The price a young, Wimbeldon prospect might pay in coaching fees each year?
Up to $50,000
The price a budding Olympic weightlifter with his sights set on the Olympic Games might pay his weightlifting coach a year?
The price an aspiring Games athlete pays his coach?
Where do CrossFit coaches who program for and coach Regionals and CrossFit Games athletes want to fall on the price spectrum?
Closer to the tennis coach, who easily makes $100 an hour? Or closer to the weightlifting coach, who at least in North America, notoriously gives away his services for no cost at all?
Obviously the latter statements are generalizations as not all parents fork out $50,000 a year for their child star to play tennis, but it’s certainly not abnormal in the sport either. The world-renown tennis coach Nick Bolletieri charges a whopping $900 an hour. On the one hand, his rate can be considered arrogant. On the other hand, you could say, “Good for him for being able to get that kind of money for coaching!” I wouldn’t be surprised if we had people in the CrossFit community who were willing to pay $900 to spend an hour with Glasman.
I believe CrossFit should fall somewhere between weightlifting and tennis, more toward gymnastics kind of fees. When I was a national level gymnast twenty years ago, my parents paid $400 a month in coaching fees. Today, I hear upwards of $500 is the norm (at least in Canada), totalling about $6,000 a year in training fees.
I’ve always believed giving away valuable services for nothing only creates entitled recipients—athletes who don’t appreciate that valuable things aren’t free!
The few Olympic weightlifters I’ve come across constantly say, “CrossFit is so expensive.” I always reply, “It is when you’re comparing it to the fact that you have gotten a free ride your whole weightlifting career!”
And on our end, we’re not guilt free either: I’ve come across many a Regionals-level CrossFit athlete, who seems to think he or she should get a free membership because he or she competed at regionals two years ago.
This isn’t to take away from the great coaches in both weightlifting and CrossFit, who donate their time to help others. However, in my opinion, undervaluing coaching services is disrespectful not only to the coach, but to the entire sport. Maybe it’s why tennis seems slightly more prestigious than weightlifting.
The question is, do you think your coach is worth $6,000 a year? (Whether the coach is compensated from the athlete, or the athlete’s sponsor, is a personal coach worth $6,000)?
If he’s not, then I don’t believe he’s a very good coach.
Let me explain:
When you’re an athlete training for Regionals or the Games, and if your coach is invested in your progress, you basically become a part-time job. From one-on-one personal training, to programming an individual training schedule, to entire weekends being taken up by competitions—the hours an invested coach puts into a prospect are endless. On top of this, whether the relationship is virtual or not, the athlete is probably constantly texting, emailing, sharing videos, receiving additional feedback from the coach. Sometimes the coach even becomes a bit of a counsellor when he has to deal with panic-attacked e-mails and late-night anxiety-laden texts (or maybe that’s just me).
It seems, though, many of the top coaches in CrossFit are charging considerably less than $500 a month, and in my opinion, considerably less than they’re worth.
Not to take away from the following amazing coaches: What they charge is their prerogative, and I respect that. BUT, last time I talked to Doug Chapman (a number of months ago now)—best known for being Julie Foucher’s personal coach—he said he charges $150 a month for virtual individual programming, while Ben Bergeron told me he charges $175 a month, and doesn’t take on too many athletes at once because he wants to make sure he does a great job with each athlete he is committed to. My guess is Bergeron would have a line-up of athletes and a waiting list even if he charged $600 a month. And Jeremy Jones—the coach of three-time Games athlete Alessandra Pichelli— said he doesn’t charge her at all because she trains at his gym.
I guess there is an argument to me made that training top athletes brings pride to your affiliate and gives back in other ways, which is tough to put a price on. But the capitalist in me winces a bit inside every time I hear that argument.
Where do you stand? What should coaches, who are trying to make a professional living as a coach, be compensated to take on an “elite” CrossFit athlete as a part-time job?