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Building a Better Coach – Next Level Thinking

Building a Better Coach – The Seminar Circuit

It seems over the past 10 years my thirst for knowledge has been accelerating at a non-stop pace. What started as a passion for learning everything I could about strength and human movement, has turned into a relentless obsession for finding what else “I don’t know.”

The funny thing I found out about along the way is that this mindset is not shared by every trainer. In fact, I’ve found that a high percentage of trainers would rather pump themselves up claiming to anyone who will listen, how great their program is or how great they are.

Big mistake.

The best trainers in the industry rarely speak about themselves. They let their actions speak for them. They let their successes speak for them.  They inspire others by showing respect and trying their best everyday to bring others up. They work hard to develop their “craft” and they are themselves inspired when other trainers do well, instead of being jealous and putting them down.

The important thing to understand is that there are two sides of the fence and you have to decide which side you’re on. The side where there is bragging, jealously and overindulgence in believing your own hype or are you on the other side – where the men stand. Because a man isn’t about all that bullshit.

Be a good trainer and be a man.

This article provides some opportunities for you to get more out of your knowledge journey and not make the mistakes I made along the way.

Listen up, young Jedi.

You Must First Decide

To be the best, you have to NEVER be the best.

You always have to be hungry.

You haven’t been hungry since you won that belt.

Success and money is the ruination of many good men and many good trainers. Once you get that money, you lose the fight inside you. And when that happens, you lose your drive and you lose sight of the reason you got into the fitness industry.

You must continue to develop yourself as a coach and as a man. You must be steadfast in your beliefs and not waver when all others around you have gone astray.

Stay the course and keep hustlin’.

Your Program Evolution

You must always look to expand and evolve your program as you build your knowledge base.  I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this but…your program isn’t the best.

There is no perfect program, only determined coaches who work everyday to get better.  Stop believing your own hype and get busy trying to provide the best service you can to your clients and athletes.

Reach Out to Stand Out

You’re not alone.  Stop acting in a bubble and get out so you can interact with other positive, highly motivated coaches.  Email them and ask them questions.  Offer to pay for a consultation.  Treat it as a business expense because it is!  You are investing in your company and a simple knowledge session will keep you from making a million small mistakes and will accelerate your learning curve 100x.

The Traveler

You need to go to seminars, clinics and conferences on an ongoing basis.  Events like these are where you can build real applicable experience.  They are great networking events for joint ventures and opportunities to meet other like-minded trainers to get your name out there. 

If you go to a seminar and find that one “thing” to make your program better, or you make that one “contact” that changes everything – it will be worth it. Because after a few years, you will have 10 “things.”  And after 10 years you have 100 “things.”  You have to keep going because the journey is a lifetime of learning and discovery.

The Seminar Kit

What should you take to a seminar?  Here is a quick list.

Business Cards

You need a good business card to hand it out to trainers you meet.  It should be professionally done, simple but provide them with your site and contact information.  It will bridge the gap between the seminar and the first contact after the seminar.  Remember, the person you meet at a seminar might be your next business partner, so don’t miss the opportunity to follow-up on the 1st contact at the seminar with a meeting after you get home.


There will be a lot of “learning” going on, especially if there are hands-on sessions between breakfast and lunch, so pack some quick snacks.  Good choices are beef jerky, protein shakes, bars, fruit, water, etc.  Also, gum is a good choice after all of those “snacks.” 🙂  Beef jerky breath isn’t a good choice when you’re just meeting someone.

Your Products

You need to take a product or two, not to sale, but to giveaway.  Trainers love free stuff and by giving them one of your products, you will immediately create a connection.  They will check it out once they get home and if they like it, it is good quality and it helps them, they will check out your site.  You need to always be thinking about networking and building your circle of influence.  Also, if you know a certain trainer is going to the same seminar, you can personalize the product by having their name printed on the cover.   You could even personalize with a handwritten note on the inside of other cover.

A Gift

I got the tip for a gift from Nate Green years ago.  When you go to a seminar there are literally hundreds of trainers walking around.  You need to stand out from the crowd.  Most trainers see someone they look up to and ask for a picture with them – and then they walk away.  If this person is a potential mentor for you and you’ve been following them for years, you need to make a lasting impression.  A gift, such as a book you’ve read or something you know they’re interested in, goes a long way in establishing the foundation of a good friendship.  Instead of just asking for a picture, walk up to them and say that you’ve been following them for years (and possibly mention an article of theirs you’ve recently read) and you thought they might enjoy this book.  Inside the book you could even have a business card waiting for them. 

