Godilocks - Penrose Steps - Shouty PT's

This weekend I travelled down to London to deliver two workshops for the team at Matt Roberts Personal Training at their annual staff training day held in their Mayfair headquarters.

I've been looking forward to delivering these sessions for some time and I'm pleased to say that my experience lived up to my expectations. Matt (you know, the tall annoyingly handsome celebrity trainer) and his brother Jon (still handsome but a bit more rugged, that's a compliment by the way!) were very welcoming and their team of trainers (pushing 60 in total) were all up for a day of learning.

Probably the most pleasing aspect was to work in a facility that had space, and plenty of it. Matt and Jon haven't gone down the usual route and filled their studio with loads of kit, they have a very functional space and the emphasis is on getting clients moving (fanstastic).

What did I talk to the team about then?

Well the key message from both workshops was to focus on fundamentals and make sure that everything you do is at an appropriate intensity and quality focused. In an age dominated by 'shouty coaches' (more of that to come) it's important that fitness professionals get back to basics and actually COACH.

For the first session I took inspiration from Goldilocks. Now, regular readers will know that I often take inspiration for children's characters so you're probably not that surprised. The trainers at Matt Roberts PT looked a little perplexed when they saw the opening slide!

I was actually reading Drive, by Daniel Pink when Jon first contacted me to ask if I would like to be involved in the training day. When Jon explained what he wanted to achieve I remembered something I'd read in Drive and thought it applied perfectly.

When Goldilocks rocks up at the three bears house she gets stuck into the porridge, sits on some chairs and then finally goes for a kip in their beds. Each time she goes from one extreme to another (too hot, too cold, too lumpy, too hard, to small, too big) before settling for the one that is 'just right' and there you have it. The Goldilocks Principle. The skill to being an effective coach is being able to develop a programme that is 'just right'. All too often coaches churn out 'vanilla' training sessions that are far too easy. The client gets bored and ultimately won't get results. At the other end you have coaches that produce programmes that are way too hard, kicking the arse out of their clients at every opportunity. I'm still at a loss when clients and trainers post on social networking sites how great the session was because they puked or because 4 days later they still have savage DOMS and can't walk. What they've just told me is that they have no concept of progressive overload and the Goldilocks Principle!

During the workshop I ran through the fundamental laws of training and then explained how to manipulate the acute training variables and exercises to bring about a session that was 'just right'.

My second workshop lead nicely on from the first and this time we got stuck in to the nuts and bolts of what effective training should look like. The workshop was entitled "The March of Futility" because this is what a lot of people are doing, day after day, week after week. There's no plan to their training and ultimately they are just 'doing work', treading the same path but always ending up at the point. Everyone wants to do the fun stuff, the 'Hollywood exercises'. Now don't get me wrong, I want my clients and athletes to enjoy the training process but there are certain things we need to do in order to bring about results. We need to nail the basics (Movement Quality Training) before advancing onto the higher end training (Performance Based Training).

A lot of what takes place in gyms in neither one thing or another, it's something in the middle, it's GARGABE, and the only guy I know that likes garbage is this Grover from Sesame Street! (the perfect client for shouty coaches...he loves garbage!). There's a lot of 'garbage' training taking place in gyms around the country. 'Shouty Coaches' are dominating and it's a real shame because their clients and athletes are being sold short. The only things in their locker is 'noise',  'work' and 'entertainment' and their clients/athletes are just working. Ask them to drill down a bit deeper into their training philosophy and more often than not I think they'll come up short.

We need to remember that making people work is easy. I can EMPTY anyone in the space of a few minutes, I can probably make them puke and I'll make them so sore they'll have to stay in bed for a week. Does that make me a great coach? Well, if I want a slot on prime time TV, maybe but that's not what I do and it's not a route that I encourage others to follow. We need to remember that all training needs to have a purpose, over and above 'emptying' someone. The goal of the session is to bring about an adaptive response. Lots of people love to train and are just simply putting the hours in, without much consideration of what they actually want to achieve. Unfortunately, lots of coaches are doing exactly the same when they put together their training programmes.  

It was refreshing to work with a group of trainers that 'get it' and recognise that success in the industry doesn't come from quick fixes. If you actually think about your coaching and adhere to the fundamentals of training you'll go a long way and you'll still be going long after the 'shouty coaches' have packed up their bags and moved on.

Key messages, start to think like Goldilocks, train your clients just right and ensure that your clients and athletes are doing something other than just working.

Thanks to Matt and Jon for inviting me down, a terrific day and a great opportunity to work with your team.

Let me know what you think. Are you a shouty coach that thinks I'm talking a load of old rubbish? Are you someone trying to do the right thing but are surrounded by others that just don't get it?