An Interview with Coach Melissa Jones of CrossFit Long Beach

15593_421969184541218_200403870_nI couldn’t have asked for a better Coach to guide me through my first CrossFit experience than Melissa Jones. The first day I met Melissa (Mel for short) at CrossFit Long Beach, I was embarrassed to tell her I had never truly worked out a day in my life!

But when Mel and I got to talking, her friendly demeanor and ever present smile immediately put me at ease. Not only is Mel is one of the sweetest, most down to earth women I’ve ever met, she is also a saint for putting up with my complaining during workouts!

Now, I didn’t exactly present the easiest case for my 27 year-old coach. I was still in the process of recovering from a very recent heart surgery, and we had to toe a very fine line between getting a good workout and not overdoing it.

I know I can’t possibly be the only CrossFitter with health problems, or as I like to call them, “special circumstances,” so I thought it would be interesting to pick Coach Melissa’s brain and share her insight with the rest of The BIZ Tribe. So, without further ado, I give you my Coach Mel.


Hi Mel! Tell our readers… When did you first discover CrossFit?

My hubby introduced me to CrossFit in 2008. He was following the main site and doing the WODs at his local gym. He wanted to join a box and get actual coaching. He explained what CrossFit was and it sounded awesome. I have always been active. I swam competitively for 10 years and competed in Gosoku Ryu for 3 years. I also did dance and gymnastics when I was younger. I tried the gym and hated the monotony of it. I had joined a bootcamp and that was more fun. I loved the community, but I still wanted a challenge. I’ve always wanted to lift heavy weights, do pull-ups, climb ropes, climb walls, etc., but there wasn’t anything out there like that (that I knew of). I was sold after my first CrossFit WOD. It was amazing! It was exactly what I was looking for.

You’re so active! But what advice would you give to more sedentary folk who are interested in CrossFit but too intimidated to try it for the first time?

We have a lot of people that come into our box that have never worked out a day in their life. The beauty of CrossFit is that anyone can do it. Any movement can be scaled. Our box offers different leveled classes. Everyone starts out at a beginner level and eventually can work their way up to intermediate and advanced. For those people that are intimidated by CrossFit, I recommend looking around at different CrossFit gyms to see if they offer different level classes. Beginner classes give you the chance to be in a class environment where everyone is new to CrossFit, and you can stay in those classes for as long as you need.

One thing that I really enjoy is the mobility work we do in our sessions. Why is that so important pre-WOD?

A lot of people have a hard time getting into certain positions i.e. full squat, any overhead position. By mobilizing (massaging/stretching those muscles), it allows an athlete to get in a better position.

How did you tailor our WODs around my recovery from surgery?

When we first met, you had told me about your health issues and your past exercise experiences. I knew that you had not been able to do much due to your health so I stuck mostly with body weight movements with a little bit of weight training (light dumbbells, medballs, etc). I also tried to make sure our workouts were mostly in the 10-15 minute range. I wanted to ease you into CrossFit and see exactly what you could and could not do.

I loved the short workouts! Thanks for going easy on me 🙂 So does that process differ from how you would prescribe workouts for healthy CrossFitters?

It was a little different in that we scaled back your workouts. Healthy CrossFitters would do the same workout, but with more weight and maybe go for longer periods of time. Since you had never really worked out, I wanted to ease you into it and slowly build up.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect of coaching someone who isn’t feeling 100%?

Making sure that they do not overdo it. A lot of times we have athletes that come in here with an injury and want to work through it.

Speaking of adjusting workouts for health conditions… You are pregnant with your first child and due in May, congratulations!!! Have you had to slow down/adjust your workouts since becoming pregnant?

Yes, I have. In the beginning I had some light spotting, so my doctor limited me to walking until I was no longer spotting. Once I hit my second trimester I went back to working out. For a while, I was able to stick with the Rx WODs, but I worked at a much slower pace. I have to keep my heart rate down and make sure that I do not get out of breath in a WOD. It was definitely an adjustment. I’m used to going, going, going, pushing through the WOD; so slowing myself down was pretty difficult.

What books/websites/articles do you recommend for people looking for more information on a healthier lifestyle?

For books, I recommend reading Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Sara Fragoso. Their blogs are also a great source of information.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a Coach?

Every day I get to see how CrossFit changes lives. I always get giddy when I think of how we have helped point people in the right direction. I enjoy seeing the progress of my students. I love being there when they get a PR on a lift or they push themselves to do the harder version of the WOD. It’s great to see their smiles when they succeed…I get to change people’s lives every day; there is nothing better than that.


Thanks for that, Melissa! We wouldn’t be here without you either. Can’t wait to get back into the gym with you soon! Have any other coaches out there had to modify their plan of attack with clients with special circumstances? By the way, how are your own PRs coming and are your clients getting an ROI? Share your thoughts below!

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