Back in DC I used to hang with a pretty smart dude by the name of Jim Bathurst (well-known trainer who runs the site Beast Skills). We used to spend hours on end talking about coaching, programming, how to put things together, how to progress properly, good clients, bad clients and on and on. I loved these geek-out sessions as I thought it was a great way to toss around ideas and learn alongside another mind that thought similarly to me. In retrospect, I realize they had another cool meaning for me: they allowed me to share my passion with someone who truly understood it. You see, I have talked to countless people, trainers, coaches, leaders, and teachers and on and on and I realized that there are very few people who are both passionate and truthful in their line of work. There are very few people who take their job so seriously it literally feels like their heart is breaking when they see others half-ass their way through.
There's a great scene in the movie Bull Durham where Crash Davis tells Nuke Laloosh that he doesn't care that Nuke doesn't respect himself, what bothers him is that he doesn't respect the game (tried to find a link to a clip, but couldn't find it anywhere). That always hit home for me because I loved baseball more than anything in the world for a very long time. I hated watching people come out and goof off on the field, show up late to practice and mope around like they didn't want to be there. And the same thing is so blatantly in all of our faces in the fitness world. It's one thing to watch as humans slowly destroy themselves with unhealthy lifestyles, horrendous food choices and being "too busy" to exercise or be active. That seems as though it's just an inevitable part of the evolution of mankind. It gives me something to fight for each day. But what I can’t stand for, what makes ZERO sense to me, is that there are trainers and coaches out there who make a complete mockery of the health and fitness industry.
In all honesty, the trainers that used to disgust me appear like saints compared to a lot of these new coaches out there. What I have found is this: doing "not enough" for you clients is way, way better than doing the wrong thing for them. Having you client warm up for 10 minutes on the treadmill and then go through a light circuit of basic dumbbell movements and machines is better than making them perform 30 clean and jerks with completely disgraceful form. This is because the crappy “globo gym” routine is still elevating the heart rate, it is still demanding neuromuscular responses resulting in growth and is still implementing good habits of an active lifestyle in the average person. Nope, this person will most likely not lose very much weight. Nope, this will probably not get dramatically better blood pressure, resting heart rate, less stress and other health factors than when they started. Nope, this person will probably not have any life-changing awakenings. Put tearing your shoulder girdle to shreds slowly but surly just to prove to everyone you are fast at something you don't even know how to do is a good bit dumber.
You see, walking into a gym and learning the complete basics to movements you have never learned before, and some that others spend their entire lives perfecting, then performing these movements under immense stress and fatigue does also not help the average person very much. You may have an initial reaction to the intensity that results in higher energy, decreased body fat and increased muscle growth. But, in the long run, and again for the AVERAGE person, you are at an incredibly higher risk of injury. Minor nagging injuries that are magnified by over-use, crap form and pushing harder when you should be stopping or going lighter, will either lead to a serious injury, or even more nagging injuries, THEN to serious injury. Your wonderful, quick fat loss and feeling of excitement will soon be replaced with a long period of sitting on your ass hoping to recover, and plenty of depression. Sounds pretty apocalyptic, no? These injuries and issues are not your fault. They are not CrossFits fault. They are your coaches’ fault.
Yes, yes, I could go on rants all day how it’s the responsibility of the creator and yadda, yadda. Like, if we get rid of the gun, we will not have any more murders; that argument. But at this point, I’m sure most of you have heard my arguments for and against CrossFit and I am not interested in going down that rabbit hole right now. Coaches; you idiots! Take care of the people that pay you to take care of them!
It’s your job to learn, read, research, and study everything there is to know about your field. And then it is your job to take the things you most strongly believe in and put your heart and soul into using it to better peoples lives. If a client is difficult, find a way to get through to them, or find someone else who they might listen to better. Why? It’s your freaking job! Know how to program workouts that will not hurt people. If you train individuals, program one way. If you train small groups, program another. If you train classes, program accordingly. Do not have random coaches throw together workouts. Do not pick and choose workouts that seem “cool”, or that will “really kick the clients butts”. Program. PROGRAM workouts that will progressively better your clients in the way they hope to get better. Program in a way that will make them stronger, less stressed, trimmer, and happier for the rest of their lives. It is meant to progress forever, not just for the next year or two. If a client is having problems, listen to them and do something about it. They are coming to you with their problems because they have put their trust, and money into you to help them. So help them. The only reason you should ever turn away form a client is if you know it is the most motivating thing to do for them at the time, or it’s because you can’t help them and you are introducing them to someone who can. Do not insult the world of coaching by neglecting the people who are seeking help. And I know, sometimes it seems like people really don’t want the help. If they keep coming in, trust me, they DO. It’s your job to find a way, that’s why they came to you.
If you don’t want to put in the effort to be the best at what you do, then get the hell out of here and let the people who live and breath this stuff do their jobs.
I challenge all my coach friends, all the people who read this and have some sort of job that involves instruction and motivation, please, explain in the comments how you approach your job. Then, after you do, take a step back and ask yourself if you actually DO what you say you do. I know I do. I know my buddy Jim Bathurst does. I also know an ever-growing list of coaches who really don’t. And if this post makes you think that maybe you're one of those people, well, maybe you are. If you doubt your abilities for even one second, you better take some time to reassess how good you are at what you do. And if you are 100% confident that you are really freaking good at what you do and don’t assess your performance as a coach on a regular basis, you probably have a decent level of distorted self-image and aren’t all that good.
Be passionate about what you do. Do what you say you believe in. Listen and learn from others, and be able to take critique. Constantly seek to better yourself. Be your own greatest critic. Keep learning. Keep caring.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
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