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Software Engineer to Self-Sufficient Strength Coach

Yeah, you read it right, a Software Engineer taught herself not only to design and implement her own strength program, but a strength program that worked. In my tenure as a personal trainer and ex-strength coach, I’ve always felt true enjoyment in learning how other trainers develop their strength programs. ‘Why did you add this”, “Why did you choose these volumes and intensities, at this piece of the Phase II”, “Why did you implement tempos here, and not there,” an so on..

But, when a client you’ve been working with for months, slowly begins to understand the foundation of her training program, she took it upon herself to create her own. A program custom to her, that targeted the weaknesses she wanted to strengthen.

I’m getting ahead of myself though, let me back UP!

About a year ago, when I started Dan Kenary Performance, my main objective in creating my online coaching business was to educate my clients on health, nutrition, and programming throughout their transformation, in hopes that I would be their last coaching investment. What value is a trainer if you keep coming back to them (not talking about some enjoyment in the companionship and accountability, which I totally get). But there’s no reason anyone can’t learn some fundamental principles to become independent in their training goals for the long term..this has always been my goal when training and educating my clients.

I received a text from Haley. Haley is your analytic, brilliant, data-driven software engineer, that needs to understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of anything she’s working on. If she doesn’t, she noted that “she’ll malfunction and need a reboot”, her words not mine…punny! We spoke about why I created DKP, and seemed like a match made in analytic heaven.

In speaking with Haley for the first time, I understood some challenges that were going to need addressing to assure I was the right fit for her and she was ready to act on the investment: As most clients, Haley had similar questions and concerns…

- 1. Where do I start?

- 2. I know exercise is important, but don’t know how to structure a strength program or what thoughts go into one

- 3. I work from home, how do I manage that? (blessing & curse, depending on who you ask..)

We had an hour-long conversation of ‘why’ she wanted to become independent in her training and how we would get her there, together. What I needed to know is her schedule and what had been interrupting her decision to get to the gym; located a couple floors beneath her apartment. I knew I could teach her to create her own program throughout the weeks, but what good is creating something if you don’t use it? We needed to develop a schedule that was as effortless as possible to get her to the gym. A couple weeks later, she did it. We figured out what made her ‘tick’, which is something I like to call someone’s ‘internal why’. If your reason to do something is strong enough that goes deeper than face value, you tend to truly do anything to accomplish whatever you have set out to do if your ‘why’ is strong enough..

I digress..

SO, a couple weeks in, I looked at some of her pain points and challenges to see her progress.

- 1. We designed and outlined what gym equipment she had access to, based on her circumstances

- 2. Teach along the way with check-ins / programming whiteboard sessions

- 3. Choosing right exercises for her once we understand how the body moves

Number 1 was tackled first. We understood where her pitfalls were and identified a support system that would enable her to stay on track.

Number 2 was when I’d host a couple calls in front of a white board to describe, in understandable terms, how to ensure progression and recovery were implemented into her strength program.

Number 3 was interesting to work with because staying in the same building for mostly everything she needed was right there. In terms of the gym, uncovering the way the body moves enabled her to understand the type of movement to use in her program to progress for her defined version of success.

A couple weeks after our last ‘session’ together, I received a text from her. BUT, before I talk any further, you may be wondering why I put session in ‘apostrophes’.. Although, there is a set time to work together, the relationship piece is what I enjoy the most, and so, most of the clients I work with tend to be friends afterwards, which I really enjoy!

ANYWAYS, I get a text. It’s from Haley with a picture. The picture is an Excel sheet with her first ever, customized strength program! WHAT?!

I was as excited as when I show up at an all you can eat sushi bar! A client. A software Engineer. No background in Exercise Science. Presenting to me a strength program she created asking me to look at it to make sure it was ‘good’/ GOOD!? C’MON if anything, I was fired up she took the time to create her own program!

She presented it to me containing the exercise selection, order, proper volumes, intensities, and ‘why’ she created the way she did. I jokingly asked to not take any potential clients of mine..what monster did I create?!

So yes, a Software Engineer turned into a Self-Employed Strength Coach..


Dan Kenary MS, CSCS

Want to learn for free how to create your own strength program?

Download my Free E-book: A Beginner's Guide on Periodization on my website

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Podcast: French Pressed Podcast

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