Written by Marisa Inda
This may come as a shock to everyone, but yes, I am old. When I started training, we read books, had subscriptions to magazines like Flex and Ironman, and if you had some extra cash you hit up the buffed out trainer in the gym that looked knowledgeable because he had abs and bulging biceps for help. These days, with Instagram, Facebook, and all the other social media outlets, you have access to the best of the best via online training. While I don’t think online training is for everyone, my working with Chad Wesley Smith this past year has been one of the best things I’ve done to get stronger not only as an athlete, but also as a trainer with my own clients.
I have learned a lot of lessons being on both sides of the fence, and if you want to maximize your experience, here are a few tips:
There is nothing worse than a ghost client. I personally have had a few of these. They pay you, you keep hoping for some sort of feedback, but nothing. I’ll send e-mail after e-mail and I almost start feeling like that crazy ex girlfriend that wants to shout PLEASE TALK TO ME! Your coach cannot fix anything if they never heard from you. Online training works when there is feedback. Conversely, no need to overshare. Remember, online is cheaper than in-person training, so if you’re expecting a response to every text message in which you explain what you had for breakfast, you’re in for a rude awakening. A lot of coaches have other jobs and/or other clients, so make sure when you contact them, you keep it training-specific.
Videos are really important especially since you do not get the benefit of hands-on coaching. If you have technique issues and your coach never sees a single video, how can they fix anything? On the other hand, I don’t think it’s necessary to send video of your calf raises (mainly because I don’t have calves and it makes me jealous). Also, for the love of all things sacred, use the little scissor button on the editor; it’s there for a reason. Don’t waste your coach’s time showing them how you pull up your knee sleeves and beat your head against the wall before you squat; give ’em the meat and potatoes and leave out the rest!
Programming is based on what you tell your coach, so if you tell them you bench 400 lb. and it’s really 135l b., you might not see any PRs in the near future. If something hurts beyond the normal muscle soreness, let them know – especially if you have a max effort pull that week (I learned this the hard way – sorry, coach). If you feel something is not working, they will never know if you don’t tell them. As long as you don’t decide it isn’t working after one week into programming, give it time. Coaches get better from honest feedback, be it positive or negative.
Trust the process
Sometimes I think Chad really hates me. I mean, what kind of person wants you to do so much volume? We’re powerlifters; I want to do 2 reps and call it a day, but at the end of the day, I know he knows what he is doing. The more we work together, the more in-tune we become with one another, and finding what works best for me has become easier. I 100% believe in the programming and don’t question it or him ever. Sure, I send the occasional complaint and “I hate you” text message, but the work always gets done. If you have doubts in your training, those doubts will play out on the platform.
The coach/client relationship is pretty awesome. No coach wants to see their client fail; I know I almost feel more stress when my clients compete than when I do. As a client, I also feel an obligation to my coach to be the best I can be. I guess I’m a teacher’s pet, but I want to prove that what he is doing works. If I give 100%, he gives that in return. Online training does work, but it also requires a bit more involvement beyond just doing the work in the gym. Above all, you both learn from one another and there’s nothing better than growth as both an athlete and coach.