The Road to a Strength Coach – Jim Wendler

The Road to a Strength Coach


[caption id="attachment_3732" align="alignnone" width="450"]441447 Buddy Morris: Badass Strength Coach/Sleeve Allergy Sufferer[/caption]

Question:

I'm considering going the route of strength coach/gym owner and was wondering how you got into the coaching industry specifically? I know step one would be to get as strong as possible and learn as much as I can in the process - Experience trumps everything. But in terms of steps towards the actual profession and landing jobs to gain coaching experience, I'm looking for some guidance if you're willing? Anything helps.

Answer:

The strength coach and gym owner are two VERY different paths. The former is what I'm most familiar with, so I'll address that one.
Besides loving to train (and you actually doing it), you are going to have to shovel some shit via interning.  This is usually done in a university setting or something similar (large or well known training facility).  You will be an intern, not a coach. So while you'll often be helping with administering training, you will be expected to do shit work like cleaning platforms or something similar.  You are there to help the main coach so you'll be parroting his work/ideas, not your own. This is easy to do if you are relatively new to training.  This is not good for those that have been around for a long time.  But whatever the case, it's his program, his gym and his athletes, not yours.  So if he tells you to have them squat 1/4 of the way down, that's what you do.  But you have to get your foot in the door and nothing is better than doing it for free.  You are there to learn what to do, what not to do and to learn everything you can.  Finding something like this sucks as there are very few per area of people - and moving for a non-paying job isn't easy. That's why these internships are easier to swallow for college kids and those just out of college - shit hasn't gotten out of hand in life.  So this is a huge sacrifice for many.
The key is just getting you into the club so they know you exist.  While being an intern, you should have a chance to network and meet other coaches.  This, many times, will be on your own dime.  But more so, you need to impress the main coach because he can recommend you for real, paying jobs when they open up.  So like anything, do the work, do a good job, suck it up when you have to.  Make a good impression.  Show up early, do what your told, keep your ears open and your mouth shut.
There is nothing more important than this time as you will be setting yourself up for every step along the way.  If you keep with it, you'll be moving around, taking jobs in different places.  At this point, you have to weigh what you want to do, where you want to go and who you want to work for. And if you keep working at it, keeping your head down, you'll look up one day and ask yourself, "How the hell did I get to Louisiana?" But none of this is even remotely possible without getting into the club.  Like training, when a good base is built and you are smart about it, good things happen down the road. 20 years from now, you can look back and see the progress. If you were to draw a metaphorical chart, the progress would be/should be up.  But when you look at it closer, the line on this chart would be full of serious dips, some high and some low; and some which would cause many to quit. It's just about having the ability to withstand the storms that come.
Along the way, you'll get smarter and better as you are passionate about the pursuit - that is kind of a no-brainer.  The one thing that you will learn is that coaching 30+ athletes at the same time, with limited space and equipment is far different than coaching on the internet, in an article or by the dude who "benched 400 in high school".  The best part of this is that you will now  belong to the club.  And you will realize that  many people out there, trying to pass themselves off as coaches, are so amazingly full of shit.  And there are so many great coaches too.  It's fun to see the picture of something you love so much.
The road for some may not have been paved like this but it is how most have done it.  And like everything in the world, the best person doesn't always get the job.  It's always who you know, how you do your job and what you know; usually in that that order.