Charles Staley is both a man who seeks out knowledge and expresses an opinion of his own. That’s a potent combo. Given his personal journey to becoming a coach and the myriad of world-class instructors he sought out along the way, I thought it would be good to know what he would tell someone in his position now.
So hang on for some advice for new coaches from Charles Staley, plus a few jabs at the fitness industry. Because it wouldn’t be authentic Staley otherwise, right?
The first thing I asked Charles was his advice in terms of how to develop coaching ability as a new trainer. He explained there were a couple key facets, involving accruing knowledge and experience, and also having the right mindset:
You really should do an internship…it’s not only to educate yourself, but to see if you really want to be doing this, day in and day out. And the good thing about that is, you’re going to get an intense education really quickly because you’re going to be putting the man-hours inand you’re just going to learn a ton at the same time. In the back of your mind, you’re going to be saying, “Okay, do I really want to be doing this for the rest of my life?” I think that’s helpful, because I think a lot of times you have an interest in a profession and then it ends up being not what you really thought it was.
There’s a lot of emotional energy involved in being a good coach. You have to be – and I’m not the first one to say this, I don’t know where I first heard this from – but you have to be the best thing to ever happen to your client today when they come in. It’s easy to do it sometimes, but to be successful you have to do it all the time. And to be successful financially, you have to be good at what you do, but you have to know how to win business.
Having the technical knowledge and the hands-on experience to be a quality coach is still only one aspect of the business. Being an entrepreneur is just as important when it comes to getting your name out there and building your training or coaching business. Charles, despite his success, doesn’t consider himself to be a natural entrepreneur:
I don’t claim to be a really good businessperson. In fact, I’m really not. I’m really conversant andI’ve certainly studied it a ton, but there’s a distinctive knack to entrepreneurship, and I think you either have it or you don’t have it.
I mean, for example, when I watch P90X commercials, and I’m paraphrasing, “All you need is a pull up bar or a bench!” And I’m like, what do you mean, a pull up bar or a bench?! If you’re an entrepreneur, you can do that, but as a coach, if you think like a coach, you find problems with that! And by the way, I’m sort of joking. I don’t think their infomercial literally says that, but it’s something close to that. The point is, those guys are making tons of money.
When it comes to educating himself on business, Charles has traditionally turned to books, just like he did with educating himself as a coach. Here are his recommendations for budding entrepreneurs in the fitness world.
Charles Staley’s Recommended Books for Business
- The E-Myth book and product series, by Michael Gerber
- Seth Godin’s books and blog
- What Clients Love and You, Inc. by Harry Beckwith
But with all these book recommendations, Charles also shared a word of caution, based on his own experience.
When you’re into learning and researching, you have to make sure you’re not just consuming, but you’re also producing. I think a mistake I made throughout my career was that I spent so much time consuming information, and it made me real smart, but you don’t make money by consuming information.
Educate yourself, read books, find mentors – both in the coaching world and the business world, but don’t necessarily expect to wake up one morning and feel fully prepared. Like many big steps in life, becoming a coach might be one you never quite feel ready for. And that’s okay, according to Charles:
You want to know the truth? I failed gym class every year in school. I still don’t feel ready. Literally, every situation for me. I never feel ready. You can’t wait until you’re ready.
To learn how Charles himself came to be a coach, read this interview:
Featured Coach: Charles Staley, Part 1 – When the Slow Kid Is a Quick Read
Click here to follow Staley’s free 4-week training program. And if you want to see how he personally works out, you can read his weekly training journal entries.