Being a Female CrossFitter and Coach

 

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Written by Kris Amatuli 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently I read an article titled “10 Reasons You Should Take More Notice of What a Female Coach Has To Say”. I read this soon after four people sent me a different article titled “You should be dating a CrossFit Girl. Here’s why”. These articles might seem unrelated but it made me realize (or maybe remember) that being a woman can be tough, being a woman that CrossFits can be even harder, and being a female CrossFit coach is rewarding and intimidating at the same time.

 

For starters, I am NOT complaining. Being a female, especially one that CrossFits, is amazing. Up until three and a half years ago my hands had never touched a barbell, so is every tiny accomplishment exciting? You bet. Does it feel even better winning a competition when you hear people say “and they had GIRLS on their team!”? Absolutely. And ironically, these are the same things that make it intimidating.

 

Until reading the two articles, I didn’t put much thought into how people reacted towards me as a coach. Aside from the occasional “this guy doesn’t believe a word I’m saying because I don’t have a penis” conversation I’d had with my coach, I didn’t think my gender mattered in the gym. Oh but it does.

 

My first thought after reading the female coach article was “AWESOME”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ve always felt like I deserved a little credit for having to struggle more to get certain lifts and movements. I wanted to send the article to everyone in the gym so the girls could relate to me a little better and the guys would listen more. A few days of reading this article every morning to psych myself up for class I started to realize – wait, I want men to read this article so they listen more? Do I really feel like every male takes what I say with a grain of salt?

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The answer is, no, BUT, the moments that I’ve used a cue over and over only to hear “(male coaches name) showed me how to do double-unders/cleans/etc. He told me I just had to (insert the same cue I used 1000 times with them here)!” aren’t exactly few and far between. I, in no way, think that I am the best coach on the planet, but I’ve reached a point that I have busted my ass enough to live up to my mentors expectations yet still feel intimidated in a room full of men that, 99% of the time, haven’t been CrossFitting as long as me or spent as much time learning the subtle nuances of the movements. It can get frustrating to say the least.

 

I’ve also become more aware of how people react towards me now in regards to CrossFit; something that was my driving force to get out of bed at 5am during grad school when everyone else was nursing a hangover, that I am lucky enough to now call a career. This is obviously not something I take lightly–no one likes getting out of bed at 5am. CrossFit has become something that I am proud of yet hesitant to bring up and I don’t know if men have the same problem.

 

I’ve never seen an article convincing women why dating a man that CrossFits isn’t such a bad idea (yes, I looked). I’m newly single and back in the very scary world of bars and dating, I have had two men lose interest or ask if I was 1) gay or 2) trying to “get big” when my answer to “So what do you like to do?” wasn’t shop, sew, dance, cook or paint my girlfriends toes. I assume any man turned off by something I am not only passionate about but has gotten me in the best shape I’ve ever been in, is concerned less with what I can do and more with what he cannot.

Likes looking pretty, taking pictures, fancy parties, toes to bars, and thrusters.

Likes looking pretty, taking pictures, fancy parties, toes to bars, and double bodyweight deadlifts.

Again, I am NOT complaining. But I do think it’s important to bring attention to the fact that the world wants me to be a picture perfect version of every woman on the cover of a magazine, yet using CrossFit as a tool makes me less feminine. I think it’s necessary to talk about the confidence I’ve gained BECAUSE I am a CrossFitter, that I have to tone down so I don’t make a male (notice I said a male, not a man) uncomfortable. (side note: boys don’t like when you tell them you could probably deadlift more than their body weight as you walk away to find a better suitor).

 

Most importantly, I have to acknowledge the fact that I am a woman and when it comes to coaching I KNOW WHAT I’M DOING. Attitude is everything. If I don’t recognize these issues and think about them, how am I ever going to move past them? If I have this thought in the back of my head all the time that they would listen better or trust me more if I was a man, can I really be the best coach I’m capable of being? If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you can only change the things you can control, and how other people feel about or react towards you is not one of them.

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3 Responses to Being a Female CrossFitter and Coach

  1. Kellie says:

    Good read. I have been CrossFitting for three years and in that time not only has my body changed but the way I think about it and what I think about has changed too. I am recently single and have been told several times that CrossFit has changed me. I’m obsessed about it, it’s all you think about, you’re too big, men don’t like a woman who is too muscly, you’re intimidating, you do it too much. They are all things I’ve heard. This very minute I was told I need to meet someone outside of CrossFit and not bang on to them about it. I’m also very new to coaching and I am terrified. But bugger the lot of them. I’ve found something I am passionate about and that isn’t going to change. I have no intention of changing who I am to ‘find’a man. Any man who doesn’t like me exactly as I am is not worthy. I plan on getting much stronger this year and learning a lot about being a great coach. Bring it on. Love my CrossFit life.

  2. Alison says:

    Right on! I have been a CrossFit coach for 4 years and you are right on every single point. I am lucky enough to have a husband that loves I can outlift him, but not all women are that lucky. I am glad you realize you DO know what you’re talking about and now that you’ve recognized the issue, you can move on. Keep it up!

  3. Katie says:

    Thanks for this article. I am also a female CrossFit coach and have some of the same frustrations. I absolutely do believe we have to prove ourselves to men before they trust us. I was at regionals two years ago speaking with a vendor who was telling me about his supplements until my husband walked over and he immediately turned his focus on my husband and forgot about me all together. I was so infuriated! Its something we will always have to combat, unfortunately, but maybe we can create some kind of Facebook group or community for female coaches. Some of us are probably better at dealing with it than others. Anyway, I appreciate you posting about your experiences because I am the only female coach at my box so I don’t often hear about others feeling the same way.

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