Message from Matt
The vision for the BLOC App
We’re on the verge of an exciting new direction for Barbell Logic! Since our company launched in 2016, we have been at the mercy of 3rd party software. Some of you remember the old days of the internet forum and uploading videos to YouTube. Since late 2016, however, TrueCoach has been a useful means for us to program and interact with our clients. TrueCoach also comes with a plethora of shortcomings. TrueCoach is designed as a mass-market coaching product, with the CrossFit coach as its primary target client. Because of this, programming is pushed out in free-form text boxes, which is simple but doesn’t allow us to quickly track the most critical quantifiable data—the Personal Record—or other important metrics. Free-form text also makes it nearly impossible to manage our coaching and client data, preventing us from analyzing performance and rendering millions of data points useless.
Very simply, TrueCoach is a hindrance to us providing proper personalized expert coaching and service to our clients. And because it’s a 3rd party software, we have no control over the features added or even the software company’s future. We frequently send out satisfaction surveys to our clients, and TrueCoach averages two full standard deviations below all other features of our Online Coaching Service in terms of client satisfaction. At any moment, TrueCoach could deny us access to much of the data we pull from their database to run the business. This fact cannot be understated when we consider that nearly 100% of all client & coach interactions currently occur on a 3rd party software that we have no control over whatsoever.
For nearly the past two years, we’ve been hard at work, investing time, money, and resources on our software—a custom system for BLOC Clients and Coaches. This software is ours, and it allows us to coach and serve our clients more effectively by giving us the freedom to control what features the software has. It will enable us to provide our clients the whole online coaching product from expert coaching, outstanding service & support, custom programming, and automated PR tracking. The software design is by BLOC for BLOC.
Many other coaches outside of BLOC compete against us using the same software and attempt to provide a similar service. We know our online coaching system and diverse team of expert coaches are our best value propositions. Having our software makes it even harder to compete with us and certainly adds a wide moat of protection for our coaches and our company. It completes the whole ecosystem of online coaching that makes BLOC so unique. And it gives us GREAT DATA. This aggregate data will allow us to publish our work in respected journals to show how well our system works.
Ultimately, our app enables BLOC to better express our outstanding customer service and expert coaching through our software.
For the past several years, we’ve negotiated a rate of only $1/client/mo at TrueCoach. It’s not clear how they’re offering that price; the cost of video warehousing alone makes profitability at that price impossible. TrueCoach, as a business, is making money off their payment services, not their coaching product. This alone is a conflict of our interests. In contrast, we now have the power to prioritize our resources on improving the coach and client experience.
I know that change is hard—even I was highly skeptical that our team could design better software than TrueCoach, and I fought converting over my clients for quite some time. While TrueCoach had its shortcomings, it is a reliable software, which is why it’s the industry leader. On January 1st of this year, I transitioned all of my clients over to the BLOC App. Just like anything else that’s new, it takes a little getting used to, but after the first week of coaching on it, I LOVED it. It felt so much more like us. And with each week that passes, our team of developers releases new features—the ones we want. I am now, without question, a more effective coach using the BLOC App than I ever was on TrueCoach.
We know not all of you value some of the reasons we are moving to our app and feel resistance about learning a new workflow. I get it—change isn’t easy. We’re doing everything we can to make the transition as smooth as possible. We’re automatically transferring all of your tracked metrics, copying your programming over to eliminate additional work, and sending your clients a neatly archived spreadsheet of their TrueCoach workout history. We’re also developing an on-ramp process with updated videos, documentation, and frequently asked questions for both you and your clients.
We are a service company, first and foremost. So the transition for both our staff and current clients and the on-ramp process for new clients must run smoothly. We know there will still be bugs and some speed bumps, but the client and coach experience during this transition process is our priority.
Notably, while the app will work for anyone and any type of programming, we will continually optimize the workflow for the vast majority of our clients and live up to our core value of measurably improved strength. Personal records and metrics aren’t all that matter, but we care about them, and most of our clients do, too. Even if you or your clients don’t prioritize PRs, metric tracking tools are invaluable for programming and an opportunity to demonstrate to your clients that you know their training history and care about their progress.
The app also enhances our communication and consistency in many ways. Below I have added some of my favorite coaching features that are already available (or will be very soon).
We are ecstatic about this new direction and hope you will join me in supporting our new software, both publicly and privately. Your buy-in of the app, along with encouraging and supporting your clients to do the same will have the greatest impact in making this transition smooth for everyone.
