What’s stopping you from reaching the level of fitness you want? Maybe you exercise a lot but aren’t getting stronger or faster. Maybe you have an injury you can’t shake, or a problem with fatigue. Maybe you’re not sure how to train for a new event you’d like to enter. Or, maybe you’re having trouble just getting started. Whatever it is, a coach can help.
Coaches aren’t just for elite athletes anymore. No matter what your age — whether you’re a beginner, just starting a fitness plan, or a dedicated athlete — a coach can help you clearly define where you want to go with your fitness and how to get there.
How does a coach do this? She develops strength training plans, sport-specific training plans, nutritional advice, competition training and off-season recommendations — specific to you and your needs. You choose how much time you want to work with a coach. It can be on a weekly basis, or, like me, you can consult her just a few times a year.
Last November when my fitness program stalled I needed some coaching advice. Summer cycling was over and the long months of winter loomed ahead. I had a general plan for the off-season: Hang on to the fitness I fought so hard for during the summer and zoom, not wobble, into the cycling season this spring. But I wasn’t exactly sure how to accomplish that. What should I do and how much? Exercise yes, but how hard? What about interval training over the winter? So many questions — and no answers.
I called Jenny Brown, B.PhEd, a women’s cycling coach, and pro-elite cyclist (road and mountain cycling) who runs Reactivated, a personal training and coaching business in St. Catherines.
I had my first coaching session with Jenny last year (over the phone) in the spring. I was amazed at how much she accomplished in a 90-minute phone call. Her spot-on training advice plus my effort added up to a twenty percent increase in my average cycling speed over the season.
This time, Jenny helped me to clarify my short and long-term goals for the winter: I wanted to build on my summer fitness, stay healthy over the winter months and be in good condition to do my first mini-triathlon this coming spring. My list of winter activities included a masters swim program, cross-country skiing, plus a weekly spinning class.
Once again, Jenny’s advice is proving invaluable. She let me know what time of the year I should take it easy and give my body a rest, how many times a week I should do each activity and at what intensity. She also suggested changes I should make in my exercise program as the new cycling season draws near. Such as when to drop off certain activities and increase others, and when to start picking up the pace for the mini-triathlon. She also pointed out that I had two conflicting goals for the spring (one an endurance event and the other a speed event) that require different kinds of training. So I decided to drop one and focus on the other.
A professionally trained coach can help you map out a path to your goals. Her advice is uniquely tailored for you — helping you overcome problems that are specific to you — problems that could be seriously impacting your performance and fun.
If you’ve fallen into an exercise rut, or have a training conundrum that you haven’t been able to solve, consider getting in touch with a pro. It can make the difference between plodding along a plateau, or leaping to a higher level of physical fitness.
- Laurel-Lea Shannon
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