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Running a CrossFit Facility Tips and guidance on how to open and operate a CrossFit gym.

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Old 01-16-2014, 11:45 AM   #1
Rachel May
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Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

Greetings Everyone!

At our gym we have a growing issue of coaches sleeping with (married) other coaches, and one (male) coach in particular pursuing just about every female member (married or not) who enters the gym. We also have a female (married) coach who has repeatedly made poor choices at gym social functions (trying to kiss male members, fondling, etc) when alcohol is involved.

While we are not interested in policing people's personal lives, the behaviors of these coaches is becoming problematic. A few members have privately expressed concerns and we have a growing fear that the infidelity issues will "blow-up" in a public way in the future (we have lost members in the past due to an infidelity issue between clients so we're sensitive to this).

Couple questions:

1) Does anyone have their coaches sign a Code of Conduct or similar contract before working at the gym? If so, does it address behavior like dating clients, etc?

2) Has anyone else had similar experiences with coaches/coaches or coaches/clients in romantic relationships which created a negative environment in the gym? If so, how did you deal with it?

3) Any advice on to handle this matter delicately -- we don't want coaches feeling singled-out or that we are trying to impose morality standards on them. On the other hand, we run a professional facility, not a meat market.

Thanks!
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:01 PM   #2
Jeff Enge
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

Seems simple to me, let's phrase it this way: Would any of those behaviors be at all acceptable at a "normal" job?
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:31 PM   #3
Glenn Plomchok
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

Causing issues with the business and is not something you want going on at your gym/business? Can em'

Pretty simple. I understand things happen but it comes down to what environment do you want at your business. I would not stand for it
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:41 PM   #4
Miles Roberts
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

A friend goes to a box sort of local to me. This was happening with ONE trainer, and as soon as word got out, he was fired on the spot, and told to never come back. He was made example of, as I think he should have been.
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Old 01-16-2014, 12:48 PM   #5
Nathan Holmes
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

Rachel,

In my humble opinion, that is absolutely unacceptable behavior. Fraternization between coaches can be bad for business (what happens when they break up?) but fraternization between coaches and clients becomes TERRIBLE for business. It will not take long for word to get around town that your place is the love shack. If I were in your shoes, I would warn coaches when I hired them that if they slept with any clients, they would be fired and then follow through immediately if anyone violated it. The only exception would be if they have a relationship with the client previous to the client joining the box. That sort of behavior leads to favoritism which alienates everyone else in the class and can lead to sub-standard coaching. When the relationship goes sour, it also forces people to pick sides which is also bad for business.

At some point in the past, one of my fellow coaches always devoted a majority of their time (during class but even more so before & after class) towards the attractive customers. I CONSTANTLY had other clients complaining to me about it. I guess this is just my opinion, but allowing that type of behavior could cause your clients to call into question the integrity of your program and that is the LAST thing you would want as a small business owner.

If I were in your shoes, I would have a big coaches meeting and announce that you were establishing a policy on fraternization. Coaches are coaches, and clients are clients. CrossFit is a community but this is your business, your reputation, and your livelihood. Coach’s private lives are private but when it bleeds over and affects the climate of the business, it becomes the owner’s/manager’s business. To that end, the coaches are not allowed to pursue anything other than professional relationships with YOUR clients (remember, these are YOUR clients). Anyone caught violating this policy will be fired. If the coaches don't respect you enough to protect your business and treat your clients professionally, then they don't deserve a pay check.

Other than that, I don't have any strong feelings on the matter.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:33 PM   #6
Jason Newland
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

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Originally Posted by Nathan Holmes View Post
Other than that, I don't have any strong feelings on the matter.
Well said.
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Old 01-16-2014, 03:22 PM   #7
Tate Dimech
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Enge View Post
Seems simple to me, let's phrase it this way: Would any of those behaviors be at all acceptable at a "normal" job?
+ 1

I would also add that these coaches should be signing employement contracts with something covering the issue of bringing your business into disripute. I don't understand the US legal system nor do i pretend to but go and see your lawyer and see if you have legal grounds to terminate based on this.

