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Just Shut Up: Mt Baker Part 2 by Skip Chase - CrossFit Journal

In Affiliation, Coaching, Videos

January 06, 2010

Video Article

Running a box is more than just training athletes: it’s about managing them, too.

Skip Chase opened Mt. Baker CrossFit in 2005 with two barbells and about 300 lb. of weight, so he had to learn how to get groups of athletes through a workout quickly, safely and efficiently. Chase has more equipment now, but he still believes it’s important for trainers to work with the equipment and staff they have to give athletes the best experience.

Chase starts every WOD by having everyone do the CrossFit Warm-Up, and he’ll use that time to organize them into groups that can be set loose on a variety of activities depending on availability of equipment.

As for trainers, Chase selects them from his membership. Prospective trainers must work out at the box for at least six months, and they have to live and breathe CrossFit, including the Zone Diet. After that they’ll head to a Level 1 Cert and shadow one of the senior coaches at Chase’s box.

Chase is also big on coach-athlete interaction, and he strives to keep his athletes focused while motivating them and driving them with positive energy. That means chatting is kept to a minimum before the WOD. After the athletes are finished, they’re free to swap all the stories they want in between Fran coughs.

6min 44sec

Additional reading: You Be the Trainer No. 4, published Sept. 30, 2009.

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26 Comments on “Just Shut Up: Mt Baker Part 2”


wrote …

The logical question from that is, how do you build the community aspect if you're shunting people through, there are no classes and people don't chat?
I assume that's coming up and is probably the question the interviewer was asking as the video finished.

I know Skip has a great community there, so obviously it works somehow and I'm very much looking forward to finding out how.

Great to see more of Skip. He's provided so much advice to people on the Message board and it's great to hear him laying it all out at once.


wrote …

I think that Skip is right on. Crossfitters in general have a leave me alone I am working out attitude. I love to hang around and shoot the shit after a WOD, but you'll get the F-off look if you try to do anything but cheer me on when I am training. When I am just hanging out I talk to others who are finished, and encourage those who are training to focus. I have my level one and am training the firefighters at my hall. They wander into the gym when they can, so his aproach is very interesting to me. Keep it coming.


wrote …

Mr Chase's perspectives on training are interesting.

Intrigued by his "must be a Zoner" rule for trainers.

Skip, if you've got two prospective trainers, both of whom have the same grasp of the CF fundamentals, both of whom have the same level of virtuosity, are able to effectively communicate instruction to clients, etc; basically, both, for all intents and purposes are equally qualified to be an instructor at your box, save for one of those prospective trainers doesn't weigh and measure his food per The Zone. Does the guy who just eats Paleo (or for that matter, whatever he wants), yet gets the same or better body comp and performance results as the guy who is "a Zoner," how does that make him not qualified for (or exempted from) being put in front of clients (so long as he is able to articulate Mt Baker's convictions regarding Zone diet)?


wrote …

After watching an older video of Barry Sears talking about the Zone I think I realized why crossfit seems to be pushing the zone diet more than any other diet. When I think of the zone we always think of the 40/30/30 ratio and the fact that you are not restricted to foods(not specifically although some are considered more optimal). However when coach introduces Dr. Sears the main thing he talks about in his dietary approach is the weighing and measuring and how that was a completely new approach to dieting and something very useful to athletes.

So in my opinion the weighing and measuring part is what makes the zone so special and why it is better than any paleo or any diet for that matter. I would never force anyone to do the zone diet in particular but if you're a crossfitter you weigh and measure. To me it has been pretty clear that the sport of crossfit is a competition of training methodologies. The games are a proving grounds for training methodologies, is showing up and saying "hey I did a bunch of clean and jerks" a training methodology? If not, then why should saying "yeah I had a bunch of meat and veggies" be? A training methodology should incorporate a diet and if you can't quantify what you are doing, no one else can use what you are doing. How can you say you have a methodology if you don't know exactly what you're doing?

