Operation RSF Certified Coach (ORSF-CC) Course

Being a coach is more than writing a program with perfect progressions. Coaching is more than memorizing cues and knowing supplementary movements to increase strength, endurance, or power. Being a coach is about relationships and changing lives. Coaches bridge health, fitness, and a community of support while developing relationships beyond societal and cultural boundaries. Coaches have access and placement to change lives, develop relationships, and understand who people are when faced with complex challenges.

Trauma impacts everyone differently, and there is a good chance that some of your athletes have experienced life-changing events due to traumatic experiences or members of your immediate community have been impacted and would benefit from increasing their activity levels. Knowing how to support these athletes can keep them engaged and prepare them to work through their traumatic pasts.

Program Summary

The Operation RSF Certified Coach (ORSF-CC) course is a 2-day in-person course developed to help fitness coaches understand the benefits of physical activity for mental health, effective communication methods with a trauma-focused approach, and a foundation of brain science that arms the coach with the tools necessary to combat stigmas surrounding mental health, develop lasting support structures within their community, and understands how to apply physical activity in a science-backed approach to combat the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.

About the Program

Through instruction, discussion, exploration, and application – attendees will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to develop relationships with individuals or groups impacted by trauma through sharing their passion for physical activity and be able to discuss the physiological effects of regular exercise in support of mental health.

While Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the primary focus of this course, you will leave with knowledge about Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Substance Use Disorder (SUD), Complex-PTSD (C-PTSD), and Operator Syndrome while gaining an understanding of the current research relating to physical activity’s influence on each.

Learning Objectives

  • LO1.1 Understand the background of Operation RSF’s mission, vision, and focus.
  • LO2.1 Understand general neuroscience and endocrinology and how they impact behavior.
  • LO2.2 Be able to explain the stress response and the pathways used by the body.
  • LO3.1 Understand the diagnosis process for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and its requirements.
  • LO3.2 Know the differences and the relation between Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Substance Use Disorder (SUD)
  • LO3.3 Know the difference between PTSD, Acute Stress Disorder (ASD), Complex PTSD (C-PTSD), and Subthreshold PTSD.
  • LO3.4 Know the popular hypothesis behind mental health-related issues, both neurochemical and physiological hypotheses.
  • LO4.1 Know the difference between low, moderate, and high-intensity physical activity and the U.S. Health Department’s recommendations for each.
  • LO4.2 Understand the gaps, limitations, and problems with the current research relating to physical activity and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • LO5.1 Understand the body’s response to a cessation of a physically active lifestyle.
  • LO5.2 Understand how physical activity influences Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and the resulting changes it causes in the body.
  • LO6.1 Know the current recommended prescription model of Physical activity for PTSD.
  • LO7.1 Be able to elaborate on the different methods of observed communication, both verbal and non-verbal.
  • LO8.1 Understand and be able to apply the principles of motivational interviewing in a coach-athlete scenario.
  • LO8.2 Show an understanding of Self-Determination Theory and give examples of how the Basic Psychological Needs can be fulfilled within your professional field.
  • LO8.3 Know the requirements of building social support within your community.
  • LO9.1 Be able to relate the benefits of physical activity to your local community.
  • LO9.2 Be able to explain the different types of stigmas that an individual can experience.
  • LO9.3 Understand the resources available for mental health referrals and how to develop local networks with Licensed Mental Health Professionals in your area.
  • LO10.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the RSF method of spotting and referring individuals who demonstrate an immediate need.

Certification Eligibility

To become a Certified Coach, attendants must meet one of the following criteria, attend a 2-day course, and pass a comprehensive exam.


Certified Coach / Trainer / Fitness Club Organizer: (CrossFit-LVL 1-3; CF Trainer; NASM, NSCA, ISSA, ACE, Ironman, etc.)

Attendees who are fitness professionals and work directly with athletes have a unique opportunity to build relationships, be accountable, and change lives. Coaches must operate at a physical location or have a physical location where they regularly meet for training. Having a curiosity and interest in trauma theory and a level of experience as a coach/trainer will be
beneficial for understanding the application of the topics discussed and the discussion portions of the course.

Licensed mental health care providers/Social Workers/Therapists (PhD, PsyD, LMHC, LPC, RN, PA, etc.)

