I’m constantly reading up on articles written here and overseas on various topics, such as ‘inexperienced coaches will kill CrossFit’, ‘affiliates are too close to each other’, ‘membership costs need to be reflective of value’ ect
Whilst this is true, the main issue that I see with affiliates today is that they don’t realize that once you’ve committed yourself to being in the health and fitness profession it’s your responsibility to look after new members like they’re your family.
For instance, we’re also in the health and fitness industry here at the Evolutio sports injury and rehabilitation clinic in Hawthorn east. I’d be devastated if we weren’t the first point of call for anyone that has walked through our doors over the past 12 months if something was to happen to them at training or outside the gym.
There’s no doubt that members will move on, change location, move house or want to train with friends, but from my experience I think that around 50% of members drop off rates are due to the mis-management of previous injuries (those sustained prior to joining).
1. Ask the right pre-screening questions on your sign-up sheet
Once an individual makes contact with your affiliate or comes in for their first ‘foundations’ or ‘on ramp’ class its deadly important you take the time to conduct a thorough investigation of their medical history. You can either email them out a package to complete and bring in or get them to fill it in when they arrive.
The questions that must be asked include. Have you had any major operations or surgery? This includes but is not limited to operations on the heart, lungs, abdomen, shoulders, spine, hips or knees.
It’s important to give examples to a new member. This will help jog their memory and input any necessary information down.
The second and third questions should be ‘Have you ever had a history of pain in your shoulder, spine, hips, knees or ankles” and “Do you currently have any pain or discomfort in your shoulder, spine, hips, knees, ankles or other area?”
Make sure you ask for detailed responses. This will save a lot of heartache in the future, trust me!
2. Don’t be naïve and forget women and childbirth
Don’t assume it’s all sorted. Don’t assume the member has a good therapist and is aware of their current restrictions or issues.
For women you must ask “have you had children, when did you have them, were there any complications, have you been diagnosed with rectus abdominis diastasis (Splitting of the rectus abdominis muscle when giving birth)?
If they have, the new member has to be extremely careful with abdominal strain exercises, such as sit-ups. The final question needs to be are you currently seeing a women’s health specialist Physiotherapist or Osteopath?
This issue is this. You might feel as though you’re doing a good job for this person getting them back into training and helping them get fit. Trust me, neglect these questions and issues, you actually could be doing more harm than good in the long run
3. Build a Relationship with a trusted Physiotherapist or Osteopath who has done CrossFit for at least 6 months
This is a no brainer but I see a very limited number of affiliates putting time into this. For the life of me I cant understand why. A good Health Professional will keep membership retention up, drive people to you for conditioning post rehabilitation and be a support mechanism for your business.
If your new member has indicated from the information above and answered yes to any of the questions or has given birth with complications and hasn’t been reviewed by a Health Professional then this is your go to person. You send them to your Physiotherapist or Osteopath for a review before they start CrossFit that way, they can give you complete run down on their condition, previous history, initial scaling options and things to watch out for. This will prevent a huge amount of issues and complications down the track
4. Spread this Information to your Coaches
Once you’ve received this information about your new member, email this information around to all the Coaches and make sure they understand it. There’s no better way to welcome a new member to the class than saying “Hi Grace, I’m Alex I read the email about your previous hip injury and what we need to be careful of, I’ll look after you” I can assure you, that member will be yours for life. On the flip side, neglect to refer them on, neglect to spread the word to your coaches and if the injury flares up, you can rest assured they will not come back.
5. Consistently stay in touch with your Physiotherapist or Osteopath
Aim to catch up once a month for coffee, discuss any new members and any issues. Remember a good health professional is worth their weight in gold to your business and will help to drive you new business. These people see injured patients all day. At some stage those patients are going to get better and when they do, they’ll need advanced conditioning and rehabilitation. Your ‘on ramp’ program or elite Coaches are going to be right in the back of their mind.
Alex Drew is the director of Evolutio. A business in Australia which aims to bridge the gap between CrossFitters and Health Professionals. He is a Physiotherapist, CrossFit Level 1 and Powerlifting Trainer