I wanted to write this for a very long time but I have been unsure if I should because there are too many amazing coaches. Then, I realised that all great coaches are on the same boat and supporting each other. So I decided to share something right from my heart. What’s even more important is that I realised that I could help others to be a better coach, like other helped me.
I have no problem to admit that I’m not the best, I can’t be the best. I’m learning EVERY day and this will never stop. There have been SO MANY learning curves and lessons over the past 8 years. Working side by side my IoM teammates in Singapore was one of the best growing experience so far.
On the one hand I feel lucky to learn from the best of the best, on the other hand I also worked very hard for it. So before I share with you my take-aways, please allow me to openly thank them. See, I will always remember everyone who was there for me on every step of my journey and I will always cherish the. Without these guys, I wouldn’t be able to influence so many people’s lives. Including mine!
• • • •
Aaron Callaghan, Michael James my very first mentors in 2011. John Sinclair, Derrick Price, Derek Vandenbrink, Michol Dalcourt - my mentors since 2012.
I have made so many mistakes during my coaching career and I felt uncomfortable so many times, but you had always my back and supported me anytime I needed. THANK YOU, I WILL BE FOREVER GRATEFUL.
It’s fair to say that there is also a lot of you who taught me some great lessons indirectly - simply by being you and sharing your wisdoms. It would be a very long list so forgive me if I won’t name anyone. Thank you. This industry needs you
I’ve got the real taste of true coaching between 2011 - 2012 when I went through something I call '“ 12 months mentorship” in Sydney. That time I was hired by Aaron and MJ to coach at, former Primal Fitness.
As soon as I opened my own studio back in 2014 I realised that being a coach won’t be just a weekend job, it’s an honour. Because if we do it right, we get the opportunity to know people on a very deeper level. They share with us their happy moments and struggles, we learn the names of their kids and pets and we are aware of their emotional and physical challenges. There’s no occupation which would allow this.
Being a coach is not a hobby. For me, we are equally (maybe more) as important as a doctor, a surgeon or a work boss. Why? Keep reading.
A great coach needs to know almost every aspect of people’s private and working live in order to be the right guide. We don’t see people once every six months or once in a lifetime. We work with them every day. In my case, year after year.
Our clients trust us and they are loyal to us. They pay our bills, make us a better coaches and people. We grow with them and they grow with us. Therefore, we hold enourmous amount of responsibility and we can’t afford to disappoint them.
The list below is by far not a complete one, rather it’s a list I put together during the years of face to face coaching. The vast majority of them I learned in the real life scenarios not from the book. The points are not in any particular order. I will completely understand if you do things differently and you can even disagree. If any of the ideas below will help you to be a better professional - my job is done and you make me happy.
DURING THE SESSION
speak the right language - scale it down so people understand you, anterior means forward 😌. Replace “don’t do this” with “maybe, we could try to do it…”
always encourage - praise, advice, praise (in this order).
be professionally dressed and clean - under no circumstances it should be any other way, even during your own training, and even if you know the person for last 20 years. Who trains shirtless nowadays?
when you coach, be a coach, not the best friend
scale down your demonstration - people will repeat what you show them therefore make sure to know who is in front of you. Even better, coach them through the drill without demonstration and let them figure out (this works so well for me).
when coaching drills on the ground (crawl, planking, mobility, get ups…) coach FROM the ground. Make them comfortable and avoid sergeant style coaching.
call their first name several times during the session
recognise who needs loud encouragement and who prefers gentle pat on the shoulder with “Johny, you did a great job”.
be authoritative but respectful
learn people’s body language, observe their face expression and listen to what they say
create safe environment so they can make safe mistakes - we learn through mistakes (differential learning)
mostly coach from behind - they can focus on their movement rather than your hawk eyes (aka point above)
avoid over coaching and perfection - 1 -2 cue (s) per session is enough. Teach them the rest next time
be prepared to adapt - you need to know 3-5 progressions and regressions on spot.
be able to explain one concept, your philosophy to 5 different people. They all must understand.
you are getting bored, not people. If they need it, repeat one movement pattern / one program several times.
ask several times if they feel comfortable
always, always clean training place like it would be yours. Lead by example. Non clients can see it too…
if you work for someone, always do 10% extra than owners expect you to do. Be a good human.
OUTSIDE OF THE SESSION
walk the talk - be the role model they look up to. Be healthy, vibrant, and resilient
consistently show up with passion and excitement - people don’t need to know what is going on in your life. They have a lot on their own plates
know your stuff but don’t show it too much - people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care (Aaron wrote this on the whiteboard in the coaches locker room)
ask for help - it’s a sign of strength!
focus on health not just fitness - fitness is superficial, health is sustainable
work with team of professional not alone. We are stronger as a team
have a system in place - random sessions are exciting but don’t measure progressions. Create tailored program and use coaching variables. Time to time surprise them with a cool session to avoid boredom
keep things simple and science based - tools will be always just a tools. Concept lasts forever
send gifts or occasional supportive messages & emails
always follow up - when a client has a new program or a bad day in the gym/at work - follow up
treat everyone the same way - you either create a great clients base around you or learn to respect different personalities. Everyone has a story
lead with your heart but without hesitation - people want a coach who can understand their story. Be their guide. They are the heroes NOT you
ongoing education is the key - select your mentors carefully and stay curious
be humble, be humble, be humble. I would rather hire a person with a passion and deep heart over someone who owns 20 university diplomas and is “ a show off”
avoid party invitations from your clients. I know this one might be tough so if you do accept, don’t get drunk and leave after an hour 😌
you don’t need to know everything. If you don’t know the answer, don’t be afraid to admit it and promise them to find out from your mentoring circle. This happened to me so many times
be loyal to people
take your job seriously and believe in it
Here you go. I’m sure I forgot something but I think this can be a good start. Most importantly BE A GOOD HUMAN.