Opinion vs. Expertise

There is a point in every coach’s life where they are eager to please their clients and eager to gain new clients. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in client feedback, especially if you’re a new coach and business owner.

We often think if one person is unhappy, then everyone is unhappy.

Furthermore, we will usually attribute this feeling of unhappiness as a result of something we did, but the fact of the matter is that everyone is fighting their own battle, whether it be to get to the gym or stick to a diet or deal with things in their everyday lives.

More often than not, things that happen in the lives of others rarely have to do with something you did or didn’t do.

Similarly, many coaches get fixated on taking too much feedback from clients, with regards to areas that their clients may know nothing about.

It’s commonplace for coaches and trainers to not value their service, but like any other professional service, there is a cost of doing business.

This is why it’s so important to gain years of practical experience, reputable certification(s), and the confidence in your ability to perform and coach, before training others. Don’t just open a gym because it sounds like a good idea.

Opening a gym is not that simple, and if you’re vulnerable from a knowledge and practical application standpoint, you won’t be in the right headspace to trust yourself and your core values.

I take my job seriously. Very seriously.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had the better part of my life serve as preparation for my future job (which was unknown to me at the time), with close to 10 years of practical experience before ever opening my own facility or programming for anyone else.

I’ve been lucky enough to accumulate some certifications and numbers in the gym which I’m very proud of.

I view myself as an expert, just as a doctor views themselves as an expert, and I’m not afraid to charge what I’m worth.

Over time, with experience, refining your process, and success comes with a higher price tag for the same services. In the same token, I see too many CrossFit coaches take the word of their clients as gospel and are not willing to charge more for their service.

A common mumblingly I hear is, “my clients don’t like accessory work” or “CrossFit is too expensive.” Sure, that’s cool. I get it. The feedback, many times, is valuable, and we can definitely use it to our advantage, but where do we draw the line?

We draw the line at core principles. Things that we believe and know to be true. Things that govern our body of work.

These core values are not based on opinion but based on actual science. Actual data that corroborates our beliefs. If one person says to me, “I don’t like accessory work,” my response is simple:

“I totally understand. It’s definitely less fun than a clean and jerk. But guess what? It will make our clean and jerk go up, as well as all other movements. It will also help us look better, stay healthy, and improve imbalance. All of which can keep us in the game longer and provide a higher quality of life.

Don’t believe me? Stick to your accessory work for the next 16 weeks and I promise – you’ll be rewarded when we retest.”

16 weeks later, the rumblings quiet. But in the group setting, we have new athletes all the time, so this process repeats as long as our doors are open.

Honestly, I look forward to these objections and love repeating this process. And I certainly look forward to proving to people that I wasn’t just bullshitting them. That my claims were based on years of experience and evidence, and not just my opinion.

I also feel that overcoming the price tag is pretty easy. It simply comes down to the perceived value of our service.

Many times your clients have no issues spending money on nice dinners and clothing, yet they balk at a $200 a month price tag for a service that is actually going to increase the quality of their lives. How many services can actually say that and back it up?

If you’re a coach or a trainer and charging for your service, then you need to be the professional. You need to have confidence in your plan knowing your clients will improve if they show up.

You need to be the guiding force for your clients’ health and success. Also, you need to educate your clients on why you’re performing specific protocols. If they already knew what they needed, then they certainly wouldn’t be enlisting your help and paying for your service.

The fact of the matter is that they do need you. Your clients don’t understand the intensity, the autonomic nervous system’s responses to intensity, appropriate volume prescriptions, or how a plan fits together to ensure all of the above are structured properly.

And you know what? They don’t need to! Again, they entrusted you with their well-being because you are the expert.

Taking feedback is an integral part of anyone’s success, but if you take feedback from people that have zero expertise, then you’re setting your clients up not only for failure, but for serious health risks.

Feedback on things like the cleanliness of your facility, the attitude of your coaches, the attention to detail you and your coaches have, your class schedule; those are things that anyone is qualified to comment on, and you should be listening intently.

But if your client is demanding change in terms of your entire training methodology and you’re considering listening, then all the expertise in the world cannot help you.

Overall, your clients’ health and success are what we care about. It’s what we are 110% committed to, so entertaining the notion of letting someone that doesn’t know a thing about what it takes to do my job effectively dictate what my guiding principles should be doesn’t make much sense.

At no point, should you ever compromise the health and well-being of your clients and base your principles off the feedback of a non-expert.

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