May 10, 2015


So off I went Stateside

This time last year I was stateside.

Hard to believe its been a year already.

I guess they say……….


Couple of you guys know I went stateside to further my career. I’ve been getting couple of people asking me about it both from my clients and also a handful of fellow trainers.So I threw a small story of it together.

So that was that.

Job done and off I went.

The official goodbye at Swan Leisure gym Rathmines. Initially it was hard saying my goodbyes and handing in the notice. Tomorrow (Feb 2014) I was leaving for the mighty USA to further mycareer.To be honest it had to be done,I entered Swan early 2011 as a raw,eager,enthusiastic fitness junkie and I left as a well rounded individual.It was a fantastic place to work,perhaps the best commercial gym I have worked in (and I’ve worked in some pretty poor ones) but it was time to move on.All the boxes had been ticked off from gym floor,group classes,PT,swim coaching to reception and admin duties.Even got Staff member of the year in 2012 which I was pretty pumped about!

I felt my time was up with the commercial gym scene and was ready for the next step.To be honest I was just fed up with the commercial gym scene and needed to move on.Lots of people ask me why I was quite fed up with the commercial scene,wasn’t that my passion?Well not exactly any more and Ill cover that in another article.I had flirted with the idea of leaving and was looking overseas for a while yet I was pretty scared of taking the jump.Afraid of the unknown,fear of failing,but it had to be done.I guess most people who want to keep improving themselves will feel this way at some stage in their life,and perhaps you have too.I did a piece on that before gocheck it out here and it might just motivate you.As a person I am always eager to keep learning,moving up the ladder,and getting used to being uncomfortable.At that stage I felt what had to be done personally for me at swan was done and now the timing was right.


So why did I Leave?

I left to learn as much as possible and totally immerse myself in the CrossFit community.At that stage I was fairly used to this community but I wanted to know more as coach.The goal at the time was to pick up as much knowledge as possible so that I could then return home and continue to work on my goal.Speaking of home back in 2010 when I first started CrossFit, it was really an unknown thing,and I guess some people still haven’t a clue what its about to this day.Ifyou want to know a bit more about it give this article a read.

I already had been an active CrossFit member and was doing some S&C coaching in Ireland but was never fully committed and to be honest never fully ready. Even though I had my L1 (coaching qualification) behind me I still wasn’t ready,and you know I never will be fully fully ready because I’m learning every day however the Level 1 coaching seminar to me is the bare minimum and really means nothing.As a full time coach its pretty mad to see people fall into the L1 and then dive straight into coaching straight off the bat.In my opinion its pure madness to allow people get qualified over a weekend then get thrown straight into classes teaching people how to snatch.I guess that’s part of the reason why I wanted to do a mentorship,I’ve sat 3 olympic lifting seminars to date and still learning,sometimes I wont do Olympic movements with someclients.Go read this super article on that if your interested in reading more into that.

Anyway I applied for a couple of places and got offered a mentorship in Vancouver andFlorida.So I choose CrossFit BlackBox Florida and packed my factor 50!Saying goodbye to Niamh and family was going to be hard.It was a big risk,no wage,working 24/7 on my passion,heading out to the unknown but I went for it and boy did it pay off!

Sure I could have stayed home and perhaps sat a number of courses,found a mentor which I have since,and just opened up a place and seen what happened-But that’s not me,I just didn’t want to wing it and chance it.I wanted to really brush up on my coaching and business skills.

But here is why I went for the states.

USA has been way ahead of us in the health and fitness industry for years.Having said that Irish coaches have been pretty spoilt for choice the last year or 2 with big names coming in from overseas giving some of us top quality coaching seminars.Funnily enough Ireland has hundreds and hundreds of trainers but its always the same solid core bunch of trainers attending the seminars learning together and bouncing ideas off one another.Some pretty good trainersmentioned in this article if you want to know more about them. Heres me learning from Max El-Haag back in Feb 2015

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Some of the best fitness professionals hail from USA and in particular the sunshine state of Florida.I got really lucky working at a well established CrossFit facility in Tallahassee Florida with high level experienced coaches with a wide variety of athletes.I had the fantastic opportunity of attending seminars that I have always wanted to attend and had the fantastic experience of meeting coaches and athletes such as Mike Burgener,Ronnie Coleman,Colleen Fahy,Noah Olsen,Bryan McKenzie,Talayna Fortunato,Breezy Hamilton. I didn’t just immerse myself in the CrossFit community.I found time to train and learn from guys in MMA gyms,to Golds gym and even meet a handful of athletes and coaches at the infamous FSU college.I even hung out at the famous Miami beach outdoor gym and got a couple of cheeky workouts there too.However most of my days were spent at CrossFit Blackbox,shadowing classes,assisting classes,coaching the on-ramp sessions,planning the endurance sessions,learning the business side of running a gym,running events at the box,cleaning and even shooting hoops at the box.I was in my element!Anyone that has been in my gym would have seen this signed flag from all the guys at Blackbox that I am lucky to have met and now call friends

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And here is more of the important stuff I learned.