I wouldn't worry too much aout their feelings or not having them singled out I am sorry but as a business owner myself I would fire my brother for doing something like this. Co-worker/co-worker is bad enough but coach/client that is messed up fire them ASAP and make an example of them in the next staff meeting after they're gone. You aren't there to please people you're there to make a profit and have members feeling comfortable.
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Old 01-16-2014, 03:53 PM   #8
Jesse Gray
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

While it is very easy to just say "no way dude!" we live in the real world. For many people the mojority of their social interactions are at work (lots of people find the permanent partner at work) or at their "3rd space", the place other than work or home where they spend the majority of their time. Hopefully, your box is that 3rd space. For a crossfit trainer the box might be the 2nd and 3rd space! So it is reasonable that this sort of thing may happen. Since this is to a certain extent unavoidable the best option in my opinion is to manage it well rather than trying to ban it. Lay out ground rules; no hitting on married people under any circumstances, no hitting on clients while you are coaching. A rule we had at one gym I coached at was the "one and done" rule. Basically, if there was serious chemistry between you and a client or other trainer you could go for it but you only got one opportunity. Screw that up and you can't make a move on anyone else.

Obviously this isn't perfect and every situation is different. It sounds like the OP's gym has a SERIOUS issue! In that case it may be time for a complete ban but there are always exceptions.
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Old 01-16-2014, 07:51 PM   #9
Brian Strump
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

What are you even considering? You've made it seem like this is more than a one time issue. They continue to make poor decisions. You have no choice but to cut them loose.

You cannot have an employee sleeping with a member, married or not. A male hitting on females or vice versa is not acceptable.

Three years ago, I had a member who we found out was having an affair with one of our married members. It was not a popular decision, but I told them both they were not welcome back. In a business where you're trying to cultivate a community; we have zero tolerance for such behavior.
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Old 01-16-2014, 11:40 PM   #10
Adam Morden
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Re: Coaches Sleeping With Coaches/Clients -- How to Handle?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel May View Post
Greetings Everyone!

At our gym we have a growing issue of coaches sleeping with (married) other coaches, and one (male) coach in particular pursuing just about every female member (married or not) who enters the gym. We also have a female (married) coach who has repeatedly made poor choices at gym social functions (trying to kiss male members, fondling, etc) when alcohol is involved.

While we are not interested in policing people's personal lives, the behaviors of these coaches is becoming problematic. A few members have privately expressed concerns and we have a growing fear that the infidelity issues will "blow-up" in a public way in the future (we have lost members in the past due to an infidelity issue between clients so we're sensitive to this).

Couple questions:

1) Does anyone have their coaches sign a Code of Conduct or similar contract before working at the gym? If so, does it address behavior like dating clients, etc?

2) Has anyone else had similar experiences with coaches/coaches or coaches/clients in romantic relationships which created a negative environment in the gym? If so, how did you deal with it?

3) Any advice on to handle this matter delicately -- we don't want coaches feeling singled-out or that we are trying to impose morality standards on them. On the other hand, we run a professional facility, not a meat market.

Thanks!
1) Yes, every one of my coaches and admin staff sign a code of conduct that includes a prohibition on fraternization with members and anything "That could bring the reputation of Alchemy CrossFit into disrepute" along with other more standard clauses (ie no drinking at work, no illegal drugs, no stealing, etc).

2) This came about after 2 incidents about 3 years apart. both were problematic in different ways, but primarily in that they disrupted the inclusiveness and quality of our community. None of the coaches in question work at Alchemy anymore.

3) Don't even try. Plain out tell them that its completely unacceptable behavior - I would want to fire the lot of them personally. This is not a mater of policing their personal lives - they are doing this at their workplace (YOUR business) with YOUR clients. It's completely disrespectful of all your members and of you. It's full stop total BS. And the poor choices just cause you're drunk - BS too. it's an excuse for her but that doesn't make it OK in any way.

I get the desire to let people make their own choices, but once it's happening in your business and effecting your customers you've got to get rid of them.
All those behaviors show such shockingly poor judgement, it would bring into question the coaches judgement on other situations as well. If you really must give them a chance - have a staff meeting with all the coaches and outline the zero tolerance policy going forward and make a brutal example of the first person who violates it.
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