“We do things a little differently here,” he points out in his outside voice. Have you ever heard of plyometrics?”
I hesitate to answer. Not because I’ve been performing or coaching some type of plyometric training for…oh…twenty-five years or so, but because I am trying to get my bearings. I’ve not been on the receiving end of a fitness evaluation in a long time.
The earnest and very prepared fitness and sales director is on a roll. He is enthusiastic, with so much important information to divulge!!!! He’s kind of yelling a little, I’m not sure why? We’ve been sitting in extremely close quarters for twenty minutes with few interruptions, much as I might have desperately needed one.
I nod and think about saying something that will bring him up to speed. Something kind. He lunges onward without waiting through my pause. “How about intervals? Ever heard of interval training…? Interval training has been proven to be the most effective form of exercise…..”
I nod again, weakly, realizing that after this many minutes, he is not in the least interested in hearing my answer, which would be something along the lines of “I INVENTED INTERVAL TRAINING!” Of course I didn’t invent it, folks, but I do use some form of interval training every. single. workout.
It goes on like this for a time and then I am lead through an extensive and impressive evaluation on an expensive piece of equipment. Blood pressure and VO2 capacity are measured, as are body composition, flexibility, balance and strength.
No surprises here. My blood pressure is higher than normal (can you blame me at this point?) and I have the flexibility of a ninety-year old former Russian weight-lifter which ranks me between the the “Very Poor” and “Dangerous” category.
The fitness and sales director prints out a copy of the results for me, compares my test scores to other women in my age group (I pass, barely) and we continue to discuss dues and monthly fees at at a disconcertingly high volume.
Lots of information, lots of tests, lots of important statistics unleashed. I’m a coach, I understand the importance of fitness and setting goals, so why the red flags? Why do I feel uneasy? Why do I feel like they still don’t know the slightest bit about me? How can they possibly coach me effectively?
Trainers and coaches (and maybe parents of teens?) here’s a tip, free of charge.
Be generous and be humble while trying to gather and dispense information. This means hard, attentive listening to both spoken words and awkward, unspoken pauses.
Information alone is rarely endearing. Steamrolling through a one-way conversation in order to sell your program or plan is a waste of an opportunity for any ongoing or future relationship. Such vulnerable opportunities are precious, don’t squander them!
Your kindness, space and care in a conversation, in spite of how much important stuff you have to share, will lead to future goodwill whether they “buy in” or not.
Conversely, your haste and lack of attentive care will likely leave a bitter taste in the mouth of the one you are trying to lead or impress, as it did mine.
What would it look like if we were less interested in serving up our packaged sound bites and more interested in taking a tour of the chef’s home kitchen?
I’ve set up an appointment with a different coach. I’ll let you know how it goes….