Half a year before attending the first-ever StrongFit seminar in Europe, I had just opened up my gym. As for a lot of people, everything started with the now infamous Barbell Shrugged podcast. From that moment forward things changed - sometimes gradually, sometimes exponentially.
The plan for my gym was not to be a franchised CrossFit box or a personal training center but rather to pave its own way in trying to help people experience the wealth of moving better, growing stronger and being challenged both physically & mentally, so they could be better outside the gym. That’s the way I wanted to make a difference. Not the most original idea (perhaps a mediocre idea at best), but it was and still is, my goal. Now, over two years later, StrongFit has helped us do that. I believe these lessons can be of help to anyone, whether you are a new or established gym; a coach, athlete or a gym owner; whether you are working in groups or mano a mano. This is because the power is not in a method, but in principles.
How did this come about?
First, I followed its principles and ideas to the best possible intention. I would Experiment and fail, and this stuff became the way forward, as Julien came up with new elements, we played around with them, as StrongFit grew and the rabbit hole went deeper we developed and experimented further. Play a million games. Trial and error is the way forward.
Next, I built an arsenal, implementing StrongFit training tools: sandbags, pulling ropes, sleds, yokes, farmer handles, pulley systems of sorts,... These serve as more of a staple than an accessory for our training. The sandbag is the hallmark of StrongFit practice - pure by design, intricate in all of its uses. An excellent full range of sandbags becomes a critical component that people will love to hate and come to appreciate.
With that, keep in mind that any exercise is a tool to improve movement by following three criteria: it must show the problem, give the athlete feedback and help fix the problem. By logic, any device you use should help you achieve precisely that. As there are two ways to torque, some implements lend themselves more so to one (internally, like sandbags) or the other (externally, like the barbell) but in theory, can go either way with either tool. Depending on what you are looking to achieve through a particular exercise, always follow the mantra "It is not what you do (or use, really), how you do (or use) it."
The basic tenet is a focus on learning, not by being told to but by trying stuff out firsthand. It is all there; and if it isn’t, maybe you will be the one who finds it. The basic StrongFit framework that is outlined online through the templates, the instructional videos on Youtube, the vlogs and blog posts offer the knowledge, practical application and technical cues needed to start paving the way. All of these sources provide the tools to start fixing yourself and others. Based on this learning, I set up classes and 1-on-1 training; I developed programming, I devised my services.
There is no single way to go at it, not one unique set of moves and steps. However, there is one end game to keep in mind, but en route to that long-term commitment, we can all take different paths – as long as experimentation fuels curiosity and learning through failure. Put on your big boy pants, invest in yourself through learning by trying and becoming comfortable in the long run with short-term shortcomings.
I became engulfed in the continuous craft of coaching. Coaching is a two-way street to deal with people better. It is not just about the coach, but about the person who wants and needs help. To quote Julien “Your job is to make people better, not to make people better on the first day. Play the long game and don’t try to make it perfect on the first day. It’s about the little wins.” In other words, you can build on immediate value as a 'Win of the Day,’ earning trust and short-term buy-in. Always keep in mind, however, the long-term investment and reward, the slow dime rather than the quick nickel, the cheese at the end of the maze.
To best be able to do precisely that, you would like to spend your time and energy on the souls who want to learn, not the fools who only want to argue or 'just' mindlessly do whatever. The philosophy of StrongFit offers a framework to think, learn and teach a certain way. It is aimed at understanding the how and the why, and not just convey the what. This implies a process-oriented culture, not based on prescribed rules but described guidelines. It entails that you explain the process, elaborate on the why tell stories that resonate with to people who are willing to hear it and meet you down that two-way street. "Your energy is always better spent on people who want to listen and learn. People eager to learn and improve. Sit down with people who don’t listen and otherwise kick them out of your gym."
Every gym is different. Consider that the place where you train, coach or are coached is called 'a facility.’ Influence and shape the environment. Facilitate the physical and mental experience you and others can have in moving and training. You can steer and feed a constant positive loop of state and action, but it can only work to the extent people are willing to go there with you.
Bringing added value to others (not per se the same as the reward) is thus not solely depended on the programming, tools nor exercises, but also on the look, sound and feel of the physical space; the social interactions; the events; the stories told in creating a safe, engaging place or environment for people to grow and prosper. Details matter but not just in and by themselves. In looking to make a difference, keep in mind that your facility is different than others. For that, you can always look to StrongFit to be better.
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