In part I of this series, I covered three steps I take everyday to improve my coaching. In part II, I’ll explore two more things that I believe a coach/trainer MUST do to be the best.
4. Lead by example
Actions speak much louder than words, and we are drawn to those who are passionate about what they do. This does NOT mean you have to constantly talk about health/fitness/or coaching. In fact, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned this past year is that TALKING about fitness is much more likely to drive people away than to inspire them to make a change. Talking about optimal health will likely make others feel as if they don’t measure up. Instead of being an motivator of positive change, you because an imagined “judge and jury” causing more stress than satisfaction. However, if you quietly and confidently go about your business – making healthy food choices, working on your weaknesses in training, and finding JOY in life, people will follow suit.
In the same token, I will never ask my clients to do something that I have not tried out first on myself. I want to have not only scientific backing, but personal confidence in anything I recommend (of course allowing for special health considerations). This means that I am almost always trying out new techniques/training tips during my workout warm-up. I find that understanding how my client is feeling during a session through first-hand trial and error to be indispensable for improving my coaching.
One thing I expect of every client is a willingness to attack their weaknesses (ALA part I), and I also expect it of myself. From previous injury, I know that core stability and mobility are vital to my overall health, and so I make sure to focus on these in my training.
5. Adapt your training to different personalities.
Something I soon learned from my client sessions in Japan was that personality is EVERYTHING in a session. From CrossFitting firebreathers to unsure beginners, a coach must adapt their style and their workouts to fit each client’s personality. Not only that, but a coach must learn to sense how a client is feeling day-to-day and be prepared to adapt on the fly. This is part of creating an individualized training regimen. It’s not only the exercises/sets/ and reps that matter – it’s the mental game as well. When a client is showing stress, do you back off or push them a little harder? If they are low energy during a session, how can you help pick them up? If they are feeling defeated, do they want sympathy, a word of encouragement, or is silence the best medicine? In my (albeit limited) time spent training, these are the MOST important lessons I’ve learned. Each session with a client, I get a better idea of how to bring out the best in them. Unfortunately, I don’t think any book can teach you how to deal with people – it’s simply something that must be experienced.
Be assured, you WILL make mistakes as a coach – you will push when you should have backed off, you will deal with clients who struggle with a movement and your cues. They key is to learn from them, and find ways to BE BETTER. Personally, I keep a record of key observations I make during a client’s session. I call it my “Client To-Do List.” Maybe there’s a movement cue that worked really well, a question they asked that I want to give them material on, or some feedback that they responded well to. This document becomes a sort of game plan for each session that helps me get in the mindset to be the best I can be for THAT PERSON.
Stay tuned next week for part III, where I talk about the final two steps I’m taking (currently) to be the best trainer I can be.
-Stay healthy everybody.