Are you strong?
It seems like a simple question. I used to answer it by seeing how much weight I had in my hands compared to everyone else. Using others to gauge success can be a seriously motivating driving force; Something to aim for, someone to catch, someone to beat, something to achieve. What happens however when there is no one left to beat or, no matter how hard you try, you feel you never had a chance?
Comparing yourself to others is useful to a point, but comparing yourself to yourself is how you evaluate true strength. Have you become a stronger version of yourself? That’s the question you should be asking yourself! If the answer is yes. Fantastic keep doing what you are doing and try to get a little better each day. If the answer is no, don’t panic! Can you reflect on your actions and choose one area to make a simple change? If you are honest, the answer is yes. Everyone can become stronger. Sometimes they might need a little help from a coach but no matter how “weak” they think they are it can happen.
A huge part of my job at FFS is making people stronger. Over the last month, we have had new members, personal training clients and trialists in our new gym, Our coaches and I have had this conversation with all of them, the language we use might be different but our chat comes down to:
“How strong are you right now?”
“What does being strong mean to you?”
“How are we at FFS going to make that happen?”
How do we determine how strong someone is right now?
We perform baseline testing, functional movement screening, aerobic capacity testing, relatively strength testing, muscular endurance testing, core endurance testing. In a controlled environment, we put our athletes through fundamental movement patterns and we identify strengths and weaknesses. This helps us as coaches create an athletic profile. Establishing baseline data across the board gives us a rounded picture of how strong someone is. This is all achieved through our foundation course.
The foundation course is vital for coaches and athletes alike. It helps us, as coaches, make the most informed decisions in terms of exercise selection, regressions, alternates, and, just as importantly, it helps us to establish a 1:1 relationship with our new members. We can then relay all this information to our whole coaching staff (Physiotherapist, Nutrition Coach, Strength & Conditioning Coaches) and, as a collective coaching team, determine the best course of action for our new athletes. This way from day one we can instil confidence in everyone that we are doing what's best for that athlete.
What does being strong mean to you?
“What’s a good score on the rower?” “Is 5 push-ups crap for my size?” “What's a solid bench for a 28-year-old?” “I used to do 6 chin-ups... how many should I do now after I’ve had 2 kids?”. It can be so easy to take for granted as coaches that we will just make people Fitter, Faster and Stronger if they join the gym and turn up. We have the systems in place, we put a lot of work into our programs, and we have expert coaches and great members. The environment, the culture, and the facilities of the FFS Gyms nurture this and help people achieve these goals.
In addition to this, we go one step further. One of the first questions I ask anyone new when they come to the gym is: “What do you want?” I often get a reply like “I want to strengthen my core..lose weight..tone up..put on muscle, move better..be more functional” I ask them why is this important? The answer is often not I want to improve my Vo2 max, my 3 rep max bench press or 5km. Well, sometimes it is, but for the most part, the reason why they are at FFS is much more personal. “I want to feel stronger and more confident in myself" or "I’ve stopped training properly and work, family, relationships, stress, have all taken precedence over what I know is important to me" or "I’m not where I want to be and what I’m currently doing is not working for me.”
We ask all our new members to complete a goal form. On it are questions that essentially get to the root of why people are here at FFS, what they want, and what they need from us as a coaching team. Then we have an informal chat about it. We determine what being stronger looks like to them and what their goals are. This helps us make an informed decision on class selections and frequency of training. Importantly, when things get tough in the gym or the demands of life can feel like they’re getting in the way, as coaches, we can always give them a friendly reminder of why they are here, that what they are doing has a real positive purpose, and the effort they put in, with our support, is going to make them stronger.
How are we at FFS going to make that happen?
In its simplest form, if you turn up consistently, are willing to work hard, and listen to the coaching advice then you will start to see the results. Life is complicated enough; our members come from all different backgrounds, are well-informed, successful individuals who live busy and demanding lives. Often it’s not more information or detail that they need. For the majority of people, it’s the application of sound training principles where they are faltering. Hard work, turning up, putting in a real honest effort, and doing it consistently; this is the key. How we get the best out of our members may differ from person to person. The language we use might be different but the message is always the same. This is where the art and science of coaching need to work in unison.
“You are here to become the strongest version yourself. We are both going to work together to make this happen”
In practice, this happens through work on the gym floor and the positive effect this has on body composition, health, and performance. There is nothing random about our results. Our classes in Strength & Conditioning, Metabolic Conditioning, and Suspension & Bodyweight are all programmed in advance. Great detail goes into the rationale and effectiveness of every single rep, interval, or resistance scheme in these programmes. Where needed, this is customised to the individual (drawing upon the athletic profile created through the Foundation Course). All our classes are coach-led by leaders in their fields whilst fostering a fun, group environment where effort and hard work are rewarded regardless of ability. This, with time, carries over to other aspects of our members' lives, as they learn to make better lifestyle choices and are in a supportive environment with like-minded people who want to see them do well.
Over the last month, since we opened our new gym, I find it hugely rewarding to have seen this happen before my eyes. The most exciting thing for me is that I know what’s coming; I know every time someone walks through our doors that we are helping them become the strongest version of themselves.
If you want to become a stronger version of yourself try a free trial class and ask a coach about why we are more than just a gym.
About the Author
Craig is Director of FFS Gym at the Ivy Exchange. Our brand new gym located opposite the Rotunda Hospital, just off Parnell Street. He is an S&C Coach, Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach and program director of our Suspension & Body-weight Program across all 3 FFS Gyms. If you would like to know more about training at #ffsnorth contact him here