“I want to learn from this guy.”
That is how Carla Lind-Valdan felt when she listened to OPEX founder James FitzGerald speak.
“You really want to learn…you want to listen…You want to be James,” Lind-Valdan said of her reaction to FitzGerald. He was so inspiring, he could have been talking about his kids’ drawings and she would have been entertained, she joked.
So the day after Lind-Valdan met FitzGerald, she approached him as he was eating breakfast and told him she was ready to do the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP). Though she had already been coaching for some time in Sweden, she knew she needed more to take her coaching to a new level, and she was convinced the CCP was the answer.
“I wanted something thorough…I wanted a good system,” she said.
To say she received this through the CCP is an understatement.
During her final project, Lind-Valdan took on a 29-year-old male client named Jonas, who had had a stroke when he was just 18 years old.
When Jonas came to Lind-Valdan, he was still unable to use the entire right side of his body.
“He was so frustrated, and for 10 years he never really thought he got the help that he needed,” she said.
Though Jonas had worked with physiotherapists and other health professionals, he never felt motivated. He felt hopeless, Lind-Valdan said. A big reason why was because he had never formed true relationships with any health professionals, so he was never held responsible or accountable to working on improving his health, she explained.
Right away, Lind-Valdan took a different approach: She treated him just like any other person.
“You don’t have to believe in yourself yet, but respect that I do,” she said she told Jonas. This was a much different message than the one he had been receiving for the last 10 years—a message that reiterated to him all the things he’d never be able to do again.
“I think he needed someone to tell him, ‘You can do it,’” Lind-Valdan said.
Lind-Valdan was able to be as confident as she was when she started working with Jonas because of the tools she had acquired through the CCP—including program design knowledge, nourishment education, as well as knowledge about how to connect with her clients via monthly consults to truly help them make changes in their lives.
Lind-Valdan took the time to truly get to know as much about Jonas as she could, not just who he was at the gym, but also what was going on in the rest of his life. She learned Jonas also had Crohn’s disease, meaning it was hard for him to put on any weight.
Through their monthly consults, Lind-Valdan worked with Jonas on simple ways to increase his food intake, his water consumption and his sleep. She was hesitant to give him too much all at once because she knew he was already dealing with a lot.
“For this case, I didn’t want him to have more to think about,” she said. So she stuck with the basics, helped him increase his food portions at breakfast and be more consistent with his post-workout food intake.
“Sometimes less is more,” she explained. For Jonas, this was certainly true.
That being said, this less is more concept is something Lind-Valdan learned during the CCP and it has helped her with more clients than just Jonas. Often clients come to her and want a specific meal plan or number of calories to consume a day, which isn’t always the most effective approach, she explained.
“Wow, we need to talk about your habits first…more often than not, less is so much more and most people thank me for that afterward,” she said of what she tells many of her clients.
The CCP also helped Lind-Valdan feel more confident putting Jonas through a movement assessment despite his severe limitations. She could tell right away he was having trouble recruiting any muscles on his right side and she was able to provide effective exercises to help him improve this. Her other goals for him were to help him gain motor control and strength.
Through his assessment, Lind-Valdan was also able to read Jonas’ emotional state and she deduced he would benefit from a program that would help build his confidence.
(Coach’s Resource: Learn the basics of the OPEX method of assessment.)
“He needs training that makes him win…daily,” she said. So she ensured his program would challenge him slowly and expose him to more difficult physical challenges in time, but that it would also help him feel good about himself and where he was physically.
Though Jonas started out as one of Lind-Valdan’s case studies during her final project of the CCP, she continues to work with him today and he has continued to make unreal strides.
Today Jonas can deadlift 150 kg and do movements that require a ton of core strength, like toes-to-bar. Most recently, he has been learning how to throw again, and is even taking on more technical movements like snatches and bar muscle-ups.
“It really shows what a good relationship with a coach, or several coaches—and having someone who’s holding you accountable for your results—can do…I think the relationship and the accountability is really what makes it. (And), of course, also Jonas’ dedication,” she said.
On her end, Lind-Valdan knows she wouldn’t have been able to help Jonas the way she has without the CCP.
“It has given me so much more confidence in my coaching that I would not be here without it,” she said.
If you’re a fitness professional or want to become one, you need an education grounded in principles. One that prepares you for a career in the ever-changing landscape of the fitness industry. Enter the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), the gold standard of education for individualized coaching and program design.
Written and taught by James FitzGerald, a 25-year coaching veteran, the OPEX CCP has educated over 3000 coaches. This education not only bridges the gap between the classroom and the gym floor but also gives you the opportunity to develop your own coaching flair under the mentorship of James himself. Apply to join the next OPEX CCP cohort today and become the coach you’ve always imagined.