“You’re killing it,” my friends and colleagues tell me.
I take a deep breath, sigh, and awkwardly chuckle as I hold in my gut wrenching stress. Then, I respond with a modest, “no, I’m winging it.”
After 7 years of coaching, running a business both in-person and online, creating content and products, and doing freelance writing, I can confidently say I’m winging all of this.
As much as my stoic exterior makes me seem organized and calm, I’m not. Rather, I’m a turbulent volcano bubbling to the surface that is bound to scare away any guy I meet on Tinder.
Being a female strength coach, let alone one who works in the private sector, is pretty freaking scary. I’m a coach. An accountant. A public relations specialist. A marketing tactician. A role model. A teacher. A writer. A content creator. An investor. A professional coffee drinker.
Wearing multiple hats is natural in the entrepreneurial life. Though it’s rewarding and exciting to dabble in a variety of roles, it’s also overwhelming.
Oddly enough, when people ask me what I do, I don’t want to talk about it. Too often, I find myself at family and friend parties and everyone’s asking how my work life is going. I just reply, “well” as I can’t put what I do into an eloquent, succinct sentence.
In fact, the more I get into my career, the less I feel the need to talk about my work, let alone, feel the need for validation and compliments from others. I’ve reached a high point in my career where I don’t care to talk about myself that much anymore and defend my honor. And it’s awesome.
Too, my career is a mouthful to explain. Certainly, it doesn’t fit into a cute, little box like working a 9-5 as a consultant for a firm in D.C. that serves watered down coffee and stale bagels on Fridays and makes you travel to Texas every weekend only to stay in a dark hotel room alone.
It’s not as structured as a clock-in-clock-out career where I live for the office happy hours on Fridays and eat greasy bar food to emotionally eat my stress away with my co-workers.
It’s not a set health benefits package where I don’t have to pay out of pocket for a one mile ambulance ride for $675. <— yes, that happened and I paid all of it.
It’s not a set salary that rewards me with just two weeks of vacation a year, only to escape, get wasted on the beach, and come back to my lifeless cubicle more miserable.
In contrast, my schedule is as unpredictable as a bachelor party gone wrong in Las Vegas. My hours oscillate. My sleep fluctuates. My adrenaline rushes. My mind blacks out.
At every moment of my day, there’s 100 moving parts: emailing soccer parents, texting physical therapists, texting athletes, sending invoices, writing blogs, coaching deadlifts, making sure athletes don’t drop barbells, making sure no one dies, writing for other websites, scheduling meetings, making phone calls to coaches, writing programs, writing my 5-year plan, writing my 10-year plan and having panic attacks, and taking glamour photos. You know, so I can lie to social media and look like I have my shit together:
Newsflash: I don’t.
And I probably shouldn’t be telling you guys this, but I check my schedule and project deadlines the night before my week begins.
“Hmm, let me see what I’m doing tomorrow and who I’m training,” I say to my friend as we are out on a Sunday night.
“Oh crap! I have a 6am appointment tomorrow, followed by a 10-hour day!” *makes face as if asteroids are about to hit the planet*
Want to know two words to describe my life? Organized. Chaos.
What’s funny is, if someone told my college self that I’d be coaching, writing 500+ articles on soccer and strength training, speaking at conferences worldwide, appearing on podcasts, working with people in New Zealand and Canada and England, creating products for international coaches, and waking up at 5am and going home by 9pm, I would’ve said they were crazy.
Now here I am fully immersed in the life of entrepreneurial shenanigans, all while keeping my figure lean, eyebrows on fleek, and sense of style sharp:
Now, I don’t mean to poo-poo on running a business. It’s the craziest, most adrenaline driven life that feels like you’re on your favorite rollercoaster swirling through loops and rocketing down steep drops. I love it.
But look: I want you to know this isn’t for everyone, as it takes a resilient mind to handle the climbs and falls.
Additionally, it takes an insatiable desire to put in the work. Even the most mundane of projects need love if you want to succeed and stay afloat. Do you really think I want to send invoices to people and calculate operating costs and expenses and buy new resistance bands because all of my athletes break them? Get outta here.
Expounding further, it also takes being self aware. You know, good old-fashioned acknowledging your insecurities and working on them. For me, I want to feel like I’m doing good work for people, and admittedly, I get worked up about it a lot. Of course, my insecurity of caring what people think (because let’s be real, we are human and ALL care to some extent), has led me to challenge myself more and innovate for my clients. Because I care, I’m able to evolve in my methods.
It also takes leaning into adversity and accepting that having problems come up is a natural (and healthy) piece of this all. In fact, I’ve found when I’ve faced problems in my career, I was able to pivot, take a new direction, and level up. As an example, I had a shouting match with a soccer club director that involved over 100 f bombs, and it only propelled us to have a stronger partnership down the road. Yes, we’re still friends today. And we still toss f bombs. And he’s my most loyal client.
It also takes knowing when to say “no” to people who are a-holes. There have been numerous times I’ve turned clients away because they were disrespectful toward me, especially soccer parents who didn’t respect my expertise and were more in their ego than a frat bro doing a 5 minute keg stand. And there have been numerous times I’ve had to set boundaries with male coaches on how to treat me in the work place. Here’s a hint: I’m not here to date people. I’m here to be a professional. So slide into my DMs sparingly. Or not at all.
My evolution as a female strength coach in the private sector has been one that was never planned out. Instead, it’s been an organic process of putting in the hours of training athletes, writing hundreds of articles, scheduling 6am clients, and learning from mentors along the way. I’ve been lucky to have great coaches who have helped me think more deeply about the game of soccer, yet simply about my training methodology.
While a vast majority of the coaches I’ve connected with have been wonderful, a handful have been defensive a-holes. Not to sound scary, but I have a sharp, feminine intuition that can sniff out ego-driven pricks.
Let’s be honest for a second: the strength and conditioning industry is full of egos. Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to tout their training method as the only way. Everyone wants to gain followers. Everyone wants to write for T Nation. Everyone wants to bicep curl more than their neighbor. Everyone wants to be validated.
This reminds me of a time when I asked a former college strength coach how he liked working with youth athletes nowadays. It was a genuine question and I thought he’d answer with, “it’s going well. I love it!”
Instead, he went into ego-defend-his-qualifications mode and snarked, “I spent years training youth athletes. I know motor skill learning. I know how to coach kids and get through to them. I’ve been doing this for a while and know what I’m doing.”
Didn’t even ask that, bro.
It’s obvious egos run rampant. Sure, it makes sense as more trainers flood into the industry, but for the length of my career, I’ve found the more open and collaborative I am with others, the more everyone wins. I wrote an extensive article on coaches collaborating here.
So why did I just go on a rant about being a female in a male-dominated industry? Why did I dive into the extensive amount of work I do on a weekly basis?
Here’s the thing: while I’m under plenty of duress, I wouldn’t trade this life for the world. I’m here to stay in the strength and conditioning industry because I genuinely love teaching athletes. Well, unless I became the next Adriana Lima, then peace bitches.
Moreover, I stay because I feel in the moment when I coach. I feel in my flow when I design programs for athletes. I feel in my creative magic when I write content. No passion work is smooth sailing, but if you’re willing to accept the meager problems that arise, in fact, embrace them, you’ve found your calling.
I’d be remiss not to mention that I do what I do because yes, exercise science. Yes, getting athletes stronger. Yes, reducing chance of injury.
But also, my mission as a female coach extends far beyond the weight room, soccer pitch and hip torque angle biomechanics research.
I want to inspire female athletes to blossom into empowered women who go through their lives with conviction and confidence in not just soccer, but also academics, business, and creative pursuits.