Putting on a Show vs. Just Coaching

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A few weeks ago my good friend, Luke Worthington, and I were texting back and forth on why I hate him so much because I’m not him (6-4, 230 lbs, ripped, smart, British, pfffft whatever Luke) programming and coaching.

Specifically, we both commented on the facade that some (not all) fitness professionals seemingly lean into on social media

Even more specifically, we attempted to excavate the difference between what I would refer to as “putting on a show” and actually coaching people.

Copyright: tonobalaguer

Circus Tricks

Our conversation took root when we brought up something we had both observed on another colleague’s Instagram account and the abject silliness it projected.

Now, I’m not going to name names; it’s not my nature to do so. And, to be honest: I try to always keep an open mind whenever I see something eyebrow raising from other coaches.

I mean, who am I to say what’s a legitimate exercise/drill for their client?

  • I don’t know their client’s injury history.
  • I don’t know their client’s goals.
  • I don’t know their client’s ability level.
  • I don’t know the purpose of that day’s session.
  • Maybe there’s a perfectly fine rationale for that particular exercise (even though running over their right arm with a Prius for AMRAP would have been a better use of their time).

I keed, I keed.

Nevertheless, Luke is based in London and works with a number of high-profile people ranging from Hollywood actors/actresses, models, magazine editors, and various professional soccer players.

During our chat he mentioned he had started working with a well-known actor who’s currently prepping for a rather significant action role.

Nope, not Jason Bourne.

Alas, not James Bond.

In the name of discretion, I can’t reveal the actor’s name. It would be uncouth for me to do so, and I certainly wouldn’t want to divulge anything that Luke himself hasn’t divulged.

Negative, not him either. But OMG, I wish.

I haven’t come close to working with the same volume of “high-end” clientele that Luke has worked with in his career. That being said, I’ve worked with many professional baseball players throughout the years (especially during my time at Cressey Sports Performance), and did happen to rub elbows with Hollywood recently.

And I have to say…

…it’s hard not to put on the facade.

To quote Luke:

“When you were working with Rosamund (Pike) did you find it hard not to put on a show? Did you feel you had to impress her with new and innovative exercises? That you had to provide more of wow factor? I find it exhausting sometimes working with people in the entertainment industry.”

At first, yes.

Rosamund joining the 100 lb deadlift club working with me at CORE.

But then I realized that she was just a person like everyone else and needed the same shit as everyone else.

Moreover, once I understood that all she was looking for was a solid training session where she could have an hour to herself to be away from the movie set and away from the chaos, it became much less daunting to me.

I kept things simple.

  • She deadlifted.
  • She squatted.
  • She carried stuff.
  • She hoisted stuff.
  • She threw stuff.
  • She listened to sick techno beats.

All I did was to ensure the exercises were coached well and that they matched her ability level.

I didn’t feel the need to put on a show.

And she and I had a lovely time together.

Back to Luke, though.

In addition to texting back and forth about the pressure to perform and avoid reneging on our mutual intuition to just keep things simple, we also went back and forth a bit on his client’s programming.

Luke noted that his client’s role will require a number of shirtless scenes and that the expectation is that he must look the part; broad shoulders, pecy pecs, cut arms, etc.

The caveat, however, is that this client also has a number of shoulder issues that limits his ability to perform certain exercises pain free.

Luke’s a more than capable coach to devise a suitable trainable menu for his client. That said, he and I were going back and forth on some ideas when he noted that during a prior session he had his client perform a double landmine press.


For most coaches this exercise is quite standard or even inane. It’s nothing extraordinary or flashy (especially by social media standards).

However, Luke’s client loooooooooved it.

It targeted parts of his body he needed to bring up for the role AND he was able to perform it pain free. Luke could have easily made the exercise more sexy by setting the barbells on fire, or, I don’t know, having his client press with one arm while juggling a chainsaw on the other.

Instead, what Luke did was be a coach.

And, frankly, that’s what most people need whether they’re Thor or Tina.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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