Attendees from the mental health profession will benefit from learning about how physical activity can support their current therapeutic approaches to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Each section of the course is backed by peer-reviewed research and can support mental health professionals in better understanding contemporary research on the different modalities and intensities of physical activity and their impact on the body and the brain. Additionally, the small group discussions would benefit the mental health professional’s perspective and experiences while they also learn from coaches.

At the discretions of the Certifying Committee

Parties interested in attending who do NOT meet the above criteria should use the contact page to see if they meet eligibility for attendance and certification. All requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Upcoming Events

Operation RSF Certified Coach Course (ORSF-CC)

The Operation RSF Certified Coach (ORSF-CC) Course is designed for coaches, gym owners, and fitness-based club organizers to gain a foundation of understanding of mental health, body and brain physiology, […]

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CrossFit West Chester, 917 Old Fern Hill Road #500
West Chester, PA 19380
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What does the ORSF-CC look like?

The ORSF-CC is a two-day in-person course that includes classroom instruction, discussions where attendees are encouraged to share their own experiences about the topic of discussion, practical exercises putting attendees in situations to test new methods, two workouts highlighting the research being discussed, and the final exam.


8:00 – Check-in Begins
9:00 – Introductions, history of Operation RSF, and expectations of ORSF-Certified Coaches
10:00 – Neuroscience, Endocrinology, Mental Health, & Trauma
11:30 – HIIT workout (ATP-CP/Glycolytic Anaerobic): Discussion on the lasting effect of traumatic events.
12:30-1:30 – Lunch
1:30 – Physical activity and mental health: Understanding Contemporary Research and the current gaps/limitations
3:00 – Physical activity prescription model, a trauma-focused approach
5:00 – Close for the day


9:00 – Glycolytic Aerobic Workout: Listening to self-talk and Sympathetic Nervous System cues
10:00 – Being a Coach: Accountability, Encouragement & Motivation, and social support
11:45-1:00 Lunch
1:00 – Building Community and Community Support Structures
2:00 – Working through trauma and spotting red flags with the RSF Method
3:00 – Open floor for questions and discussions
4:00 – Exam and Course Survey
5:00 – Group Photo, high fives, and handshakes

Image of attendees from the coaches course
The first ORSF-CC graduates, hosted by Tarheel CrossFit, Spring Lake, NC

What do coaches have to say about the ORSF-CC?

An absolute requirement if you are serious about coaching the total person and not just a class, movement, or WOD.

I personally received a lot from the course as a coach and also as someone who deals with my own trauma. It’s helped me highlight more areas of my own life and how to develop more skills to employ. As well as having more awareness to help my clients/member or any individual whom I encounter.

Trauma is different for each person and the ORSF-CC helped me to better understand that each person needs different approaches. I have a better understanding of how to support my community and I feel that I have more tools and ideas to reach my community with.

Requirements for Hosting the ORSF-CC Course

  • Room to fit 25 people comfortably with seating available.
  • Access to a power outlet OR an HDMI cable with wall screens/projectors (ORSF will provide their screen and a projector if one is not available at the site)
  • Access to an area for working out, at least 20m in length and 10m in width (can be outside or inside).
  • Nearby Hotels

**Hosting facilities receive two free slots for the ORSF-CC Course**

If you are interested in hosting the ORSF-CC please get in touch with us at info@operationrsf.org or complete the form below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I am a social worker. Can I attend the course for certification?
Yes. Bringing physical activity and a greater understanding of the science behind physical activity will significantly benefit those you work with.
How long is this certification good for?
This is a 5-year certification, at which time you will be required to attend a new course to receive the latest field research and pass the exam.
What happens if I don’t pass the exam?
If you get below 70% on the cumulative exam, you must request ORSF-CC to come out and retake the exam at another location. There will be a charge to retake the exam if you wish to retake the entire course.
I have a learning disability and need specific accommodations to take the exam (e.g., proctored, read, solitude, etc.). Can that be arranged?
Yes, we will make sure that arrangements can be made to support you.
If I have an injury, do I need to participate in the course's physical activity portions to pass?
No, the workouts are not a requirement for passing. They do come with applications and discussion, and it would be beneficial to facilitate discussion. If you are injured, we can scale or modify the workouts to meet your needs while meeting the desired stimulus. Please reach out immediately after signing up to let us know about your injury and limitations so we can have an alternate workout prepared.
Do you offer CE/CEUs?
We are currently applying with NSCA and APA for CE/CEU accreditation. Currently, we do not offer CE/CEUs for the certification course.