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Dealing with coaching transition at my gym


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Hi everyone,

I'm very new to Muay Thai. I've been training it 2-3 times per week for a little over 4 months. I'm 42 years old, and I've never trained any martial art or fighting sport before; when I was younger I did things like tennis, running, and cycling and in recent years I've just been doing general fitness stuff. I'm training at a Muay Thai/Boxing/Jiu Jitsu gym that just opened at the beginning of the year. I like the owners of the gym a lot.

I signed up for Muay Thai after meeting the coach with whom the gym contracted to teach at an open house the gym hosted. He has a very magnetic personality and his emphasis on the technical aspects of the sport really appealed to me. I probably would not have made it through the first couple of weeks if he hadn't been encouraging and tolerant of my slow pace of learning. I would get really anxious before every class, but that's gradually going away.

Unfortunately, the coach recently and suddenly severed his relationship with the gym. I suspect that he may have just been spreading himself too thin, because he has a large family and another coaching gig in another city, but I don't know for sure. The whole thing feels really weird because the suddenness of the separation didn't seem to fit with what I perceived to be the coach's character.

The gym is working on finding a replacement coach, and until then has had people of varying skill levels and backgrounds teaching classes. The classes haven't been very focused on the technical aspects of the sport and are more conditioning-oriented. For the moment I'm willing to wait it out until they come up with something more consistent. As I said above, I really like the owners and I think they are trying hard to figure out something to meet their students' needs, but it takes time.

At this point I'm feeling that if I want to continue to learn Muay Thai, my motivation is going to have to come from myself and not from a coach, and that the coach-student relationship is one that is often fleeting. I have to keep telling myself that teachers will come and go and I'm just going to have to account for that in my learning process. 

I guess my question for the group is whether this sort of thing is common, or if anyone else has gone through something like this in their Muay Thai learning experience. If a coach that you like left, how did you deal with that? How did you keep going? If you learn from different people at the same time, how do you keep it all consistent for yourself?

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Hi Brian.

(Like you I  started Muay Thai only  5 months ago and train 3x a week without exception)

first- I don’t blame you. What a let down and disappointment. Of course Muay Thai is fun but the trainer can make it or break it. A ‘ work out & conditioning ‘ oriented class is just NOT the same as being taught by a charismatic ( you said magnetic personality) trainer who really knows his stuff and loves Muay Thai.

I’m wondering if, while you wait to see who the gym hires permanently to replace him,  you could research where else the original trainer teaches at as well as other Muay Thai gyms that are within in commuting distance. Is that possible or is it the only Muay Thai place in your area? 

it sounds like you are understanding of the gym owners situation but the fact is- you are currently NOT receiving what you signed up for and what you paid for. It’s an inferior product in a sense. ( it sounds like). 

I guess you need to decide how long you are willing to  wait until there is a suitable and permanent replacement. ( 2 months? 6 months?)

 

A similar thing happened to my son in tae kwon do 

he went consistently from around 2nd thru 4th grade- in total for about 2.5 years if my memory is correct. He ( we) were told he was 6 months away from a black belt.

Then the trainer everyone loved was abruptly fired. Replacements came but the program wasn’t the same and no progress toward the black belt was ever given. Then the owner sold the business to a new guy. The new guy was great but did things differently and my son basically lost his ‘ ranking ’ ( I don’t know how to word it. He just was not close to earning a black belt anymore  with the new owner) he lost interest. He Quit. We lost $. It was a very disappointing thing at the time. 

( fast forward he’s big and now entering high school and discovered  and loves Krav Maga so he does that. I’m happy for him though I wish he’d do Muay Thai with me ) 

do you by any chance have an interest in BJJ or boxing 🥊classes to tide you over until a Muay Thai teacher is hired?  That’s just a thought. I’m just curious if you have other martial arts gyms that have Muay Thai near you? That might be the best option ... even if you ask for your membership to be put on hold until a new MT teacher is hired. Good luck. Don’t give up! 

 

 

 

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There are some other options for Muay Thai in my area. Some close, some not so close. I know the other place where the coach who left teaches, but it's too far out of the way; I think that may have had something to do with why he left my gym. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'd want to train with him again if I had the chance.

Part of the reason I'm willing to give the gym some more time to figure things out is that the owners are kind of "family friend" acquaintances. My whole family actually signed up for Muay Thai as a show of support, but I don't think that everyone will be continuing with the current situation.

You raise a good point about trying out another discipline while they sort out the Muay Thai situation. I've been thinking about doing that; maybe I should consider it more seriously. From what I understand the boxing and BJJ classes have been very consistent.

Thanks for responding! It sounds like this situation isn't all that uncommon. Hopefully they'll sort things out.

