1. Stop Being a Friend
This is probably the hardest concept for coaches new and experienced to grasp. The dialog amongst coaches and trainers is centered around being a catch all for clients.
Meaning there seems to be a need to act as therapist, nutritionist, psychologist, exercise physiologist, and relationship counselor.
The problem when you try to do all of this, particularly the therapist role, it often detracts from the actual training that is supposed to be taking place.
When your one-on-one clients get comfortable they start to tell you things. This is not in itself a bad situation. However, divulging deep personal information about ones love life is a problem. Discussing marriages, marriages on the rocks, marriages that involve 3rd and 4th parties is NOT something I would recommend that you engage in.
While I always appreciate the bode of confidence and your feelings of security with me as a coach, this is not something I choose to discuss. I will quickly change the subject and try to get training back on track.
The mistake I see is when coaches start to ask more questions about personal things. The lines are becoming blurred with the client—and your message is confusing—are you a friend listening to them or are you a coach? Most people don’t pay for friends, unless it is a hooker —but they do pay for a coach.
Be forewarned, I get accused all the time by my athletes of being cold. And I don’t agree with their judgement, but compared to some of the things you see in the industry; yeah, I can see why they would say that.
However, I have never wrecked a home, dated a client, or otherwise ruined the lives of my clients. Coaches are supposed to add value to what people do, not confuse or detract from their performance. Remember the first rule of coaching, “do no harm.”
2. Re-think education.
Most coaches know by now of the importance of continued education and eagerly pursue technical knowledge in the field. This is awesome! However, I want to encourage you to think of other opportunities around you.
The great thing about the world we live in is the ease of accessing knowledge. Google can provide a starting point for any questions you want answered, it is your job as a coach to ask the right questions. Start simple, and ask google for experts in your geographical area.
Instead of going to a conference, take a road trip to visit coaches or facilities that you really respect, and ask them your questions. DO NOT GIVE YOUR OPINION.
When I take these road trips I am always asked my opinion. I usually respond with something alone the lines; “I am here to learn from you”, and if we are going out to dinner or for beers afterwards, I will happily exchange my ideas.
I do not like to share my ideas while the coach is coaching. The reason for this is that I do not want to disrupt their flow. I want to see them in their environment and do not want to cloud their thoughts.
Second, I suggest that if you are looking for a conference than go to something on the periphery of what you know. It can be health and fitness technical knowledge, but it could be something else.
Here are two examples. Suppose you own a Crossfit gym and want to grow your business. One way to do this may be by adding to your service. Perhaps you want to add an Olympic Weightlifting team to your Crossfit gym. This service is very specific and you can find certifications and courses that only focus on weightlifting.
You could also choose to go to a tech conference that has to do with creating mobile apps or digital marketing. You may see a new direction or a new edge coming through technology. This may be the very thing that allows you to hit a new platform to grow your business or have an idea to create a new platform.
How often should you do this? Go as much as you can, at least twice per year, if possible. Sometimes you will be limited by funds, but the inspiration will be worth it and it almost always leads to financial growth.
One additional note; after you seek others knowledge you have to chew on it and work with it. You have to go back home and practice what you have learned or work though some of the things you are thinking about.
It’s one thing to hear someone speak and it is another to actually experience it.
For example, I went to meet Louie Simmons at Westside when I was coaching at Purdue. He asked me if I was going to squat—and I said enthusiastically, “Hell yeah! I didn’t come to Westside to not squat.” And he informed he that the overwhelming number of strength and conditioning coaches that come to visit him do not actually get under the bar.
This shocked me. The only reason I can think that people did not want to squat there was due to ego. Fortunately for me, I had done my research and was confident I would be the weakest guy at their facility. But I was okay with that before I went. And in fact, I was the weakest guy there. Truth be told, we were working on speed training and my bar weight was 135lbs with bands. So, there I was with one measly, probably out of pity, forty-five pound plate on each side plus some band tension on the bar.
But because I had checked my ego at the door and was prepared, I kept a sharp edge and continued to digest the message that he was delivering.
3. Learn a new skill
When was the last time that you were coached? When you learn something new and are being coached, you can easily be reminded what a good coach and a bad coach does. You can learn a lot trying a new instrument, sport, or art class.
Personally I am into jiu-jitsu, (check it out EnduranceBJJ) which carries a lot of parallels to the things that I am trying to teach. Many times I have left jiu-jitsu class with a thought that I have for communicating a message with one of my athletes. I am extremely blessed to have a great coach (check him out here) and the academy allows one to train at multiple locations, as you guessed, I can experience multiple coaches and gain even more perspectives. The same would apply for learning how to play an instrument or experiencing different art teachers.
As teachers we often forget what it is like to be the student.
4. Take a vacation.
Last but certainly not least, the health and fitness industry can be a grind. Often times we work split shifts and on commission, which means you are at the disposal of others all the time. While we enjoy our profession of giving to others, we need to recharge ourselves. One thing we have here at Lift Lab Co is unlimited vacation days. This may sound insane but I love it.
Our team will work as a team and cover for others. If you start feeling like you need some time off, it is best to take it because we want you to be fresh to best service our clients. We have had stints where guys have been gone for 2 or 3 weeks. Those are extreme cases and surprisingly people do not abuse the policy of unlimited vacation. That is what happens when you have a great team. They do not want to leave the other coaches high and dry. Take time, get your mind right, and come back and hustle.
There you have it. Be their coach not their friend, re-think education, learn something new and take a vacation. Four simple areas to improve upon your own coaching style. Now get after it!