I am coming at this from the perspective that some of you are trying to find your place as a coach and some of you are trainees. And I honestly think it’s beneficial for coaches to understand WHERE their clients are so they can meet them there.
It can be SO HARD and take a long freaking time to feel like you belong in the health and fitness space. Whether it be online or in person. To really have a place and feel comfortable there. Not comfortable in a bad or restricting way, but like – really happy to take up the space that you do in this field.
Likewise as a trainee, you want to feel like you belong, like you’re joyful and confident in your health and fitness experience. And believe it or not, I think the answers are the same for both the trainer and the trainee in this situation.
Hear me out.
I believe there are a lot of factors that play into this.
The two main factors are your philosophy and the people/environment you put yourself in.
And it won’t happen overnight. I mean, the people and environment scenario might happen overnight, but the philosophy will not.
And yes, let’s make it clear that I strongly believe in clients having and developing their philosophy around training or nutrition or whatever area of health they’re practicing. Your beliefs and thoughts in this area need to align with your coach of choice…so it matters.
That’s my take anyway. And I’m a huge advocate for client efficacy so that makes sense. I don’t think clients should do whatever their trainer says all the time, I encourage questions and I want clients to be curious just like I want professionals to be curious. No one should ever stop asking questions in my opinion. Again, it’s an opinion and a belief. And also probs because I am personally a questioner on Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies so this is a natural part of my personality which I’m sure is annoying to some.
So let’s dive into the philosophy portion of finding your place in the world of fitness.
Finding your philosophy
Your space will naturally be within the facility of humans who either have a similar philosophy to you and/or the same values as you do.
I found my space in the in person space very much so in college athletics and performance rehab.
In the online space, I’ve found it with people who are education based, whether they are physical therapists, dietitians, strength coaches, or chiropractors. And yes, all of those humans are in my space. We share the same space because we are for educating our clients, being transparent, and being professionals. Those are my people. And let me tell you it took a HAWT minute to find them.
Small story time – when I entered Instagram and online training back in 2015, I had no space. I’ve talked about this before. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I hadn’t been exposed to anything in the fitness world other than the boxes. When I say boxes, I mean the powerlifter box, or bikini competitor box, or cross fitter box, or fitspro box, or doctor box. I was not in any of those boxes. My philosophy was based off part of all of the boxes, and I felt like if I just went all in with one of these boxes, I’d have community and find my place in this field.
But you and I both know that’s false. Which is why I didn’t do that. I simply kept sharing what I knew to be my truth in the world of lifting weights and moving your body.
Slowly, VERY. SLOWLY…I found my humans – my no bull shit, knowledge and application based humans. Five years later, I proudly take up my space in this field and that is largely in part due to other professionals welcoming me in that process.
It’s what I hope I am now doing for others on Instagram – providing a place for young coaches to develop their philosophy, ask questions, and put into practice what they’re learning. Who knows if it’s happening, but that’s the goal for sure.
So, that’s all just to say that as you spend time deciding what are your foundational beliefs and practices in health and fitness, you’ll find your space. And you’ll be more confident filling that space.
With that, I have to make a note.
You HAVE to speak your mind. You HAVE to stand for something or you will blend in with the rest of the noise that is the over saturated world of health and fitness – whether in person or online.
What do you believe to be true? What are some of your foundational beliefs? Do you believe everyone should squat if they have the ability? That mobility is the basis of all movement? Believe that food freedom and macros cannot work together? I have no clue. I am just giving ideas here to make the point clear.
You’ve got to say, YUP – this is what I believe. This is what I practice with my clients, and this is WHY.
That can be scary. It’s easy to just repeat what you see other coaches and professionals saying. It’s a HUGE challenge to put YOUR THOUGHTS AND BELIEFS into the inter web. That’s not the safe route, right? But it’s the one I encourage you to take.
Because even after one or two times of stating a piece of your philosophy, you will gain confidence, and feel affirmed in that truth.
And, hi…your philosophy will change and CAN change! That is bound to happen. What you believe about fitness the day you get your certification is not what you’ll believe ten years down the road. Not in totality I mean.
Yes, you may believe on day 1 and year 10 that bodies were designed to move, but perhaps you thought cardio killed strength gains on day 1 but in year 10 you have a much deeper understanding of the complexity that goes into whether or not cardio will diminish or halt strength gains. I literally have a podcast episode on 5 things I used to believe in fitness AND 3 things I used to believe in business.
