in your teeth, it really does wind you up! So far, nothing of the sort with these little beauties. Smooooooth throughout. I’ve ‘tested’ 11 so far, that’s 33 balls, and it was one of my key criteria to look out for.

Look & Taste. They taste great. I’d expect nothing less. In this era of advancing health nutrition, taste has to be king. There are so many competing products on the market that to taste poor, regardless of performance, would be to sink your own ship; if it doesn’t taste good, it won’t get eaten. Without any refined sugar (a little honey in the Refuel balls), none of them are overly sweet; for me that is absolutely perfect. I don’t have a sweet tooth, preferring the delicate taste of coconut and hazelnuts to that of a rich, milk chocolate.

Performance. I’ve intentionally left this paragraph to the end, so that you would read all the way down the rest of the post to get here. How do I assess performance in a food? Well, knowing what they were designed for, I decided upon using the fact that I train so early in the morning, and having fasted for 8+ hours, to assist me.

0600 hrs Training – BOOST. 3-4 mornings a week, I conduct specific olympic lifting training, aiming to increase strength. I need sugar in my body to generate the power necessary to through 115kg in to the air. Typically, I’ve downed an apple or banana, plus a mug of coffee, but it’s either not enough or doesn’t digest quick enough to deliver and I find tired legs dominating about halfway through the session. For 4 mornings in a row, changing nothing else, I switched out the apple/banana for the “Boost” balls. Of course, this is hardly scientific and may well suffer from a placebo effect, but it’s as good as I can do with only 4 packs. However, I can honestly say that for those 4 mornings, I felt a genuine difference. Eating them 30 mins before the active portion of the work, there was a significant difference in the fatigue in my legs compared to a regular morning. I was able to do more, for longer. This should come as no surprise, and you might say “well eat more before a workout then” but at that time of the morning, I just can’t. These suited me down to the ground.

1030 hrs mid-Morning – REFUEL. After a workout, I typically have 80g of Huel for my breakfast. This keeps me going until about 1100 when I start to look at my watch and wonder why the morning is taking so long; I’ll usually eat about 10-15g of mixed nuts but am unhappy with the amount of fat that goes with it. For the same 4 days, I ate the Refuel balls instead and staved off the cravings quite happily for another few hours, no insulin-slump occurring either.

1930 hrs Evening Workout – RECOVER. I’m not sure I can really measure any tangible effect of these little bad boys other than to say that I had these immediately after 1830 CrossFit workouts; the increased protein is required for muscle repair, while the chocolate carbohydrate hit refuels tired body and mind – these are also my favourite tasting, by far. Typically, I head straight back to my cave for dinner about 45-60 mins later, these are a lovely filler in between that.

Recommendation. OF COURSE I RECOMMEND IT! Didn’t you read above?!


The Book

The book was an eye-opener. Unlike other recipe books that I’ve looked over, this one is very targeted. As per the balls, the first target is to those conducting sporting events; the second target is to families, more specifically, active families. Immediately, this appeals to me. With my 4 warrior princesses, 3 of them at the start of their active journeys, I take this stuff super, uber seriously. 


Contents. The book is well-structured, beginning with the bit most recipe books neglect, “Why”. Why nutrition is important, why we need to tailor it to our needs, why childrens’ nutrition is different and increasingly important, especially to keep them active and adventurous. It breaks “why” down in to “easy science”, logically taking you from one step to another, covering macro and micronutrients, the need for balance, and the ills of processed foods  the bit I love the most is the emphasis on preparing and eating together too; it’s something that Mrs Nomad and I absolutely believe in. I’ve been coaching CrossFit and associated basic nutrition for 6 years, learning a vast wealth of knowledge over that period. However, this book just gave me the tools to be able to articulate it to a whole new audience; I don’t mean just kids, either. I also mean adults for whom typical approaches haven’t worked.

