On being a bilingual Coach…… from a Coach who is not.
Coaching at CrossFit Jaguar for the past 7 months has given me many gifts. Just one of these gifts is an incredibly diverse group of people as members. Navigating the waters of change has enriched our environment ten fold and I owe that to all the faces I see every day walking through our doors.
I moved to Tampa from a small beach town in the Panhandle of Florida that had zero culture and not much diversity. Don’t get me wrong. I was there for 10 years. I had opened and sold a successful CrossFit gym, after which I chose to drive across town to train and coach under an incredibly knowledgeable mentor.
But in all my time being an affiliate owner and coach in this great small city, there was not much diversity.
But life rolls on and a move to Tampa was planned and executed. A random job search on Facebook brought me to the doors of CrossFit Jaguar.
But I digress…..
In January this year, we had an influx of new members, as most gyms do at the first of the year. It’s an exciting time as a coach because our team gets to shore up our fundamentals and teach quality movement patterns, not only to our new members, but also correct and clean up with our long time members.
But this January was different. Some of our new members only spoke Spanish.
I don’t speak any Spanish. I had never experienced teaching in any other language but English. I did, however, know the language of movement.
So our team began the year with LOTS of demonstrating. LOTS of si and no, LOTS of patience and “try again”. We began listening to our bilingual members talk to one another and helping each other by describing the movements, answering questions, talking numbers and exchanging encouragement towards one another.
As these months have gone by, my gratitude has grown by leaps and bounds to our bilingual athletes. They are teaching me phrases, numbers, and a few funny nick names that they call each other. I shot video a week ago of one of members teaching a group of bilingual members the elements of a warm up game we were playing at the gym. Now, all these people all speak English and Spanish but he was teaching in Spanish. They were asking questions in English and Spanish and it was such a cool moment because I could understand a few of the words being spoken and could agree or disagree with what I understood.
Now I am the student and they are the language coaches. How cool is that?! If I ask, they answer, and then we say it 15 times and then I try to use it in description of a workout.
So where this is not really a blog post, it is an expression of gratitude.
THANK YOU (GRACIAS) to our bilingual Jaguar family! Thank you for your patience, your willingness to teach us and help us understand you better. Thank you for translating to each other what we need to convey for gym safety and workout intensity.
The representations of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and others is stellar and we are so happy to have you in our four walls every day laughing and learning in more than one language. And lastly, thank you for laughing at my attempts to put together funny Spanish phrases that don’t make sense.
“My English not so good”
Con alegria y gratitud!