5 Things Crossfit Can Teach Us About eLearning

crossfit and elearning

Crossfit is hot. It started out as a training program in a garage and has turned into a Reebok-backed fitness phenomenon with over 10,000 affiliates worldwide.


Crossfit is, according to the official definition, “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” Basically it makes you eat awesome for breakfast and gives you the body of a superhero.


What’s Crossfit got to do with eLearning, you say?




Crossfit is effective and engaging, everything you want your eLearning courses to be. Let’s take a look at what makes Crossfit so successful and how you can incorporate those elements into your eLearning.


1) Constantly Varied

Each day when you go to your gym you’ll see a workout that’s totally different from the one before. You might be rowing, rolling an enormous tire across the parking lot, or scaling a fifteen-foot rope to the ceiling. Your body (and your brain) never knows what to expect, and that keeps things interesting.


The same is true for eLearning. Don’t subject your learners to slide after slide of bullet points and dry narration. Find ways to present the information creatively. Appeal to your learners’ emotions with a compelling narrative. Or allow them to explore branching scenarios that show the consequences of their actions. Use interesting visuals, videos, and audio to keep your learners’ attention.

The human brain responds to novelty. Keep your eLearning interesting and varied.


2) Functional

The idea behind Crossfit is to make your body better at functioning in real life. This is why Crossfit has such a huge following among firefighters, law enforcement, elite martial artists, and military members, but it’s also attracted huge numbers of stay-at-home moms, retirees, and desk jockeys of all varieties.


Got to carry eight bags of groceries up eleven stories because your apartment elevator is out of order? No problem. Sprinting to catch the metro? Crossfit has you covered. The exercises you do in Crossfit will prepare your body for the challenges life throws at it.


Take this attitude and apply it to eLearning. Avoid data overload and stick only to information that will impact your learners’ functioning. What do they need to know in order to do their jobs? Any “extra” information should be provided as additional “Resources”.


Also, you want your course to provide opportunities for learners to practice the skills you’re teaching, which means engaging and relevant interactions. This will make sure your learners are exercising the mental “muscle memory” needed to perform the desired task.


3) High Intensity

In many Crossfit workouts you’re racing the clock. (How many pushups can you crank out in ten minutes?) Or you’re going for a one rep max. (How much can you deadlift?)


Use this same approach in eLearning. Have your learners race the clock to answer questions. Or put them under pressure in a simulation where they have to make quick decisions, just like in real life. Anything that gets adrenaline flowing will make your course much more engaging.


4) Competition

Humans are competitive animals, and we like to win. That winning euphoria is addictive, and keeps Crossfitters coming back to the sport. In Crossfit it’s all about beating the clock, beating your own personal record, or mastering a skill you never thought you could do. The high achievers want a spot on the coveted Leaderboard, which shows the top male and female scores.


You can infuse your eLearning with competition by using gamification principles. In gamification, you use techniques employed by video games such as experience points, leaderboards, and badges to raise the stakes and boost enthusiasm and competition.


5) Feedback

One of the best things about Crossfit is you’re joining a gigantic, knowledgeable, and supportive community. Your coaches and fellow athletes will correct your form, share strategies and tips, and cheer you on.


This kind of high quality feedback is important in eLearning. Make sure you’re giving consistent and helpful feedback throughout the course. You can also use branching scenarios to show learners the real-life consequences of their decisions. Lastly, consider using social media or message boards to create a collaborative community of learners who can work together to solve problems, complete activities, and share feedback with one another.


Put these elements in place and see your eLearning reach new levels of effectiveness.