Professional Transitions Series

The Professional Transitions Series

The Professional Transitions Series covers coaches in different points along their coaching path–including passionate lifters who ultimately decided to not pursue coaching professionally.

CJ Gotcher talks to Barbell Academy students about the lessons they’ve learned from lifting, coaching, and improving along the way. Join us to learn more about coaching, lifting, the Barbell Academy, as member of the Barbell Logic family share their story.   

Ep 1: Jesse Mecham: Know Your Purpose

Lifting regularly and interested in learning more about lifting and coaching? Jesse shares his story of lifting, coaching, studying in the Barbell Academy, and ultimately deciding to not pursue coaching professionally and how the Barbell Academy helped him realize this.

CJ Gotcher talks to Jesse Mecham, Founder of YNAB and Barbell Academy student, about his experience going through the academy. Jesse came to lifting in his teens, reading a special edition of Muscle and Fitness magazine that covered Arnold Scharzenegger. His first experience with coaching came from someone warning about hurting his back from deadlifting, which scared him away from simple, hard, effective training for a while. He continued to lift.

Eventually, he found Barbell Logic and a more effective approach to strength training. Jesse, someone who applies himself at anything he does and wants to do anything he does well, built a garage gym and invited others to lift with him. His role evolved into somewhat of a coaching role, and as this occurred he signed up for the Barbell Academy to help deepen his knowledge of programming and coaching.

As he completed the Academy, he learned a lot and was better able to program and cue his fellow lifters. He even arranged a Barbell Logic seminar at his gym, which not only helped improve his coaching but also helped the other lifters learn to better identify and fix their own errors.

Despite this, he ultimately decided to NOT pursue becoming a professional barbell coach, with his other commitments of family and running a business.

In addition to this, CJ & Jesse talk about productivity and setting up the first coaching arrangement so you don’t grow resentful.

Many coaches coach their first lifters for free, and this makes sense, but you have to ensure you set up the situation so you receive value as well. Experience is valuable, but see if you can get the lifters to provide testimonials or other means of providing you value as you grow as a coach–and potentially grow a business.

Jesse & CJ also discuss balancing your natural tendencies as a coach. Some coaches tend to be too timid and need to work on assertiveness, confidence, and being loud. Others, however, may insert themselves readily and easily and need to not overcue.

They finish talking about being relentless about what you care about: spend the time, effort, and money where you want to. This requires intentionality and planning. This means limiting and managing distractions, being honest about things that take up your time but don’t provide value, blocking off times for deep work and self-improvement and preventing distractions during these blocks.

This podcast will provide value wherever you are and show how the Barbell Academy can help, even if you never become a professional barbell coach.

Ep 2: Andrew Jackson: Whole A#% Coaching

If you’re working a job where something doesn’t feel quite right, this is likely the podcast for you.

CJ Gotcher talks to Andrew Jackson about his path from planning to become a computer engineer to joining the Navy to climbing the corporate ladder to ultimately deciding to become a coach and pursue whole-ass coaching.

People too often think about a career or course of action in black and white: coach or not coach, stick with your career or abandon it. There is a middle path, that for most people offers a better path than taking a plunge all at once.

Andrew decided on computer engineering because of the initial salaries, but ultimately decided that he did not want to pursue a career in computer engineering. He ultimately decided to accelerate his life, so he joined the Navy and served as an officer in the Navy.

After the Navy, he began a more traditional corporate job and began to climb the corporate ladder. He was making good money, but had this feeling that things did not feel right. No matter what he did: receive a promotion, change jobs, etc. Ultimately, Andrew concluded in retrospect that this feeling was a mismatch of culture, between the values Andrew had and the values the companies he worked for had.

He wasn’t motivated to take the steps to get to the next level. While he did well in his position, doing well was the bare minimum to move to the top positions within the company. When you’re in the right culture, however, doing this extra work doesn’t feel like suffering.

If you have this feeling, try to identify why this feeling exists. If you can identify the problem, the solution may present itself. Job hopping and change for change sake won’t fix the issue. Try to identify the actions you take that you feel good about. You might need to look at your hobbies or interests outside of your work. You may also look at which tasks or actions or aspects of work you most enjoy.

One thing Andrew did that helped create his current position and success was that he put himself out there at a coaching conference when he still didn’t plan to make this jump. While this can be thought of as networking and can have an “icky” feel, getting to know coworkers and other people in your industry makes sense. You don’t have to pitch something to these people, but just introduce yourself and talk to others.

Because he did this and put in work, what may seem like luck in terms of getting his job at Barbell Logic was really dependent on the work and networking he had already completed. This opportunity would likely not have presented itself if he had not done this.

You can’t really develop a 5 or 10 year plan, but you can identify your values, have an idea of where you want to head, work hard, put yourself out there, and opportunities will almost undoubtedly present themselves.

Another thing that helped enable this jump (which came with a signficant decrease in pay) was that he had not had his lifestyle fill his income. Too many people begin to earn more money and their pursuits and house and lifestyle requires that money to maintain itself. Andrew stayed frugal, which meant that when he shifted jobs his lifestyle did not have to dramatically change.

Andrew & CJ discuss intentionality and how you spend your time. Are you all in, and what DO you spend your time doing. You can’t do everything all in, so as much as possible be all in on the things that align with your values. If you find yourself in a job or role that doesn’t align with your values, develop a plan to get out of that position. That doesn’t mean leave today, but make a plan.

