Home>Community>A friend, a confidant, a therapist…oh, and a strength and conditioning coach…

A friend, a confidant, a therapist…oh, and a strength and conditioning coach…

Friday 10 December in Community

Approximately 5 years ago I walked into a business unit in Tromode on a typical grey Isle of Man day, to be met by a person who was to take a key role in my life….a Mr Ben Carling, the owner of Sports Performance Services Limited.

In terms of the whys and wherefores of that arrival point, I will keep the backstory brief: I had done the qualifying time for the Island Games triathlon team for Gotland, was an ‘ageing’ athlete (I never feel comfortable saying athlete…but it is a half-truth) and had struggled for a good while with back problems (a bulging disc which herniated)…and Wendy Shallcross (Farmhill Physiotherapy) felt adding in some strength and conditioning would improve my triathlon performance and help my ‘glass back’….all made sense.

So upon arrival that grey day, I was met by a person who (the title of the article gives it away!) was to change my life….but perhaps not in the way I was expecting?!?

In terms of the ‘dry bit’ Ben got me doing coordinated movements (I was awful…still not brilliant), lifting weights (better, still not brilliant), chasing coordinated light sequences and throwing around slam balls (my favourite bit!). The sense was well explained, the objective of every movement communicated, and the measure of the benefit understood. I can literally say, I have done things in the last five years I would simply not have done had I been left to my own devices.

But the sports performance benefit is not where this journey takes us….

Putting aside my dodgy back, I have for over 10 years now suffered with awful anxiety and, when bad, some pretty debilitating episodes of depression. I have had a good amount of help with this, now have a great ‘life coach/ therapist’, and whilst I think my mental health will be a battle for the rest of my life, I have more good days than bad. So what does Ben do to help this issue?

The relationship between a strength and conditioning coach/ personal trainer and the client is a pretty deep one. To get the best out of yourself physically, your coach needs to understand a person’s mind too (I say this from my own point of view only…when you have mental health issues you never want to comment on behalf of others…too scary) and this takes varied forms, but with a lot of listening, questioning and stretching your boundaries. I can sometimes turn up with Ben feeling low energy, keen to ‘coast’ rather than push myself….but I NEVER come out of my sessions with Ben having not done at least one movement/ lift/ exercise test has not gone beyond my boundaries. I am with Ben for two sessions a week….we work hard, we chat lots (I am terrible for chatting too much) and we talk about the world and its’ challenges….and every time I walk out happier, less anxious and feeling better about myself (self-worth is one of my many issues!).

So what is the moral of the story?

In short, the role of a sports coach/ personal trainer has many facets to it. We risk seeing the role as making people ‘Instagram-ready’ (those who know me know this is the last description you would give me!) or game-ready in terms of ‘six packs and big guns’ or to ‘peak for an Ironman’ when in fact it is helping the client be the best version of themselves both externally and internally.

Ben is the only sports trainer I have worked with, but if you are in the industry, be aware of your 360 degree role in your client’s life….and if you are the client don’t just think of the ‘abs’ think of the total picture…..a healthy body, and a healthy mind.

Article by Paul Swindale

Islandlife.im Services

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