Kayla Smith’s story is similar to many coaches who fell in love with CrossFit: It was great for a while. She loved the group and community atmosphere, and “people had fun and enjoyed being a part of that community,” she said.
But as time went by, the lack of individualized coaching led to more and more injuries and member churn. And on the coaching end, she found herself overworked and burnt out.
“There were days I was coaching five or six classes a day, coaching the same stuff over and over and repeating myself over and over,” Smith said, adding that she was often at the gym from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m., usually feeling like she was “babysitting adults,” she said.
“That system doesn’t set the coaches up to win…It’s fine as a part-part-time job or maybe for a college student just starting out, but there’s no long-term win,” she added.
After taking the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) in 2018, Smith opened OPEX Morgantown in West Virginia in March 2019.
Her reason was simple: She felt aligned with the OPEX model and knew it was the path to long term growth, and client and business success.
“I believed in the OPEX model and the principles from the very beginning. I knew I had to make a switch to feel fulfilled and set myself up for a better future for myself professionally,” she said.
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The change didn’t come without its challenges, she admitted.
“It was hard to get people to understand exactly what we do. It was also hard to prove that the cost was worth it, since it was so much more than most all other gyms in the area,” she said.
But once she realized the model wasn’t about getting as many people as possible, but was about finding the right people, she started to have more success.
“I needed to go after people who wanted personal training and not the group model,” she said.
The moment she did that, the right people started flowing in, including her now clients Mitch Flores, Olivia Groves and Ben Spong.
“I needed a coach who cared about the quality of movement and not just numerical gains. I also needed a coach who could help me become more durable and conditioned for my sport. Kayla’s approach and methodology is exactly what I was looking for,” Flores said.
Working with Smith is about “building a body and lifestyle that will sustain you for years, and not just on high intensity workouts. It breaks down your strengths and weaknesses and establishes new pathways to becoming a healthier individual,” Groves said.
“A great, personalized coach has made everything easier and results better than I could have imagined,” added Spong.
Two years later, Smith couldn’t be happier about her decision to open an OPEX gym.
“I finally feel like I can make an impact on people. I have built great relationships and developed a strong core group of clients. I feel much more fulfilled knowing I did this myself and am my own boss. I have the type of clients that I want and respect me and my time,” she said.
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