Recipes. This is the bit that saddens me the most; I’ve not been able to get stuck in to nearly enough recipes!! Because I spend the majority of my time holed up in a cave, away from my action princesses, I haven’t had the resources or time to make the beautiful range on offer. Instead, I’ve had to stare longingly at the photos. However, having been through the ingredients and nutritional values in each meal, you can logically deduce who they’re focused on, and for what aspect of training/recovery/daily life. The recipes are simple to make. There’s nothing complicated in there at all, making this entire ‘programme’ 100% accessible for all.

Utility. Given the obvious target of this book, it has immense utility in planning and supporting both an active lifestyle and sports training. I am sure that there must be similar products on the market but this is the first I’ve had an opportunity to review. While I do live like a hermit for much of the week, with nothing but a microwave, kettle and fridge/freezer, I am going to attempt to adapt some of these recipes to suit my twice-a-day training regime. It’s the run up to Christmas now, and so any attempts to regulate or control my diet will likely crash down in the excitement and over-indulgence of the season, but when I return to strict training in January this book will underpin all that I do.


Examples. Again, I’ve left the best part of the review for last. For me, the absolutely best parts of the book are the specific “active kids” examples; rugby players, runners, swimmers…there’re multiple interviews with children right at the top of their game, Olympians and Champions of the future. I read these articles and come away feeling intensely motivated for my own children. Thanks Kate!

Recommendation: Of course. It wasn’t going to be anything else, this is an excellent product in its own right.

Gains, Losses, Goodbye Instagram

Wow. Well, what a few weeks it has been. Utterly maniacal at work, I’ve been unable to blog since my Jiminis Insect Protein bar review. Even then, it was a few weeks before that too. I promise to get back on track as of now. In that time, there have been gains to the Snatch (oh yes!), the Thruster (vom!), and I’ve said goodbye to Instagram. I’ve reviewed my own outlook and perspective on my fitness, nutrition and goals. It’s been a busy time, that’s for sure.

Starting in reverse order:

Outlook. I’ve written about it before; I am competitive by nature. I always was while growing up and used to play a lot of rugby, sprint a lot of races, and jump in a lot of sandpits. My aptitude my have been somewhat debatable but I competed. I am motivated by competition. It’s what got me through the Commando Course, and it motivated me to leave the Army for the Royal Marines (competition against myself). As I’ve grown older (😢) so I’ve moved away from rugby and ahletics, no longer spend time yomping around the hills and sleeping in bushes, and instead found CrossFit. At the same time, I’ve hit a point in my career where I’ve taken on a lot more, and where family situations mean I simply don’t have the time to compete at weekends. That may change in the future but not yet (standfast the 10km OCR I have coming up this Sunday). But I still work best under the pressure of competition. So what? So I’ll be using my time in CrossFit Watford more wisely to identify specific individuals and compete against them. It’s what CrossFit should be about anyway but we tend to be a little ‘British’ about it over here…very polite. I’ve also begun revisiting those things that motivated me to push myself to great lengths before and will regularly refer back to a few ‘totems’ such as the Commando Dagger and Dartmoor Map above.

Nutrition. I’ve not been eating enough to build mass and strength. Simple. I have been carefully managing my intake to not appear flabby and soft. Appearance-first. Well, you can’t put on muscle mass and stay trim easily. I’ll now be upping my intake, still monitored, to at least 2500Kcal per day, and to 40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat. Close to Christmas, I’ll reevaluate and begin to focus on conditioning once more.

Instagram. Instagram made me sad. I’ve concluded that unless you are happy to take your top off (which noone wants to see of me!), make awesome food, or take amazing photos, then Instagram just isn’t going to work (oh, and post at least 5 times a day). After a year, I have the total of 240 followers, even though over 1500 have followed/unfollowed (highly irritating). I only joined to try and build an audience for this blog but the time taken to fight for followers in a congested domain (fitness) wasn’t worth it. I found instead that I was rearranging coffee pots, contriving situations, and staring at my phone during workouts. I noticed a horrible narcissism developing and I got upset every time I saw someone in better shape than me (perceptively, everyone). So, I’m taking that time back. Goodbye Instagram. I’ll still be on Twitter @nomadiccrossfit though!


