Watch Nicole Christensen Coach a CrossFit Class

ByCrossFitMarch 11, 2024

One of the best ways to grow as a coach is to watch other coaches and analyze what they do throughout each section of a class. We can then incorporate what they do effectively into our own coaching. Ask any high-level coach what most helped them to develop and they will likely say they learned from watching others, asking questions, and being open to feedback.

Recently, Nicole Christensen (CF-L4) traveled to Ute CrossFit to be a guest coach, and our cameras were there to capture the action. Follow along in this video as she coaches a class from start to finish.

The workout:

21-15-9 reps for time of:

Strict handstand push-ups
Front squats
Box jumps

♀️ 95 lb, 20-inch box
♂️ 135 lb, 24-inch box

Prior to watching, take some time to write out your own lesson plan. Then, compare and contrast to what Nicole did. It’s OK if your plan differs, as there is more than one way to run an effective class for this workout!

Table of Contents and Overview

Workout Explanation (0:00-1:51) 

Nicole gathers the class together at the whiteboard and briefly explains the workout. She describes the intended stimulus, the time frame for completion, loading parameters, and scaling the workout.

Educating the athletes about the workout gives them a deeper understanding of the intent and the general expectations. This will assist with scaling and achieving the intended goals of the day.

General Warm-Up (1:51-12:54)

The primary goal of the general warm-up is to increase core temperature and move joints throughout a full range of motion. This can be achieved in a variety of ways and can be targeted toward the primary musculature being utilized in the workout or not.

For this workout, Nicole utilizes a warm-up that will directly carry over to the skills required in the workout. Notice how she starts the teaching, seeing, and correcting process during this time.

Front Squat Specific Warm-Up (12:55-24:13)

The goal of this section is to build the specific skills and range of motion for proper execution of the front squat and to have time to build up to the appropriate load.

Because Nicole has instructed the air squat during the general warm-up, she jumps right into teaching the front squat by focusing on the rack position and the bar path. No rep is wasted and each is accompanied with a cue for improvement or acknowledgement of sound mechanics.

Take note of how through a collaborative effort with the athletes Nicole is able to guide them to the appropriate loads to be used for the workout. This guidance tends to be much more effective than simply letting the athletes self-select their weights on a daily basis.

Handstand Push-Up Specific Warm-Up (24:14-34:40)

Managing a wide range of athletes’ ability levels through a complex gymnastics skill progression can be a daunting task, so much so that many coaches will avoid these movements in group-class programming. The goal of this section is to teach athletes the proper mechanics of the handstand push-up and to refine mechanics. Nicole utilizes an efficient teaching progression that acts both a skill builder and an assessment for how athletes will scale this movement in the workout.

Final Workout Preparations (34:41-36:50)

During this time, athletes are able to use the restroom and Nicole does a final check-in to ensure they each know exactly what they will be doing during the workout in regard to loads, reps, and movement variations.

Workout (36:51-47:35)

When the workout starts, the coaching is not over! Within seconds after starting the clock, Nicole begins refining movement patterns. Take note of the common pain points you may experience when running a class and how you may respond to each situation, such as: “What do you do when athletes start failing handstand push-ups?” or “How should I threshold-train each athlete?” etc.

Cleanup and Cool-Down (47:36-end)

Nicole’s plan has allocated plenty of time at the back end of the class to ensure athletes can stretch and recover prior to exiting the building. She collects scores and chats with the group. This time together on a consistent basis not only allows for recovery but can also allow for some community-building to take place.

Comments on Watch Nicole Christensen Coach a CrossFit Class


Comment thread URL copied!
Back to 240312
Jonathan Sidney
March 31st, 2024 at 5:26 pm
Commented on: Watch Nicole Christensen Coach a CrossFit Class

Enjoyed it! Great learning tool!

Comment URL copied!
Ward Reckart
March 21st, 2024 at 7:05 pm
Commented on: Watch Nicole Christensen Coach a CrossFit Class

Comment URL copied!
Brett Fforde
March 15th, 2024 at 1:19 am
Commented on: Watch Nicole Christensen Coach a CrossFit Class

Thank You!!! We need more of these ASAP. I am going to try to do a thorough review and send it to Nic but this was a real coached class.

What did I love? Names, non stop names, demo of all progressions and drills and cues flying thick and fast verbal, visual and tactile.

A definite plan to get everyone to a scaling option that lets them work out. Prescriptive scaling on the Front squats - "go grab a pair of 10s" balanced with a concern for how the athlete feels about the option or weight chosen.

Clear and obvious movement understanding and coaching towards that movement for example HSPU line of action of the shoulders taught with the success markers being to see your fingers in your peripheral vision at the bottom and to press your nose to the box at the top - love it.

What would I ask Nicole to contemplate changing if she was one of my coaches? 1. Can we get more movement into the warm up, make sure we are a tiny bit sweaty. 2. Do we have to ask so many questions? Can you just tell them what you hope they know and get there quicker. 3. How can you get a bit more time to prescribe HSPU options with more success next time.

Nic didn't ask but I hope everyone can see things they like and things they think could be done differently. Nic would be the first to suggest that this is not a perfect class because the perfect class does not exist.

As an aside I have know Nicole for over a decade, I think we worked a L2 together in Encinitas in 2013/2013 at SealFit HQ. I have tremendous respect for her as a coach and I have even more respect for her for putting her craft on display like she has done in this one and done filming of a real class.

Coaches please join the conversation, what did you like what are you not sure about? What didn't you like? (Nic has thick skin, she can take it :) )

Thanks again Nic, great job.

Brett from down under.

Comment URL copied!
Alan Doyle
March 22nd, 2024 at 10:41 am

Hey Brett,

I agree with everything you said above. Unreal how many times Nicole said people's names. The control of the flow of the class combined with individual attention put everyone at ease.

Loved the use of both lines and circles during skill prep. We try to avoid telling the class how many reps they have left. If you tell them one ore rep but you then have to do more, you've lied to them.

We're big believers in presenting things in the positive - "I want you to keep your shoulders behind your feet" as opposed to "I don't want to see your shoulders in front of your feet" so I would encourage Nicole to tell the class what you want to see as opposed to what you don't want to see - Do Not think of the Pink Elephant!

Thanks again Nicole for putting yourself out there, its not easy.


Comment URL copied!