There are a few things indicative of someone fully capable of taking the floor and running their own classes or training a group of athletes by themselves.
When You’ve Embraced the Process and Deliberately Observed Another Coach
I am now in a position where I not only develop athletes, but I also develop coaches. At my gym, none of my staff take the floor without going through an apprenticeship. Now let’s not equate the term with free labor or a bunch of “gopher” activities over an indefinite period of time. I don’t believe in that. If the floor needs mopping or the toilets need get cleaning, that stuff gets done, but that’s not my apprentice’s purpose.
As a mentor in this arena of fitness, more specifically CrossFit, the most valuable lesson I have learned is mentorship. I have been extremely blessed with amazing mentors in the game, and they were gracious enough to see potential in me that warranted their time and knowledge. Many choose the hard road in the beginning, opting to rack up clients and figure things out on the fly. This often happens at the expense of your clients/members health and safety and your reputation as a trainer/coach. Not only do you not know what you’re doing, but your spoon feeding another novice individual potentially hazardous information.
Many of us former athletes seem to be under the impression that just because we played at a high level with relatively complex and intense off-season strength and conditioning programs that once our playing days are over we are especially equipped with the know-how to get everyone else to our level. Or you’ve been working out your entire life alone, and no feel it necessary to share what you’ve learned from Men’s Health or YouTube with the world. WRONG!!! This mentality is what causes the most harm.
We must be honest with ourselves and realize the vast majority of these cases, you were in a “client/student” capacity, and just doing what your coach or books told you. There was no inherent answer to why you did or did not do things a certain way. You just did it. And now you know how to do things and not necessarily the reason for them. A terrible combination when it comes to programming and solidifying a beginner’s technique.
Enter, the mentor. This is a person who has tons more experience than you, not just as a coach, but as a leader. They are knowledgeable. They are seasoned in the business of fitness. They have an abundance of success stories, but most importantly, they acknowledge their failures. Because that’s the whole point, to get you as the apprentice to learn how to do things the right way, and me as the mentor to help you avoid the pitfalls I did when I was still wet behind the ears.
Don’t get me wrong, mentorship is not a failsafe. It will not guarantee your success. Personality, whether people respond to you at all, a little good fortune, and a host of other things will play a role. But mentorship will lay a foundation that can be built upon with original thought and a watchful eye, allowing you to grow and develop your own style.
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