You Don’t Coach Exercises

March 19, 2012 Category: Coaching Tags: .

A few months ago, I was bored with coaching.

I know, I know – exercise coaching and technique is one of the things I’m well-known for in our industry, but it’s true.

I was bored and I wasn’t quite sure what to do about it.

I’d assume anyone who does things for an extended period of time needs new challenges, or at the very least, a unique perspective or outlook.

My issue was a few layers deep:

  • I had worked with a lot of people, so I had a fairly good idea of the common compensation patterns and how to fix them.
  • My progressions and regressions were really dialed in, so there wasn’t a lot of creative thought involved in the process. If someone was too good at an exercise, bump them up a progression. If it’s too challenging, bump them down a progression.
  • Lastly, I’d been coaching people of all shapes and sizes for 11 years. Now I’m going to sit here and tell you I know it all or that I can’t get better, but my 11 years was full-on, hardcore immersion into the world of training and coaching. I may not be the best, but I’m pretty darn good at what I do.

At the end of the day, I felt like I could teach just about anyone how to perform the exercises at hand. Whether it was a squat, hip hinge, push-up, core exercise, whatever, I felt like between my coaching systems and my coaching cues that I could get the job done.

The issue was it was becoming incredibly un-fulfilling. I mean, how exciting is it to go in each and every day and just drill home exercise after exercise?

Now don’t get me wrong: Teaching people how to move more efficiently is an amazing thing, and at least part of the issue was my own ADD.

But over the last couple of months, something has fundamentally changed.

We had a slew of young athletes come into IFAST, and middle/high school age athletes are the demographic I’m most passionate about working with. After working with these awesome kids for a few weeks, it finally dawned on me:

You don’t coach exercises; you coach people.

For the past year or two, I was busy plugging away at the mechanical side of coaching, really dialing in the X’s and O’s each and every session.

I’d forgotten about what originally made me successful. More importantly, I’d forgotten why I originally got into this industry in the first place.

To help people.

When I first started out, I had a fairly high degree of success for a young coach.

And this is without all the skills and knowledge that I have today.

Let’s be really open and honest here; when I got started, I didn’t know shit.

I didn’t understand what good technique was, how to deliver a great assessment, and I’m sure my programming was a joke, too.

So how did I get by?

How was I successful?

Because I built amazing relationships with my clients and athletes.

I may not have known everything, but they knew I cared for and believed in them, and I feel that made all the difference in the world.

Think about it from a different perspective. We’ve all seen the trainer out there that has no clue what he’s doing.

He never assesses his clients beyond their body comp and Par-Q form.

His programs are a joke. In fact, you can’t tell the difference between his programs for a 14-year-old kid and the 70-year-old retiree.

And his coaching skills? Let’s not even go there.

Yet this guy is packed, doing session after session every week. How can this be?

Simple: His clients truly believe that he cares, and that he wants them to be successful.

This is where you come in…

There’s a balance here we can’t forget about. Do you need to become the best coach you possibly can?

Do you need to learn as much as possible about assessments, program design, and coaching?

The mechanical skills of coaching?

Yes – without a doubt.

But you can’t forget about the human side of coaching.

The art of coaching.

Don’t overlook the people who you work, the ones that are standing there right before your very eyes.

What makes them different and unique?

How you can help them improve the quality of their lives?

And most importantly, what are they hoping to get out of training with you?

Because again, I can’t say this strongly enough…

At the end of the day, you don’t coach exercises – you coach people.

That subtle shift in mindset has made the last few months the most fun and prolific time in entire my coaching career.

All the best


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

10 Responses to You Don’t Coach Exercises

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>