Monday, December 23, 2013

Becoming a better fitness trainer

Sometimes we have bad experiences and it gives us a new perspective on things.  This happened to me as a trainer, more than once.  I'd like to share one of those stories.
Pool at one of my triathlons

Before I ever completed my first triathlon way back in the day, I looked for a swim coach for some training.  I had been a certified trainer for a few years already, really just needed some swim training.  

Anyway, I found a trainer who was also a swim coach and hired her specifically to work with me on swimming to prep for the triathlon.

She took me swimming a handful of times & gave me some tips & training.  I'll give her that.  But I got more.  Here's some highlights of what I received:

  • We went to a local university's pool to swim. I had expressed nerves about being there beforehand.  Instead of being sensitive to that she made fun of the EXACT thing I was nervous about.  In front of everyone.  Nice.
  • We didn't do much swimming.  Maybe that's good since she made fun...Mostly I ran with her, which was not what I hired her for nor was it something I needed help with.  
  • Did I mention when we ran, she would bring along her child, her dog & proceed to scream at the child throughout.
  • When she wasn't screaming at the child, she was non stop talking all about herself.  I mean constantly.  Ugh.
  • I met her run group for a weekend long run.  Once.  She promised me two things
    1) I wouldn't run more than 6 miles (for crying out loud, I was training for a 3 mile race)
    2) She would stay with me the entire time because I didn't know the route.
    10 minutes into it she ran ahead because I was too slow.  I had NO idea where I was.  I got lost.  I ran nearly 9 miles.
  • She chose a triathlon for my first one, specifically telling me this was a perfect first tri for anyone.  I didn't do this one first but I did it a couple of years later.  To this day that race was the hardest one I've done.  NOT a good beginner's tri.  This (among other things) tells me she was not in tune AT ALL with beginners.  
I'm not a sensitive person but this experience was really bad.  I was kinda traumatized by it.

Good things can come from negative experiences.  

  • This experience with her is the reason I started our Newbie Triathlon Program.  
  • This is one reason why OnTrack Fitness started working with beginners.  There's a special place in my heart for them.  I never EVER want anyone to have such a bad time like I did.  
  • I had the chance to take clients to that same pool.  We discussed what to expect beforehand, how to deal with nerves & HOPEFULLY I made it a better swim for them.  
  • We never leave people behind.  If I say I'll stay with you, I'll stay with you.  The workouts aren't about me.
Listen, I'm not saying I'm perfect.  Far from it.  I'm not saying she was a bad person either.  But I don't give credit to this trainer for teaching me to be better.  I give credit to God, who taught me how to be a better trainer through my experience.  Things work out in the end if we're open to learning.  
-- Written by Emily Collins Onwer & trainer of OnTrack Fitness