Live To Fight Another Day: A Coaching Strategy

Sometime before I started RevFit, I was working under another trainer for a short spell of time. He had a personal training model very similar to the one I would be inspired to build on my own when I opened this business.

I was taken under his wing and was only newly certified having had my training certification for less than a year at that point.

Like a lot of wet-behind-the-ears trainers, I had a head that was swimming with knowledge and no reasonable filter for what was appropriate for any given population.

The coach I was working for had stepped away from the studio for a shift and he let me take over for his clients that day. There was a woman working with me who I knew was very strong because I had seen him take her through some sessions in the past.

With an eye on giving her a “great” lower body workout, I proceeded to have her do a brutal session of Smith machine squats. I can’t tell you exactly how many reps she did but I can say it was well beyond something like 3 sets of 8.

She was perspiring, she was huffing and puffing, she was walking sort of funny, you name it. Every indicator was there that I had given her legs a wake-up call that day.

Two days later, the coach called me and asked: What did you do to “Client A”?

In my excitement and, what I assumed was a reflection on my great training skills, I told the coach about her squat sequence.

He listened carefully, didn’t interject and said: Well, her husband called me. She’s barely been able to walk over the last two days because her legs have been so sore. He was NOT happy.

I was devastated. I thought clients wanted soreness, I thought perspiration and being out-of-breath were a badge of honor. Not because that was how I trained myself, mind you, but because I “thought” that I knew how to push someone and it would be a sign of how smart, intuitive, and talented I was as a coach.

That could not have been further from the truth. I was completely embarrassed. I apologized to the coach. I apologized to the client (and her husband). It was, and remains, one of a handful of the most embarrassing professional circumstances I’ve gone through since 2007 when I first got certified.

Since then, I have taken on an almost polar opposite stance on training. I love strength. I love making people stronger. I love taking someone who probably has no earthly idea of how strong they are, fleshing it out and making them strong as nails. It is one of the most satisfying, gratifying and inspiring things about running this business.

But strength, and gaining it, come from a certain amount of restraint and respect. You have to know when to push and when to pull back. You have to know when there are reps in the tank and when “just showing up” is the best you can do.

I even tell potential clients now during our consultation: I am not the type of trainer who is here to crush you. The program is not designed that way. I operate under a “live to fight another day” approach. I want you here, fresh and ready to tackle the workout. I want you to feel good when you leave and not as if the workout wrecked you.

We can forget sometimes that our 20-yr old bodies were capable of amazing things and could survive on poor nutrition, shitty sleep habits and enough caffeine to choke a horse. We could wake up, go to the gym or go to work and put the time in with hardly a negative drawback.

Fast forward 2 or 3 decades and something as simple as a hangover can be debilitating the day after, a nagging injury can take weeks/months (not days) to recover from, and a night of bad sleep can turn the next day of work into a foggy nightmare that not even caffeine can fix.

The bodies we, as coaches, are trying to build demand respect. The results come from the push, the challenge, the stimulus and also, the recovery, the proper nutrients, and the right head space to know how to make progress.

Our clients pay us their hard earned money to know when to check the ego and when to apply both “the art of” and “the science of” strength to their own circumstances. We have to respect that too.

I’m just over 13 years certified and nearly 12 years as the owner of this business. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve forgotten a lot, I’ve screwed up a lot and I’ve seen a lot. I am nowhere near as great as I want to be and nothing will stop me from learning how to get better.

It’s the same philosophy I want to impress on my clients too: Find ways to improve, carve out a path, celebrate the victories, take care of your body/mind and let’s kick some ass.

Recently, a newer client of mine shared a sentiment that made me happier than she will probably ever know. She said: I want you to know, this is the first time I’ve worked with a trainer since 2008 that I haven’t ached right down to my bones after a workout.

That was high praise indeed.

Every client has their own motivations and foundations to succeed and work from. It’s our job, our duty, our obligation as coaches to know how to work with that.

Pictured below, is our very own Faith G, executing a 310 pound personal best on the squat. She got there because we spent the time learning how to work with her, her body, her goals, her schedule, her life and her aspirations. And every week, people like Faith inspire the rest of us to get better too.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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