I just wrapped up a podcast interview with Rich O’Neill, owner of Elite Functional Performance (EFP) here in Charlotte. It was a great interview and I’m excited to share it, hoping to publish later this month. We covered a lot of ground, but one of the topics we discussed that I found most interesting was the idea of “coaching,” or more specifically the following question: “When should I get a coach, and when should I do it myself?”
There are plenty of ways to take the DIY approach in fitness. You can read books, watch YouTube videos, and try to piece everything together during your workouts. I’ve taken this approach before and made progress, but it was slow and difficult. So much of what you’re doing is about feel. You have to be proprioceptive.
(I’d like to take a minute to welcome, in its David Wells publishing debut, the word “proprioceptive” to the stage! I had to do a lot of Googling to find this word. Also WordPress insists it’s not a word but I copied and pasted it out of the Oxford dictionary so I feel confident that it is, and hopefully I’m using it correctly)
Anyway, unless have really thorough instructions which point out what you’re supposed to be feeling throughout a range of motion in a clear and meaningful way, DIY fitness can very easily get overwhelming.
It can also get dangerous. Rich pointed out the importance of considering risk when trying to decide whether to get a coach. Working out is something that, if done incorrectly, can have serious consequences. So I’m excited to be working with Rich and his team, and hope they can keep my workout regimen on track and moving forward without preventing me from doing anything stupid in the name of GAINS.
But after our interview I realized that, like all great questions, the “Coach vs. DIY” debate applies to a lot more than just fitness. The discussion made me think about my decision to get help for the podcast.
As I was getting started, I got connected to Andy Goh at Gohjo Studios. After a kickoff interview, I decided to engage him for consulting services, specifically helping me with the design, implementation, and hosting of the podcast, as well as editing my first episode (and showing me some basic editing techniques for future reference). Engaging Andy was a great decision.
But why did I do it? I don’t think it was because of risk; after all, if I messed something up trying to do it myself the only real risk is embarrassment. It’s not like I’m going to throw out my back screwing up a podcast. So, if not risk, then why did I do it? Well, there are a couple of factors I considered:
The first was resources. This is usually the main reason I don’t engage coaches. I don’t like spending money on, well… anything. But I quickly realized there was a big opportunity cost for not engaging a coach: time. There was one specific situation during the web hosting process where I got a vague error message, which could have grinded the process to a halt. Andy had encountered it before, and asked if I had an expired credit card on file with the account. Sure enough, that was the issue. I could have spent hours trying to figure that out, and having someone working over my shoulder with experience helped me work through many similar issues.
Which brings me to the second factor: learning. Again, learning is a common argument for DIY – you learn and grow best by doing, and so it stands to reason that the best way to learn is to just dive in. But the problem with the DIY approach is that sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. Andy was able to introduce me to programs, platforms and best practices that I doubt I would have discovered on my own at first, and which would have been a huge pain to untangle had I taken off in the wrong direction on my own.
But if I’m being completely honest, the biggest reason I got help with the podcast is this:
Because I care about the podcast.
At the end of the day, my resistance to engaging a coach wasn’t because of the money – I recognized that my time was valuable, too. And it wasn’t about missing out on the experience – a good coach will make sure you still get that. I didn’t want to pay somebody to help me with the podcast because that would mean I had skin in the game. And if it didn’t work out, It would be proof that I’d tried, and failed.
If I never get help and don’t incur any costs, I can fiddle around with my pet project for the rest of my life and, if nothing ever comes of it, walk away with the comfort of knowing that I didn’t really try. I mean it’s not like I spent any money on it, right? It was an amusement, a distraction from day-to-day life. But if I pay somebody, it means I definitely care about its success on some level, and I’ve bought into the results, good or bad.
There’s no one-size-fits all to the DIY vs. Coaching question, but in this particular case I think I made the right choice. However, sometimes there’s no substitute for DIY – I’ll dig into that next week.