I have to begin this post with two definitions: competitor and health.
Competitor: someone who is trying to win or do better than all others especially in business or sports : someone who is competing.
Health: the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially : freedom from physical disease or pain.
One of the great things about fitness is that it attracts people from all walks of life into your facilities and you have the opportunity to help all of them in their fitness journey. Arguably one of the bad things about fitness is that it is built on a foundation of competition with the games being the Holy Grail at the end of the chase. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it is what it is and has inspired a ton of people to unleash their inner athlete. But where this model falls short is that not everyone is a competitor nor do they wish to structure their life around what it takes to be one. The true problem lies with a model that makes the assumption that everyone does want to get jacked up about being a competitor.
I’ve heard this story time and time again from coaches around the world: they fell in love with fitness because it changed their life. They walked into a gym, met great people, and got fitter than they’ve ever been in their life and new possibilities opened up for them. They got results and it changed their life for the better. This was such an amazing experience for them that they wanted to share it with others. This right here, this point RIGHT HERE is key. When you have an experience that worked for YOU and you want to share it with OTHERS, you are inherently injecting your values and experience on others. You are trying to give them what you got. But consider the possibility that what you got worked for YOU and may not work for OTHERS. It’s no different than your food and if you’ve been in CCP Nutrition you’ll fully understand that what fuels one person may well degrade another body. The same holds true for experiences. And that is why this is a key point.
Perhaps you are a coach who enjoyed the competitive experience and you push your members in that direction. Some will do really well with it and love you for it. Others may not and you’ll lose them as clients. But the worst scenario (in my opinion) are the clients who try to be something they are not in order to please you as their coach. They go down the competitive road because that’s what they think they need to do to maintain themselves in your group setting. But deep down inside, it’s eating away at them and they are slowing building resentment around the fact that they have to show up at the gym day in and day out and put on a competitive mask when what they really want to do is come to the gym to…
Improve their HEALTH
Reset their mind
Enjoy their time with like minded people
Support their longevity
Enhance their physical structure to eliminate pain
Insert a thousand other reasons here
What’s interesting to me that the definition of competitor acknowledges that someone is trying to do better “than all others”, but it doesn’t make mention of self. I suppose that’s what I like about the Optathlon as a test of fitness includes both a group competition AND a test against the self. But I digress.
Fitness is sold as scalable and by that rationale anyone can participate. There is truth to this, but I still see well-meaning coaches giving back squats with barbells to new members who have not yet earned their way to a barbell. And if that client is coming to the gym because they are after health and longevity, is that the right exercise to scale even though in the coach’s mind it was scaled with a light barbell? Is that truly in alignment with their health?
So I ask you to think about this: What is your culture in your gym? Is it a badge of honor to do the WOD as Rx? Or is it a bigger badge of honor to know yourself or your clients and scale/modify individually and appropriately? As a coach or gym owner, what culture are you creating and why? What do YOU get out of it if everyone is Rx’d? What MORE could you get out of it if everyone was modified appropriately? What more still could you get if you had individualized programming available or if your staff truly understood the why behind scaling that goes beyond just the basic level one CF cert movements? Imagine being a coach who understood why your clients were there, what drives them, how to assess them and offer them appropriate movements and coaching and none of it had anything to do with the Holy Grail because that’s not what your clients were truly after in the first place… they just want to be the best version of themselves and be healthy.
Can you have authentic conversations with your clients to get to the root answers of…
Why did they come to your facility?
What are they looking for?
What are they looking to achieve?
What are their goals for their life inside AND outside the gym?
The way to have authentic conversations with your clients is to first observe your own thoughts and tendencies in order to differentiate from what is YOU and what is THEM. Do they want competition or health?
As James says, you can just do anything and get more fit, but over time that person will get to a point where “anything” no longer works. And people can pretend to be something they are not, but that too has a short shelf life and leads to unfulfillment for both client and coach. Just as everyone is an individual, so must be their approach to fitness and therefore their programming. Good programming doesn’t always mean Games style. In fact, if health and longevity is the goal of some of your clients then a completely different approach is necessary for proper alignment between client, coach and results.