At Aspire Health & Performance we call ourselves Coaches.  Some people label us Personal Trainers.  We aren’t.

Let me explain what I think the difference is.  A coach has a skill that they teach to their pupils.  They use a systematic series of drills and cues to get the desired outcome that will lead to increased performance.  Drill selection, just as in exercise selection, is designed to teach the client in a matter that is best suited for them, with the specific purpose of achieving a goal that will enable them to better complete a task.

A coach that I admire immensely, Nick Winkleman from Team Exos, is doing some great research on the use of cues to coach exercises/drills.  You can add the topic of motor learning to the long list of knowledge that a good coach must have.  Some would even argue that motor (as well as cognitive) learning is the most important skill that a good coach must possess.  Learning how to cue a person using meaningful external cues will lead to faster and better learning of motor tasks.  Learning to use this approach is not easy, even for very experienced coaches.  After I was lucky enough to be in attendance for two of Nick’s lectures, I really understood where he was coming from.  I came away trying to implement this into my own coaching, and it was more difficult than I thought.  Most coaches/trainers were taught to tell the client which body part to move and which muscles to use.  This is a hard habit to break.  To successfully use this approach, one really has to expand their comfort zone in regards to their use of similes.  A simile is a great way to have a client understand what you want to movement to look at, without focusing their attention on the specific area, which can delay the learning process.  For me, this is still a work in progress, but an approach that I hope to use with great success.

Undoubtedly another key element that a good coach must possess is the ability to understand and relate to their client.  There are times when you need to crack the whip.  There are times when you need to provide motivation, and there are times when you need to have an ear and be empathetic.  Coach Brett Bartholemew, another great coach from Team Exos, has said “The ultimate performance principle is people: how you connect with them, unify them & ignite them!”  In following some of Coach Bartholemew’s teachings, it is clear that a good coach is one who can achieve this with their clients.  Sometimes it feels like you’re part performance coach, part psychologist!

I have learned that in dealing with elite athletes, the little things that you look after make the biggest difference.  When you are talking about 0.10s being a monumental difference, you had better have all of these “little things” dialed in.  I try to take the time to know a lot about my clients.  The more that I know about their personalities, the way they learn best, how their moods are, the better I can make adjustments to their programs when I sense that something is out of balance.  Coaching is a science.  It is an art as well.

So when you hear us calling ourselves coaches and not allowing others to recognize us as personal trainers, it is because we use these high level coaching skills.  We do this because your health matters.  Your performance matters.  YOU matter.

Shane Pizzey  MKin, CSCS, CEP