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Why Coaching Matters for Fitness Development

Over the past week at Summit Strength, I have mentioned to multiple people that I do not write my own programming for my training at the gym. While I do program for all of the clients that come into Summit, I follow outside coaching for my own development. This may seem a bit backward to some. If I am a coach, and know how to help clients reach their goals, why don’t I also coach myself? This is a legitimate question, but there are multiple reasons to seek outside coaching.
1. You will work harder with a coach. Think back to all those high school or college twoadays you endured in order to make a team, and hopefully see playing time. While I always enjoyed preseason – all we did was play soccer, what’s not to love – there is no doubt it was a gruelling process. Two workouts a day, every day, for 14 days wears you out. But you do it every season no matter what. Why? Because there is outside pressure to perform and to work hard. As a whole, it is very difficult to hold yourself accountable all the time. If you are only working for yourself, that last sprint usually becomes a run. Maybe that last set of squats is a little lighter than it could have been. Maybe you simply don’t show up to the gym that day. Accountability is step one in reaching fitness goals, and coaching helps you stay accountable.
2. Your coach (hopefully) knows more than you do. Imagine going to calculus for the first time, and your teacher simply looking at you and saying, “Ok, here is the text book, go figure out how to succeed in this course.” That would be crazy! The teacher’s job is to help you learn the material necessary to understand the subject and demonstrate this understanding. The same goes with coaching. You can spend a few hours on the internet and find nearly endless exercises to do in the gym; however, without the right combination of “lesson plan” they won’t get you anywhere. This is where your coach comes into play. By designing the right mix of exercises, intensities, and volume, he or she helps you reach your goals much faster than you could ever do alone.
3. Your coach is someone you can lean on. Training and fitness do not always go according to plan. Much like traditional team sports, there are good days and bad days in the gym. In a team sport, you have your friends to help pick you up on a down day, but with training and fitness, it is really a solo endeavour. One of the reasons CrossFit has been so effective is the camaraderie developed between people in the group. However, at the end of the day, your development is very personal, and only your coach can understand that completely. When you’re having a bad day, solid coaching helps you to push through and go a little bit harder. Conversely, coaching also helps you know when to back off, and your coach is also there to celebrate your accomplishments. In a way, a coach takes the place of the standard team in sports.
At Summit, I hold class sizes to a maximum of ten people because I want everyone to feel like they have a coach. An athlete to coach ratio of 10:1, in my opinion, is the most one can handle and still have this effect. This allows the athlete to not feel overwhelmed, but also lets them know someone is there to correct mistakes, give advice, and to motivate them during training. Just like teaching and schools go hand in hand, so does coaching and a gym.

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