November 20, 2022
Individualized or Bust
WRITTEN BY JJ Pepper

 I spent close to eight years pouring myself into coaching health and fitness and was primarily splitting my time between group classes and private personal training. I appreciate my time greatly in these realms, though I do admit that for me, it was filled with dissonance. Even when I felt I was most fortunate and was producing my best results, I felt that somehow, there had to be a better way. With both personal training and group classes, I felt limited in what I could accomplish—primarily, how much I could educate a client on deeper, important, and necessary aspects of their health that couldn’t be communicated in 30-60 minute sessions at home or at the park, or in a group setting at a local studio. I could cover decent ground in regard to movement competency with private clients, but I was much more limited in that regard in group classes. So many times I’d see things that I frankly just didn’t have enough time to fix. Though at times this was amusing, at no time did it sit well with me. With both, there was no mechanism in the relationship to take things deeper, and this often resulted in frustration—for students, clients and myself. The worst feeling would be seeing my most loyal and consistent students plateau after a certain point. My number one job in a group setting was to do no harm and keep everyone safe, so I always taught with the lowest-order mover in mind. I could level up some of my ninjas individually, but there just was never enough time for all. There wasn’t a container for individualized instruction or conversation. Add to that making house calls 3-4 times a week, sessions during which I couldn’t get clients to see that they were not going to lose weight until they addressed the binge drinking or eating they did every moment I wasn’t there. Not easy to bring up in between working sets, let me tell ya. 

I have a degree and countless CEUs, and I wanted my knowledge to be utilized more deeply than with just workouts and programs. Also, the financial ceiling of these modalities was not sustainable; so much time and bandwidth is lost to nonproductive tasks such as driving to a studio, studio duties, driving to a park, driving to a home, doing everything on my own. I quickly reached the ceiling regarding how many people I could actually impact. And I couldn’t offer the substance I wanted, given the time and effort I was expending. I was tired of the ceilings, and desperate for something with more potential in all arenas.

When I met Jesse and Steven of Central Athlete, the choice was instantaneous. Here was the one-stop shop. I can utilize every aspect of my education and deliver this in a container structured around education, autonomy, communication, reciprocity, and objective results. Moving beyond just sets and reps and working out on the mat, CA sets itself apart with its consultative model in which the foundation of each relationship is communication. This opens the door for incredible opportunities around education in nutrition, programming nuances, supportive lifestyle building blocks, emotions in regard to health, addressing inevitable obstacles, pivots to the plan as necessary, and anything and everything else an individual could want to cover and accomplish. Setting up the relationship with longer-term intent allows coach and client to move efficiently and sustainably from low order work to higher order work as progressive steps are achieved. One moves from low order to high with programs created for the individual based upon their conversations with their personal coach, a nutrition plan built and planned in the same fashion, lifestyle building blocks established in kind, a gym and incredible recovery center to which they have full access (for onsite clients), coaches to whom clients have 24/7 access via coaching APP and six hours a day in person during coaching hours, objective methods to measure progress, and monthly consultations and conversations with your coach about the bigger picture. To me, it makes the most sense for all parties involved and I have never been able to bring more value on a deep and meaningful level as I have since joining this gym and culture. I have clients losing more weight faster than I could ever accomplish before, I have clients breaking PRs with me within months of switching over, I have helped more people quickly heal from deep states of pain and returned to function successfully, and I’m able to connect much more authentically, which allows for us to create efficient change. Most importantly, at CA the client is offered  such a deeper system of support and education than could ever be provided elsewhere in regard to a coaching and gym environment. My goal is to be the last coach they ever need; in this model, the coach and client can grow and evolve together until eventually the client-bird is set free to fly autonomously in regard to their health and wellness, however that map unfolds.

 Clients can move from simply eliminating pain one year, to losing weight the next, to maximizing strength the next, to leaning out the next, to running a marathon the next, to learning Olympic lifting the next, to learning to handstand the next. Okay, I’m getting carried away, but this model promotes the truth of fitness,, and I frankly am very thankful to be doing this. I want to attract as many trainers and clients to CA who are ready for that next level. Individualized training will be something in which we always strive to educate clients, as I believe it truly is the highest level relationship in the health and fitness realm. There is no question that this model is critical in order to create incredible and lasting change for all parties involved. I know that I could never return fully to my coaching past; this is my way, and though it’s not necessarily shiny (my god, does it work!), I daresay I’d deem it GOLD.

Kaizen - continuous improvement for all parties, aka longevity in equanimity.

“Relationships are the cornerstones of coaching.”- James Fitzgerald

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