I personally despise the word trainer, it conjures up images of under-qualified college students demonstrating proper curl form. I am often met with skepticism as if my chosen occupation is not “adult-ish”, (between that and fighting it is often an apprehensive handshake) that is all for a different post. It is enough to say I prefer the word Coach, which leads us to today’s question. What is a coach? We must first understand what they are before we decide if we want one.
Why does one join a gym? Or start to exercise? It varies, self-confidence, weight loss, muscle hypertrophy, pre-existing health issues, vacation, wedding, general fitness. The catalyst changes from case-to-case but the desired end goal is the same, results.
This sounds redundant, of course, we want results, entire marketing campaigns have been created around a fitness company and their specific brand of results, results help to track progress and validate actions. Training is a time-consuming task and we would shudder to think we are spending our most valuable resource on something that isn’t yielding a return.
If we want to successfully accomplish our goals it is important that we have a support system in place to help us succeed. Someone objective and separate from our friends and family that can provide honest helpful guidance.
Finding a compatible strength coach (trainer) can legitimately change your life. (That does go both ways.) I have formed relationships with some of the most amazing people in the world inside the walls of a gym, relationships that I will continue to carry with me regardless of where our paths take us.
Finding the right person is a serious commitment, it is your health partner. It can be time-consuming and often uncomfortable. You are making an investment, both personally and financially. which makes it all the more important to do your homework.
To help we have put together a list of what we think is a good coach. (What they are.) Throughout your ‘interview’ process you can reference this resource to ensure that they satisfy all of the roles.
#1 – Technician
Training is immensely technical, regardless of the chosen activity (weight lifting, yoga. pilate, kickboxing) and having a qualified technician is vital. Our body is focused on performing the movement and how that is accomplished is not important. We will often unknowingly ‘borrow’ movement from inappropriate muscles creating compensatory movements/injuries. A coach must first and foremost keep you safe which means intricately understanding the movements. If the technical knowledge base is lacking they will never why you are hurt or what to avoid.
#2 – Therapist
Training is an emotional setting, by willingly subjecting ourselves to challenges we have not yet conquered we invite vulnerability. As we slowly progress together with our coach and accomplish the challenging tasks together the relationship strengthens. The coach has already seen you vulnerable, making it more likely you will confide in them. A good coach adopts the role of therapist, they know when to listen and when to speak, they offer guidance objectively and support you in your decisions.
#3 – Parole Officer
Accountability. Many people (with required knowledge) enlist a coach to keep them accountable. As humans, we are inherently lazy and will do our very best to avoid any sort of hard work. Often, we are capable of avoiding laziness on our own but sometimes it is too hard to remain consistent and we look outwards for assistance. A coach should keep you accountable both in and out of the gym much like a parole office. In a small way the act of training alone functions as a deterrent (no one wants to be tired/hungover for the morning training session) but if you don’t show up for a week your phone should start ringing from your PO asking where you are.
#4 – Motivator
I chose motivator rather than Cheer Leader for a very important distinction. Cheer Leader implies the constant praise of all actions, motivation is flexible and changes to shape the situation at hand. A good coach is always supported but not automatically praising. What motivates each individual is very different and must be personalized to the individual. Your coach should be able to determine what motivates you, (Internal/External) and how to best apply it.
#5 – Friend
This is the coach’s most important task, be a good friend. If you and your coach have chosen each other properly it is very likely that you will have also made a new friend. A coach will genuinely care about ‘you’, not the weight you lift, or the money you pay them. This is the ultimate reward, instead of sweating and struggling through each workout alone you are toiling and striving together.