- Welcome videos and on-ramp videos, specifically for our clients, on how to use the app—something we’ve never had from TrueCoach
- Automated and precise PR & metric tracking (for every set and rep scheme)
- Easy-to-display PR history right below the lift within the workout: The metric graph allows me to instantly show a PR or how this one workout fits into the bigger picture without leaving the workout screen.
- Automated tonnage calculation: We currently only display cumulative tonnage, but we’ll eventually have the ability to slice and dice the data for individual exercises.
- Tracking the actual work complete: If the client can’t achieve the prescribed sets, reps, or weight, they input what they did, and the metrics are automatically corrected.
- Systemized sets/ reps/ weight input: No more arguing over “weight x reps x sets” or “sets x reps @ weight.”
- Automatic 24-hour & 48-hour clock, with email reminders if I’m getting close to having feedback due: We can also personalize the close for holidays and vacations. You no longer have to squint at timestamps to try and figure out when your next check-in is due. You now see precisely how many hours until it’s due and at what time it’s due!
- Separate nutrition calendar! (OMG—I’m so excited about this!): A two-calendar solution is a perfect example of how we benefit from controlling the app. Since our nutrition coaching service inception, we’ve struggled to provide a quality user experience for the coach (or coaches for the two-coach service) and client. We’re finally able to offer a seamless, single-user interface for both the coach(es) and client that facilitates nutrition coaching without cluttering up the workout calendar. The two-calendars system is a custom solution for BLOC. No other software would do this for us, and it’s just one example of how we can customize the app to fit our specific coach and client needs.
- Client Compliance Report for every client: Having analyzed the data, we know that client compliance is directly correlated to churn. Abnormal drops in 7- or 30-day compliance are crucial early warning signs that your client is at risk. Pay close attention to these metrics on your client page.
- Add comments to a specific exercise or the workout as a whole (or both): By leaving short comments or, better yet, cues under each exercise, your client can quickly look up their workout history and see how you cued them in the previous workouts. The one complaint we’ve heard about video feedback is that it’s hard to remember before the next workout. This feature enables coaches to quickly summarize their notes and the client to access them before each lift!
- Easily assign a covering coach: If you’ve ever covered for another coach, you know how much a pain it is to sift through their workout feed. No more. With the app coverage feature, notifications from the coach you’re covering will show up in your Needs Review feed just like your own clients. Your workflow is identical!
- Chronological “Needs Reviewed” page with auto-clear from your cue upon completing feedback
- The top of the dashboard tells me exactly how many workouts I have to give feedback on, and every time I give feedback on one, it updates the number, so I can see that I had 10 workouts to break down, then 9, then 8…etc.
- Our own exercise library complete with how-to videos for each exercise—instead of scores of “doubles” like we have on TC
- Leaderboard automatically updated in real-time: The software defaults to being anonymous, but if the client chooses so, they can see how they stack up against other BLOC clients. Soon, the leaderboard will be able to be filtered by age, weight, sex, demographic, etc.
- Mass DM across all BLOC clients: So if we have an important message that needs to go out to all clients (like an upcoming holiday notification), we can send it via the BLOC App. This way, we know that our clients see the message, and it doesn’t get lost on Slack or email. We’re in the process of implementing the same support pop-up that TrueCoach uses (Intercom) and will have that rolled out in June.
- Keyboard shortcuts (invaluable for saving time programming)
- Faster and less buggy across-the-board compared to TrueCoach: TC has a lot of “tech debt,” meaning lots of coding band-aids, which is why we keep seeing the same bugs over and over again but have just let ourselves get adapted to working around. The BLOC App WILL have bugs—all software does—but because the code is solid, the bugs are more easily fixed and won’t show up again.
- 24/7/365 app support by our team. We’re no longer one of hundreds or thousands of customers. We’re THE customer. We prioritize and have 100% of the support team’s attention. The app currently has a 99.9% uptime reliability. If it goes down, the app support team gets notified with escalation to me if the app is down too long. We’re using AWS and Vimeo, top-of-the-line data and video warehousing services. I know uptime is critical to your workflow, and it’s my utmost priority to ensure you can do your work efficiently and effectively all the time.
BLOC App Transition Timeline
June 3rd: All new clients will be onboarded onto The App.
June 30th: All BLOC Clients will be on The App.
July 1st: TrueCoach is shut down.
Why the BLOC App?
The BLOC App provides us a platform we can improve and influence to meet our needs. Features include:
Automatically tracking PRs across a broad range of set and rep ranges
Telling you and your clients when they achieve a PR
Letting you know EXACTLY when feedback is due (to the minute) and warns if you’re about to be late
Showing you the number of workouts you still need to review
Keyboard shortcuts (don’t touch that mouse!)
