5 Lessons Learned as a Young S&C Coach/Entrepreneur.
I am 27 years old and am battling through the daily grind that is the strength and conditioning industry. It’s one of the most rewarding industries but is also riddled with challenges that test your character, your patience, and your drive.
Like most millennials, I ponder the thought of not having a pension, not having benefits, and one of the biggest challenges, not having a secure and steady pay cheque. It can make for sleepless nights. Especially when our education, which is just a check box for an invite to an interview, costs thousands.
Even though my words on paper started out quite grim, this industry has taught me some serious lessons about life. Not the lessons that teach us to avoid weird websites that ask for your credit card, but the real-life lessons. Ones that separate you from the masses and ones that keep you thriving for more experiences.
This blog post isn’t meant to be taken as the end all be all in lessons of a young strength coach but I truly wanted to get my words on paper because soon enough I am going to reach an age where I want to look back on my career and I think this will hopefully evolve as I think a life time of lessons will come from it.
Here we go.
Lesson #1: Relationships are Everything.
If you want to have any success in life, your relationships and how you treat people needs to be at the fore front. Most of the time people aren’t investing in your brand or your education degrees. They are investing in YOU, as a person. When dealing with kids, this isn’t about rattling off all the physiological processes that underline aerobic capacity but more along the lines of asking, “How was school today, what did you learn?”
Build a relationship with your athletes, invest in THEM. This isn’t a one-sided relationship where only you or your athlete benefits. As the great Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress: working together is success.” Build a forged bond that allows for trust and buy-in to form as a result. Once you have realized that people are the centre of our business, success will soon follow.
Lesson #2: Find a Mentor who CHALLENGES you.
We all strive to have a Yoda like figure who shows us the force and arms us with the best possible chance at survival, but I can’t emphasize this enough. Find a mentor who will challenge your thoughts, push you in different directions, make you uncomfortable, and ultimately make you a better coach and person. I know for certain I wouldn’t be in this industry if it wasn’t for my mentor and great friend, Nathan Bullock.
He didn’t force me to conform to his coaching principles, but he challenged me to find my own coaching style. He always pushed me to keep learning. Most importantly, he gave me a platform to find my voice as a S&C coach while guiding me in ways I didn’t even know at the time. From filming my sessions and picking out pieces I could improve on, to spending a day at the ski hill, his mentorship evolved into a friendship I will have for life.
Lesson #3: Learn to be good at everything.
As a S&C entrepreneur, you think everything will be sunshine and rainbows if you just coach and apply your university knowledge but that can’t be further from the truth. There is stuff you are going to hate doing. Everything from taxes, social media, marketing, administrative duties, etc. This isn’t the dream job but let me tell you, it could be a lot worse.
Become good at this stuff. Understand the business side and it will make life so much easier. Your competitors will understand your business the best. Get a grasp, while you can. We are not all going to be young Richard Bransons’ (Believe me, I have no hair!).
Lesson #4: Coach anything and everything.
We all go into our education thinking we want to coach professional athletes. In order to get there, we need to coach everything and anything. This really allows you to perfect your craft of coaching. It’s an evolving beast that requires continual reflection and evaluation. Brett Bartholomew often preaches this lesson.
If we can coach the 13-year-old to function in their newly developed body or explore different cues that resonate with 9 year olds then we have an opportunity to add some tools to our coaching kit. There is something to be said about working with gen-pop as well. Coach a person who doesn’t have any desire to compete but just wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It’s different challenges through an array of individuals that we will develop a deeper understanding of the HUMAN. What makes each individual tick? What will allow us to build the greatest buy-in? And lastly, what will make these individuals come back and rely on your coaching to help them develop in any capacity.
Lesson #5: Enjoy the Journey.
Life is short, man. As cliché as it sounds, we never know when this journey will end. Show up every day knowing that you can turn around a person’s day. Show compassion, show empathy, show respect. We are really, really, really lucky to be able to coach for a living. Chalk this up as a win and try not to fret over the small stuff. Your coaching style isn’t for everyone, and that is OK! We are going to lose clients and athletes in our career to other gyms and coaches, this just the nature of the beast. What we can do is bring joy, knowledge, and friendship to our clients.
I am sure in the next 10 years, I am going to learn new lessons. I do hope though, that these will continue to be something to live by. Always ask the question that Scott Livingston uses in his podcast; “If you were to vanish today, what do you want to be remembered for.” Allow this to guide your journey.