Dan John should go down in the annals of strength training history for many things, but chief among them is the line, “the goal is to keep the goal the goal.” I am very lucky to have a clear and concise mentor because when I look out into the world of coaching, it’s obvious that Dan’s focus is more rare than scores of 3 on the FMS rotary stability test. If you laughed at that joke, then this post is written for you. And you can consider this your trigger warning.
Why did you become a coach? A personal trainer? A strength coach? A Physical Therapist? Where does the story that you tell at parties start? Does is start with your own discovery of diet and exercise? Maybe an injury? A personal journey that expanded your thinking from what your body looked like to what it could do? A sort of “Eat, Pray, Lift” that led you to helping other people with their own transformations?
Coaching is a helping profession. And for most of us, we help people find a path that we’ve already found: a path through a dark jungle of less-than-optimal options.
In 2008, I lost a bunch of weight and discovered what my body was capable of. I also started coaching; helping people learn the evidence-based gospel of heavy things and protein. In 2010, I realized the limits of how I could help people with the tools I had and told a psychologist friend that I was thinking of going to graduate school for psychology. “Be careful,” she warned me. “Most people in helping professions are there seeking their own salvation.”
I asked Kelly Starrett once how many people at his mobility workshops are there hoping to fix themselves. “100%. Every single question I get in them starts with, ‘I have…’ or ‘my ankle…’ And it’s funny because it’s billed as a ‘teaching cert.’” I asked my RKC Team leader, a veteran of some of the earliest RKC certifications, the same question. “100% I’ve never been asked, ‘how do I teach the TGU better?’ It’s always, ‘how do I do the TGU better?’ or ‘how can I prepare for the RKCII?’”
If you’re a full-time personal trainer or coach, you’re no doubt in this business to help people. That’s why we all get up at 4 o’clock in the damn morning. You’re also a busy person. Hella busy. So where are you spending your continuing education hours? What was the last book you read? What did you talk about the last time you got together with your peers and talked shop? Was it why Crossfit sucks? Joint centration, primal movement patterns, Glycolytic energy systems, why Crossfit is awesome, foot angles in the squat? Was it FMS rotary stability scores?
Do your clients care about FMS rotary stability scores? Of the few hundred clients in my career, the hope of one day getting a 3 on the FMS rotary stability test has gotten exactly zero of them to show up to the gym when they didn’t want to. Which is not to say assessment isn’t important, but what’s the goal? Most of our clients just wanna feel like they’re on the right path. They wanna put in the work and feel like they are getting somewhere. And the most convincing milestones are the most obvious ones: they feel better, they look better, and they have a good time.
So what’s the goal? Why are you going to that $1,000-$3,000 certification again? To fix your ankle mobility? Because showing off the Bent Press to Edna is going to finally convince her of that strength training is good? The best of these workshops are teaching workshops. The whole point is to bring back practical and useful interventions to help our clients meet their goals. So why do we get so bogged down in angles, periodizations, and tribal fights that have exactly zero impact on our clients’ lives? Isn’t it our job to help lead these people out of the jungle? How do we show them a path, when our industry can’t even stay focused on the damn goal?
“There’s a fine line,” Mark Twight warned us in 2007, “between salvation and drinking poison in the jungle.”
We know what works. Eat less. Move more. Pick up heavy shit. Carry it around. Put it down. Rest. Repeat. What we aren’t talking about is how to actually get our clients to do it. And success only happens when they show up! The conversation has strayed from the useful to the esoteric and we’ve lost people in the process. The most famous personal trainers in the world are Gillian Michaels and Tracy Anderson. The most trusted authority on health is Dr. Oz. We blog and write ebooks about the stuff we, and the 2% of Americans who hire coaches care about, while 75% of Americans walk less than 10 minutes a day.
Let me repeat that: 75% of Americans walk less than 10 minutes a day.
“The goal is to keep the goal the goal.” The real goal for our profession is not getting people to do the optimal thing, it’s getting people to do anything. It’s getting people to show up and put in the reps necessary to make better health a matter of habit, not choice. So where is the conversation about habit? About getting clients to show up, stay focused, and leave feeling better than when they started?
It’s in Salt Lake City, Utah on September 27th.
Motivate: A One Day Health and Behavior Change Summit is the beginning of that conversation. And it’s a conversation specifically for you, your clients, and your goals. You’ve been helping clients for years, and you know that at this point in your career – another certification, another conference, or buying another DVD isn’t going to make that difference. You need to do something different. For yourself, your industry, and your clients, to go to the next level. This is not a conference for everybody. It’s a call to action for the people in this industry with the passion and expertise to change it by tackling the hard problems no one else is talking about.
The best coaches in the world can change it, if we can keep the goal the goal. If we can change the conversation from “what people should be doing?” to “how can we help people to actually do it?” I don’t know the answers, but I am damn sure that the people with the passion to show up and pitch in will have some great ideas that we can test out. And everyone who shows up will be given the chance to speak, contribute, or add value in any way they know how.
So join us in Salt Lake City on 9/27. Bring your ideas. Bring your questions. Bring your passion, your experience and your appetite for change. Let’s make this world better than how we found it and lead our industry out of this jungle.
A Health and Behavior Change Summit
When: September 27, 2014 Where: Salt Lake City, Utah How Long: One day Venue: 2455 Executive Parkway, Lehi UT Hotel: SpringHill Suites by Marriot at Thanksgiving Point How Much: Only $79