Now, the successes.

3 weeks ago, CrossFit Watford, “15mins to a heavy Thruster”. Previous best of 90kg. New Personal Record of 100kg!

2 weeks ago, at home in the garage, @amrapplusone programming to work up to a heavy Snatch. Previous best of 77.5kg (achieved only about a month or so ago). I fought and fought for this, failing 3 times on the way up. 80kg. Boom. I have chased and chased this for 2 years or more when I finally took 75kg after years of trying. I was ecstatic all day after this. Done at home, with a York Beefy Bar (no spin) and 1″ hole mixed plates, this went up easier than I was expecting. It took a lot of working up to, granted. I couldn’t have achieved this on a 6am session, for example. However, I’ve reset my numbers on the Amrapplusone programme and will continue to push onwards.

There we have it, all caught up. Well, the main events anyway.

As I endeavour to write more often again, what would YOU like to see on here?

Let me know.

Jimini’s Cricket Flour Protein Bars – a Review

The review you are about to read is my own work, my personal opinion, and has not been influenced by the producer/distributor of the product.

Yes, you read that right. Cricket Flour. From Crickets. You know, Grasshoppers.

Jiminis Protein and Energy Bars

Unless you’ve been living in an isolated bubble from environmental change conversation, you’ll have seen a slow but assertive rise in the discussion about the farming of insects as a potential protein source for the the future. Billed as a sustainable way to alleviate the problem of providing enough protein to fill this globe’s need for food, insects have been pounced upon to save the day. As you might expect within western nations, the thought of eating insects hasn’t really gone down all that well. But marketers being clever people, they always find a way around it.

Despite evidence disproving the sustainability angle of eating insects (here), I’d like to introduce you to Jimini’s Cricket Flour protein and energy bars. I read about them while researching alternative protein powder sources for sports supplementation and boldly approached them to ask for freebies in exchange for a review- who doesn’t like a freebie!?

Enthusiastically, they swiftly despatched 4 bars to me, 2 of the protein bars and 2 of the energy bars. I distributed them around our coaches in CrossFit Watford and their thoughts are incorporated in this.

In order to overcome the squeamishness of the western European market, they’ve done away with presenting insects to us in an “I’m a celebrity…” fashion. Instead, the insects are bred (they are animals after all), killed (or left to naturally die, I don’t know), dried out and powdered. That ‘flour’ is then what is contained in the bars.

Ingredients. And a top way of doing it it is too. Containing nuts, fruit, a little honey, and some spices, they look and feel a lot like the explosion of other cold-pressed ‘paleo’ bars on the market. They taste almost identical too. And the texture is no different. In fact, the very best thing that I think I can report is that you would have no way of knowing that insect powder makes up a significant portion of it, without looking at the packaging.


Taste & Sugar. They are nice. Very nice. What’s not to love about a sweet snack bar that you know is ‘healthy’? They’re not too sweet either. I tried the energy ones (still containing over 5g of protein per bar) and wasn’t left with the sickly taste that often come a from sweetened products. They’ve got the balance right there. Still, there was over 14g sugar (honey) in each small energy bar. Typically, you don’t find added sugars in a cold-pressed fruit product and I wonder why it was felt necessary.


Protein. Despite them focusing on crickets as the source of protein, there’s actually more pea and sunflower protein than that from crickets. I do find this a little disingenuous but nothing out of the ordinary; you see, in order to gain a comprehensive and more complete amino acid profile, you need multiple sources, you can’t rely on one. The protein bar versions have approx 8.2g of protein each, as I say.

