Some Thoughts on Coaching

Some Thoughts on Coaching

This blog post will be different from others because instead of exploring strength training methods I will share here my experience in coaching people. I do this for a living, so I guess I have a thing or two to share with you. If you have no interest in this topic, then feel free to skip this article.

In comments section to this article, my long-time reader and good friend Gabri asked to write something on coaching. So, I thought: “Why not?” What you can read here is the result.

Coaching is a very wide theme. You can write a lot on this. Therefore, I asked Gabri for a list of questions that bothered him. As a result, this article will be some sort of improvised interview.

Let’s get to the questions.

1/ How did you start training clients online?

Well, I started Rough Strength in 2011. After a decent period of time and a lot of work on developing the website, I acquired online volunteers to try the Rough Strength Method in action. As simple as that.

Of course, I should mention that I already trained people in real life at that time, so I knew quite a bit about client management aside from the principles of effective strength training.

2/ How do you manage your time with everything that you do (traning clients and yourself, having another job, writing, being married, playing music, enjoying life…)?

This is hard. I can give you several tips though:

1. Wake up earlier. It seems like the most obvious thing in the world but it works. I had a conversation with my good friend over a beer not long time ago about this. He also tried to wake up earlier and was amazed why he didn’t make this lifestyle change earlier. We came to a conclusion that if you are struggling with time management waking up earlier is the single most effective thing you can do.

2. Use the Pareto principle. Yes, the good old 80/20. What 20% of activities give you the 80% of results (joy, happiness, excitement, money, etc.)? Define those 20% and shave off or minimize the other 80%.

3. Plan. You need to plan things to make them happen. Do not get too carried away though. Have a general strategy of what you want to accomplish and have a clear deadline. This should be enough. Spend spare time as you wish.

4. Kick your ass more often. People are lazy. Admit this and kick your ass any time you procrastinate.

5. Focus. I’ve heard that successful people have only one big task per day. That’s how they stay sane and still make things happen. I believe this is true.

3/ How can I start training people offline if all I know is from the books, programs and blogs I have read, and the experience I’ve got from training myself for years and some friends of mine too?

Start with free services. Well, not actually free. You will ask for testimonials and referrals in return. As soon as you accumulate some of these, you can start charging people money.

Give people results and they will do all the advertising for you. This will take time, but it is well worth it.

Additionally, I would say that you need to shift your mindset a bit. Literally anyone you meet or know is not just another person, but a possible client. Ask them if they are interested in working out/getting in shape/losing fat/building muscle. I believe that you will get some clients instantly.

If my goal was just to train people offline, it would take an effort of approaching as many friends/relatives/strangers as possible and talking about how they feel about their appearance/strength.

4/ How should I proceed if I want to help some people lose weight, but what I know most is about getting strong and healthy? Should I educate myself in that matter and try with my clients, or would that be irresponsible, and I should let another coach help them?

It depends on what you enjoy. If you don’t like counting calories and macros, you can collaborate with a person who does. You both can help each other: you will advertise his/her nutritional services while he/she will send you people for proper strength training.

If you don’t have such a person, then read some books. For example, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle” by Tom Venuto or “A Guide to Flexible Dieting” by Lyle McDonald.

Finally, if you have fast metabolism and you have never been fat, then you are not in a good position to give nutritional advice to overweight people. However, if you acquire some guinea pigs, you can test approaches and see what works and what doesn’t.

5/ How can I get my first clients, how can I know how to proceed and how much to charge them? (I do this for pleasure, but I think people do not take free services seriously)

>How can I get my first clients

I’ve explained this before. Everybody can be your client if you give them value. Talk to people about how they look and feel, and, I guess, 95% of them wouldn’t be satisfied. Explain how strength training can help them, and they will think about it. Give them unique value, and you will acquire your clients.

>how can I know how to proceed

This will come with experience. There are three most important things to do at this point:

Learn what your client wants. This is what really matters. You should learn the goals of the client and create a program tailored EXACTLY to their needs.

Learn the history of his/her injuries. Because you do not want your client to get injured.

Learn what your client can do at the moment. I usually do this with the initial basic program. This gives me the picture of strengths and weaknesses of my client.

>how much to charge them?

You can charge whatever you want. The fee depends on how much your clients are ready to pay for your services and how in need of clients you are at the moment.

> (I do this for pleasure, but I think people do not take free services seriously)

Just talk to possible clients. Tell them that nobody takes free services seriously. The person will usually agree. Proceed from there.

6/ I am studying 6th grade from Civil Enginner, and I am going to start working as a management consultant on September. I feel very excited about my new job, but I still want to help people, train them and guide them. Is it possible to do both things at the same time, or should I choose only one?

This is a bit tricky question and I may be not the best person to answer it. Nevertheless…

I believe in doing what you really want. You have just one life. The sooner you realize what is important to you, the better and more fulfilling your life will be.

Therefore, if you are really excited about your profession, go for it. Personal training can be a cool and fun hobby. If you are determined that you can do both, try it. If you don’t burn out, you will have a life of your dreams. However, if you feel you are destined to coach people and your current job gives you nothing except disgust and nausea, then you should concentrate solely on personal training.

Additionally, I would like you to think quite a bit about whether you really want to train people full-time. There are obvious benefits of this job (like transforming ordinary people into unstoppable machines), but there is a big downside too. Your own training most likely will suffer. You know, like in that joke about the man who worked as a gynecologist.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this blog post was interesting and helpful. My last advice to Gabri and everybody who read this far is to be selective about the people you work with. It is tempting to have as much clients as possible but this is a sure-fire way to frustration. I worked with a lot of people in the past and I figured lots of psychological things out. It turns out that only <20% of your possible clients will be committed to training and interesting to work with. Other >80% will only want a quick 4-week solution. As a result, I prefer to work with a former group of people and weed out the latter.

That’s it. Thanks for reading.

Play rough!


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4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Coaching

  1. Gabri


    This will be one of my all time favorite articles! It really felt as if I was interviewing you. :D

    I have enjoyed every single answer and suggestion you have made, and I will definitely incorporate some of your tips into my life right now, keeping the others for the future.

    Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdomwith us, and for keeping it so real.



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