Think back to the best teachers you had. I’m guessing they were personable, knew how to translate complicated concepts into accessible ones, differentiated material based on each student, and also pushed you to be better. That’s what we strive to be as fitness coaches.
Having worked in the Wissahickon School District, I’m obviously partial to educators. We consider ourselves educators of movement. Let’s break down those characteristics and see how they play out in our “classroom.”
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Roosevelt
Our goal is to greet people by name within 5 seconds of you walking in the door. We ask about your kids, your plans for the weekend, and how work was because we want this to be more than just a place you workout. We want this to be a place that you feel welcome and safe. If that happens, fear of failure melts away. Fear of trying something new turns into “I’ll give it a shot!” Being personable is an absolute requirement for our coaches.
We could talk for hours about the angle of your shins on a clean setup vs. a deadlift setup, or the idea that power output is equal to the distance times the load lifted divided by time, but frankly, not many people want to hear that stuff. Most people want to just get a good workout in to look, feel, and perform better. So while it’s important for US to geek out on fitness and nutrition, the goal is to take that high level information and translate it to you in real life terms. (But admittedly there are times that we do geek out with you, especially me)
A good educator meets you where you are. If you’re just beginning a fitness routine, our number one goal is to have you show up again. And again. And again. This means not giving you a crazy workout that will leave you sore for two weeks. This means focusing on technique first, then layer in heavier weight and faster reps. By using the Level Method, we already lay out six different versions of the workout from beginner to advanced, but coaches will guide you to modifications to make the workout appropriate for you. Can’t run because of shin splints? We’ll have you row or bike. Don’t know how to hang power snatch? No problem, you’ll do russian kettlebell swings. Don’t worry about what you can’t do – the Coach will give you the right movement for YOU.
A good teacher is encouraging. But they’re also not a cheerleader who thinks you can do no wrong. Our coaches will be positive and encourage you, but we also know you want to get better. That you’re here for coaching, not pandering. So yes, we’ll correct form, we’ll have you take off weight if we think it’s too heavy, and we’ll have you do ring rows if your chin isn’t getting over the bar. But we’ll also cheer you on as you run in for that last 400m. Or give you (air) fist bumps after a PR. Or be an empathetic ear if you didn’t do as well as you would’ve liked. It’s a fine balance to have, but it’s important for you to grow and learn.
Those are just some characteristics of great teachers which we hope our coaches embody everyday. We’re not perfect though, so each class gives us a chance to continue honing our skills and craft.
What other characteristics should be included?