CrossFit. I typically train at 0600hrs. This requires waking at 0520 and I’m not able to eat much beforehand. I used 2 of these bars, 1 per morning, to see if I had enough energy to get through a morning’s Strength and MetCon workouts. Normally, I eat an orange or have a teaspoon of peanut butter as it’s mostly all I can stomach at that time. Although it was only 2 workouts, I can say that I had more endurance than normal for the hour period. I put this down to the honey in each bar and it’s prompted me to include a little more sugar in my pre-WOD. I can’t vouch for the effects of the protein though, I think that takes a little longer 😀


The flavours are nice and varied. My favourite was the Banana & Dark Chocolate.

Allergens. Responsibly, I have to mention that those with seafood allergies need to steery well clear of any product containing insect matter; the same reactions came develop! Enough said on that one!

Summary. I liked these bars. Taking the insect element out of it, I found them to be tasty, with a good texture and not sickly. They have a bit more sugar in than I am personally used to but this based on my own approach to macro-nutrients and should not be taken as a negative. As I write above though, they may have powered me to a bit more in my workout than my usual early morning feed. I RECOMMEND this product if you are looking for something a little different in your diet and take the view that insects just might be the future of mass protein intake.

Huel – a Review

The following review, and all sentiments contained herein, are completely my own and have not been subject to approvals from the provider.

Bottom Line:  Recommended


Sucking in the dust, dirt and chalk from the floor one morning (after an awesome WOD, I should add), Steffi came over and asked if I would be able to take a look at products from a company she works for. I’d seen the simple white packaged bars on the counter before but had never opened a Huel bar up to that point. When I peeled my sweating form out of the angel shape on the mats, I told her that I would absolutely love to but that she should know that I ordinarily err on the side of negativity towards meal replacement products. She grinned and excitedly explained that Huel is different; nutritionally balanced, basic, no soy, supporting everyone from athletes to regular no-gym-Joe who just wants to have a better nutritional option than snacking on less healthy options. Well, her excitement immediately sparked mine and so I agreed.


Picture from

Nutritional Balance

Throughout,  I have struggled with identifying who the target audience of Huel is. I have seen it more in gyms and CrossFit Boxes than anywhere else yet the website focuses more on it being a whole meal replacement. The needs of the powerlifter, high intensity sportsman, 45 year old house husband and 8 hr a day sedentary office worker are all different – this includes macro nutrient as well as micro nutrients.

The precise breakdown of the two primary products I shall go in to individually. Taking in to account what I said above, this is the most balanced product that I have ever come across. Not only at the micronutrients balanced to the ‘designer’s’ precise requirements but the micronutrients are too. A complete vitamin and mineral profile is included (even Vitamin B12, which is uncommon in a product aimed at vegans too due to its source typically being from animals – in this case it is from cyanocobalamin, from bacterial synthesis), which gives me a real sense that this product has been designed with genuine care to the individual, and not just about marketing for profit. However, this careful balancing does result in one or two issues.

The Powder

I was given the latest blend of the vanilla flavoured powder. Made largely of powdered gluten free oats as a base,  this vegan product includes rice protein and pea protein to give a nice blend of fast/slow absorbed proteins – not a trace of cheap soy protein anywhere. It mixes very well in water, although I prefer it with skimmed milk, and naturally thickens to a lovely consistency. The taste is one of the best on the market, I believe. Without overdoing it, they’ve gently added some natural vanilla flavour that just ‘works’. Even with just water,  the blend keeps you feeling full for and a long while.

An unexpected bonus of the powdered oat base is that it can be used as a flour substitute. I’ve used it to make my one-minute microwave cake and I never want to go back to my old recipe. This was awesome.

The macronutrient profile of this is approx 40% carbs  (when you include the 3% fibre), 30% protein, and 30% Fats. It is almost entirely in line with my own requirements as an amateur but very regular CrossFitter. However, I’ve yet to come across definitive science that informs the precise nutritional breakdown for individuals….at least not a profile that everyone agrees on because everyone is different. That said, at least there’s thought behind this.

