Thomas Madden- CCP Level 1 Coach

I was introduced to CrossFit in the winter of 2008. This had been my only exposure to fitness other than fleeting attempts at high school sports. By 2010 I had become a “Coach” and was cueing 20 people at a time to get their knees out while they squatted. I thought leading group fitness classes was my destiny, and I was okay with that. At that time, I really thought a certain prescription of high intensity was a great dose of exercise for everyone. I programmed this way for myself and everyone else for quite some time…

By 2012 I was run down and beat up for a lot of different reasons, one being my constant pursuit of doing everything as fast as possible without considering the consequences of a completely shot nervous system. I had also been diagnosed with a life-changing autoimmune condition called narcolepsy (which is an absolutely fascinating and misunderstood illness). During this time, I was doing a lot of research on autoimmune diseases, exercise, and other things related to what I was going through. I was learning very quickly the value of individualized training to suit the needs of different people. Something so straightforward and obvious was in opposition to what I was doing as a coach. For a long time this did not sit right with me.

Having always kept an eye on the Big Dawg Blog, I returned there every so often KNOWING I wanted to learn from James and his team. I had a list of 5 year goals, and one of them was to be OPEX (OPT at the time) certified. I teased myself in 2012 by going to an athlete camp where James demonstrated his knowledge on Aerobic based training for mixed modalities. This was the tipping point.

As most of these interactions with James go, the topics of discussion reached far beyond how to select appropriate exercises for an aerobic stimulus. James was bombarding me with the kind of knowledge that grips you at the core, especially when you start to realize that what you are currently doing is essentially of a lower order, and possibly even incompetent as far as what it means to be a REAL coach. I knew going forward that James and OPEX literally spoke to me on a level that resonated far beyond fitness. There are insights in their education style that make intangibles such as life coaching, tangible. I was always inspired by this consistent pursuit of what is the truth, and a readiness to admit that the truth is not known, or that there isn’t enough data or evidence to say one way or the other. I know this because I have a habit of always wanting a straight answer or something I can just take home and use as gospel. With OPEX there is no easy way to or around an answer. This is ultimately why I chose OPEX for my professional coaching education. I wouldn’t feel comfortable calling myself a coach through any other business.

I went into the program most excited about program design of course! I was so thirsty for knowledge behind progressing energy systems training. It was probably the most fun I had throughout the modules as well. I really enjoyed the practice of building workouts relative to the description of what we were trying to accomplish for the specific stimulus. It gives me butterflies thinking about it, ha!

However, Life Coaching easily surprised me the most. Going into this journey, I thought the tools from Program Design and Nutrition would benefit me the most. I have over 25 individual clients at this point, and I can honestly say I would be in a lot of trouble if I did not take Life Coaching. It is the module that literally sets you and the client up for success before you even come close to putting your pen down to do any assessing or programming. For some clients (for the majority in my experience), the information that you get from applying the Life Coaching tools is where the program design really comes from. It is also a tool that differentiates me from a lot of the surrounding gyms. Word spreads really fast about a gym where the coaches actually listen and care about their clients lives and priorities.

My goal when I first started the CCP was to start an Individual Design Program (IDP) at my gym that was at the time, exclusively group fitness oriented. I wanted to do this because I knew on a very basic level that we could do better for people. We could offer a service that exceeded the expectations of every client who walked through our doors. I was determined to create an environment that I finally felt proud of and passionate about. The more I delved into OPEX and other educational avenues, the more I grew dispassionate and even ashamed of owning a business that only offered classes. Success to me meant a gym thriving on coach to client relationships, not a group of people surviving really hard workouts day in and day out. Today, I am well on that path.

As far as the Case Study goes, I understand the value of practical application of knowledge. How can you demonstrate your knowledge any other way? It only makes sense to have a case study, or series of case studies to show yourself that you can apply your skills safely and effectively.

My goals as a coach at this point are fairly straightforward. I have weaknesses like everyone else- I want to know human movement inside and out. I am currently updating my knowledge on why people move the way they move. This includes mastering my assessment protocol, studying anatomy in more detail, and being out in the trenches to witness my clients in action. Nutrition prescription has been a weakness of mine until taking the Nutrition Module. I went way out of my comfort zone by giving out detailed plans for my clients. With that discomfort has come a lot of growth and now I am reading and studying this very, very important piece of the puzzle in much more depth.

In all honesty, CCP has empowered me as a coach. I have improved in literally every realm of what it means to be a coach. I think my biggest area of empowerment has come in the form of how I listen and consider a person’s priorities before implementing a plan for them. When you identify and build a relationship based on what’s really important to someone, they stick around. Knowing how to reserve judgement and not place my own priorities on people has been one of the keys to gaining a genuine amount of trust with clients.

I have learned that I actually do have what it takes to deliver a high quality product that is valuable to people. I think what I have been looking for all this time is confidence in myself to do what is necessary to find success not only with clients, but in running a business. OPEX opened the door to for me to find myself as a coach. I will forever be grateful for it. I have put all my trust and faith into OPEX, including my own training. As a result, I have learned what it’s like to be part of a family operating on the basis of integrity, and truth.

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