In this week’s episode we sit down with owner, manager, coach, and athlete Candice Ford.
Candice has been in the world of CrossFit since 2011.
From the start she has made waves by opening LifeSpark Coaching in 2011 as well as going to the CrossFit Games Regionals five years in a row. She even went to the CrossFit Games in 2011.
Watch the full interview below for a more in depth look at what Candice has achieved so far and what the road ahead looks like for her as a leader, coach, and athlete.
Tell us a bit about LifeSpark as a business.
We initially started LifeSpark Coaching back in 2010 as a freelance personal training operation.
When we started coaching CrossFit classes we were operating out of the back of a car on the beach.
From there we moved to a classroom in a school in 2011 and we’ve grown ever since ending up now in our facility in JLT.
What classes do you coach at LifeSpark?
The main programs that I currently coach at LifeSpark are the Skills class on Wednesday mornings as well as our CrossFit Kid’s Program Wednesday afternoon and Saturdays.
The Skills class brings the conditioning, gymnastics, and weightlifting evening specialty classes that we have to the morning crew.
There’s a lot of our morning members that can only come in the morning so I get out of bed early on a Wednesday and come in to coach my morning crew.
When we started our CrossFit Kid’s Program I originally had 5 to 12 year-olds and some of my 5 year-olds have become 8 year-olds, 8 year-olds have become 12 year-olds and now I have a couple of 14 year-olds in there as well.
I’ve get the kids moving with medicine balls, learning how to use a rowing machine, and watching some of the older kids who can use a barbell now.
They watch the older kids saying “wow, when can I use a barbell?” getting so excited seeing their own potential in the possibilities.
I really enjoy both of my programs but taking those little ones in and getting them really interested and excited and moving and playing is just awesome.
Have you coached anything besides CrossFit?
I’ve only ever coached CrossFit.
I started my professional career in HR with a business degree.
My background was very much not in physical fitness, although I’ve always been active and into sports.
After a not so great first year of employment I realized it wasn’t for me.
I looked up what I could do and what I was good at and retrained as a personal trainer and gym instructor.
That first year I worked as a freelance personal trainer to learn the craft and work for somebody else so I could see how the industry was here.
In the summer of 2010 I got my CrossFit Level One and Ben and I cashed in everything we had to travel around the UK to the handful of affiliates that were there at the time.
Some of the incredible owners that we stayed with took us through what they were doing, introduced us to their community, let us coach a little bit so we could “cut our teeth” on some of those CrossFit affiliates.
We learned everything we could and brought it back with us as the first CrossFit affiliate here in the Middle East.
Goals as a coach
Coaching goals with my CrossFit Kid’s Program revolve around getting more kids involved.
At the moment I’ve got a great gang of four to six year-olds and there’s a really wonderful dynamic that’s developing with them.
I’d love to see that program grow and get to the point that I’ve got a five to seven year-olds class that’s dedicated for those little ones who have a different kind of energy.
You have to coach them a bit differently and I’d like to take out the older kids who are getting ready to move into a teen’s class because they need something different as well.
I want to see more kids coming in and also define those age groups.
It’s not necessarily about their fitness level or their CrossFit skills it’s about getting them comfortable with moving and being healthy.
Other coaching goals that I have center around my life-coaching and one-on-one training for my clients.
I’ve recently qualified as a lifecoach in 2016 and that was quite a big investment for me.
Moving into 2017 I’ve started OPEX training so I’m excited to bring OPEX to my members and to my clients in ways that incorporate my life coaching in a meaningful way.
Favorite memory as a coach
It’s funny I hadn’t thought about that and you asking me now brings random things to mind.
There have been amazing moments where I’ve seen guys and girls get their first muscle up or kids take that first step into CrossFit after watching their older siblings in class but there’s another memory that stands out even more.
I remember the day, we had a new member join us and she was quite overweight, quite unhealthy, and she hadn’t been doing anything prior to coming to CrossFit.
Going from nothing to coming to a CrossFit gym is a big step for a lot of people and I remember about three months after she joined us she came in a completely different person.
The color in her cheeks, the quality of her hair, the way she fit in her clothes, and just the air about her was completely different.
The best part was when I said to her “Oh my goodness you look amazing” and listed all of the things I saw she didn’t even realize it.
It was essentially the boost that she needed and the boost that I needed as well as everyone else in class.
It was such a rallying moment and just amazing to be a part of.
That’s why we do this.
We can change lives by what we get out of bed to do every morning.
That’s pretty incredible.
Training in 2017
Training for me in 2017 is very different than what it was back in 2011.
I’ve been a competitive crossfitter for a long time.
In 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 I earned a spot at the CrossFit Games – Regionals and I also had the absolute pleasure of making it to the CrossFit Games in 2011.
That very much dictated what my training looked like, what my volume looked like, what my intensity looked like.
Going into 2016 and being pregnant was very different.
It forced me to slow down and reevaluate things.
Although interestingly as much as I scaled back while I was pregnant the real shock came after Raef was born last September.
The reality of training after carrying and growing a baby for nine months became apparent and I definitely underestimated how much harder postpartum training was going to be.
So I’ve had a lot of false starts over the last year and now as he comes up on his first birthday I’m actually just loving getting back into classes.
Getting back in with the members, trusting the programming that’s going up on the board, throwing myself into that and just regularly being present in classes.
I’ve forgotten how much fun that can be after being on an individualized program for so long.
Next month I’m doing the CrossFit Team Series and then it’s looking into 2018.
A new year and new goals to look forward to.
How do you feel being back in the gym regularly?
It’s really interesting.
There’s loads of new faces since I was last in classes and coaching regularly.
Obviously there’s still some of the old faces and it’s brilliant to be with both but the one thing that’s still there…
Is that people genuinely give a damn.
They’re cheering for you, they want to be there, and they want to see you doing well.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re brand new or an old member or a coach or a newbie.
There’s so many things that are different about LifeSpark now than where we were back in 2011.
At the crux of it all there’s so much that’s still the same.
There’s a dynamic that gets created when you throw a bunch of people into a room and no matter what skill level they are saying
“Guys we’re going to do this are you ready”
And I love that despite how much time has past and how much I’ve grown and changed
And the community has grown and changed
When it comes down to it
And the 3, 2, 1 hits that clock
Everything is still exactly the same.
I love that.