The Coached Becomes a Coach

Last week my daughter got herself a 3-month membership to a nearby community gym. Abby and her friends have decided to do this together, but not one of them knows a thing about going to a gym. My attempts to convince my daughter to make use of the facility’s staff went nowhere. Apparently there was an attractive young man working there the first day they went, and the girls were much too embarrassed/shy/awkward/whatever to ask him for help. This is part of the reason why I was roped into going with Abby to her new gym this afternoon. She would rather learn from me.

I suppose I should look at that as something to be proud of and encouraged by. It is a rare occurrence to hear my kids say that they are proud of me or any words of praise. As much as I hope that they are proud of me, one never truly knows, or at least I don’t. That’s insecurity at it’s best! But I can understand why my daughter would rather learn gym stuff from me than a stranger. We have a good relationship as mother/daughter, confidants, and friends. She knows how much I enjoy training and knows I care about what is best for her.

I do care about what is best for Abby, but I wasn’t confident about showing her the ropes at her gym. I am not a personal trainer or coach. It’s been a while since I was a beginner, long enough that my memory of those early days is hazy in terms of what I did. Quite simply, I doubt my ability to transfer training knowledge to someone else. I feel like I am not qualified, that I don’t know enough to even make an attempt. My coach is amazing, and I could never fill his shoes.

Despite my reluctance to take time out of my day to go to the gym with my daughter, I did. It was very weird to walk into a public gym without a clear plan of attack. How could I help Abby get started? I don’t use machines in my training, but I couldn’t really start Abby off with squats, deadlifts and bench pressing! Besides, I am not teacher/coach material! Somehow I muddled my way through. I showed her a few simple mobility moves as warm-up, then slowly took her through the circuit machines, carefully explaining proper form and precautions. After making our way through the machines, we ventured into the weight room. The squat rack was so enticing, at least for me, but I thought it best to leave it alone. My SI joint is still cranky and wasn’t even very comfortable sitting on the circuit machines for brief demonstrations, and I’d rather save my real efforts for my own training session tomorrow! Instead, I showed her how to use the cable machine for seated rows, lat pull downs, face pulls and triceps extensions. I showed her how to use the ab wheel and do knee raises and goblet squats. I gave her ideas for things to do for cardio during the circuit beyond the stair climber and bikes. I imparted wisdom on opening up the shoulders, lining up elbows under wrists, stopping if something didn’t feel right (as in actual pain and not mere ‘I don’t like this’ discomfort), neutral spine position and not twisting the head at weird angles, remembering to breathe, making sure her last rep is as good as the first, when to drop the weight and when to increase it or add reps. I wanted to show her how to use the TRX, but there was a young woman doing an entire work out in that itty-bitty space dedicated to the TRX and mobility stuff. I’m pretty sure she was camped out in that spot for the piece of full-length mirror, which is just another reason why I love my gym where I never need to stress over missing out on equipment or floor space due to someone’s vanity.

Despite my reluctance to go, it turns out the experience wasn’t so bad. I think I gave Abby enough information to feel somewhat comfortable and to begin, because starting is really the hardest step of all. I tease her all the time, but I love my girl and want the best for her. She might not get bitten by the iron bug the way that I did, but I’m proud of her for making the decision to go to a gym. Yes, she made the decision with friends, but she paid for her membership and is making the effort to learn and do. My reluctance has now given way to anticipation. Now I am hoping that she enjoys it enough to keep going, so that she will want me to come and show her how to use the free weights. I might even dream that she will want to put on a singlet one day…

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