Patch Adams and Training

I am a big fan of the movie “Patch Adams”.  That is my go to, having a bad day movie.  It inspires me to think outside the box, to focus on a solution and to always focus on the person.

But there is something else that we all need to take away from this show.  That is the simple ability to break free from the molds.  We don’t, and shouldn’t look like every other coach out there.



I sit back and look at everyone trying to mimic or be just like someone else.  We watch as someone else has been successful or implemented some other program, and you think that the easiest path to success is to copy them.  And I am here to say, don’t.

I love Patch Adams because he was true to himself.  He desired to help people and thought that being a doctor was the best path.  He wasn’t afraid to tell the psychologist that he sucks at listening to people and helping them.

I’m not encouraging all of you strength coaches to go out into the world, telling other coaches that they suck, but rather…stay true to who you are as a person and as a coach!  Sometimes that means that you will be on the outside of the norm…who cares?

Are you getting results?  Are your athletes (clients) happy with their progress and development?  Are you able to look at yourself in the mirror and night and be proud of that person?  And more importantly:

Will you be able to be that person again tomorrow, and the next day?

I appreciate Patch Adams because he was himself, he would not change and eventually, in spite of it all, people ended up needing to learn from him and wanting to know his methods.

Be yourself…Learn the facts, learn other methods, but implement them your way and own it!

Is it All About Competition?

Saw this article on my Facebook feed…and it got me to thinking.

  • I work at a CrossFit Affiliate
  • I am not about Competition
  • Am I really a CrossFitter?
  • Is CrossFit built around being first or being better?

First and foremost, I appreciate articles like the one referenced above because they are not written with the notion that CrossFit is inherently dangerous.  I appreciate the article because it acknowledges that there is a risk of injury but when you work with a quality coach and a quality affiliate, you minimize (not eliminate) that risk.  It even concludes that CrossFit is a “great way to stay active”.

With those things out of the way, is competition THE component that is pushing CrossFit to grow?

From where I sit and based on what I have seen from the early years of CrossFit (I did my first workout in 2007) in the corner of a boxing club.  CrossFit was not the phenomenon that it is now.  The games were for anyone that wanted to compete and the prize money was pretty much whatever you collected when you passed the plate.  There was no talk of mobility.  The target market was built around ex military and law enforcement.

Then it blew up overnight…thanks Reebok!

It was ESPN and CrossFit as a competition and entertainment started to come through.  It went from being underground to fitness clubs everywhere.  And everyone wanted to compete.  Weekend competitions started popping up and we were hooked.  Your workout is my warm-up became a battlecry. And the athletes of CrossFit started showing up more and more.

So it stands today.  There are affiliates across the globe and more and more popping up every day.  And we are still left with the question posed at the beginning…what is causing this growth?  Competitions have helped, but ultimately, the results that the program gets are pushing the growth.  The exposure to new training modalities are pushing the growth.

The most beautiful thing that CrossFit has allowed to happen is owners to run their gym, how they see fit.  Want to emphasize olympic lifting..go for it.  Enjoy strongman…fill your gym up with Atlas Stones, Yokes, Farmers Handles and get after it.  They say you can train however you want.

Everything within this universe of fitness has been built around exposing more and more people to new ways of training that do not involve treadmills and machines.  Women have learn to love the deadlift, the clean and jerk and kettlebells.  Men got to train like Rocky in an abandoned building, sweating and feeling alive again.  And they got their buddies involved.  And the community grew.

And that is where the reality of this phenomenon’s growth comes from.  Everybody suffered together.  Everyone felt the same misery in the moment and then felt the rush of accomplishment at the end.  We shared an experience and no one had to program for themselves.  We were not stuck on auto-pilot watching television as we tried to figure out the best pace on a treadmill and everyday was different.  It was always new.

So how did CrossFit become the phenomenon it did?  It was not boring; it introduced everyone to new things and it was centered around a community sharing in the same experiences.  Competition is there for you if you want it…but it isn’t everything.

You Are On Your Way…

I have been in a funk for the past couple days.  Maybe it was too much Fourth of July ice cream or maybe just not enough rest.  I work several jobs and did not want to go to any of them.  I did not want to touch the kettlebell this week.  Just being honest with everyone.  So I went on a hunt for some motivation.  I went on a quest for the holy grail known as mojo.