Are you training crossfit if you say don't do any isolation exercises? You're training would certainly be more functional(for most people). I don't know, to me just saying don't eat this is not a prescription in the same way as do Fran for time. The same principles should be held for nutrition, no matter what you are eating you should measure it, log it and tweak it. This is where Rob Wolf went against crossfit principles with his hunks of meats. Will his method yield results? Very likely. Just like having people show up for 40 minute classes and do some exercises without counting exactly what they did and without logging what weights will probably yield results.

When you don't measure and quantify what you are doing, no matter what part of you're training it is you can't know what parts in particular are giving you results and therefore you don't have a specific result. You can't say when I increased this, this happened. You can only say I do this and I'm in good shape(or bad).


Monique Ames wrote …

very well said Robert. our gym members start with Paleo foods and must weigh & measure their protein & fat content. we don't worry about carbs at first, because generally, I keep it low... just veggies and pwo fruit. one size doesn't fit all, but pretty damn close. when the client is ready, we dial them in even more. 1st goal is to get them healthier, 2nd is to help them lose weight & look better. this allows us to see what works and what doesn't for each individual. BTW- if you don't keep a diet log, I won't even talk to you. It's a requirement for all newbies going through the Foundations Program.


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Great insights, Skip!


replied to comment from Robert Kristjansson

First time comment.

I take exception to the notion that if you are a crossfitter you weigh and measure. I have been a crossfitter for 8 months. I am a neophyte. I am learning. I do not, and project that I will not ever, weigh and measure my food. I will not ever return to globo gym. I care about the people in my community. I respect my trainers. I work hard. Am I less of a crossfitter because I don't keep a scale in my kitchen?

I eat Paleo. Clean, simple, easy, sustainable. In my world (the world between my ears) sustainable is the primary component. I know that I can sustain the Paleo world. Do I deviate? Can you say Christmas! I also know that I would not be able to sustain the weigh and measure world of caloric intake.

The results I am interested in are the ones I feel. How do I feel today? How do I look today? How was my WOD today? Could I have given more? Did I overdo it? How can I be more fit tomorrow than I am today?

If I eat reasonable quantities of good food, feel good, perform well, and don't have the mental baggage of weighing and measuring then I am a happier person. I am a healthier person, in my world, the one between my ears.

But, am I a crossfitter? Yes, forever!


wrote …

I understand your point about methodologies. I just don't agree that you HAVE to follow Zone methodologies to get results from CrossFit. Or that, "if you're a CrossFitter, you weigh and measure." That simply just isn't true. I don't weigh and measure anything, and I consistently turn out performances (and have better body comp) than others that I know that do weigh and measure. I'm just imagining myself as an affiliate owner, having a hard time telling an otherwise fully qualified potential coach that he can't instruct other people how to boost their performance if he's outperforming (and looks better than) other coaches that adhere to a Zone prescription - regardless of the utility of methodologies. I would think that clients care more about results they can see, be it body comp or Fran times, and will gravitate towards those that can get them there. At least that's what I and everyone I train with would say. If I'm working out at Bally's and want bigger biceps, I'm gonna go ask the guy with the biggest biceps what he's doing - and disregard the trainer who's got spaghetti arms. Same principle, different goals.
And I believe you certainly CAN determine what parts of your nutrition plan is working best for your performance or how your performance (and feel) is better or worse WITHOUT the Zone. All it takes is a solid understanding of how the macronutrients affect your body (i.e. unweighed/unmeasured). Granted, the methods in doing so are on a more macro level than using a scale, but at the end of the day, you can still influence athletic performance in the same way, without having to have a discussion about Zone blocks.


wrote …

You wouldn't talk to someone who doesn't keep a food log? Meaning you wouldn't talk to someone who couldn't tell you how many blocks of PRO/CHO/FAT they consume daily or someone who just couldn't tell you what they ate at all?


wrote …

"...because you have to be a Zoner."

