That sounds like an order or a threat, drumming up negative memories of school for some. Personally I find the prospect of learning exciting – it is growth and discovery. Let me delve into this a little more…
I’ve been listening to a lot of the Non-Prophet podcast lately. For years I have admired their approach to running a gym and their own standards – an invitation only gym with an emphasis on analysis of self-talk during workouts and using such insights as a way to better understand one’s own self. Obviously this style and approach is not for everyone and certainly not a path, as a gym owner, to independent wealth.
I have talked about my own motivations for coaching many times before – helping people improve their own confidence and sense of self-worth through accomplishing physical tasks that they previously thought incapable of doing. This is probably the more ‘user friendly’ version of the previous philosophy, but not a million miles away.
The above approach has also led me to march to the beat of my own drum throughout each year of running my own business – not pandering to any suggestions or propositions on how to run a gym, create ‘funnels’, pay for advertising, ‘generate acquisitions’, manage social media accounts, etc. etc. I am still met with confused looks when I quash any approaches that start with ‘have you ever thought about…’ – I’m into my second decade running this business, of course I have.
Admittedly this path can be a slow one at times and the price for being authentic can be a feeling of moving in slow-motion or questioning yourself constantly. This year has brought about a fair amount of life fatigue – whether it is the 11 year itch of running a business (it still seems surreal for someone that used to job hop almost yearly) or the hangover of a global pandemic and all that entailed for individuals trying to keep a small business alive, it has been a year of friction for me.
The Non Prophet podcasts have been a source of comfort at times, as I would view those individuals as being a lot further down the road of where I am at or what I know about running a gym. They have encountered a lot of the same frustrations and have such a platform that they can vent in a manner that will probably get them more approval from their audience as opposed to mine. But this is where I generally run into trouble, looking for approval from the masses and losing authenticity.
One topic discussed on the podcast recently was around setting up expectations initially in order to minimise or ideally eradicate any disappointment in the coach/client relationship going forward. This is hardly groundbreaking but one of their expectations hit home with me – outlining that people are coming to the gym to learn.
The past year has seen many people come through our doors that may have not been a good fit for numerous reasons and much of that has to do with me. Expectations on both sides were either not established initially or met, and the realisation of the work and time needed to be put in was a turn off.
Everything is delivered to people at the click of a button these days and that, I truly believe, has spilled over into people’s expectations as to what it takes to get ‘fit’ and see lasting change in their behaviour and physical appearance.
The majority of people want results within a couple of weeks and are so focused on the outcome that they do not realise being focused on the process is what counts.
A deeper understanding of the process will lead to a greater chance of staying the course. Often times this is the difference when looking back at past attempts that failed. It is entirely on me to be as clear as possible about the process but that can only happen when the individual truly wants to know what that entails. And how long it takes to build a greater understanding depends on the individual. But make no mistake, it is a life long endeavour, we are not static creatures.
There are many takes on this – the classic being ‘the teacher appears when the student is ready’ and best intentions of helping people aside, cynics can see this as an arrogant statement – who am I to be a beacon or example for anyone. Everyone has to walk their own path – not someone else’s or worse still some fabricated individual that they see on social media. I can only impart my own experiences in coaching and navigating my own challenges or more clearly my own fuck ups and paths probably worth avoiding.
In truth, I am still trying to define what we are or what we do here but outlining the expectation of coming here to learn is a fundamental expectation.
There may be negative connotations around ‘learning’ – again such as school (for some), or a rigidity or authoritarian approach but nothing could be further from the truth.
We are the antithesis of bootcamps or drill sergeants and if you are one of those people that come through the doors with the request of ‘just tell me what to do‘, you probably wont last long here.
And on the other hand if you need to be entertained by convoluted and complex movements every workout or needing to be stimulated by loud music and neon lights, we aren’t the establishment for you either.
So what is learning in this context?
It depends on the individual.
Initially it might be learning how to perform an exercise correctly, read an exercise prescription correctly but over time it becomes learning about what movements and intensity are appropriate for you in a given moment, how your body responds to certain types of training and intensities and how to manage and monitor training volume. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Then into turns into deeper insights around self-talk and your relationship with yourself.
Ultimately we are here to help you learn more about yourself and understand your own body to a greater degree and as I have experienced, building your own resiliency and expectations of what you are capable of doing.
Monetary investment aside (which alone never works or guarantees anything without a mindset ready to change) there has to be commitment on the side of the member to be engaged in the process and being present as much as possible – in mind, not just body.
Every person that comes into our gym counts. We are fully invested in their progress BUT only if they are fully invested in it too.
And finally, we are most definitely not a fucking Instagram backdrop.