Depending on your meal breakdown of either 4 or 5 meals a day (if taking as a meal replacement vice sports supplement), it is either ~400Kcal or ~500Kcal respectively for a meal.


Picture from

The Bar

Vanilla and Cocoa. There is a thought by some sports ‘purists’ that supplements/ replacements should have no flavouring. I utterly disagree with this. Food has to very enjoyed in whatever form you decide to take it.

This bar tastes good. It looks good. I really enjoy eating it.

There is a common criticism, that Huel are aware of, which is the texture. Unlike the oily, chewy mass you get in almost all other bars of this nature, this is crumbly. It breaks apart easily and is a little dry. Because of the blend, and the rigidity with which they stick to their balance of nutritional ingredients, there are no preservatives, no fillers, and no gluten. This leaves a crumbly texture that does take you by surprise a little to start with. Stick with it. The flavour is great and you just need a little water sometimes with it. Have faith that there’s good reason behind it.

The macronutrient balance is different to the Powder,  with a higher level of carbs, slightly lower protein percentage and even lower fat – 53% carbs (inc 12% Fibre), 25% protein, and 22% fats. This makes it far more suitable as a post-workout option and I’ve typically used it as such. Each bar is 250kcal.

As a combined meal replacement product, the powder and bars are able to sustain you with that balanced nutritional makeup – 2000Kcal for just powder-based meal replacement and than an extra 250Kcal per bar.  Looking through the ingredients, they are all things I recognise and understand. I trust this product would support me, if needed.

Could I eat it as an ongoing replacement? Not personally. Both keep me feeling full, as a combination of oats, the protein, and natural coconut / flaxseed oil. However, I need variety in my food. There are flavour packs, which I’ve not yet been given the opportunity to review, to give a little change but I need my veggies and different textures.  That said, I have used both bar and powder instead of a meal if rushing about town. Because I trust in the quality and make-up, I don’t then feel the need to snack elsewhere.


For someone who doesn’t agree with meal replacements as a means of nutritional control, I’m actually a convert to this. With my biochemistry head on (albeit from 16-17 years ago), I ‘get it’ and can understand the scientific passion behind this product. For those working out, I recommend the bars as a post-WOD snack instead of quite a few of the other brands out there. I recommend the powder too, it’s kept me going when on the run and has left me feeling full for longer than a typical bowl of porridge does – do try it out as a flour substitute too!

p.s. I’ve not had a chance to review the t-shirt either 😉


Huel Website – for further information

Discount Link: Here

Setting an Example, Out at the Front, not at the Top.


We are the Coaches.We are empowered and entrusted to develop the health and wellbeing of athletes. We have a responsibility to Deliver. We Set the Example. We Lead from the Front.

This statement I firmly believe in and I would like to take this time to break it down.

The Whiteboard. Being a coach to athletes is not about being at the top of the whiteboard, day in and day out. As a coach, there is certainly a degree of credibility that comes from being in the top few % though. Who is going to follow the person who doesn’t demonstrate a strong level of all round fitness, regardless of their competencies. At least, not in this game, perhaps more so in elite, specific sports where the coach is intentionally detached from playing but who has demonstrated high levels of competence as a dedicated coach. In fitness, you trust the person who demonstrates fitness. As coaches, it is our job to make those around us better than us and so there will always be people above us on the whiteboard. Plus, time spent coaching is time spent not training which will have an impact.

