Bodybuilding Doesn’t Make You A Fitness Coach

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This is one of the aspects which I really wanted to address and have done so before on multiple forums.

Let’s understand one thing first: “a fitness coach can be a bodybuilder, but a bodybuilder may not be a coach.

In simple words, a fitness trainer/coach may be a competitive bodybuilder, but that doesn’t make all bodybuilders, coaches. This is actually true for all other sports too.

Being a sportsman and being a coach are two different things. World’s finest players also need coaches, who themselves were never the finest players. But they know how to produce champions. Similarly, the world’s best players, may not turn out into a good coach, because being a coach takes something totally different.

Somewhere down the line, most commonly in India, certain sports have started dominating the fitness sector, and bodybuilding and powerlifting come at the very top, with bodybuilding leading the way.

Does that make it a matter of concern? Yes & No.

Because as you read above, that if a bodybuilder is well educated, understands the science and research behind exercise and sports training, knows the concepts behind nutrition & supplementation science, has the requisite qualifications to be a coach, and understands the need of every client individually, then yes he/she will make a great coach.

In most cases, bodybuilders turn into fitness trainers, virtually overnight. Assuming that, just because they know how to lift weights and perform certain exercises, they can be great coaches.

But people under this type of misconception and overconfidence, end up turning into a disaster in the name of a coach. These are called ‘Brainless Bodybuilders’. And the market is full of such people.

Same is with the sport of powerlifting, which comes a distant second, as the sport dominating the fitness industry.

In our country, these problems get worse, when these brainless coaches, as the years pass by, turn more arrogant and stubborn, and eventually they turn into self-proclaimed experts, or named as ‘guru-jis’.

The  guru-ji culture in Indian gyms, is destroying the scientific mindset of young generation, because they are made to believe that whatever guru-ji says is right. Reasoning is simply not allowed and questioning, is a crime.

Being a national or a world champion in your chosen sport is a great feat. But this doesn’t mean, you can produce national & world champions. And this not at all means, you can train normal individuals, elder population, special population, pregnant women, teenagers, other athletes, medical cases, injury rehab cases etc. This is where the entire problem occurs.

If you observe in any decent gym, not more than 1% people may be into bodybuilding as a sport, or for that matter any other competitive sports. Rest are individuals who fall under the above mentioned categories, and you just don’t need skills to train them. You need a deep scientific insight into various aspects of human anatomy & physiology, biomechanics & kinesiology, injury rehab & human nutrition, of various aspects of training, use of various tools for training, and a never ending thirst to continuously upgrade one’s knowledge, and learn & learn for life. And that is what makes someone a coach.

Despite of the fact, that I have one of the richest experiences in terms of practical training be it competitive athletics, hardcore military training, competitive bodybuilding, various other sports, and using various tools for training, still I knew nothing till the time I came to know about the ‘WHY’ behind all that I was doing.

This ‘WHY’ is the science and theory behind it all. If you know this ‘WHY’, you will do it any ‘HOW’. And if you do not know this ‘WHY’, you will never know the ‘WHAT’ or the ‘HOW’. This is exactly what is missing. That’s why education is of primary importance for being a good coach.

Bodybuilding is a sport, where a particular type of training is needed to produce a particular type of result. The same is for every other sport. But that doesn’t mean that the same training is prescribed to everyone irrespective of the needs or goals of the person. But isn’t this a common scene in gyms today?

Isn’t it common to see every other person, including most youngsters and females in a gym, following single body part workout splits? Isn’t every other person being prescribed a bodybuilding style diet? The question is why?

This is because most of these trainers from a bodybuilding background have never worked on the most important muscle in the human body, i.e. the brain. They have big muscles, but smaller brains, because they never really use it.

Please understand this thing very clearly, and I am talking to bodybuilders in particular: there is a big difference in being healthy and being muscular. Read it again.

Being muscular does not automatically mean healthy. A muscular person may be extremely sick, inflamed and toxic from within. Being overly muscular, taking extreme amounts of anabolics and hormones, working out in a particular way, dehydrating the body before competition, using extreme diuretics, going low of carbohydrates and salts, and putting the bodies through hell, is only for one reason i.e. to stand on that stage in the most muscular and dry form, in order to win a medal. Does this sound healthy in any way?

By its very nature, professional bodybuilding isn’t about being healthy. It’s simply about achieving a competitive goal.

Though this stands true for most sports, but not to as extreme as with bodybuilding. However, I won’t call the extreme form of training in any sport, as healthy. Its more to do with performance. That’s why sport specific training and sports nutrition are completely different fields. if P.V. Sindhu or Saina Nehwal train 8-10hrs every day, multiple sessions a day, then it is because the nature and requirement of their sport needs them to do so. But is that healthy? No, far from being one.

Being healthy and fit is something totally different. It’s a perfect harmony of mental, physical & spiritual wellbeing. Though there is no perfection which really exists, but all humans thrive to be as close to that state as possible. That’s what most people generally are in lookout for, especially after a particular stage.

One belief in the minds of a number of people in India is that: ‘jo dikhta hai, wo bikta hai’, or a great physique automatically attracts clients and get you money. Good looks and good physique is surely important, but good physique doesn’t mean, a physique of a bodybuilder.

If ‘X’ number of people like the physique of a bodybuilder, then many times ‘X’ hate that kind of physique. Because either they know the reality behind that type of physique, or they find it absolutely non-functional and unattractive. The same is in a gym. For some time, youngsters may get attracted to physique of a coach who is a bodybuilder, but eventually a he would make great coach, only if he has the knowledge of training his clients and giving them the desired results in the most ethical way possible.

If every client under that bodybuilder coach is on steroids, irrespective of age. If every client is eating a bodybuilding style diet, and if every client is training with a bodybuilding style workout, irrespective of their needs and goals; then the bodybuilder needs to build his most underdeveloped muscle i.e. his brain.

If you are a bodybuilder, who wants to be a coach, a fitness coach, then better ask yourself the following question:

  • Though I am a bodybuilder, what credentials and education do I have to be a fitness coach?
  • How will I train a person with a medical issue?
  • How will I train a pregnant women?
  • How will I train an elderly with a lot of physical restrictions?
  • How will I train a competitive sportsman?
  • How will I correct muscle imbalances?
  • Do I know how to use various unconventional tools like battling ropes, sandbags, bodyweight, chains, tyres & hammers, medicine balls etc.?
  • Do I have the know-how of various aspects of human physiology & anatomy, biomechanics, kinesiology, nutrition and supplementation, basic injury rehab, special population training, program design etc.
  • Do I know the difference in strength training for various people discussed above and bodybuilding type training?
  • How will I connect with my client emotionally, if they are under extreme stress?
  • Over 99% of the clients in my gym or outside are not pro sportsmen or bodybuilders, how will I attract them?
  • What is my USP which I will use to market my services and grow in my fitness career?

If you want to be a great coach, despite of being a bodybuilder, you better have the answers to the above questions (slowly, overtime).

Also, remember, a bodybuilder can make a great coach, because no one understands the mind-muscle connection or feel of the muscle better than them. But, the problem is that most of bodybuilders, who overnight turn trainers, only have the muscle connection, their connection to the mind is often missing.