Mentors are so important for your own success and you need to try to connect with the people that have made a positive impact on you.  Also, just as important, follow-up with them a few days AFTER the seminar to tell them it was great finally meeting them in person. 


This one is a no-brainer and could be a non-issue if you have a smart phone.

Video Camera

If you have a blog and/or YouTube page, don’t miss an opportunity for a new article or video blog.  You could even video your trip to and from the seminar and make it a whole series.  You could also interview a new trainer you met or someone you’ve been following, for your blog readers.  Another idea is to film a new exercise technique or sequence you learned at the seminar.

Notebook / Pens

Bring a notebook (or laptop) to take lots of notes that you will TAKE ACTION ON once you get home.  Notes gathering dust don’t do anything for you or your program so make sure you implement what you learned.  Also take some extra pens because the guy sitting next to you probably forgot his.

A Beginnner’s Mind

Walk into the seminar with an open mind and be a sponge.  Don’t go into it thinking you “know it all” or you can’t learn anything from the speakers.  If that is the case, why even go to the seminar.  If you are the smartest guy in the room, you’re in the wrong room.  Go there to learn and be open to new ideas.  Be humble and ask tons of questions.

Extra Money / Credit Cards

You can pick up products and training gear at huge discounts when you go to seminars.  And the biggest incentive – no shipping costs.


Wear your logo on your shirt or your hat.  Seminars are a great advertising opportunity.  You could even give some free gear away to your partner during the hands-on session or the trainer you met at lunch.

Next Steps

Here are some quick thoughts on what to do next after the seminar.

– Follow-up with those you made contact with, talk about possible guest posts, joint ventures, networking
– Be relentless
– Make a difference
– Plan for the next event
– Do a lessons learned and document what you need to do differently for the next seminar
– Be a man

By on February 1st, 2012


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Comments (10)

  1. Posted by - Trey Pottter on February 1, 2012

    Love the article Smitty. I decided that this year I’m going to start learning directly from other coaches and trainers that I look up to in order to make myself a better trainer. Hopefully I can make to one of the big training conferences this year to do some networking!

  2. Posted by - John on February 1, 2012

    Dude, this is awesome info. I need to do more of these things, especially since I travel a lot! Thanks for the tips Smitty!

  3. Posted by - MikeTNelson on February 1, 2012

    Perhaps you can tell us what events you will be at this year Smitty? 🙂
    It was great to finally meet you in person at Ryan Lee’s event, 3 years ago now?
    Keep up the good work
    rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  4. Posted by - Robert Aitken on February 2, 2012

    Being the best at something or mastering it, is an asymptote ( a straight line that curve approaches but never quite reaches). The joy of mastery is in the pursuit more than the realization. Mastery attracts precisely because it eludes. I stole these observations from D.H. Pink’s book, DRIVE. Thought it fits with your mindset on finding out what you don’t know. Big fan of that mind set.

  5. Posted by - Jerry Shreck on February 2, 2012

    Well said Smitty! I am always trying to learn-why do you think I have been following your site for years buddy!!

  6. Posted by - Stone on February 2, 2012

    Great post Jim some really good info to add to the never ending road of learning. Question when are you or do you come out to the west coast for seminars?

  7. Posted by - Dave Olesczuk on February 2, 2012

    Great article. Lots of helpful and easy to apply advice. Love the picture and caption with Mickey!

  8. Posted by - Jimb on February 3, 2012

    Solid info – keep it coming.
    Thanks – Jim

  9. Posted by - Will on February 3, 2012

    Great article, Im training to be a PT at the moment. I find your articles great, I want to be the best trainer that I can be, so reading your articles is a great help. If I ever get over to the U.S. I’ll have a session with you! Your doing really good things, keep going for it! Thanks Will.

  10. Posted by - Mark Conner on February 4, 2012

    Yeah most trainers act like the athlete should feel lucky that they are training them. But the trainers should feel lucky that people put their trust and $$ in THEM.

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