We control the features that get implemented
Overview of the various features and pages
- This page shows which workouts require your feedback, along with the feedback due date and time, in order of when they’re due.
- “DISPLAY PRS” shows the progress chart for programmed rep ranges. At the bottom of the workout, you can see tonnage and new PRs for the workout.
- If a client did something different than what you programmed and didn’t enter their actual values, then (1) mark their workout “incomplete,” (2) go into their workout, input what they actually did then mark the workout “complete.”
- Check “Mark Reviewed” if client’s workout or commnet does not require a response
- Once you hit “Save” on the general comment (at the top) it will clear that workout.
- You can toggle to “Reviewed” to double-check your feedback.
- Exercise information is controlled in set, rep, intensity boxes unless you set the exercise to “Other.”
- You can program AMRAP for reps and choose bodyweight, rep max (RM), or RPE for intensity.
- Sort by “Last Programmed Workout” to program clients who need programming first
- Shows compliance (downward trending compliance–>likely to quit)
- Recommend opening tabs and keeping client page as separate tab
- Keyboard shortcuts are in the top right of the calendar page if you forget; using them saves times
- Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, cursor down, shift over to the beginning of the week, Ctrl+V and voila…just copied entire week of programming
- Enter to open a workout
- Tabs to move forward within a workout
As of now, you can only program one workout per day. If you are a nutrition coach, you can set nutrition metrics and check-ins on the client’s Nutrition calendar. If a client is combining different workouts into one day, you can either keep that workout on its originally-programmed day or drag and drop the individual exercises into the day you want to combine. For nutrition, you’ll need to add nutrition check-ins & metrics to the strength workout.
Controlling the exercise list in the BLOC App is what enables our powerful PR tracking functions. If you want to recommend an exercise to add, you can recommend it like you would any other feature. In the meantime, program it as “Other” with sets, reps, and intensity in the notes as you would any other exercise.
- ”Other” allows you to input anything as free form text
- Also have “Conditioning,” “Circuit,” “Full Body Circuit,” “Upper Circuit,” “Lower Circuit,” and specific conditioning implements (e.g., “Bike”)
- This allows for flexibility, but this work will not be tracked
The below videos cover what your clients see.
- Web application, not a native App: Barbelllogic.app
- When a client opens the App, it goes to My Workouts page automatically
- Clients can input what they actually input (as opposed to what you programmed)
- More on the Dashboard, My Profile, & Leaderboard
The BLOC App automatically tracks PRs if you program using exercises with sets, reps, and intensities.
- Automatically tracks PRs across any set & rep ranges
- Display PRs at the bottom
- Both weight and percentage of PR
- You–or your clients–need to input PRs in TrueCoach for TrueCoach data to transfer to the BLOC App
From the Vimeo Help Center:
Troubleshoot video playback issues
Many factors can influence video playback, including some that pertain to your computer or device. If you’re not getting the best viewing experience on Vimeo, you might want to try these simple fixes.
- Switch to “Auto” in the quality menu, if available.
Auto mode automatically adjusts to the best quality of video for your current Internet connection and processing speed. We recommend using this default setting to avoid buffering delays. (If “Auto” is not available, switch to one of the lower quality options.)
- Check your bandwidth.
We require network speeds of 500 kbps or higher in order to stream our lowest playback quality (240p). You can use this speed test to get a general sense of your Internet speed during the time of the issue. Keep in mind that bandwidth can fluctuate, especially on Wifi or cellular networks.
- Disable any browser extensions, plugins, or add ons.
Third party programs can sometimes cause issues during playback— including blocked video segments, dropped frames, buffering, etc. If you’re having trouble, try disabling any active extensions one-by-one to find the culprit. You can also open your video within an incognito or private window of your browser for testing.
- Restart your router and modem.
Resetting your router or modem can help to refresh your connection and improve playback performance. Try disconnecting the power cord and then reconnecting to perform a hard reboot.
- Update your browser.
Browser software is constantly being improved upon. Make sure you are using the latest version of your browser for peak performance. The latest version of each browser can be found here.
- Close excess browser tabs or applications.
Keeping too many applications open can make everything run slower, including video playback. Especially on a mobile device, it’s easy to forget which apps are running. Make sure that you completely close or disable apps instead of just minimizing their windows.
- Clear your browser’s cache.
