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Imagine it’s 2003. Your high school volleyball coach decides weightlifting will help the team’s jumping, so he Googles “clean and jerk Santa Cruz.”

The coach was Tony Budding, and Pat Barber was on the volleyball team. Over the last 13 years, Barber has “grown up” with CrossFit, first training in the original HQ gym and then becoming part of the early CrossFit Media staff. His first competition was filmed in “Every Second Counts” (Barber is the cover model) and he’s made the Games as an individual and Team athlete several times since 2008.

As a teenager, “I would train for a month at a time, and I’d throw up after every workout. I’d get so sick of that I wouldn’t train for six months. It wasn’t a very sustainable schedule.”

After he quit his room service job, he drove past CrossFit HQ and saw Tony working out. Tony took him home and taught him to use Final Cut. That was the start of his career with CrossFit Media.

Now he’s Head of Coach Development for NorCal CrossFit, and founder of with his wife, Taz.


Pat described the “original” CrossFit seminars–a grouping of top-level coaches from across a broad spectrum–and his development as a coach with the L1 Staff and Greg Amundson.

From there, we talked about how Pat develops coaches for NorCal: how he identifies the best candidates, what he teaches them, and how he evaluates them.

We also talked about clients: how to motivate them, how to keep them…and even when to fire them. Though Pat and I haven’t talked about motivating clients before, his “PR Board” and minimum coaching time per client is very similar to our Bright Spots strategy for behavioral modification.

Pat bases his classes around “session plans.” More than just programming, he covers the warmup, the description of “why”

But even with this much detail provided for his coaches, he limits NorCal coaching to 21 hours per week, max. After that, Pat says, they can burn out. A musical theater aficionado, Barber says coaching is a lot like “being on stage.”

“If a coach is teaching 5 classes in a day, or 5 classes in a row, I see burnout all the time.”

Pat recommends these books:

The Harry Potter series, from start to finish.

The Four-Hour Workweek and The Four-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss

Foundations and Fitness In 100 Words, by Greg Glassman

Unbeatable Mind, by Mark Divine (“on tape,” as those born before 1980 say)

Pat’s last words to every aspiring coach: “Never think you’ve figured it out.”

In “Coach’s Confessional,” I talk about trying to keep every client (mistake!) and how to fire the bad ones. Here’s a link to the “Firing” blog post we give to Two-Brain Business mentoring clients.

Recorded on January 15, 2016.