Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The gym where I work out has been hiring new coaches and they've been trying out some prospective candidates to see who fits in. Obviously they have their own ideas about what kind of person they are looking for, but it's made me think about my personal preferences regarding coaches and teachers.

I've written many times before about Sonny, his diminutive size, and his physical 'unfitness', and also mentioned some of his stories regarding fights he got into in his younger days, and others that he was witness to.

Much of the advice that still resonates with me, regarding how to read people and prevail in an encounter, came from these stories, and more specifically from the stories about when things went wrong -

"If you see a finger on the ground, do not look at your hands. If you know it is yours you will freak out. Pretend it is your opponent's, much better that way."

Yeah .... Anyway, the point is it's the negative stuff that seems to stick better in the memory. Pain and loss can be great teachers, as in - Don't do that again!

But back to the gym.

If have realized that in general the enthusiastic 20 somethings do nothing for me, and the reason is not their perky exuberance, which can be somewhat grating before the sun is up, but their complete lack of any injury. Now, this may seem a little counter intuitive, but the logic is this - My favorite coach has had to deal with many injuries from well over a decade of playing competitive team sports. He KNOWS what screwing something up looks like. He can FEEL it when he watches someone else move. He understands HOW injuries happen, and remembers all the things he did wrong to 1) Get the Injury in the first place, and 2) What he had to do to have it heal properly .... or not ...

Experience, especially of the debilitating, less glorious, type is enormously helpful when teaching others how to avoid having it happen to them. Whether it's a body mechanics issue, over training, or understanding what it is like to be smaller and weaker than pretty much anyone you might have to cross swords/hands with, I'd vote for it every time.


Stickgrappler said...

Hello Maija,

*Bows deeply*

Good points, especially harping on the negative. Very few mention the positives, but they all will be all over you, when it's negative... worse is if it's some time later, they still remember and bring it back up. So much negativity still inside them... I'm one to speak though, had a bad co-worker experience that i just cannot let go and won't forgive him. If you want to hear it, let me know.

"If you see a finger on the ground, do not look at your hands. If you know it is yours you will freak out. Pretend it is your opponent's, much better that way."

Is that Sonny's? Trying to "collect quotes" for a project (long-term project at this rate).

Thank you.

Very truly yours,


Jim said...

That runs in line with a problem with lots of professional trainers... They can have unrealistic standards and expectations. Not everyone can spend 2 or 3 hours a day in the gym on fitness alone; if I have that dedicated training time, I'd rather spend about 30 or so on plain fitness stuff, and the rest on my martial arts training. Don't get me wrong, I probably spend about 10 or so hours a week in fitness oriented training -- it's a bit of a professional necessity -- but it's designed to balance and work with my martial arts training.

Young, hyperfit instructors who never dealt with an injury or rehab after injury, and who put more effort into motivation and enthusiasm than understanding what their clients want and need are just plain hard to take. I've been fortunate; spent the last 12 weeks working once a week with trainers, and they understood my goals and my needs. And I know that they didn't just do the same work out with each client each day...

Maija said...

@SG - Yes, that's from Sonny.
@Jim - See, I don't think it's even about unrealistic expectations, I think it's more about not actually watching what is going on. Fixating on 'Do this' or 'This is what we are doing' involves no critical thinking about WHY you are doing it. If you have the 'why' then you can modify the 'what' ... but only if you have the knowledge to understand all the versions of 'what' there are to lead to the same goal.

I'm going to expand on a couple things next post ... Got me thinking some more ....