I also disagree with this attitude. I see no reason to pass up a perfectly qualified potential coach just because they're not "a Zoner". I see no correlation between a person's coaching skills (knowledge of movements, attitude, charisma) and their adherence to WAM 40/30/30.


Dale Saran wrote …

Here's a thought - that's Skip's view. It's his Affil and that's how he does it. That's his view on how to get his folks where they need to go and the kind of folks he wants training his clients. YOU might feel differently about it. Great. Congrats.

Surprised that this becomes the takeaway for that video. Skip doesn't do things the way I would or did when I had an Affiliate, either. But of course I'm interested to hear what he has to say to see if it has applicability or utility for me and how I train or train others.

My guess is some folks thrive with the Zone and weighing and measuring and some folks would strain under the "yoke" of that requirement. Ditto for "no talkies" and get on the bar. But I have to confess, I think he may be onto something with the "just shutup" rule. We kind of have that at my BJJ school. Conversation's pretty minimal, although afterwards we'll sit around and BS for a while. But the guys who get the best results and are the best students, come in, get changed, warm up, and put in effort. The guys who are always jaw-jacking can't figure out why they're not making any progress towards their purple belt.


wrote …

Okay, all very valid points being made. The point I wanted to make or maybe what I wanted to have a discussion about was the fact that what I think makes crossfit a very distinct program from any other is the extra measurability it has over other programs and then why so many people don't want to take that to the kitchen.

I may have gotten carried away but my opinion remains that one of crossfits principles are measuring everything you do in order to determine what's right and what's wrong for you. I guess saying that if you do this then your not crossfitting or less of a crossfitter is something I should not be saying and shouldn't have said.

Having said that, if you don't weight and measure and are a good athlete doesn't necessarily mean that that's the best approach, it means that it is a good approach that works for you. You don't HAVE to weigh and measure, but you also can't make the claim that it won't work for you until you have. You also might not want to, but in the pure sense of increasing performance, before you weigh and measure what you eat and log the results you don't know if you have optimized your diet.

Of course if you are happy where you are and are not looking to compete and enjoy crossfit, don't change anything. But then I'd say you're not following a prescription for optimal performance.

The final point I want to make is that many of us think that nutrition is a very large portion of achieving results and some even say it weighs more than the actual training. Then why do we accept adequate diet and seek out the perfect training?


wrote …

Great Vid Skip! I may disagree on the rigid rules about trainer nutrition but I respect your success and contribution to making the world a healthier place! My takeaway from this clip is that I need to focus on reducing the "chit chat" that happens at my box before and after the WOD. Many people don't operate well in this military environment but I agree that the focus should be on the task at hand and that distracted trainers cannot do their job as well. I need to also remind my clients that chatting with me takes focus away from the people that need it. I don't want to give a client the cold shoulder and have them offended so I need to tell the group that is why I am keeping the conversations very short.

As people get used to Crossfit the idea that they automatically come in and warm up on their own has been very useful, I say preach this from day one. I sometimes customize warm ups and write them on cards for clients that need extra work in a certain area... then they hit that every class at the beginning.

Thanks for the excellent videos and these things help us owners stay on the right track and hear new ideas from successful affiliates! Much appreciated.


wrote …

Robert: I hear you. I agree that if you haven't tried the Zone, then you can't say that it doesn't work best for you. I Zoned for about 8 months, then went UW/UM for the last four. I get better results from UW/UM. At the end of the day, I certainly agree with your point in your last post - that it really comes down for what works for the individual.

Dale: That it is Skip's view and that who he recruits as trainers is his prerogative should go without my having to say that. That, of course, is the beauty of running one's own business. I never said he was AFU. I'm simply interested in his thoughts on my initial question - does he choose not to hire a non-Zoner that is as or more proficient and successful than those trainers who DO weigh and measure, and if so, his thoughts on how he reconciles that.


