Every person that visits the Strengthcoach.com website has an interest in learning. We come for the technical information about different methods, exercises, and business practices so we can be better. My desire to learn more led me to asking Mike Boyle for a short internship at MBSC. Learning has been one of the only constants in my career. It seems like every time I get comfortable, another opportunity that requires more learning presents itself.
Everyone’s coaching journey is different, mine started at the Recreational Sports Facility (RSF) at UC Berkeley as a weight room monitor in 1996, I was a minion, making sure that the facility was clean, rules were followed, and spots were given if requested. My first job out of college was as a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for UC Berkeley, so I earned my master’s degree in Kinesiology and learned the basics of strength and conditioning. Then I was let go, then rehired and promoted to Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach and placed in charge of four teams on top of being the strength coach for the Men’s Basketball Team. This phase in my life I got a crash course in work politics. All while teaching for the Physical Education Program to help ends meet. Then I moved partially into the private sector to go to work for Velocity Sports Performance and then back to the RSF to run the new Olympic Lifting Weight Room and creating a strength program for some of the club teams at Cal. I then had to learn more about sales and business when I struck out on my own and left the RSF.
Most recently, COVID hit and changed how teaching and training was done in an instant. Gyms shut down and all my classes went online. For my efforts during the shutdown, I was promoted to a full-time teaching position then assigned a lecture course. My 46-year journey has currently led me here, writing a series of articles and getting to share my process and what I have learned about learning along the way as it relates to the MBSC internship. Which you guessed it, has been a learning experience too.
The biggest driving force behind my desire to keep evolving, were the teachers and coaches that I had growing up that at some point stopped trying. They were just riding their tenure or position. Possibly different when they were younger, they showed that they had lost the love for the process and were set in their ways and practically mailing it in so they could make it to retirement. I promised myself that I would make learning a lifelong process and keep pushing to get better. Every successful coach and teacher that I know seeks out new knowledge and is willing to adapt to new information or situations. I also know folks that stopped adapting and are now no longer working in the field. Covid has caused gyms to close and trainers to leave the profession in droves over the past few years. Only the ones who learned and adapted survived. I have always had one foot in academia and another in the private sector. So, there was extra advantages to stay on top of what was happening in the fitness/sports performance world, which helped me with my private business and in turn helped my classes at Cal and helped me when COVID upended all my training, both at school and privately. Even though I am now full time, I really enjoy training athletes, so I still do it albeit with a lower total of current private (8 down from 15) clients (at Cal I went from 180 students when I was part time to 330 last semester). So, I learn as much as I can with the time that I have.
Bruce Lee has been a major influence on my life, I have looked up to him since I was a kid. First because he was a bad ass on screen but then in high school I got into his books and found the he had many layers that intertwined and made Bruce Lee who he was. Bruce Lee is mainly known for his punching, kicking, blinding speed and movie screen presence but also created Jeet Kune Do, a martial method that effectively blended boxing, Wing Chun, and fencing into a single martial art that revolutionized what people saw on screen and created a martial arts concept that has profoundly influenced Mixed Martial Arts. If we dig deeper, he was ahead of the rest of the world when it came to training in the 1960’s which was visible on screen but at his core Bruce Lee was a philosopher. And as much as the physical techniques have influenced my coaching, his philosophical tenets create a foundation for my approach to learning. Bruce Lee’s quote, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own” has been central to how I approach life and I keep finding new facets to the quote as I mature as a person and a coach. In this series, I will be talking about how I approach learning, how to prepare, how to take in as much as you can, and then how to apply what is learned to one’s own program. Learning is not just observing and remembering new things and Bruce Lee has a quote for that too, “Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do.” I look forward to sharing my experiences with you and hope you enjoy the article series.
Here’s how all of this started. I have been on StrengthCoach.com pretty much since the beginning of the pandemic. In May of this year, on a bit of a late-night whim, I direct messaged Mike Boyle asking if he took “older folks as interns” looking “to learn and contribute for a couple of weeks.” I thought to myself, “This is never going to happen.” The next day I got a “yes” and an email address to continue the process. Crap, now I have to figure out how to make this work. Tried to make this seem like a good idea to the wife, not my best work, but got approval. Then, booked the flight, hotel, and rental car the next week making sure I get back by my oldest daughters first dance recital. Hop on a plane and I arrived on June 12th and orientation week started on the 13th. More on this later.