In the early days of my gym, I trained a high-level triathlete. She had a coach for the bike; a coach for the run; and a coach for swimming. Her overall plan came from Carmichael Training Systems (founded by Lance Armstrong’s coach, Chris Carmichael.) They didn’t direct me, but looked at her workout plans and gave feedback occasionally. Her plan would include vague instructions like “two days of core work” or “weights and stretching.”
Of course, they were surprised when my workouts included barbells. Most of the “personal trainers” who worked with their athletes did calf raises and sit-ups, and that was it. The more enterprising variations sometimes included a Swiss ball plant.
Of course, my client deadlifted.
She pressed overhead. She did pull-ups. She got strong. And she got better.
That made the other coaches nervous. Their athletes weren’t doing any of that stuff.
So I had to “sell” the primary coaches on the idea. Luckily, results spoke for themselves. But that’s never enough. Here are the steps that I take when working with high-level coaches:
- Let them be the “alpha”. You don’t have to win to win. Send them your plans and say “Here’s what I’ve planned to do. Does that fit within your overall vision?”
- Send them results. Don’t assume that they’ll automatically notice an athlete’s improvements under your care…or assign the credit to you.
- Ask if they have other athletes who might benefit from their service. They definitely do. But if you don’t ask, you’ll never get referrals.
Alternately, you might have a client who wants to compete at a high level, but doesn’t have access to a high-level specialist coach. That means YOU have to take control of their overall program, and be the lynchpin who sees every piece of it.
You have to evaluate their progress and make recommendations to add, remove or change parts. You don’t have to be a cycling specialist or know how to improve their swimming; but you do have to monitor their diet, their recovery and their progress. And you have to know how to FIND those specialists, and be confident enough to incorporate them into your program.
Here’s where to look:
- Local bike shops
- Local running clubs
- Local swim teams
You have to be The Meta Coach; the Connector.
Working with other coaches creates amazing opportunities for cross-referrals. By now, every endurance coach knows their athletes should lift weights. But very few of them know a coach they can trust to keep their athletes injury-free…and collaborate on training. For good reason, most run coaches distrust “personal trainers” because the PTs don’t know what they’re doing, but accuse the run coaches of the same thing. And vise versa: I’m always skeptical of run coaches who prescribe a ton of volume instead of thoughtfully considering the science of improvement.
Grow as a coach.
Be mature and confident.
Be the Meta. Share your clients. They’ll share theirs if you make it easy for them.