Jesse Gray wrote …

How about this, Skip wants his trainers to be Zoners because that is the flavor of kool-aide he is selling and how can he expect his clients to buy into that if he can't even get his trainers to do so? Makes sense to me. This isn't about which diet is better, it's about how Skip runs his (very successful!) gyms.


wrote …

I agree with Dale and Jesse. Why this always has to turn into a Paleo vs Zone debate is beyond me. It is his box and he can do whatever the f%$# he wants to do. When you guys have a box that is as successful as Skip's, you can make your trainers eat Paleo or twinkies if that is what you want. This doesn't always have to be a forum for debate on which diet is better. A guy gives fellow affiliate owners some great insight, and without fail there has to be disagreement on something that didn't even stand out to me at first listen. Either way, thanks Skip. I'll add you to my list of people in the CF community that I definitely want to meet someday, and if you ever start a "Shadow Skip Baker For A Day" seminar or something, put me at the top of your list.
Kade Boyer


replied to comment from Jesse Gray

I'd buy that.

And again, just to be clear, my question wasn't an indictment of how effective the dude's gym is. And certainly, the real point of the video wasn't lost on me. I really appreciate how difficult it is to run a box successfully, especially when it comes to making yourself stand out among what's becoming a saturated market. If it's working for him, I say "well done."


wrote …

Good stuff!

First, please forgive me for a looooong post.

Please, let me explain and attempt to clarify. I've drawn my conclusions and base my decisions on my life experiences and the 'feedback' I've received and observed from my marketplace(s).

I don't claim to be 'right' nor 'better'. The process worked for us, and continues to work.

THE TRUTH ABOUT NUTRITION- "Why must your trainer's be zoners?"

Long before I discovered CrossFit(discovered CF Aug 2005) in 2001 and continuing through 2009, through a series of events I gained unexpected media attention and new market recognition via TV, newspaper and magazine. People recognized me and approached with conversation. They were all from different demographics, ages and lifestyles. Most of them had one comment in common: "How did you get in such good shape? I'VE BEEN TRYING FOR YEARS!" I heard that over and over.

I began asking them questions..."What do you do?" and I received a myriad of answers, most of which all of us as affiliates and trainers have heard.

Then I began asking, "So, how is your nutrition?" In most every case they said, "Not bad" or "I don't think I eat that bad"
I asked, "On a scale of 1-10, 1 being terrible and 10 being great, again, in almost every case they said 6-7.

I always found that hard to believe because they are standing in front of me, and in most cases (just look around your community) they are overweight and out of shape.

Beginning in Nov of 2001 and to this very day, I ask, "Can I come into your home? I want to see your refrigerator and pantry." In most cases they said, "PLEASE, would you do that? When?"

During the past 8 years I have been in countless homes and have discovered that NO ONE knows how nor what to eat.

In his book, Enter the Zone, Dr. Sears says Americans eat 60-80% carbs on a daily basis. Long before I read his book I learned that Americans eat 60+% carbs every day and do not have a clue that they are doing so.

When I go in to someone's home I ask them to create the meals/snacks from b'fast till bedtime. "What do you have for breakfast?" "I have cereal, usually yogurt and an english muffin."
Me- "Please get them from your cupboards and fridge. Get the bowl you use for your cereal, the milk, the jelly you put on the muffin, etc."

I take a sheet of paper and record the nutritional information. I always ask if they are aware of the nutritional facts of what they consume. Some say yes, and if they do I ask, "Do you know how many grams of carbs are in one serving of the fruit flavored yogurt?" They ALWAYS reply, "Oh, no, I don't know that."

Again, the average consumer is not aware of what they are eating....they just shop and eat.

(sorry, got to get back to work-to be continued later this evening)


wrote …

I've been at Mt. Baker Crossfit for about 2 years now and am so addicted to the way Skip's box is run I get excited just thinking about getting into the gym the next day. I've been to my fair share of CF gyms and can say that you would be hard pressed to even rival the community of Mt. Baker Crossfit.

As far at the "zone" and his trainers, Skip doesn't seem to have any problems finding highly qualified trainers....all I know is that they kick butt in the workouts, and will kick your butt every time you walk into the gym.