Communication is about more than words. It is the sum of our words and deeds. Simply put, we cannot expect athletes to listen to what we say if we don’t follow it ourselves. We are being watched ALL THE TIME. Our words are just part of what we are saying. How we act, how we move, the example we set…these are powerful messages. Don’t get me wrong, I am hardly the most virtuous CrossFitter out there. I like chocolate, I like a little cake sometimes and I drink too much caffeine in the form of Monster Zero (yep, I do); I may or may not have a secret thing for Cool Doritos too. But in front of the athletes (and 80% of the time generally), it’s professional, competent and leading by example. While on communication, be careful to not overstep the bounds of your own knowledge – not rumour or heresay, knowledge. Bad advice and guidance, no matter how well intentioned, is bad advice and is not guidance. Seek help the moment you are outside your comfort zone. And then go and dive in to the books and learn!

Programming. If we are following completely different programmes then how do we sell our programme to the athletes? Standfast those on competitor programming vice General Physical Preparedness (although CrossFit opposes this view too), but if you turn up and stroll to the other end of the box to do your own thing while others are sweating in a heap on the floor then it screams, “this programme isn’t good enough for me but it’s good enough for you”. Back to my previous point about not being top of the whiteboard, you still have to be ON that whiteboard. Athletes want to see how they measure up against you; as coaches, it’s good to see where you measure up too.

Nutrition. In the words of the guy who took me through my Level 1, 5 years ago, “here be monsters”. Nutrition is a thorny subject – everyone is set in their ways, there are thousands of competing ‘diets’ and approaches. However, one thing that almost all agree on is to reduce/remove refined sugars, have some starch, have some nuts & seeds, eat lean protein, eat tonnes of beautiful, green leafy veg (REAL FOOD). Within that, you can weigh/measure/count what you like within your preference. Personally, as you know, I weigh my food for 5 days a week and see considerable benefits by the 35% Carbs / 35% Protein / 30% Fat model. Of course, quantities of each do depend on your activity levels and goals. BUT what is not included are heavily processed, manufactured, brightly coloured products that contain clearly artificial ingredients but which have killa names obviously designed to get you to part with your cash as quickly as possible.  As coaches, it is hard enough attempting to talk about basic nutrition while competing with highly-funded advertising, what is even harder is if trainers in your profession advocate them too – I should mention that this is not a common occurrence in CF Watford; it really isn’t. I’m merely highlighting a point as something that I have witness. The only way we can compete with dissociated advertising is with the up-close-and-personal approach that a coach delivers.

Effort. We might not be the best in the box. Our mobility might not be where it should be. We will have our ‘goats’ too – things to work on. But as coaches, we demonstrate the effort required to get to that next stage of fitness. We put in the full range of movement in the burpee box jump, and we explain why. We fight to maintain external shoulder rotation in the shoulders during overhead squats, and we explain why. The athletes have to see that we work as hard as they do in every facet of the coaching session. You might not think it but they are looking to see your progressions too. And this goes for that 6am session that we really didn’t want to get out of bed for too. The athletes made it, we need to bring our A-Game, even if we don’t feel like it.

Scaling. We might Rx most things…but we didn’t used to. Not only that, we shouldn’t always, either. Scaling plays its part in all our development but the coach scaling a workout occasionally will also send the message to some of the more ‘determined’ athletes, “hey, if coach is scaling, perhaps I should too”. You might have told that to scale a thousand times but nothing demonstrates “leave your ego at the door” better than actually doing it ourselves.

Jumping in on WODs. This is a habit that I started getting in on but have now drawn back from. CrossFit is not cheap. It is far more expensive than typical gym memberships, despite not having the free towels, DVD memberships, spas, beautiful changing rooms and TVs. It is expensive because athletes pay for the value that a coach brings in giving them the personal attention throughout the 60 mins of the day that they invest in. It is our duty to unrelentingly pursue their progression and development. If there is another coach present to take over then dive on in – athletes do want to compete against the coaches, after all. But ultimately, they pay for coaching; they didn’t pay for globogym.

So, that about covers it, I think, although I’m sure I’ll think of something else as soon as I publish this.

Is there anything you look for in your coaches? Are there strong examples out there that we could learn from? Are there bad examples out there that we can learn from?

Answers, not on a postcard, but in the comments box below.