Also, you WILL feel like an imposter. That’s inevitable and, if you don’t, that might actually be a problem. Keep learning and improving and stay half a step ahead. Apply MED to your life. Course correct as you go. Set goals and crush them.

Ep 3: David Aguilera: Find Your Balance

CJ talks to David Aguilera, head of an academy, Barbell Academy student, and strength coach who has worked to grow his coaching practice and, in doing so, found the balance between his life, primary career, and coaching that is healthy and good for him and his family. Learn more about David and Iron Eagle here:

David began training because he felt the diminishing abilities of middle ages creeping up on him and knew he needed to combat this with exercise.

Coaching became a natural thing to do for him as he found the benefits of lifting and training and feels that helping others is his mission, in both his primary career and now coaching. He loves seeing not just the physical benefits but the mental and physical changes that occur when someone subjects themselves to difficult things and grows.

Training for him became a routine–a practice–that made a better day, a better week, a better life for him.

One thing he found he could NOT do was coach too much or train and coach at the same time. If he coached and trained alongside his lifters, one or both suffered.

Once he decided to become a coach, he knew receiving high-quality coaching would help him become a better coach, so he signed up for BLOC.

He also had an experience that doesn’t seem to be discussed as much with coaching but really is likely common, which is an anti-inspiration experience. He saw bad coaches and did not want to be one of those bad coaches.

Another thing CJ & David discuss is getting paid & the importance of this. It really makes a difference when a client is paying you versus coaching your friend or family for free. It often makes BOTH you and your clients take it more seriously.

One thing that helped David grow was social media. He began to post his coaching and lifting and acquaintances began to ask questions, and eventually some of them became clients.

Also, his own transformation with lifting was important. This adds to the issue that early on he signed up for way too much coaching, and he found himself unable to train. He’s learned a few lessons from this, including the importance of blocking off time for you as a coach to lift and train. He then applied this to more, and has blocked off times for coaching and lifting and other activities.

It took trial and error and making mistakes and overcommitting, but he ultimately found the current set up where he has 4 clients and that’s the perfect balance for him. He wouldn’t want more, and is content with the current amount of time he spends with coaching.

He also uses the earnings from coaching and invests them back in the business. He purchases equipment and to develop himself as a coach with things such as the Barbell Academy.

Ep 4: Eric Feigl: Adapt & Evolve

Eric Feigl jumps on the podcast with CJ Gotcher to discuss his evolution as a coach. Unlike many of the other coaches, Eric has been a long-time coach and personal trainer and even has his own podcast, the Fitness Candor podcast. His story is more one of adapting and evolving and improving his own coaching practice and business. Learn more here:

Eric loves the IMPACT coaching makes on someone’s everyday life. Ultimately every job HELPS people somehow, even accounting. Coaching however can really alter the quality of someone’s life and how each moment feels, reducing pain, and increasing abilities. He was attracted to coaching because of this.

One of the things CJ & Eric discuss is how in learning deeply about something you ultimately have to believe in that thing. For Eric, is what Arthur Jones intensity training. For CJ, it was CrossFit. Though neither believes deeply in these, they’ve learned the benefits and downsides despite beginning as devotees of these respective training methods.

While Eric pursued a degree, he feels that most of what he learned does not help him be a better coach. You ultimately have to pursue those things that give you the tools to improve your coaching, and the Barbell Academy definitely provides many of those tools.

When Eric found simple, hard, effective barbell training, he already had to have clients. This occurred during the lockdown, so when clients returned he had changed his training philosophy quite a bit. He introduced barbells. Some people were all in, some needed a more compromised solution, but ultimately using barbells was better than what they had been doing. Some clients needed to leave and go elsewhere, but Eric believed more in his new approach and it did not hurt his business.

Ep 5: Make It Happen

In the last installment of the Professional Transition Series, Brandon Smith joins CJ to discuss his path to coaching.

He began lifting because he grew interested in cheerleading in college. When college & cheerleading ending, so did lifting for awhile.

He worked in hospitality services and restaurants, and though he enjoyed it he thought about continuing down this path into his 60s and ultimately knew he needed to make a change. He began to lift & coach.

Brandon found that his hospitality experience and his ability to quickly connect to people made a huge impact on his coaching ability. This is something that has popped up again and again in the series, is that you bring the tools you have from your career and life experience. You have skills that can help you be a better coach: don’t be afraid to use them.

For those who have trouble striking up conversation, Brandon recommends talking about the things you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about discussing training and lifting, you might need to think twice about whether you want to be a coach.

Another thing Brandon recommends is being honest. If you don’t feel like an expert, just be honest. Say that you think you can help improve their deadlift or squat and have some humility and underpromise and overdeliver.

It really takes a relatively low level of proficiency to be able to help most clients. Don’t suck, and you can help. Use the teaching scripts, improve your eye, understand some basics and you can help someone quite a bit.

When Brandon started coaching people, he programmed lots of bosu ball and other stuff, and began to see a pattern of clients not improving much beyond 6 months. He searched for answers as to why this was occurring, and came to simpler, harder, more effective training with barbells.

Brandon loves learning & coaching & getting better, and thinks it’s really all about getting a little better everyday. You’re either getting better or getting worse. Getting 1% better every day can make a huge difference. Getting 1% worse every day, similarly, can make a big difference. Choose growth.

Finally, CJ & Brandon discuss mentorship & getting a mentor. Brandon ultimately says, just ask someone who you would like to be your mentor. Most of the time, they’ll be flattered and say yes. If they don’t want to, it’s probably because of time, and that’s okay, so find someone else.




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