Take the Hits

Take the Hits

‘Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!’

Rocky Balboa in Rocky Balboa (2006)


Word count: 620

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

So much of our role as a coach is centred around the physical parameters of our client, that we sometimes overlook that the totality of someone’s life overshadows what we could ever achieve in a fitness setting.

Hence, effecting change in the health of our clients requires close examination of all aspects of their life once a trusting relationship has been built. As changes are made, the culmination of positive results generates momentum – and this leads to a surge in confidence.

The reality of momentum, like waves in an ocean, is that it will eventually stop. On rare occasions, momentum comes to a halt when physical benefits specific to the client’s needs have been met. I repeat, this is on rare occasions. The frequent occasions are exactly what Rocky describes in the touching scene between father and son. When life hits, it hits hard. And it hits often.

A true measure of a coach is not how well they can coach the easy cases. It is how well they can coach the complex; those hit by life – repeatedly. A 22 year old university student lives a remarkably different life to a 45 year old father who also runs a small business. Some might argue that some 22 year olds can have a more difficult life – this is true, but on average, unlikely.

What then, can we do to equip our clients with the tools necessary to face the demands of their life? It begins with an understanding that life can be brutal. And it will beat you down. But like Rocky said – it is about how hard we can get hit and keep moving forward. It is by understanding that there are certain times in any individual’s life, that physical routines will be compromised and that mental states will decline. And that’s just the way it goes. Without the ebb and flow of life, life would be stale. Happiness cannot exist without misery. Progress cannot exist without regression.

During trying times, our role is not to push. Life is pushing them enough. It is our role to pull. It is our role to pull them away from expecting too much of their physical capacity given their current circumstances. As much as our role has been perpetuated to be one of ‘do more,’ we must recognise that this is not always feasible, and should in fact, on occasion, ‘do less.’ A mature coach is one who recognises what the individual needs at any given time. Sometimes, this can be opposite to what the client wants.

Next, we must educate our clients on the easy wins that are available to them. This begins with a sound understanding of sleep, nutrition and movement. No, not how much one can do, but how little they can do in order to keep themselves, at best, where they are, or decrease the rate of decline.

In an era where ‘growth’ mindset is ubiquitous, we as a collective, must recognise the perils of a strict ‘growth or failure’ path – as learning to take a step back under the right circumstances, is the only correct move.