It's not uncommon for us coaches at SAPT to receive "thank you's" from our clientele, whether they be through emails, Facebook, or during conversations in our facility. Usually the gratitude will center around something tangible such as an improved vertical jump, faster baseball pitch, lower poptime, reduced bodyfat percentage; or, "intangibles" such as reduced knee pain while running, leaping and bounding, and general sense of improved movement proficiency. We cherish each and every one of these moments, as there are few things more rewarding than seeing our hard-working athletes and clients feel the results of their efforts and tasting the fresh fruits of their labor. However, every now and then we receive something that holds a special place in our hearts, and this past week was no exception. I got so fired up and excited that I had to share it here.
Below is a Facebook message we received from one of our old high school athletes (I changed his name for confidentiality purposes):
"Hey, this is Adam, ive been in your summer program for 2 summers and i just wanted to thank you, you guys know that as recent as last year i couldn't do a single pullup, but by this year i was able to the one ton pull up challenge (weight * number of pullups= 2000lbs) so i did 11, right now i can do as many as 15!! then i did the 3000lbs dip challenge, i did 19 dips for that, and right now i can do almost 30, thanks without your help i would not have been able to any of that! and I'm one of the few people in my school to successfully do both"
Two years ago, I vividly remember when Adam was in here with a large group of athletes. He was very hard-working, but wasn't the strongest of the group, and was struggling like crazy to do pullups even with a fair amount of band assistance.
A couple months into the program, Coach Chris and I spotted him standing up on the pullup platform, looking up at the bar. There were no bands attached the apparatus, so it became quickly obvious that he was going to attempt a bodyweight chinup (his program definitely said band-assisted chinups, 3x5), and his body language and facial expression was similar to that of a child about to jump into the deep end of a swimming pool for the first time.
However - after a few moments of standing on the platform, looking at the bar - he turned around and jumped off, confidence wavering and and a slightly defeated look on his face.
Chris acted on this very quickly, and directed his voice over to Adam:
Chris: Adam, were you about to try a bodyweight chinup?
Adam (*looking a bit scared, like he just did something wrong and was about to be pounded by Chris, the 230lb powerlifter*): Umm, maybe....yeah, well I was thinking about it....
Chris: Well then GET BACK UP THERE and go for it dude!!
Adam gets back up on the platform, hesitates for a second, and then goes for it. He gets about one third to halfway up, gets stuck, fights for a while, and then drops down.
*Cue end of short story.......
Anyway, I say this because it was HUGE for me to read the above Facebook message to us, knowing full well where he was at in his training just a couple years ago. To know that he went from not being able to do a single chinup, to being one of the only kids in school to successfully complete that pullup/dip challenge....brought happy tears to my eyes.
People often ask me if my dream job is to work with a professional sports team, and my answer is simple: Absolutely not.
Don't get me wrong, there's something to be said for having the opportunity to train some of the "best of the best"; but, in my personal opinion, working with professional athletes doesn't give near the reward of working with the not-so-genetically gifted individuals.
Professional athletes will typically learn a movement within one set of an exercise, while your typical high schooler may take MONTHS before he or she is even ready to squat or deadlift with a barbell, let alone safely perform plyometrics or movement training drills.....and this can take incredible patience and perseverance from BOTH the athlete and the strength coach. Yet, there's something about this process that continues to allow me to wake up on Monday morning, excited to go into work for the day.
Receiving a message like Adam's, in which he thanks me and the SAPT staff for playing a pivotal role in his accomplishing something great, gives me fulfillment that few other things can provide, and I'm extremely blessed to work with people like him....and hear stories similar to his.....on a weekly basis. I dunno...there's just something that makes me tick from being able to help the people who AREN'T used to "getting it right" the first time, to get from Point A to Point B.
One of the reasons I love SAPT so much is that I do have the opportunity to work with professional athletes, but the majority of my time is spent teaching your average high school kid how to do something great with his or her life, both inside and outside of the weight room. And it's not something I plan to give up anytime soon.