Written by Renee Garcia
The other day, I began to think back to how I have gotten to this point in powerlifting and thought about what I did to get my start. I started going to the gym in 2013 at 24 years old but didn't really start powerlifting until 2014, when I learned all of the main movements from my brother. I accompanied his teachings by reviewing other powerlifters that I followed via social media, but also by reading endless articles and viewing Youtube videos in order to reinforce what I was seeing on social media.
Alongside my brother and my new found powerlifting internet knowledge, I coached myself into my first meet in January 2015 where I had an 880 total (SQ: 335 / B: 165 / DL: 380) - all completed beltless! With more in the tank, I was proud to get myself to that point but knew that if I wanted to reach the next level, it would be best for me to start shopping around for a coach.
As a n00b, I had no idea how to shop for a coach, nor did I feel comfortable enough to ask anyone how to go about it. Granted, there are many things you find out after you sign on the dotted line and pay your coach, I did go by certain guidelines I set up for myself which I have found are applicable and can be helpful to those on the hunt for a coach.
1) Do you want someone who can physically be there or are you okay with virtual coaching?
Prior to my first powerlifting meet, I attended several meets in and around New York and New Jersey to get myself familiarized with the flow and overall meet day vibes. During that time, I noticed that my, now coach, was consistently at these meets with his lifters.
Takeaway: I knew that I really wanted someone to learn from in person and his visibility in within my area reinforced that.
2) Are you looking for someone who is more conservative or willing to be advantageous when calling numbers?
Around the same time when I was shopping for a coach, one of my best friends had begun training with her powerlifting coach. Per her coaching preference, she opted to go with an online coach who we over time found out took on a more conservative on the platform. Her coach’s style included playing it smart when calling her numbers going with extremely conservative numbers in order to achieve a higher total vs. being a little more advantageous and really pushing their lifter to see what they are truly capable of. Don't get me wrong - I think that's a great approach especially in cases where all you need is a qualifying total for a larger meet but when it comes to meets in general, I would want to see and try my full potential. I know that being more advantageous [or even conservative] won't guarantee me a higher total and aside from having open lines of communication with my coach, I would want a coach who already initially aligns with my approach on the platform in order for us to both succeed.
Takeaway: When shopping around, browse and ask this potential coach how they like to approach meets and calling attempts. Simply ask “Do you find yourself to be more conservative or advantageous?” Take a browse through social media & their clients to confirm that and may if you're comfortable enough, reach out to a few of his/her lifters to get their input as well.
3) How accessible do you want your coach to be?
Now you’re saying, “Duh, Renee… why would I look for a coach who isn’t accessible?” Ha! There’s plenty of coaches who hand you the program and say good bye, have fun & let me know if you have any questions – but to some, more accessibility matters. In a perfect world to some, a coach being accessible 24/7 is key, but let’s be real…That’s not going to be the case, as each of us, have lives outside of coaching and being a “coachee.” With having a live, in person coach, you do have that luxury to ask a multitude of questions and have them answered almost immediately. On the other hand, most people go with having an online coach where communication adds another layer of difficulty. Again, that goes into are you okay with having an online or physical coach?
Takeaway: While communication is a two-way street, it is important to know that your coach will be there when needed for questions regarding programming, lifting form, and the other million questions you’ll find that you’ll want to ask your coach. When reaching out to your potential coach, ask them for their means of communication whether it be through a coaching platform, social media, e-mail, via phone or even through text.
Shopping for a powerlifting coach is different for all, but hope these few points will help find someone that can lead you to the next level of powerlifting and help to make you a strong person in and out of the gym!
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