The One Thing Trainers Need to Be Successful

The One Thing Trainers Need to Be Successful


If you’re a trainer reading this blog, it’s safe to say you 1) need a dose of feminine strength coach energy 2) enjoy dry comedy 3) appreciate non-bullshit advice and 4) want to better your craft.

Continuous self improvement seems to be the universal theme in our industry, but what takes us to the next level is not what you think.

And ask me what I thought was the recipe for success when I first started out, I would say certifications, degrees, and smoking weed with Johnny Hopkins.

As a Johns Hopkins graduate, the importance of higher education was drilled into my head. Study. Research. Study. Drink a fifth of vodka. Study some more. Research. Land a job upon graduation.

God forbid if I didn’t graduate college, I would be setting up shop on the streets and file for unemployment.

In retrospect, this couldn’t be more far from the truth.

Yes, I received my B.S. and later got my Master’s in Exercise Science and Performance Enhancement. I also got my CSCS to become a strength coach, my USSF C soccer coaching license to be a better tactical coach, and a USA Weightlifting Performance Coach certification to be a better olympic lifting coach.

As good as this looked on paper, I was not ready to be thrown into the wolf pack of strength and conditioning.

I remember when I began my first internship at University of Maryland with NO real experience, but a plethora of certs and degrees. My first test happened when I had to teach the power clean.

As the veteran strength coach staff watched and judged my performance, I stumbled over my words, saw stars, and cracked under pressure.

And when thrown into the varsity weight room to run a lift for the men’s lacrosse team…deer in headlights. I was shy. I was scared. I was not myself.

1 female coach + 50 college lax bros = King Theoden against a pack of orcs.

As I’ve evolved in my career, I’ve learned degrees and certifications will only take you so far.

Personality, above all else, is the one thing strength coaches need to be successful.

Sure, we want athletes to get stronger, faster, and more powerful. Sure, we know the science behind what we do. Sure, we can tell them how important strength is for speed. And sure, we can point out the serratus anterior on a human anatomy diagram.

But are our athletes truly looking forward to working with us? Does our personality shine through when we coach?

The only way to build rapport and long-term commitment with your clients and athletes is to be someone they can trust, are excited to see, and can shoot the shit with.

Again, personality.

Do my athletes come to me because I have a Master’s degree?

LOLOLOLOL. 99% of them don’t even know I have a Master’s. And I’m willing to bet they don’t know what CSCS stands for.

To that end, they come to me because I’m outgoing, sarcastic, empathetic, genuine, and weird.

Some days we discuss Game of Thrones plot twists while deadlifting. Some days we talk about snowboarding and why core stability and balance are awesome. Some days they vent about school homework and how the gym is their escape. Some days we turn on electronic dance music on the sound system and break out in dance between sets. And other days we discuss the current political climate while 1-rep maxing on a squat. <— don’t try this at home.

Don’t get me wrong. None of this is to say pull a Kanye and drop out of college. I learned a lot during my educational pursuits and have no regrets.

But. Remember how far being your authentic self goes in terms of developing healthy relationships with your clients and athletes. Can you get by without a high-end cert? Absolutely. I know many non-CSCS coaches in the game who are amazing at what they do and have a loyal following.

With that said, check out the book InsideOut Coaching. It sheds light on the impact of coaches beyond the weight room, court, and pitch.

Enjoy and let yourself shine.

  • Shane MCLEAN
    Posted at 20:29h, 07 January Reply

    Love it and so true.

    • erica
      Posted at 21:42h, 07 January Reply

      Thank you, Shane!

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