Updated: Oct 15, 2019
Not Just Programming
From my very first day at XIP I knew this internship would be unlike any other prior experience. Coach Guyer looks to me during what could be called my orientation day and states, “As a coach you have five seconds to greet anybody that walks into this facility”. I remember being brought back by this statement; in prior internships and personal fitness facility experiences this has never been required nor seen. I was under the impression a strength coach is reserved and serious, locked into their work with a client letting all surroundings become background noise to their main focus. Not here, and this is just one of the many reasons XIP is a distinguished facility.
Little to my knowledge, I would be personally graded on my greeting to the members, by the members. At the end of my orientation day Coach Guyer handed me a sticky note which had roughly eight numbers on it ranging from five to ten. These were my greeting grades which he had asked the members to rate me on my greeting with them. He told me to shoot for all tens next time as this was a very important part of how things are run around here. I couldn’t see why at the time, but now nearing the end of my time here I fully understand. When a member comes in the door they must be greeted with energy from the staff. This is a pivotal piece of their training session. To get energy from your clients during training sessions you need to put energy into them, it is a matter of give and take. If the first experience the members have when they walk through the door is high energy and and positive attitude then they know what to expect and what is expected of them for training that day. This can be seen as a variation of ignition-lighting that fire in the client day in and day out that this is a positive and productive environment that they want to return to.
In the very beginning of my experience here I was obsessed with gaining program design and exercise knowledge. In my mind this must be the secret at XIP; they make people and athletes great so I need to know what they do from a programming perspective to make this happen. This approach changed through a brief conversation with Coach Guyer. “You could write the best programs and possess the greatest programming knowledge but if you lack interpersonal skills you will not make it in this industry”- Coach Guyer. This statement just may be my greatest take away from my experience. I have witnessed countless times both Coach Guyer and Coach Johnson engaging in conversation with their clients before, during, and after their sessions. These relationships you establish with your clients really do make or break you. There is no requirement for these members to return, so if you hold no relationship with these people, chances are they are not coming back or maybe they are looking for something better. To put it simply, if your member retention isn't good the business goes under. From a member’s perspective if I have a good relationship with my trainer or coach I will gladly continue to return and pay them for the awesome training they provide, but if I have a poor relationship with this individual or don't feel motivated and inspired by them why would I return and continue to pay? Coaching and training is so much more than merely putting exercises on board or program in their hand. In fact, programming may not be as important as these interpersonal skills and learning how to develop connections with your clients and athletes.
Leading Is Presenting
Before my time spent here at XIP I had not lead a group training session with more than three clients, none of which were under the age of sixty. My first time leading a session here was with Bootcamp, overseeing roughly twelve to fifteen clients, quite the change. In my personal opinion I had a pretty rough start, not to mention the couple of weeks it took to write a quality workout. One would think it would be pretty simple to effectively show and explain an exercise you have done hundreds of times in your life . Well, it wasn’t. I had no idea how difficult this was going to be and this may be the definition of "easier said than done." With a lack of eye contact, clarity, volume, and motivation I had some work to do. With practice comes perfection though, and every day I have been given the opportunity to lead these groups I have attempted to be better and made progress. It was not until a few weeks ago when the members of Bootcamp filled out a survey for me based upon my performance thus far as a coach did I realize what exactly I needed to improve upon. This method of learning and improving through surveys filled out first hand by those you are working with directly is undoubtedly the best way to improve. From this point forward I will regularly utilize this method of improvement as I learned so much from this one survey and feel as though I have made leaps and bounds since this day. What I learned from this experience is that effectively showing and explaining an exercise should be treated no different than a presentation. If I was to stand up in front of an audience and present I would provide eye contact, a clear voice, a positive attitude, and quality volume. All of these aspects of presenting should be applied to leading training sessions as you are still giving a presentation.
The More You Know
We have all heard the phrase “knowledge is power” our entire lives but I had never realized how true this statement actually is. In this ever changing industry you must stay ahead and on top of your game, so what is the best way to do this? Read. What do Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common? They are all super successful people and also avid readers. A prerequisite to beginning this internship was to complete two books, one being The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, and the other being The Seven Keys to Being a Great Coach by Allistair McCaw. These two books introduced me into aspects of training I would have never seen or understood without them. The deeper knowledge and aspects of programming that exist to the naked eye cannot be seen, but once introduced to them they are seen simply as fundamentals. Coach Guyer is constantly asking the question to his staff what did you learn today and what have you been researching lately. It is a requirement here at XIP for the training staff to be constantly improving themselves and their career through further research and readings. Another aspect of learning and improving is to take knowledge from other coaches and experienced individuals seriously and fully. The more you know the better you are as a coach and as an individual. If someone else has knowledge they are willing to share this should be taken seriously as free knowledge for the student, and learning experiences do not come very often so take advantage of it. We work within an ever changing world and field full of advancements so if you are not actively pursuing ways to get ahead of the game, you are behind.
My time spent here at XIP has been nothing short of a career changing experience. I feel as though I have made leaps and bounds in my knowledge, not only as a trainer and a coach but as an individual as well. There are so many aspects of training I had not even considered before beginning this internship that I now see as fundamentals and the basics. I still have a long way to go in my growth and career as a coach but I would not be nearly as far along as I am without my experience here at XIP. This facility not only takes athletes and individuals to the next level but coaches as well in their pursuit of a career as great coach.