When no one’s watching

These days much of what we do is “for the ‘gram”. 

Seems there is always a camera rolling; an athlete filming their movements, a snapshot posted somewhere on social media, and a coach constantly sharing a “new” movement video. That feedback loop is great; not only do we build our personal brand and retention, we also have another way for the world to see us, to access us. 

But ask yourself this, “What if no one was watching?”

Would you still do it for “the gram”?

I get it, social media is fun and it feels good to show off a little, especially these days with no crowds and in many cases right now no coaches present to give us the token head pat* for a job well done or feedback on how you can improve. 

As humans we are naturally drawn to communal acceptance and our community is growing by the minute.

I can chat with a former teammate in another country and comment on her training. I am able to reach out to coaches across the ocean and make sure they are ok with the pandemic and all that it is impacting. We are able to connect with people to ask for help, for coaching support and insight in how we do things so that we can build the best athletes and programs out there. Heck, I have even taken to filming my own training to send to another coach via WhatsApp to get feedback from him as of late, and it has helped.

Don’t get me wrong, the filming, posting and constant sharing is now ingrained in us. It’s becoming who we are, akin to the stories that were told from generation to generation around campfires centuries ago. Our technology has opened up many doors to connection and reach.

But what happens when it becomes unhealthy?

Athletes, do you stress about the right angle, the light and your appearance before you train? Coaches, do you worry that you need to keep posting information, videos, blogs, etc just to stay relevant and continue to build or maintain your business?

Might this unnecessary “extra” take away from what you are really here to do? 

So how do we combat this?

Recently, I have told my athletes to not post or tag workouts that are done when I am coaching them. There are many reasons why I have made this rule but one is because I found they spent more time on their phones, setting up for the shot, asking the other to film, etc and less time really internalizing what they are present to do, train and improve.
Call it a Media Free Monday if you will.

As a retired athlete, I am so thankful that over 10 years ago social media really only equated to YouTube videos and Facebook asking us “How are you feeling?” so we posted stupid comments on how we actually felt, not videos of training. No phone had that power then. Imagine that, Facebook had to prompt us on how to interact with its technology just to get it functioning as designed. Now it has to limit our interaction so it can manage the design.

Now let’s take this question of “when no one is watching would you still do it?” beyond our technology and social media days.

Would you still lift weights, train hard and sweat until your shirt is soaked if no one is watching? Would you continue to challenge yourself, to grow, to improve if you had no global outlet to brag a little? Would you, as an athlete or a coach, do a better job without these social demands?

Perhaps it’s time to reflect on this, leave the phone behind and truly train. No distractions and only your personal head pats and support from the people that matter most – yourself, your coach and your family. Likely in that order too.

*head pat – I had a coach who, on my first day with him, said “If I don’t say anything to you, you’re doing good, change nothing.” I later learned that if he patted my head, I was doing great. The highest honor was a head pat.

Part 2: Finding your fitness coach and what to expect

After all the clipboards have been hung up, the log books filled out and the files returned to the filing cabinet, coaching is a profession. This goes for any of the other names that are grouped in with “coach”… trainer, instructor, fitness professional, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, etc. If you get paid or you pay someone to lead you, if it is something that takes up more than 25% of someone’s daily mental capacity and focus, it’s a profession and it should be treated as such.

Are you a client seeking a coach?

No matter your goal, be it weight loss, improved fitness, or athletic prowess to one day dominate the world in your sporting endeavours you will benefit greatly from a coach. The absolute best in the world have a coach, many have more than 3 at one time when all are accounted for. 

When you are seeking a coach you should ask 3 key things of them:

  1. What is your training philosophy?
  2. How do you deliver your coaching/training plans to your clients?
  3. What is the most important determining factor of success when discussing a client?

Of course, if you have more questions ask them and remember that these 3 are vital. Not all coaches are able to answer these, not all have a philosophy, not all work on continuing their education and it’s very true and obvious that many are unable to stay away from the shiny lights of “trendertainment”. That’s great and fine if that’s how you role but it’s not great for the long-term health and success of a client.

In the end, this is a profession not a 3 ring circus. 

The people leading you, guiding your physical decision making, tweaking your quality of movement and influencing your daily perspective on life are vital people and need to align with you. They do not need to align with your mom, your best friend and most certainly not what general public says is “cool”. They need to align with you and you need to know that you can trust them.

It’s all about trust.

Like any relationship, trust is one of the most important factors. With trust comes respect and when these two qualities are shared the success rate for both parties rises ten-fold. You are able to receive a training program or walk into a training session knowing that your coach has your long term best interest at heart and is always top of mind. They aren’t in it for their own personal gain nor for any benefit aside from the fuzzy feels they get seeing your face of pride when you know you have succeeded at a goal or improved a skill.

In return, your coach trusts that you will follow the program, be honest with them about the training (good or bad feedback) and that you will respect their education and countless hours spent away from you working on ensuring you are healthy and strong.

What to expect. 

Relationships and knowledge, that’s what this coaching gig is really about.

What you, the client, should expect from your coach is for them to be consistent on what their answers to the above 3 questions were and a respectful relationship. You should also expect that your coach has at least 3 modifications for almost every single movement they give you. 

They should be able to answer the Why and What immediately in regards to any exercise and frankly, should have the humility to answer “I don’t know, let me get back to you” should they in fact not have a clear answer. 

Coaches are human after all and sometimes, we miss new information, get sucked into the trap of mindless repetition, and, while it rarely happens, do get tricked by the “Ooo, that looks fun” trap of our ever so connected lives via the internet.

It happens. But guess what! As a client, you have the permission and honestly, the right, to keep your coach on track as well. If there is something you are not comfortable with, struggle with or it actually hurts you, tell them right away so that the coach can make an adjustment before compounding the issue. A great coach will NEVER sleep well at night knowing they hurt a client.

Develop a relationship that allows you to have an open conversation about your goals, programming and more. No doubt your goals will change over time. I’ve had some clients for over 7 years and their goals have certainly changed, many times. The beauty of this longevity in clientele is the fact that they felt secure enough to ask for a change, to trust my suggested alterations and to have faith in the entire process. That’s an incredible experience for both myself and the clients.

In the end, when you are seeking a coach, interview them, ask for a resume if you must, even references. Don’t just accept the coach your gym thrusts upon you, ask to chat with all of them. There’s value in this, just like not every coworker loves each other, nor will you love every coach that comes along. Find the one you trust and respect, and can have an educated, growth oriented experience all wrapped up with fun and enjoyment.

After-all,  physical movement is a form of self expression and you should ENJOY it.