I was watching “The Amazons Workout” featurette on YouTube recently. As most things with Mark Twight (or one of his disciples) do, it made me look back at the roughly seven years I’ve been involved in the fitness industry as a trainer at varying levels. I realized that the best students I’ve had have been women: women of various backgrounds and abilities, women who consciously or otherwise chose to show just what they were made of. And I am more proud of them and of what they have done than of myself or anything I’ve ever achieved.
I can’t figure out exactly what it is that makes women – in my experience, at least – more receptive to coaching than men. Certainly one of the biggest factors is the lack of superficial ego: few women walk into a gym and think they’re the strongest, most amazing person there. Funny enough, not everyone is better because of that absence: Maita, for example, took on everything and anything thrown at her because she couldn’t conceive of herself doing any less than her very best. What she never did was assume she knew everything there was to know, which meant she was willing to learn even from someone with markedly fewer sports achievements than she.
Another factor is that women tend to be better listeners than men. The difference between someone waiting for a chance to brag and someone with genuine interest is the difference between a brick wall and a warm embrace. There is always something to be gained from someone with whom you can sit down and have a long, thoughtful conversation with. That aspect is one reason I enjoyed training Bai so much, perhaps almost as much as watching her achieve things she didn’t think possible.
Perhaps it’s a combination of all of these traits and my own luck in having found people who showcase them. It certainly hasn’t always been smooth sailing – I’ve had enough fights with trainees to know I can’t get along with everyone all the time. Whatever it is, I am constantly left in awe of the women who pass through my care.
Seeing someone do things they never thought possible is and has always been the greatest thing about being a coach. That always brings me a sense of wonder, as it would to any real coach. And I’m always grateful for the women who’ve shown me that.
5min Airbike @ progressive pace
5x10s hard / 50s easy Airbike
10x Pike Push-up
10x TRX Row
45s work / 15s rest
3 rounds / 60s rest
Press @ 2×25# – 19 / 26 / 24
Hammer Curl @ 2×25# – 12
Airbike – 4cal / 3.9cal / 3.7cal
10x30s Plank / 30s rest
- This is cribbed off the original “300” training program, though originally with an Arnold Press instead. I was looking for something that fits what I call Sns – Short ‘n’ Shitty. I found it with a hard Airbike at the end of each round.
- I might have to get around to reviewing my air bike some time. It isn’t an AirDyne or some equally well-known brand or model (an Inspire CB1), but it certainly gives everything I wanted. And it sucks.
I recently learned of the death of someone I would consider one of my first – and few – coaches. Turned out he’d passed almost two years ago, and of something I never would have imagined. He was best known as an adventurous climber, so I’d never have guessed he’d meet his end anywhere but on the lime and granite.
Reflecting on his being gone made me realize that while I couldn’t remember a single thing he’d ever said, I did have a very clear image of him as someone I would call a true coach. If his love for the mountains and the outdoors in general was matched by anything, it was by his passion for encouraging and teaching others. He was my mom and my first wall climbing instructor. A summer camp at which he was a master was the first place I got a taste of leadership.
In his own circle, he was also known more for his work than his words. His FA (first ascent) “Buffalo Soldier” (originally “The Wave of the Future”) remains one of his claims to fame, as do his energetic pursuits of other routes.
No one really thinks about what “Actions speak louder than words” means until moments like these. I hadn’t seen him in years, so his loss wasn’t as terrible to me as it might have been. Still, it was a shock. More than that, though, it was a lesson: Who we are will live on through what we do.
RIP Master Gax Ylanan (d. 2016)
5min Ride @ progressive pace
10x KB Swing @ 24/28/32kg
21/18/15/12/9/6/3x KB Swing @ 55#
20m Sled Push @ 96kg per rung
5min Stretching cooldown
- This was much harder than I expected. Which makes me feel stupid, because after months of mediocre-at-best training, I’m hardly on form with my fitness.
- Short, usually tough workouts are all I’ve been able to get in lately. It’s a mix of lack of time and laziness with what little I do have. I hope to remedy that soon.