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Support and the help of a coach

By Jason Wong - Account Manager at Bow Valley Square

Support, it’s what we do in the fitness industry. We work with our clients to ensure that the operations at our facility run smoothly. We engage with members to make sure their needs are met by offering programs and classes that fit. Helping clients in one-on-one or small group training to help them reach their goals. We spend so much time working and supporting our clients and members but what about when we have our goals? Maybe we decide to sign up for a road race, ultra marathon, triathlon, weightlifting/powerlifting meet, or whatever it is. Would you consider hiring a trainer or coach to help you reach your goals or help you prepare for a race or event? I know it’s something I never considered until I got powerlifting.

I got into powerlifting in 2022 and competed in two meets. Even though I work as a personal trainer and have worked in the fitness industry for many years, powerlifting was new to me. Like so many who take on a new activity, the first thing that I did was Google search “powerlifting program”. Not knowing what to program or what to do, I just wanted to find a template so I could use it as a guide and adapt the workouts to my schedule and availability/accessibility of equipment. Then I took to YouTube to watch some videos to gather more information.

Even after reading a few articles, going through a few templates, and watching a few videos, I thought I had a general grasp of what to do and that couldn’t be further from the truth. During my prep for my first meet, I kept asking myself, am I doing enough? Am I doing the right number of sets? What kind of accessory exercises should I be doing? Am I training for enough days? I was fortunate enough to have a friend who powerlifts, so I was able to pick his brain about what I should be doing. I also sent him videos of my lifts to see if there’s anything I need to work on. He was also there at my first meet to handle me as he has competed many times. I was very nervous and anxious for my first meeting not knowing what to expect. After I weighed in and had my equipment checked, I met up with him and we just started chatting. He began to tell me what to expect throughout the day. As I began to warm-up, my nerves started to go away, it started to feel just like any other workout. It was very comforting knowing that I had someone there who has been through it, guiding me, and someone to talk to in between each lift as there are long periods of downtime.

I ended up hitting a total for regionals, so I decided to hire a coach to help me get ready for it, as I felt bad for bugging my friend so often. I really wanted to improve on my first meet so I figured that hiring a coach and working with someone who specialized in powerlifting would be very beneficial and provide the right guidance. The main thing was that I didn’t want to program my own workouts, I wanted someone to do that for me. We as trainers/instructors already spend time programming clients' workouts or planning for classes, so it was the last thing that I wanted to do. As we began the process in preparation for regionals 3.5 months away, I really didn’t know what to expect working with a coach. Most of the coaching that I was accustomed to was in team sports, so this was new territory for me. One thing I had to start doing was filming my lifts as part of the weekly check-ins, whereas before I was filming my lifts occasionally and just sent them to my friend. It took the guesswork out of it when I was watching my videos. Like, am I hitting depth on squats? Are the pauses long enough on the bench press? Am I locking out my shoulders and hips on the deadlift? These were still quite new to me, so any feedback was very helpful. Also, if I had any questions or concerns, they could be answered as well. Most importantly, all the workouts were planned for me and all I had to do was show up to the gym and open google sheets.

Now that the prep was done and as I weighed-in and checked-in, of course, the nerves started to kick in. Start to get anxious and wonder if you did enough or pushed yourself during the prep. Did the coach program correctly? Then your mind jumps to the other side of the spectrum, OK I’m going to destroy my previous PR (personal record) by a million. My mind raced back and forth between self-doubt and over-confidence. When I finally met up with my coach, he told me, “I’m just trying to add to your PR, don’t forget to go out there have some fun, and enjoy the experience.” After he told me that, I felt a big sense of relief, like my mind and body finally took a big exhale. In my mind, I was creating these expectations and lost sight of why I was doing this, to have fun and challenge myself. Once again, it was just nice having someone there, providing feedback after each lift, and just having someone to chat with.

So that was my experience with a coach as an individual athlete, it was super positive and I’m glad I hired one. Programming was the most important thing and it pushed me to limits that I didn’t think I could reach. It led to me going 8/9 and hitting PRs on all three lifts. As I mentioned before, I never thought I would need a coach, I thought I could just do my own research and figure it out. What I soon realized is that it brought accountability and knowing that I had someone supporting my interest and monitoring my progress. We as fitness professionals spend so much time working to support the clients and members daily but what about when we are pursuing our own goals or prepping for a race/event? All I can say is that it was nice to have a coach by my side and would highly recommend one. Whether you’re a beginner or someone who has been competing for years, we can all use a bit of support and coaching.

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