Casey Acree: Getting Prepared to Become a Professional Coach

Casey Acree: Getting Prepared to Become a Professional Coach

Casey Acree, the recent winner of the Men’s Upper Extremity division of the 2021 CrossFit Games Open, has never let being born missing an arm below his elbow stop him from living a normal life.

As a child, he was into all kinds of sports, and today he’s an OPEX CCP coach and the owner of Summit Systems in Decatur, Illinois, an individual program design gym.

Like many OPEX coaches, Acree found CrossFit before OPEX and fell in love hard. 

“I loved everything about it, until I started to see the limitations that group coaching had for both the members and me as a coach,” Acree said. One of the major limits he saw was a lack of individualized attention. As someone who was born without an arm, Acree understood more than most people the importance of catering to a person’s individual needs.

“It took me only about a year of being a full-time coach (and) gym manager to become burnt out and lack a sense of fulfillment in my coaching,” he explained of his experience coaching group classes at a CrossFit facility. 

So he slowly started administering individual design as a “side hustle,” he explained with some of his clients, and quickly saw how much more effective it was for both for the client’s long term development and for his fulfillment as a coach.

Then, he came across OPEX and didn’t hesitate to sign up for the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) in the fall of 2018.

CCP “gave me the foundation and structure I needed to make the leap from doing individual design as a side hustle to it being my full-time,” Acree said. “I learned what being a professional coach should look like, principles around assessing a client and how to actually do that assessment, and how to go beyond fitness and coach lifestyle.”

Further, CCP helped Acree realize that coaching is “more about relationships than reps and sets,” that “no program is completed without lifestyle coaching,” and that “the coach has to win for the clients to win,” he explained.

Download the CCP curriculum guide here to learn more about the course.

Today, Acree couldn’t be happier to be following the OPEX individual design model at his gym, where he trains 45 clients (some remote, some hybrid and some in-person).

“As a coach, this has been such a huge improvement compared to coaching groups,” he said, adding that his clients see better results and his relationships with them are much stronger than they were in the group class days. 

Beyond results and fulfillment, making the switch to the OPEX model has also come with all-important lifestyle and financial benefits

“My time is far more flexible, as I don’t need to be at every session that my clients do. My partners and I split our floor coaching times to prevent having to work long hours, and I can essentially create my own schedule. This has allowed for me to spend way more time with my family and make far more money per hour of work,” Acree said.

He added: “I feel that OPEX essentially gave me the backbone to the structure and principles that I have used to create my own business, and have the confidence to leave a stable position and take the leap to opening up…Without OPEX, I don’t know if I ever would have felt prepared to take the step to be a professional coach.”


Are you a fitness coach or interested in becoming one?

Helping people reach their goals through exercise and nutrition is a fulfilling experience.

It is also a skill that can be learned.

In just six months, you can become an independent fitness coach, running your own small business and dramatically impacting the lives of those around you.

Sound intriguing?

Download our free curriculum guide today and learn exactly how you can grow as a fitness coach with our Coaching Certificate Program (CCP).

Download the curriculum guide
Fitness Assessments for New Clients