The Protocol Turns 12! Coach Jerry shares his thoughts on hiring coaches, snarky gym shirts, and why he doesn’t give a crap about training elite athletes.
Today’s post may sound like it’s written for my colleagues, but please stay with me… there’s plenty of stuff for non-trainers as well.
This post is being published on the 12-year anniversary of our gym. It’s also my 18th year working as a fitness professional. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I tend to get a little sentimental during this time of year. Like most professionals, I question lots of things… including my own successes and abilities. You may find yourself having similar thoughts about your own career.
This type of thinking is healthy in my opinion. As Dave Ramsey famously put it, “Some people have 30 years of experience, others have one year of experience 30 times.” It’s wise to always be thinking like there’s more to learn.
One of the most common inquiries of any business owner is, “Are you guys hiring?”
For our type of business, we are always hiring. If a trainer calls most personal training gyms and says, “Hi! My gym just closed and I’ve got a book of 46 clients. I’m looking for a place to relocate myself and them. Are you guys hiring?” The owner of the facility would begin salivating. They would do anything to bring this person on board! The trainer is essentially calling and saying, “Hi. I’d like to bring thousands of dollars per month to your facility. Are you interested?”
At our place, as odd as this sounds, the answer is usually, “No.”
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Huh? Why is that?
It’s been my experience that most small personal training gyms have one simple question when deciding whether or not to bring on a new trainer… can the new trainer afford to pay rent? As far as these facilities are concerned, there are two types of trainers… those who can afford rent, and those who can’t.
Our facility operates under different requirements. First and foremost, The Protocol is not a gym, nor is it a personal training facility. The Protocol is a system… a coaching program. This means every teacher IN our system is a student OF our system. This is how I weed out the ‘are you hiring?’ crowd to decide who is really worth talking to. If they are willing to become a part of this coaching program, we’ll talk to them. However, if they believe their way is the only way… well, I’m sure there are lots of other gyms that would be happy to have them.
If you’re a student at The Protocol (or considering becoming one), you can expect to see a great deal of consistency in your training as well as your program design. We are all cut from the same cloth. Yes, we all have our individual areas of expertise, but the greater principles we teach in our facility remain consistent across the board… regardless of the modality being taught.
Although we’ve outgrown two facilities, I’ve refused to grow the dining room faster than I can grow the kitchen. Frankly, I’d rather close this place than see my message get watered down.
“I want to specialize in training elite athletes!”
You wouldn’t believe how often I get this from new trainers. If you are a new trainer interviewing at a facility, don’t start with this line. It’s a dead giveaway that you’re still wet behind the ears.
First off, no… you definitely do NOT want to only work with elite athletes. They are, for the most part, some of the most difficult people to have as students. Second, most of them are not as rich as you think they are, and private coaching will be the first expense they cut if finances are tight.
Third, and probably the most important, an elite athlete is not going to be interested in hiring your fresh-out-of-school-just-barely-certified ass to coach them! These people are looking for the best of the best to get them to the promised land of their high-level goals.
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I’ve been coaching for almost two decades. I’m not the most successful coach in the world, but my knowledge has allowed me to coach powerlifting teams to four national championships, set numerous state/national/world records, and travel around the country to teach hundreds of instructors. I’ve worked with tens of thousands of people from all walks of life. Despite all of this, I would be lying if I said I’ve worked with more than maybe 20 elite athletes in my entire career.
Even if we lowered the standards and added ‘high-level’ athletes to the list, we’re still talking about less than a few hundred. I would have starved to death in this business years ago if I only chose to work with this group.
In my travels, I’ve had the fortune to meet and work with coaches who DO work with high-level folks (BTW, these facilities are few and far between). They all tell me the same stories: These guys/gals are… let’s just say… difficult. They don’t listen to you, they can be surprisingly flakey, and their expectations are through the roof. And if you don’t get them the results they’re looking for, they’ll fire you in a heartbeat!
The 12-year Protocol success story doesn’t lie in the highlight reels you see on our social media. Our success was built on teaching ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We help people age gracefully, move better, and become stronger. We help everyday folks become more resilient, more useful, and harder to kill.
Each year, we produce an anniversary shirt. We never make the same one twice! Some years they are more stylish, some years they are more snarky. This year’s shirt definitely falls into the ‘snarky’ category…
I took a risk on this one, and some folks were offended by it for a variety of reasons. However, my message here is simple, I think it’s pretty hard to argue the fact that we are de-evolving as a species. Just look around. Modern life has made it to where having a strong capable body is optional for most people. However, we must humbly admit that we were not built to be this way.
So, for as long as I’m alive and people still want to hear my voice, my message will always be the same: We are all flowers that are fading, and strength/movement is the closest thing we have to Ponce De Leon’s magic fountain.
With that said… Whether you are a current student, former student, or just someone who has enjoyed the online content of my organization, thank you! I look forward to serving you for many more years!
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.nn