Beliefs change through questioning and experience. WE encourage that.
So, state your current truth – your current practices in health and fitness. Take up your current space and see what kind of response you get.
That’s how we develop your philosophy and that’s how you begin to find and take up space in this industry.
Finding your people
This one is going to be more trainer heavy. Just a heads up. But there will still be takeaways I am sure for the trainee as well.
In the process of developing your philosophy you will likely find your people. Which is the second or other piece of this.
Through experiences as a trainer or trainee, you’ll learn quickly who are and are not your people.
I touched on my in person and online experiences with finding my people but let’d dig a little deeper into those experiences.
First off, knowing your values is very important and worth speaking on I think.
Because to some extent, your philosophy – yes, your training and nutrition philosophy – will be in line with those values.
For instance, some of my core values that apply to life, business and fitness are education or knowledge, transparency, and quality or professionalism. Those span all areas of my life. And I look for these in the people I want to work for or work with.
As a client, you’ll want a coach who aligns with your values. I’d hope that is clear. As a trainer, you want to work under humans you respect.
I chose my college internship wisely, I was not looking for 20 hours of week where I could sit at a desk and scroll social media. I wanted to work under the BEST. Or the best that was in my area – within my reach. AND at the time, my plan was to become a collegiate strength coach so college athletics made sense.
That happened to be under Bradford Scott and Cat Wade at University of Portland.
THESE. WERE. MY. PEOPLE.
I realize a lot of people do not have the amazingly valuable experience I had in college strength and performance. But that is PRECISELY what we’re addressing now.
Getting experience working with and for different types of people in different settings will allow you to find your space and FILL THE SHIT OUT OF IT.
It is literally like you’re a puzzle piece and there are a few spots left, a few gaps in the puzzle. You are you, obviously. So you know what piece you are but you’re trying to see where you line up, where your shape fits. In this case, your shape is all that encompasses your philosophy, values and profession.
This makes so much sense in my head and I feel like I am doing a terrible job of articulating it but I hope for you sake that you’re tracking.
You can only find your space through experience. And that experience will involve other humans. ESPECIALLY if you’re in person.
I loved everything about U.P. and hated almost everything about my experience in another internship. I’ve mentioned this before.
I was still working at University of Portland at the time and I had to drive from there to my internship in this performance based physical therapy clinic. Sounds amazing. Could have been amazing with other people, but instead it was a part of my day that made me cringe. I would literally get angry driving there because of how much I disagreed with the entire culture of the facility. That sounds harsh. I actually love one of the owners and still do, but I wasn’t working with him. So there’s that.
So, I was naturally complaining to Brad one day in the office at UP. I am sure I was just listing all the things I hated or disagreed with, all the things I’d do differently. And he so calmly (and probably annoyingly) said, “Annie, you’re always learning. In this case, take note of what you’ll never stand for. How you’ll never run a facility or take a client through a workout.”
And now, I am passing that same advice on to you. That advice that made me want to smash my head through the glass windows of the office.
Whether in the online space or in person – take note of humans you align with, who you respect, and create relationships with THEM.
Also – like speaking your truth, this can be terrifying. But going up to Brad after he spoke in my class my sophomore year of college and saying “I want to be your intern – how do I do that?” And direct messaging Dr. Sean Pastuch from Active Life expressing my gratitude for their content and asking about my ankle issue were some of the most important moments in my career as a professional. I was scared, and both cases, very much so a newb – but both of those men helped me find, and affirm my place in this field.
I guess the take aways of today’s episode are for you to define your core values, start speaking to your current philosophy – what you stand firmly for NOW, and create relationships with those you align with, or aspire to be like, whether they are in your exact profession or not. Because the health and fitness field is VERY wide.
One thing I can say for sure is that you won’t find your place by staying where you are and doing nothing or playing small.
It simply won’t happen. Like freaking anything else I tell you to do – finding your place in this field will take ACTION, experience, and implementation. It won’t happen over night and it won’t be a walk in the park. Call me a realist.
But, it can 100% happen. And I am seriously stoked for you. Because having a place that you truly fit and belong is one of the best feelings ever. Both as a trainer and trainee.
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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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