**This stuff below may look boring and irrelevant for you as a client but you make take something important away  from it**

  • Mechanics/Consistency/Intensity In other words teach the basics,keep coaching the basics,keep learning them then throw fire away into intensity once the movements aremastered.Keep your clients safe not just the “safe enough” approach.Anyone that has trained with me knows how anal I can get on technique and your probably laughing reading this!
  • 4 Stages of learning Patience is the key both as a coach and as a client,some people will move better than others,ensure they know this process wont happen overnight. I’ve seen some pretty amazing results to the people that have stayed patient throughout the wholeprocess.Go through the 4 stages together.1 Unconscious Incompetence – You are unable to do something and you probably don’t know you can’t do it until you are asked to attempt it.2 Conscious Incompetence – At this stage a person is starting to develop the skill however he or she is aware that they are still performing some aspects of the skill incorrectly 3. Conscious Competence – You can perform a skill correctly but must go slow and REALLY focus on what you are doing.4 Unconscious Competence – This is the “mastery” stage. A person at this point in their learning process knows how to correctly perform a skill and can do it without thinking about it
  • Get really good at the basics The movements you program or do never need to be the fancy stuff all piled together,Some of the most effective movements for your clients can be the basics,and the basics done really really well.The more you educate your clients and drill that into them the more smarter they will become and will understand this whole fitness jungle.I don’t always like to just train my clients.Educating them is what really is important to me and is something I really learnt from the coaches at Blackbox.
  • Programming is vital I guess this is really what clients are paying for right?Your coaching knowledge/the programming that’s going to get them results.Programming for me is vital,and is something I will scan before I judge a facility.I spend a huge part of my day and night studying how to program correctly.Its something I have huge passion for and always searching for newer ideas.In my experience programming that features a solid foundation beginner program,mobility work,strength work and constant stimulus variation of conditioning workouts is a good sign.And if your unsure about all of this always ask your coach for the reason behind what your doing.
  • Cater for every body BIG BIG point…The average facility will program for the average client=> you are going to stay in the average category right?Yup makes sense. Blackbox always programmed for the strongest male/female and everyone else worked off that.A top facility has the ability to create a programming that will allow you to push your top 10% to get even better, push your bottom 10% to catch up to the majority and push the majority into the top 10%.Also you really should have the option of working along with a coach on a 1-1basis.The group session may not always be for you whether your elite or even a fresh newcomer.Go read this article I covered on that.
  • Build a real community A well run community gym is a place where you can hang out,have fun,be yourself,make new friends,change your life.Its a place where your goals are taken seriously and a place where people will push and encourage you to do things you never thought you could.The community I was lucky to be apart of was truly a special one.Spot the Irish dude below.
  • Dont sell it to their face I’m not a salesman,I’m a coach.For me it feels weird “trying to sell” my services. I’ve come across gyms that lock you into offices and pen you to a direct debit yearly contract.I used to be one of them guys in a big commercial gym selling membership to people,It didn’t feel 100% right as my passion is coaching people, helping them with their lifestyle,health and mindset, I was even told to “ABC” (always be closing) at one facility,to not really matter about their goals just get them in the door and close the sale .Fine that’s cool and may work for them but if I wanted to sell Id be out there selling cars or whatever.I believe so much in what service I offer to clients so ramming it down their throat selling it to them in a office just ain’t my thing.If they really really want it,they will come.
  • Be humble Lets face it nobody likes a bragger.
  • Factor 50 and bring a second Tee to gym It got super hot in Tally for an Irish man,If your ever out that way working out bring a spare tee!

It really was a fabulous adventure and an opportunity I cant thank enough to owners Sean (below) and Rachel Dodrill. These 2 people are what REAL fitness owners are really about.Theyare so passionate about what they do its oozing from them and 100% in it for the rightreasons.The community they have built the past 5 years is a seriously strong one and a place where I made real friends for life.

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 If you ever strangely enough find yourself in Tallahassee Florida stop by at CrossFit BlackBox ,it wont be let down.

Hope you enjoyed this small piece.