Do as I say, not as I do…

Posted: January 20, 2018 in CrossFit, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Do as I say, not as I do” is a saying that is often associated with negative scenarios. A kid gets yelled at by their parents for saying a bad word, that they learned from hearing their parents say in the first place. A prosecutor being arrested for some heinous crime that he fought against for years. *Insert the story of any current politician resigning due to reason x, y, or z* You get the point.

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In personal training and coaching, however, I feel it’s much more common to encounter this situation. Some clients are elite-level athletes that are able to do things that their trainer could have never dreamed of doing themselves. Other coaches are past their own athletic prime, but have an incredible understanding of human performance. And then there’s the coaches who were never amazing athletes by their own right, but are simply incredible educators and motivators.

My old friend, Kevin Ogar (Owner of CrossFit Watchtower), always said that the best coaches were the second-tier athletes. Top tier athletes were typically so good, and so genetically gifted, that it would be hard for them to explain what comes so natural for them to others. Second tier athletes became good at their sport or craft because of years of hard work. Since they got to where they were through trial and error over time, they would often be more effective in helping others with progressions, and offering support through their trials and tribulations.

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I had a conversation with a personal trainer last night who explained that he would never ask his clients to perform something he couldn’t do himself. Now, I understand the concept of what he was trying to say. Be responsible, don’t create absurd movements or circuits for your athletes that could get them hurt (which happens a lot in our industry), and so on. But I fundamentally disagree with him. In my opinion, being an effective coach means training and empowering others to perform to THEIR full potential safely. Not your own.

For example, in CrossFit the Strict Ring Muscle-Up is considered a fairly advanced movement.  I know dozens of trainers who aren’t able to this movement themselves. Does that mean that they should never teach others to do them, as long the movement and progressions are taught safely? To me, the answer is obvious.

This also brings the up to question of the physical appearance of the trainers, themselves. Some people love looking at trainers who are specimens of human perfection! Six pack abs, a booty strong enough to bounce a quarter ten feet in the air, arms or legs the size of tree trunks. But does the body of a trainer have anything to do with their ability to help others? I don’t think it does. Of course, there’s a distinction between a coach who is 80lbs overweight and eats fast food every day and someone who works out regularly and is still “normal person” healthy. I’m not suggesting that anyone wants to be coached by someone who has “really let themselves go,” merely saying that there isn’t necessarily a correlation between physique and effectiveness.

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I know there’s no Right or Wrong answer to this topic, but I think it’s a really interesting one to discuss! Do you feel it’s important that trainers are able to do all of the things they ask of their clients? Do coaches need to look a certain way in order to be effective or credible? Let me know!

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