The bottom line is Mt. Baker Crossfit creates great results for its members, provides inspiring community, and will challenge you both mentally and physically each and every day of business.


wrote …


the average consumer is mostly influenced by the deception of food manufacturers labeling and advertising and the crap they read in a magazine.

From 2001 until today, nothing has changed. I still go into homes and they still don't know how to eat.

Prior to CrossFit, I did not have a nutrition plan to offer anyone. I could only increase their awareness of the volumes of carbs and sugars they were consuming and the health hazards thereof.

I tried the EAS "Body for Life' program in 1998, Bally's Plan in 1999/2000; 24 hour fitness' 'Apex' program in 2002/2003. Nothing worked. I was 'in shape', big, bulky and functionally unfit. My goal was to drop from 185-190 to 175. I could do thousands of sit-ups/crunches to break world records but I couldn't sprint a hundred yards.

CrossFit introduced me to the zone. However, during my first 6 months I did not buy into the plan. It wasn't until after my 2nd cert and a lecture by Coach, Nicole and Robb Wolf regarding the zone that i committed to it. Rhonda and I went 100% zone. Both of us experienced performance gains and weight loss. I dropped to 165 and am thrilled. That is my high school weight and I NEVER EXPECTED TO BE AT MY HS WEIGHT DURING MY 50'S.

From then on, we introduce ALL of our members to the zone. Our mission is to change the behavior of our community via the CrossFit Method and introducing them to a structured nutrition plan. We are an institute of education.

Our target market began with the 29-49 year old woman.(and still is) After experiencing success, she will bring in her friends, husband, co-workers and children. She has a family. She IS NOT going to go paleo, rush home on the first day and dump out the cereal, breads, pasta and oatmeal. She has a family to feed. She will be open to learning how to prepare a 12 block dinner for the whole family to eat, and GRADUALLY get the processed crap out of the house. We are going to offer her on-going encouragement and seminars to help her overcome concerns.

New members receive journal 21 and we find it is easy to teach. The zone forces us to learn portion control. I said that our trainers must be zoners. To clarify, they must KNOW the zone and be prepared to teach it to new members.

I am a paleo zoner and I IF several days a week. Rhonda is a paleo zoner. Tricia is a zoner. Jodi is a Fast for 24 hour eat for 24 hour paleo zoner. Brittany is a zoner, etc. However, we introduce all members to the zone.


wrote …

Great perspective Skip. Thanks for taking the time to provide the background on your nutrition education at Mt Baker.


I post all basic nutrition info on my website. It is required reading when newbies join. Newbies must fill out a food log. In regards to my regular members, no longer newbies/beginners in the Foundation Program but in the regular Crossfit Classes, when they decide to get serious (or more serious), I tell them to write down what they eat, how much they eat, and at what time they eat & worked out. They must do this for at least 3 days before I will help them dial it in.

Everyone can read the info I've provided, and they all can ask questions, like is this good or bad for me or why. But when peeps want to know how to get better performance, lose more weight, gain more weight based on what they are currently doing... they must show me. They must do some work if they want me to help.

The reason is I am very busy. It takes too long to listen to someone remember what they ate, me to process & remember that info, and then evaluate in my head, and produce a conclusion for them. It is much faster if they write it down, give it to me, and I can finesse it in 5-10 min. They learn better this way and it re-instills accountability.

This is what works best for me and my gym members are better for it.


Monique Ames wrote …

Skip- looking forward to meeting you for the first time at FilFest!! You have an awesome thing going with your gym(s). :) Great post.


wrote …


Thanks very much for that clear and edifying post!


replied to comment from Skip Chase

ok skip,I am pretty new to crossfit nutrition. Meaning I have just recently started to watch what I put in my body. I am an athlete,I play baseball, so I am not really looking to loose weight. However, I do want to be physically efficient with every pound of weight I do carry. Where do I start?


wrote …

Great job Skip

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