My Ideal Client

Hi friends~

Today on Instagram I posted our Virtual Small Group workout from this morning.

It wasn’t really about the workout though – it’s an Ode To My Athletes.

❤️YOU are the reason I love my job.

And that got me thinking about relationships with people I’ve coached over the years.


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I got all excited in the Virtual Small Group workout today!

My ideal client.

My “ideal clients”(thanks to expert guidance from UCanRow2, Sarah Fuhrman!) are those athletes who’ve been regular for 10 years, and also new athletes who know what they want to accomplish, are positive, and are willing to work together.

These relationships are based upon trust and respect.

The greatest reward for any coach is the pleasure of knowing that the athlete feels good, successful, and confident at the end of a session. It’s secondary that we’ve utilized the time together for their physical benefit, gaining mobility, stability, lifting heavier, getting stronger, going longer.

Relationships of all kinds are complicated, but the coaching relationship can be among the most challenging,

I’ve experienced all of these coaching relationships.

  • Some people begin working with a coach because of health advice from a doctor, or urged by family.
  • Some people have a goal to look and feel better.
  • Some people don’t have a specific goal, but they just like the benefits of working out.
  • Some seem eager to get going, but are fearful, and uncertain.
  • Some seem super motivated, even sticking with regular training, but are resistant.
  • Some people are athletes – they use their bodies for a purpose,  and are committed to the time and work it takes to progress.

Even an experienced and knowledgeable coach can’t help everyone.

  • The man who had PTSD needed help to lose over 100 lbs invited his doctor to meet with me. The doctor was pleased that he’d be working on getting healthy, but warned that the man had been unable for a long time to change his dietary habits. We did 3 strength and metabolic sessions each week, but he confessed that he was drinking 8 beers every night, and eating fast food takeout every day. He bought free weights, and a recumbent bike, started taking daily walks, but was showing signs of anger and frustration. He had the financial resources, and plenty of time, so it would seem that he would have moved toward his goal over the several years that we worked together. He became volatile in sessions and I had to let him go.
  • The woman who said that she wanted to regain her ability to enjoy walking again. She mentioned “my arthritis” in every session, and said her breathing was “so bad” that she “couldn’t” walk any distance without getting winded. She told me a practitioner advised her, “don’t do squats”. The indoor rowing machine was a perfect tool for her in our twice-weekly cardio and strength sessions, but she barely tolerated functional movements, and she quit after a year. She has a mostly sedentary executive job, and still has difficulty walking.
  • The woman who said her knees and hips were “bad”, but she wanted to keep playing tennis. I focused on strengthening her glutes, legs, and core stabilization. Basic exercises were challenging for her, but she seemed eager to see results. During a year her sessions dropped from 3, to 2, then once a week, then ended. She opted for knee and hip surgery and has since lost a lot of weight, even though her weight was never an issue. I don’t know whether she’s playing tennis.
  • A businessman trained for 4 years, and boasted that he got “a beatdown 3 times a week”. I made it clear that I objected to this description to no avail. He wanted to match the deadlift, bench, and back squat weight I was lifting for competition, so I focused on lifting mechanics, progressing and regressing with the barbell and power moves. He often referred to his ‘team” of orthopedists, and an extensive list of procedures and surgeries, and he told me that he was advised against planks and pushups. He cut every session short when he decided that it was “time to stretch”. When he began to make overt comments about my body, our training relationship ended.

Are you an athlete with a good idea of who you are, and who you want to be?

Let’s get you there together.



2 Responses

  1. Hi Polli,
    I agree the relationships between coaches and clients is a complicated one. From a client’s perspective, I feel the expectations with the relationship are similar; we want a coach who is not only knowledgeable but also compatible with our personality and energy. Like yourself, I have also experienced bad coaching relationships such as a triathlete level coach who fat shamed me for not loosing weight between month long coaching sessions. Needless to say, that coach ended up in my review mirror after that comment. Coaching relationships are very similar to investments, that is you want a good rate of return on your time and energy regardless of which side of the fence you are on. As you point out, it’s the positive relationship between a coach and client which gives wealth in body, mind, and spirit to both.
    Keep up the great work with the newsletter, it’s a great investment of time and knowledge for your audience.

    1. Thanks for reading! It’s sad that your coach thought that shaming you was going to be helpful. One thing I didn’t mention is that a coach has to be willing to become a different kind of communicator in every professional relationship. Like “love languages” some people will hear me speaking in a language they just don’t understand, and it’s on me to figure out what language they speak. Communication develops, and hopefully improves over time, leading athletes to get and stay strong and healthy, which will not only bring years to their life, but life to their years. Onward!

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