Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks… Sort of… – Tucson Group Fitness Blog

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

Last weekend two of our instructors, Coach Kelli and Coach Doug, attended the StrongFirst SFG Level 1 kettlebell certification. For those unfamiliar, this is one of the most challenging three-day courses in our industry. Not only challenging in the sense of its physical requirements (although there was certainly plenty of that too), but also in the cerebral aspect. It’s a teaching course, so during the weekend each participant is graded on their ability to teach skills, understand how to correct problems, and use good judgement in their own training. After all, if you can’t practice good judgement on yourself, what chance do you stand to communicate good judgement to clients?

Kelli and Doug are newer members of the firm, and part of me was feeling a bit apprehensive about putting them through this cert (I trained with kettlebells for 6 years before I built up the skills necessary for my first SFG many moons ago… and barely survived). But I knew they would be up for the challenge.

Cut to the chase… Kelli and Doug both passed! Much was learned that weekend, and we all have many things to continue to work on. In most martial arts programs, during the black belt ceremony, they say something to the student that goes something along these lines…

“Congratulations! Here is your black belt. The journey now begins.”

The art of coaching is no different.

In comes the old dog…

The part I left out is that I went through this course right alongside them. 2024 marks my 20th year of coaching, and I need two hands to count the number of times I’ve been through this curriculum in some form or fashion, as a participant, assistant, and even an instructor.

So, why do it again?

Pavel tells us that skills are perishable. In James Clear’s book “Atomic Habits”, he talks about the downside of creating good habits. He says the benefits come at a cost. At first, each repetition develops fluency, speed, and skill. But then, as a habit becomes automatic, you become less sensitive to feedback. When you do it “good enough” on autopilot, you stop thinking about how to do it better. Good habits are both blessings and curses. You assume you’re getting better because you’re gaining experience, but in reality, you’re just reinforcing your current habits… not improving them.

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As I walked through these three days with Master Instructor Brett Jones, I discovered that, although some skills stayed sharp, other important techniques slipped through the cracks. It was pretty awesome carving out the time to take a deep dive into correcting these things. I came away with a lot of tangibles… not only on myself but also my students. Dave Ramsey, a financial guru and business coach, says, “There are some people who have 30 years of experience… and others who have 1 year of experience 30 times.” My life’s goal is to never be that second guy. I sincerely believe that my best years are still ahead of me, and I hope you can say the same for yourself. Tony Soprano told us, “’remember when’ is the lowest form of conversation.”

Once again, congratulations to Kelli and Doug on their accomplishment! I’m proud of what they accomplished, and look forward to seeing them continue to grow.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached “Team Protocol” to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie, and dog, Asher.


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