A good coach will meet you where you are at. It’s always interesting to me when someone says I need to get in shape before getting a coach. It would be the same as saying I need to stop being sick before I go to the doctor. Watching people online or even when you are at the gym train can be overwhelming or even scary. I remember being completely intimidated the first time I stepped foot into a weight room freshman year of high school. So intimidated, in fact, that I stopped going. Only to later realize I would not have to lift the same weights as those who have been doing it for years. Learning to start where I’m at instead of trying to jump ahead or being forced to perform at a level that I’m not at has been so beneficial to my journey. Many fitness classes do not have different levels, many times this leads to going too hard too soon. I think a majority of people think that these classes are what fitness has to be in order to achieve results or that if you go to a trainer, their job is to bury you into the earth. Neither of these are facts. These are everyday battles coaches (different from trainers because they actually coach you not just cheerlead) have to combat, the idea of having to kill someone during a “workout” in order for it to be effective since that is what so many people believe to be true. What is true is that you have to have the mindset of getting better everyday. You just need to do better than whatever you currently are doing. As long as you start where you are at and work to progress then you can achieve your goals.
One of the most important things that a good coach will do to ensure that they meet you at your skill level is to perform an assessment. However, an assessment is only as good as the questions but more importantly, the answers. Being as truthful as possible will help you out in the long run. Lying to your coach will help nobody including yourself. Have you ever heard the expression, “you’re only cheating yourself?” This is huge in the sport world. The premise is if you cut a corner short during a drill, or give half effort, or give up, that it’s not affecting the coach but it’s only affecting you (and your teammates and blah blah blah dont argue). So don’t cheat yourself, disclose your not ideal habits such as late night junk food eating, or full poured glasses of wine daily or whatever it may be. The coach is there to help YOU, let them help by being as honest as you possibly can be.
The second thing a good coach will do is put you through some sort of movement screen. There are many different ways that coaches like to do this with the most common form being the FMS (functional movement screen.) Any manner of screening your movement is acceptable. The purpose of this screen is to see how you naturally want to move so there usually is not any coaching during this time. During the screen the coach is watching for any asymmetries( things that are not the same on both halves of the body) any dysfunctional movement such as knee valgus (knees falling in) and anything else they deem worthy of taking notice of. This screen helps the coach decide what movements would be good to include in your program which will help them meet you where you are at. This will ensure that they do not start you off with a movement that is beyond your current capabilities. It does not mean you can never do the movement just that it may not be right for you at the moment!
Generally if someone is just starting off, then a good coach will teach them the basics. The basics include squats, deadlifts, pushups, rows, pullups (depending on overhead mobility), planks and often farmer carry. Really this can be broken down into movement patterns, lower body push, hip hinge, upper body push, upper body pull and core. What this makes sure to do is to either bring your body back into balance or to ensure that it remains in balance. Also, all of these patterns are the basis for all movement. You can easily regress or progress depending on where you are with each individual movement. Hence meeting you where you are at. Depending on where you are, you may have to spend more time doing mobility work than the actual movements so that you can then perform the movements well.
Now, as a coach, their job isn’t to keep you where you are at but it is to help you become better because everyone can be better and you didn’t seek them out to remain the same. Once you’ve learned the basics and you’ve become sufficient, what’s next? Time to progress! My daily workouts still stick to the general movement patterns I listed above. However, since I have been training for over a decade I am performing more advanced versions of each movement. Without getting fancy you can always do lower body push, hip hinge, upper body push, upper body pull and core to infinite and beyond. You may find that now that you are sufficient at the movements you may want to learn some barbell moves or more advanced kettlebell movements. This is a discussion you and your coach can have together. To make sure anything you decide to do is going to help you achieve your goals.
This is a system, systems are good, I like systems. Say it with me, “ SYSTEMS ARE GOOD!” Systems help to limit the amount of F ups that you generally make. This is especially good when wanting someone to meet you where you are at. A trainer will just willy nilly throw you into the fire and expect you to come out. A coach will help you maneuver around the fire to thrive in the future. Wherever you are on your fitness journey, now is the right time to seek out a coach. You are ready!