To Coaches and Trainers: Don’t Forget the Art of Beginning

By Jenesis Fonder

When was the last time you walked into a gym and felt your palms get sweaty from nerves? How about the last time you felt so clueless about what to do that you started copying what another gym goer was doing across the room? Surely, it has been a while since you claimed an empty corner of the gym with a few dumbbells, away from others and what you perceived as their judgmental glances. 

Chances are, when you’re in the gym, you’re in your element. Even if you’re trying out a completely new movement or bringing your client through one. You know the people around you, and you know secret ways of utilizing machines that only comes with experience and the confidence to play and experiment. While you can make money and progress in this comfort, you can lose a lot of mental toughness and perseverance, as well. You might even lose money from business because all you know is the comfort and ease with which you stroll the gym.

It’s my opinion that a coach should never forget the art of beginning. Even if it’s beginning a new hobby versus a new sport, or diving into something completely different, you should aim to keep the feeling of being a beginner as close (if not closer) than being well learned and versed at your profession. Not only will you thank yourself in the future for pushing growth, but new clients will probably thank you, too. 

When you begin something, you are vulnerable, and vulnerability is not something to shy away from. Putting yourself in calculated and vulnerable situations is one of the most courageous steps one can take! Both you and I have done it at least a handful of times. How can you welcome and address these feelings in your new clients/mentees if they are not feelings you are familiar with? 

You are also presented with a clean slate when you’re a beginner. Think about learning to squat for the first time. There are a hundred directions you can go, a hundred cues you can do, a hundred ways you can learn. The room for progress seems unlimited while simultaneously feeling overwhelming and unattainable. Do you remember how to trouble shoot when the going gets rough? Do remember how to take the first step when it seems there is no clear way forward? 

It is hard to teach someone how to continuously show up and persevere when it has become almost first nature to you, and it’s hard for your client or athlete to “trust the process” if you are unable to show an appropriate degree of empathy. Show them how you bought in by buying in again and taking your first beginner’s step. 

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