I played my “get pumped” music and fell asleep!

I listened to my favorite motivational speaker scream about “Thank God It’s Monday” and said hurry up Friday.

I looked for videos to inspire and books to move me and nothing really did it.

Nothing made me feel good about myself or what I do on a regular basis.  Nothing helped me to have pride in what I do, day in and day out.  I was met with constant reminders that there is always more to do and that you will never get the credit, thanks or support that you deserve.  That is just the reality.

But then slowly, I decided that I was going to shift my thinking.  And I found this in my archives…hadn’t watched it yet, so I clicked play

And I was reminded that it really isn’t about all those things that bring me down from time to time.  I don’t do this because I deserve credit.  I don’t do this so that other people will follow me or be on the same path.  I do it because, believe it or not, your trainer is a teacher and it’s about you finding your way.  It’s about you learning something new and growing into a healthier person, both physically and emotionally.

And so I listened as Rita Pierson shared her tale of a student taking a quiz and getting 18 out of 20 questions wrong.  She tells of writing a +2 and a smiley face on the paper…and when the student asks about the smiley face, she re-assures him, that a +2 means you are on your way.  You didn’t miss them all and we will review and you will get better.  She understands that when you focus on everything that is wrong, you take the life out of people…when you focus on where they are at and what they are doing right…you encourage them to keep growing.  To actually see the wrong answers as opportunities to learn as opposed to challenges and failures.

And so I come back to the barbell and life as a coach, life as an IT professional, business owner and life as a parent.  None of us have it all figured out, none of us are perfect.  In fact most of us would celebrate the end of the day if we got a +2 and a smiley face…because we are all on our way.  We can all get better and grow.  We all will make mistakes, but we are not failures!

Asking Yourself the Right Question(s)…Retention

I follow some groups that are devoted to running a gym and a gym business.  At least once a week, the following question or some slightly different variation of it comes across the wire:

I have a coach that is now going to open their own gym, should I let them continue to coach with me or let them go now?

What follows that is usually a justification on how great a coach they are or fear that they are going to poach existing members and take them to this new gym.

But from where I sit, I think that is completely the wrong question that you need to be asking as someone who owns or operates a gym.  The correct question that you need to be asking yourself is not about whether to continue allowing them to coach, but rather what is causing them to want to open their own gym (in the same town…if they are moving out of town that is a completely different story and you should be willing to help them be successful!)

But step back and think about it…

Something is happening that is causing this person to want to take on a huge burden and millions of challenges to do the same thing that they are doing now.  They will now have to deal with leases, employees, insurance, taxes, marketing, client retention, and the list goes on and on and on…

So what is going on that is causing someone to want to do this?

Are they doing it because they think that they can make more money that way?  Is that their motivation, then I ask what are you as an owner doing to give your coaches the opportunity to earn the money that they need to be successful and content.  Are they being given opportunities to make income through developing specialized classes, private training, weekend classes?  How does one earn bonuses or what incentives are there?

Do they just not like the way that the programming is and believe that they can do better?  How can this be addressed?  Do you as the lead programmer inform them as to what is going on and the goals of your cycles?  Are they being kept in the loop adequately?

What most of it will boil down to is what principles guide how things are done and how informed and included is your staff.

I am not here to tell you how to do things, unless you want me to…but to think differently.

Because you have to start to realize that retention of your coaches and the building of your team is just as valuable as retaining your clients.  Your coaches are going to know about the ins and outs of your clients and when they walk away, they don’t have to say a word about coming to the other gym…people will follow.  And that is because we are in the business of caring.  We are in the business of betterment of life, and we are in the business of making people want to trust us because we care.

That includes working with our coaches and anyone who works for us.  So, by that, I encourage anyone to look into and make sure that they are leading their team and not just managing it.  Don’t run your place based on fear, but rather by putting in the work and showing your team that they matter to you.  Give them the opportunities to excel and grow.

For a great place to start, search youTube for Simon Sinek, read his blog or order one of his books.  If you want to see yourself and your business be successful you have to invest in your people first and wait a little longer to see the rewards.  You have to be the patient one.  Build up your team, give them opportunities for growth and then see what happens!