by Jake Bigelow B.S. CSCS
To preface this article, know that I do not believe that coaches/instructors/trainers should workout with clients/members/athletes when on the clock. In fact, while coaching a class, it is my job as a strength coach and professional to help build members through our training sessions, which are all solely focused on the member and all dimensions of the member’s performance. Consequently, if I were to participate while instructing, I would be more focused on my own performance instead of the member’s.
So now that you know I would never workout while coaching my class, what if I attend a class at the gym where I work when I am off the clock? In other words, I pop into class with someone else coaching as they focus on our members. The coach is now being coached. Are you threatened? Excited? Pissed? Let’s talk about this.
The other week I attended a training session with a goal to show members the type of work that is expected out of them. Truthfully, I struggled during this class as I pushed myself to the limit. (Like most training sessions, classes are designed to push you into uncomfortable territory.) Having said that, I realize I could have put on cruise control and stayed in my comfort zone all to just to “get through” this class (as I see some members do). However, I know better and I value my training sessions more than that. The point is, I took this class, hustled, and earned it. I performed the same workout as our members, but pushed myself to the limit. To digress, I want to instill something in our readers and members: you never arrive at peak condition. In other words, workouts should always be challenging and you will push faster, more weight, at higher velocities, etc. to achieve that. If not, you become complacent, mediocre, and performance plateaus.
Most of the feedback from the members was great. During the workout, we were slappin’ high fives while doing 400m runs and encouraging each other more than I have seen in a while. But once the workout was over, to my surprise, some individuals shared their discontent with my attendance. Some were intimidated. And others were pissed. This message is to those members:
My goal for attending this class was to train with the people I serve on a daily basis and to motivate those people by modeling another level of care and commitment to the workout, (which, on a side note, I designed). I pushed myself to my limit, which I know might be much faster and stronger than yours. Still, my limits have been earned through time developing my craft. I design these workouts you do every day and can do them well; I’ve spent years doing them. So today, as I shared your class, please remember that I didn’t come in during my off hours and devote my alone time, at 6am, to discourage you. In fact, I came to build a sense of community at our facility. I sweated and grunted through the session just like you. Through that, you got to witness me vulnerable as I pushed my limits just as I got to see yours. Be relieved that I have felt the same challenges that you have.
In short, when your coach decides to throw him or herself in the mix, heed how they respond. Take mental notes, and maybe throw out a little trash talking. Be encouraged and humble that they wanted to spend more time with you, because it means they care. And finally, do not be intimidated or discouraged, but instead uplifted that everyone struggles and earns their fitness level through time and effort.