Dragons and dungeons…

Slaying Dragons…

Imagine you are a dragon slayer, and you know you’re among the very best at slaying dragons.  Every day you wake up, prepare yourself for the day, sharpen your sword, and step outside to fulfill your potential on behalf of the world.  Confidence abounds.

Soon you spot the first dragon of the day, and he is headed toward you in full glide.  You’re ready.  You have lived your whole life for this, and you know you are going to win.  The dragon approaches as if it’s his responsibility to be slayed.  You raise your sword just as high as your arm will reach.  You look him in the eye as he dives, take aim, and time it just right.  You lower your arm with all your might, and… you miss.  The dragon looks back with a sardonic smile as he flies away, and you stand there in failure.

Another dragon will arrive in just few minutes to experience the exact same result.  This has been your daily life for many years.  You spend most days wondering what your purpose really is.  You know you’re good at what you do, but the dragons never fly quite close enough.  Life feels empty.  You ask yourself why you aren’t successful anymore.  It wasn’t always this way…

How things were a decade ago...

How things were a decade ago…

The reason for the lack of outcome, of course, is that dragons fly, and you don’t.  You actually can fly, you choose not to anymore.  If you choose to fly, then the battle will be real, and there will be risk in confrontation.  You dislike confrontation so instead you wake each day hoping the dragon will fly into the sword, and accept his fate, though this has never happened.

Who’s at fault, really…?  There are two responsible parties in a dragon slaying; the dragon, and the slayer.  If they both show up, and do what they are expected to do, a successful slaying should be a non-issue.  The dragons in this case actually pay to be slayed.  It appears though, that some don’t necessarily want to be slayed.

Backing down is easy…

Of course I’m not talking about dragons.  Ask me what I do for a living, and I will give you a simple answer; I teach proper form in strength training.  That’s it.  That tenet is primary to anything else I attempt with my clients.  I teach strength training in a way that is so specific, so unique, that the only possible outcome when it is executed correctly is improvement.

I have discovered though, that most people I work with are not as dialed into the concept or the value of perfection in strength training as I am.  When push comes to shove in teaching this unique style of exercise, I often withdraw and allow the student to participate in a lesser fashion for my fear of confrontation, and the result is not maximized.  Too long I have created a habit in myself of accepting less than the student is capable of.  At that I have become internally frustrated, but the breakdown is 100% on me.

 A new approach to teaching…

I have become a good ear for many of contemporary my clients.  Male or female, I am a friend they can confide in during a workout with no fear of judgment.  I’m the parent that many of my teenage clients wish they really had.  I’m the good son that many of my seniors never had.  These friendships run deep.  In a sense, I am an accidental life coach.

good exercise form; it really is just a choice

Conversations over crunches are mutually beneficial, and I have gained much wisdom from my clients through the years.  As a friend to my clients though, I have not wanted to put boundaries on these conversations, always rationalizing that so long as some work is getting done, the workout is fruitful.  Inside though, I have hoped for more on the exercise side of things.

The productivity of a workout is a relative thing.  Even if the exercise isn’t primary to a particular session, the student always leaves feeling they have had a great workout because they are emotionally cleansed.  If there has been a breakdown on my part it’s that my focus on exercise beyond the conversations has been on volume of movements, and not quality.

Going forward, rather than focus on how many movements are completed during the course of the workout, I will place my primary emphasis back on quality of exercise.  There is more utility, in my opinion, in doing 4 movements in absolute form in the course of an hour, than doing 8 movements with a lesser emphasis on form.  At this point I can say the conversations are mutually important.  Managing this, this is my new dragon, and it’s time for me to fly once again.

Dead weight; it’s not an exercise…

Some dragons are nothing but gas...

Some dragons are nothing but gas…

Sadly though, there are some clients who won’t adapt.  I already know who they are.  I’m not even part of their workout equation.  Often times these people don’t even know I’m in the room.  They pay a great deal of money to go through the motions, toss weights around in a private gym where they can bitch, and moan about their fucked up lives, leave me to pick up the pieces as I walk through their toxic gasses, and as they storm out on completion.  It is me who has enabled this.  It is me that must now send them packing.  Wish me luck, because that too is another dragon.  Trainers take note: Dragon selection is everything.  Be well…  rc


Please check back in 2 weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from The Heartless Bastards.  Enjoy…

11 responses

  1. Aren’t you being a little rough on your slackers? Have you considered that even a tangential brush with your training regimen might be the one thing that keeps them from a heart attack or other serious medical hardship down the line.? Everybody’s juggling their lives, trying their best and sometimes we humans just can’t dedicate maximum effort. Are you really going to be cutting people out of your herd? The emotional severing might be hard too, especially if you let them know that they just couldn’t cut the mustard. Be nice.

    • Maybe I phrased it poorly in too many words, Robert. Everyone gets a second chance. I let go of only 3 of 28 clients. The whole point is to relax the quantity, focus on the quality, keep it enjoyable for them, and not toxic for me. Three days in everyone is onboard. It’s a happy medium. But those who I let go, made me twitch when as soon as their cars pulled up. Helping them stave off the big one, is no fair exchange for my stroke.

      Everyone gets a chance, even me.

  2. Great entry as usual.

    I always say people don’t appreciate the deepness of fitness or how exceptional their trainers are. Most don’t unfortunately.

    I’m really glad you’re going to start slaying dragons because this will fuel you, your passions and give you inspiration in countless other ways. It’s also being true to yourself. Much luck on all slayings. 🙂

  3. I’ve worked with trainers, and I’ve coached athletes. I have also been a teacher. In all those situations, some level of “socialization” is inevitable, and usually very pleasant. wonderful. HOWEVER, it DOES impede progress.

    I appreciate the trainers who gently redirected my energy and focus toward the task at hand. I try to do the same with my students.

    It’s a fine line, but think you know where it lies. 🙂

    • Thank you, Julie. Yes, I know where that line lies. The question is can I get better at enforcing it…? Three days after my discussion with my clients, so far so good. I have had to drop a few, and may be one or two more. I just need to keep my eyes on that line.

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