The Other Side of Coaching

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Coaching. There’s a connotation that it’s all butterfly kisses, rainbows, wearing sweatpants to work and/or hoisting up a Lombardi Trophies.1

From a fitness pro’s perspective the sweatpants part is true, however the career is anything other than rainbows. It’s an arduous, drawn-out, paying your dues ass-kicking to be truthful. In today’s guest post by Texas based personal trainer, Shane McLean, he sheds some light on the “other” side of coaching.

The Other Side of Coaching

You see them on TV. You see them in the gym and you see them at ball games. Coaches, they’ve got it made, right?

They’re strutting along the sideline yelling and screaming instructions at their players. Or it’s the personal trainers at your gym wearing tracksuit pants and checking their social media feed while telling clients what to do.

They don’t seem to be doing an ounce of ‘work’ and they get to wear comfortable pants to boot. Some might say, “That job looks so easy even I could do it.”

When I first started in the fitness industry over 8 years ago, I had no clue what to expect. Sure, I’d been lifting weights for a while, was in reasonable shape and was freshly armed with a personal training certification.

Which meant I knew everything and everybody else knew nothing. I thought coaching would be a walk in the park. How wrong I was.

I couldn’t coach my way out of wet paper bag. I was hurting my clients and they weren’t understanding any of my instructions, cues or programs. Maybe it was my Crocodile Dundee accent?

‘That’s not a knife…….that’s a knife.’


It’s one thing to know something, but it’s an entirely different matter to coach what you know to someone else. The history of sports is littered with great players who couldn’t coach to save themselves.

Sorry Magic

So, how did I get better at coaching? I worked my butt off, observed good coaches in their natural environment and read. That has kept my head above water (for now) but I’m still a work in progress.

Coaching is a great profession but I’m pulling back the curtain to reveal the other side. Here are some things that you probably never considered about that coach who is going bananas on the sideline while his/her team is up by 20.

1) People Are Less Than Truthful

 When I first started working as a trainer, a fellow professional said something to me that I’ll never forget.

“People are liars.”

I brushed this comment off at the time, to be honest. I’ve always seen the best in people (rather than the worst) and I’m inclined to believe whatever they’re telling me.

However, over time this statement has rung true. Some clients (in my experience) have been less than truthful about their reasons for cancelling, their old injuries or about general life details.

It’s hard enough to get the best out of players/clients as a coach, but when they’re less than truthful, it becomes more difficult. And when your livelihood depends on results, it becomes a real problem.

2) It Doesn’t Always Pay the Bills

Most coaches get into this business because of a burning desire to help people and they also love telling people what do to. I know I do. Furthermore, most coaches get to wear tracksuit pants to work.

Beats the suit and tie every time.

However, the passion coaches have doesn’t always reflect in their pay check, particularly at the start of their career. I’ve known good coaches who have left the profession or have had to work a second job to make ends meet.

While others have sold a little of their soul to get a decent paycheck.

Hint: none of the trainers (or models hired behind them) got their body by doing the exact thing they’re selling.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a supportive wife who understands but doesn’t necessarily like the up/down nature of the fitness business. For a large part of my career as a coach, I’ve struggled to make a decent living. However, that’s all on me and I’m working hard to rectify this.

There are plenty of coaches who are making a good living because they work their butts off and have figured it out. However, in my experience, that’s more the exception than the rule.

There are lots of good coaches who are still waiting for the rewards of their hard work.

3) There is More to Coaching Than Meets the Eye

Most of the public sees the final product of the coach’s toil, where they yell, scream, motivate and act like a crazy person who’s had way too much caffeine.

What the public doesn’t see is all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. Good coaches burn the midnight oil planning and preparing to make their clients/teams/players better.

Most coaches I know are happy to do the work. However, at times the consumer only sees the costs but not the value. What a lot of people fail to realize is all the hard work that goes into that final dollar value.

Furthermore, the coaching profession is an ever-evolving industry and if you’re not getting better, you’re getting left behind. The time and money spent on continuing education, industry conferences, coaching and travel adds up to a pretty penny.

Good coaches invest ton to make themselves and their clients better, a fact not seen by most of the non-coaching public.

Wrapping Up

Coaching is not all sunshine and roses. There is a lot of blood, sweat and tears involved. There are far more ways to earn a better living but none as quite as rewarding as affecting people’s lives in a positive way.

Wearing tracksuit pants is just a welcome bonus.

About the Author

Shane The Balance Guy McLean, is an A.C.E Certified Personal Trainer working deep in the heart of Texas. Shane believes in balancing exercise with life while putting the fun back into both.

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  1. Well, at least up here in Boston that’s the connotation. #Belichick

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