Although this may sound simple, refreshing your cache can help with many different issues, including playback. Learn more here.
- Disable/Enable Hardware acceleration.
Hardware acceleration makes resource-hungry operations run more efficiently, but sometimes doesn’t work well with older graphics cards. Try disabling or enabling this option within your browser settings.
To archive a client, go to your client list and click in the check box to the left of their name. After you click this, an “EDIT” button will pop up to the upper right of your client list. Click that button. Click the drop-down arrow for “Transfer to another coach” and select “Archived Clients” and then “TRANSFER.”
You can program a test workout two different ways:
1) Manually create a workout on the desired day and add the exercises, sets, reps, and weight or RPE you want the client to perform.
2) Assign a template:
- Click on the Assign Template button in the calendar view
- Type Test Workout in the “Select Workout” box
- Enter the starting date in the “Date” box
- Click Assign (you don’t have to enter starting weights)
You can choose “Circuit,” “Full Body Circuit,” “Upper Circuit,” or “Lower Circuit” and enter the circuit either by sets and reps or as a note. If you have a long, complicated circuit (different exercises per round) you may want to title the workout something like “4 Round Circuit” and describe each exercise slot separately as “Other.”
You can select “Conditioning” as an exercise or certain conditioning implements (e.g., “Bike”), then add the instructions as a note.
Program the top set, rep, or intensity you want the lifter to complete. Add a note that tells the lifter what the rep is (e.g. “2-3×1@185” or “1×1-2@185” or “1×3@185-195”). The lifter can then input what he or she actually completed.
For now, you cannot program tonnage and then have the clients input sets and reps they did. Instead, program “99x99x99” and add a note that tells the lifter to input what they actually did and prescribes the tonnage you want them to complete that day.
Program the top set as you would any other, then program the subsequent sets with the percentage in intensity (e.g., instead of -6%, program 94%). You can clarify what you want them to do as a note.
Program it under “Other” at the beginning or end of the workout and input what you want them to do as a note.
- Click on the Assign Template button in the calendar view
- Type Test Workout in the “Select Workout” box
- Enter the starting date in the “Date” box
- Click Assign (you don’t have to enter starting weights)
Click on “Templates” from the drop-down menu. You can choose from existing templates or click on “New Template” to create a new template.
You can find the keyboard shortcuts by clicking on the keyboard in the upper right portion of the App. These shortcuts should enable you to program without having to touch your mouse.
Rich text is not yet supported on the BLOC App, so if you enter text as separate lines it will get compressed into one paragraph.
ISSUES & IMPROVEMENT
From the App, select “Features Request / Bugs” from the drop-down menu, or go to barbell-logic.com/appsupport to submit a suggestion. Enter your Barbell Logic email address to gain access. If you are unable to access the request form, email email@example.com
Send a message via the support beacon (on desktop) or support link in the app. Click on “Ask” and enter in the subject field “Feedback Tool Access.”
Once you’ve requested coverage on Slack you can easily assign your clients to the covering coach(es). Click on “Coverage” from the drop-down menu. You can assign all—or some—of your clients to a specific coach or coaches. Unassign all when you no longer need coverage. Both you and the covering coach will receive notifications.
The other coach assigns their clients to you. Their clients will appear as your own and will pop up on your “Needs Review” page and in your notifications.
CLIENT FEEDBACK & INTERACTION
Add GIFs by clicking on “GIF” below the text box. To add an emoji, use one of the options below:
- Windows users: push “Windows” + “.” OR “Window” + “;”
- Mac users: “Ctrl+Cmd+Space”
To link a video as a DM, share a YouTube or similar video link. It won’t appear as a hyperlink unless you use the hyperlink feature in the text editor. To gain access to the text editor, click the small up and down right arrows at the end of the field.
You can’t add videos directly from the Calendar View, but click on a workout from the Calendar View or Needs Review and you can embed YouTube videos by simply pasting the links.
Have them try the following: In the text field, click the small up and down right arrows at the end of the field. They will gain access to the text editor and can use the paperclip attachment icon to add photos.
Mark the workout incomplete, input what the lifter actually did, and then mark it complete again. We recommend reminding your lifter that they can input what they actually did so you don’t have to.
You can program meal pictures, nutrition check-ins, and goals like an exercise on the client’s Nutrition Calendar. To add specific instructions or questions, add a note.
Add metrics by clicking “Add Metric” next to “Add Exercise.”
All clients will be sent an excel spreadsheet with their TrueCoach workout history in July. For other client issues, refer them to the BLOC App FAQ on the website.