The importance of a coaching-based environment

Rauraidh Purnell
October 20, 2022

Overview: Not everyone learns the same way. A coaching based environment can help provide support and a community whilst focusing on tailored approaches to an individual. Coaching itself focuses on guiding someone from being lead, to working in partnership with a coach, to them leading the coaching process to then coaching others. It builds confidence, autonomy and it builds a community.

Time to read: 4 minutes

Who here loves a bit of mental arithmetic? I can hear a resounding “NO” in most people’s heads (except for those human calculators like accountants and actuaries). When I was in primary school one of the maths tests we had to pass was mental maths. I absolutely dreaded it, plus the test had a time limit which sprinkled on a little bit more pressure. Fantastic. When we would have lessons around mental maths, I would feel lost and self-conscious about admitting I didn’t understand. Fortunately, the teacher noticed, as much as I tried to hide it, and I received some one on one teaching. This different approach really helped me, and I became competent enough to pass the test. Having said that, nowadays, if I am out to dinner in a big group and someone asks to split the bill quickly, I will probably find an excuse to be doing something else…

Sometimes the approach that works for the majority isn’t suitable, a coach (or a teacher in this instance), can recognise the need for a different approach to drive progress.

Half squatting

Who here loves realising they have been doing something wrong they thought they had nailed? “No, again”!? Swinging from confidence to incompetency is a hard ride, but a passage we all must go through at some point in our lives. One experience that exemplifies this was my first year of university, I had been going to the gym regularly since I was about 16 so had 3 years of ‘training’ under my belt. I felt confident in what I could do in the gym environment. I thought I was strong and I was obsessed with lifting the biggest weights because that was what all the pro rugby players did, and I was also obsessed with rugby at the time. One session I was squatting and there was a guy next to me also squatting. I noticed he was going a lot lower than me and he had a lot of the proper hardcore gym gear on; a belt, Olympic lifting shoes, and some other gym apparel. He looked that part, more than me, so I thought he must know what he is doing and I decided to copy him. On my next set I attempted to go lower… it felt like gravity had been turned up for that set, and I couldn’t finish it. However, I couldn’t tell if I was going low enough for a full squat, so I asked a coach in the gym to have a look. Yep, you guessed it, I was only going halfway down. Obviously I hadn’t reduced the load in anyway to help with this increased range of motion. That would be a silly idea… The coach advised I drop the load and then attempt to go deeper. He informed me that whilst it was annoying right now, in the long run it would lead to more effective training. So I did, and for the next 3 days going downstairs was an ordeal!!!


Where you are vs want to be

Often the road to success involves a realisation of where you are vs. where you thought you were vs. where you want to go. That experience can be jarring and demoralising, but when you are guided through the perspective shift, the probability of true progress skyrockets.

Multiple times when a new member joins G2G they go through this process, often saying, ‘ I didn’t think there was so much to a think about doing a plank?’  But more senior members often give encouragement, saying they went through the same thing, and that it gets better. An environment where there is shared experience that people can relate to is important for coaching to flourish. There is shared understanding of the struggle that is required for achieving goals, the give to get. And it’s not just the members, we as coaches at G2G coach each other and get coached by external coaches.

I spent a few years in a big box, commercial style gym, doing personal training. To say there was a little oversight on CPD is a huge understatement. The courses offered were ineffective and irregular. There was a lop-sided focus on sales and not on coach development. One of big reasons I decided to leave and move to G2G as a coach was precisely that there was an importance placed on coaches being coached. And we all go through the perspective shift I mentioned earlier, so we can relate to members, and we can learn new skills to become better coaches along the way too.

Coaching at the centre

At G2G we put the coaching at the centre of what we do, it permeates every aspect of the gym, the members, the coaches, it is the environment. We realise that whilst we can’t make or force progress to happen for anyone, we can make the process more effective and efficient. We can help take the member from being lead, to working in partnership with a coach, to them leading the coaching process and coaching each other.

From the anecdotes in this article, coaching means we can give and consider the context in which an approach is taken. We can mould the message to the person in front of us, so there is a smoother transition from frustration, uncertainty, incompetency, or feeling like you are drinking from a fire hose to agency or autonomy. We as coaches have all gone through that process (and continue to) so that we can help best guide members through it as well. So, we can relate to the members and them to us. So, we can build relationships between us that is an anchor of true progress built by a coaching-based environment.


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