separating the coach from the lifter

two sides of the same coin, maybe. but not the same side.

fell in love with lifting

I love to lift. I enjoy the process of lifting weights, learning the skills, working on improving my lifts and all that. More than that, I found a lot of personal growth when I conquered my fitness. Because it was something that I thought was previously impossible.

I felt empowered. And it changed me.

making meaning

I realised I wanted to spread that joy. I realised I could empower other people with the same. And I realised I was rather good at it as well.

While every student is unique and what changes inside of us is different, there are a lot of similarities as well. The ones who can observe their metamorphosis and enjoy it get a lot more out of it. I was lucky to be one of those.

So, as a coach, I want to be a part of THAT. I want to coach squats and swings and all that, AND I want to be a part of your transformation.

defining myself based on my lifting numbers

But in the early stages of my career, I made one huge mistake. I didn't separate out my lifting from my coaching. I didn't realise how much I squat has little to do with how well I can guide someone on their journey.

I am not talking about being an armchair coach or trainee. But whether I squat 64 kgs or 72 kgs is irrelevant to my coaching skills. And as I realised, my failures in training improved me as a coach more than my successes.

Because every successful result or milestone was met with a "Well, of course. You better do this because you coach 100 people."

separating the two aspects

I learned to not define myself as a coach, based on how much I lift.

Of course, learning to lift 2.5x bodyweight on the deadlift, up from 2x is a huge learning journey. There will be ups and downs, failures to learn from, and tons and tons of insights that can feed into how I coach my students. And that learning can happen from being a good trainee. Success or failure is irrelevant.

Whether it is 2x or 2.5x also is irrelevant i.e. the actual numbers do not matter as much as am I still lifting with the right attitude and approach? Am I practising what I preach? Am I a good student and learning what my coaches are telling me?

This learning can happen in life as well, in other situations. Not only in the weight room. But I've always found the training to be a great sandbox for life.

closing thoughts

Standards are useful to set a low bar or minimum. That is, I cannot say I can goblet squat 16 kg and label myself a coach after passing some vague certification. At the same time, passing the StrongFirst Level-1 certification does not automatically make me a good coach. For starters, it separates the wheat from the chaff. It helps to ensure you practice what you preach, and not be a hypocrite and all that.

But beyond that, learning to separate my lifting persona from my coaching persona was a big learning for me. And as I am finding out, both aspects improved once I was able to do that.

So, even though I learn a lot from my training and a lot of it feeds into my coaching, and I am trying to lift better than I was - I've also realised that's one tiny aspect of what makes me coach well. Lifting etiquette and being a good student is who I am. How much I lift is about effort and time and life and bandwidth and all that.

Coaching, and making meaning, and guiding people on their journey though is well, unrelated to my lifting numbers.

I guess that's one good thing about getting old. You learn some pretty obvious things.