How to Develop a Client’s Skills

The Refocus Nutrition Podcast: How to Develop a Client’s Skills

As a coach himself James FitzGerald realizes how important it is to make time to provide value to the coaching community. As part of this, he makes time weekly to appear on a wide variety of podcasts to keep adding to the conversation around fitness coaching.

Recently James joined Eric Elliott on the Refocus Nutrition podcast to discuss James’ history and specifically how to develop a client’s skills within functional fitness. You can listen to the full episode for yourself here.

How to Develop Your Client’s Skills

In the podcast, James digs into his wealth of coaching knowledge when asked by Eric “How do you develop a client’s skills within functional fitness?”

Step 1: Talk to Your Client and Assess Motivation

Before coaching any client, athlete or not, a good coach makes time to get to know them. James specifically teaches coaches to take 90 minutes to conduct an initial consultation with new clients. Use this time to get to know them and their motivations for competing. “At the end of the day it’s up to the athlete,” says James “there is no one out on the competition floor that will motivate them beside themselves. It is possible that during your consultation you discover they are not the right fit for you and that’s ok”. Read more about how to conduct client consultations here.

Step 2: Establish the Goal

During the initial consultation, come to an agreed-upon goal with the client. What is it that they want to accomplish? Learn our systematic approach to goal setting in this free coaching course.

Step 3: Test The Client With the Goal & Skill 

It is crucial that you establish a goal in Step 2 as this is what you will use to test in Step 3. “Let’s say their goal is they want to compete in the Open. Well, use Open workout 19.1 as their tester” says James.

Step 4: Analyze the Skills

Post testing sit down with the athlete and analyze their performance and look at what was the limiting factors.

Step 5: Reverse Engineer

Now with a solid understanding of their weakness design a training plan to specifically address what skill broke down. “While this might take years. It’s what you have to do. Functional fitness is one of, if not the most mechanically and metabolically fatiguing activities you can do. Therefore, to compete you need a robust base of support. And this is what people don’t like to hear” says, James.  

About James

James FitzGerald, the founder of OPEX Fitness, grew up and attended university in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. After university James put his fitness coaching skills into practice when he moved to Calgary in the late ’90s. But, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that James was introduced to the world of high-intensity functional fitness.

James had always loved well-rounded fitness, personally using powerlifting and cross country running as his training methodologies, and after his first taste of functional fitness, he was hooked. He would go on the win the inaugural 2007 CrossFit Games and start his own coaching company OPEX Fitness.

Today, James lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and spends his time educating coaches through the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP) and licensing OPEX Gyms all over the world through The OPEX Gyms Licensing Program. Get a free introduction to the system he uses to educate coaches here.

The Secret to Better Performance

When asked what is the perfect way to train, James responds “Most people will respond great to absolute strength work and repeatable aerobic work, without ever touching the middle zone.” He believes in this so much that in the Program Design module of CCP James teaches coaches exactly how to program both. Learn the basics of programming for absolute strength and the aerobic system for free in the Coach’s Toolkit.

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