 

 

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In terms of pragmatic thoughts on your sitch (not sure if useful): If it were me, I'd just hit the boxing classes hard and ask the owners if I could come early/stay behind to get some teep/Thai kick reps on the bags.

As for your more general question:

I only took up MT recently so my experience is hella limited, but I trained at a few gyms simultaneously before I committed to one. I also did PT with a few trainers from the gyms. I found two real gym options during this process. I had the most faith in the skills/style/badassery of the head trainer at one gym, but I felt most comfortable in the classes of another gym (this was because I just felt that gym had more n00bs, and the class had almost equal numbers of guys and galz which made me feel like I fit in a bit better).

Ultimately, I had to figure out if it was more important for me to feel good about a trainer VS about the gym environment.

(WARNING: At this point things get less and less relevant to your sitch for a little while..)

In the end, I decided that my comfort/discomfort with the classes at the first gym was kind of a social anxiety thing (that's not quite what it was but kinda -- sort of like a performance anxiety/general social discomfort mish-mash). I also recognised that my fundamental interest in MT was absolutely about technical mastery and learning as much as possible as fast as possible. So I decided that the best path forward, if I could make it work/not be too avoidant due to my discomfort, would be to go with the gym/trainer who seemed totally world class compared to all the alternatives, and to just kinda force myself to get comfortable with those classes. I'm a few weeks in and still trying to do that last bit! But I think it was the right decision.

(Okay, back to the point.)

The reason I step this out in mind-numbing detail is just that I think everything, always, should come down to what your goals are and what you know about yourself. If my coach suddenly left his gym, I'd immediately reconsider where I was, and I'd look for the next best guy, because my training relationship with the coach is specifically about their perceived awesomeness, rather than any personal connection, so it kind of follows that I'd move on to the next without pause. If it had turned out that the gym was important to me, I'd definitely not do that.

Finally, I think your conclusion about nurturing an intrinsic motivation rather than one based on an external relationship is really sound, and it seems like a good thing to realise early.

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if you had more fun in the one with more new people and more comfortable environment? Sounds like it would be a more enjoyable time training, and more likely to keep going back. But up to you.

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Thanks for the comments, everyone. It seems like the gym is trying to find a new hire by the time the back to school season starts. They've been bringing in potential trainers to observe and assist with classes over the last week. It seems like progress, so I'm willing to be patient a little longer. 

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On 7/27/2019 at 8:14 AM, Oliver said:

if you had more fun in the one with more new people and more comfortable environment? Sounds like it would be a more enjoyable time training, and more likely to keep going back. But up to you.

Sorry, just saw this!

Yeah, I agree that is the most straightforward response to the circumstances I described. But ultimately I decided that my discomfort was like a weird made-up thing. No one in the gym with fewer n00bs was rude or annoyed or anything. They were all rad, like the trainer (whom I preferred to the alternatives). I just assumed the discomfort kinda randomly. And it seemed like a gym that aligned with my long-term interests more, so I just decided to use the opportunity to become less of a sook. 😄

 

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On 7/31/2019 at 6:23 AM, Brian said:

Thanks for the comments, everyone. It seems like the gym is trying to find a new hire by the time the back to school season starts. They've been bringing in potential trainers to observe and assist with classes over the last week. It seems like progress, so I'm willing to be patient a little longer. 

Woot. Fingers crossed the next person is uniquely awesome. 🙂 

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On 7/24/2019 at 4:53 PM, Brian said:

At this point I'm feeling that if I want to continue to learn Muay Thai, my motivation is going to have to come from myself and not from a coach,

Though my experience is different, I empathize with you on this. It was me, rather than my trainer, that have became unavailable. 

I started Muay Thai during university. At that time, I can arrange my class schedule to allow me to take the day time classes during weekdays, which I liked and learned the most from. When I graduated, I already have secured a job. It was a 9-5 type job with great prospects, but I was devastated that graduating means I won't get to take the class I loved so much. It wasn't a temporary situation. I would work similar jobs with similar schedules for the foreseeable future. It felt like I would never get to take classes with this trainer again. 

I did basically what you said above and became my own advocate for my training progress. The most effective means was drawing on online resources like Sylvie's and others' videos to learn new material that I could practice when I train by myself at the gym. Since then, I also added training at other gyms later on and meeting with friends to train outside of class. I've been able to improve my skills through these means and even started competing after losing access to this trainer that had motivated me the most.

Perhaps incorporating things you can learn from online resources and adding them to solo training can help you progress while the gym find a permanent replacement. All the best! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's good that you have started this discussion, from my point of view, you should be really aware of unsafe exercises in gym, due to the lack of personal experience without training with a coach. The first thing is that you've got be familiarized with relevant sport outfit so that you could train conveniently and self-confidently, for example, for women, I can strongly recommend taking a look at the best women's workout shorts. In this way you will avoid any inconvenience!

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