One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

When I see someone that may be struggling to achieve a task or see a person losing form due to too much weight or see someone not pushing themselves to their full potential it’s my job to try to help that individual.  Having a set of eyes watch your movement is necessary if you are wanting to actually improve.  I can attest to this as an athlete and as a coach.

As an athlete, I train on my own quite often without another set of eyes on me.  This is definitely NOT ideal.  I often will video myself so I can watch it back and try to make corrections on my own or send it to other coaches to watch and assess.  That feedback helps tremendously, but there’s nothing like immediate critique to help you implement the necessary changes right then and there.  The more repetitions we do incorrectly, the deeper we get into making those bad habits more pronounced and hard to turn around.  In contrast, the more repetitions we do correctly the easier it becomes to feel and perform this correct technique.  When I have coaches watch me, positive changes happen almost immediately as I can “feel” what they are talking about not just “see” on video what I was doing incorrectly.

As a coach here at Norcal, I think I can speak for myself and the rest of our coaching staff when I say that it’s our job/passion to make sure each of you are moving as safely as possible.  From there it’s our job/passion to make sure that safety remains in tact as we progress you to more complex movements and increased weight.  As soon as form suffers we ask you to take a step back.

Why am I saying all of this?  Just a reminder that when you are in class and a coach asks you to back off the weight or scale the movement, it’s not because we’re picking on you…it’s because we want you to get better.  We want to see you progress.  Sometimes that means taking a step back first to be able to gain the strength to achieve that next level.  We can’t expect to come into the gym EVERY week and squat more than we did the previous week.  If we are struggling to do a pushup from our feet without snaking, then we can’t expect that if we keep carving that motor pattern into our head will help us fix the problem.  As coaches it’s our job to see this and point you in the direction of success.  However, we are only one set of eyes per class so seeing every movement for every individual isn’t always possible.  If you know in your heart of hearts that your form is suffering on a movement, please ask us and we’ll help you figure out a progression to get there…or leave the ego at the door and drop weight if that is what’s making your form suffer.  Sometimes taking one step back takes you two steps forward in the long run.

Written by Jenny

Jenny LaBaw has been an athlete her entire life. As a 3-sport collegiate athlete, she competed in soccer, indoor and outdoor track and field. Post college she found her need for competition fulfilled through endurance running races anywhere from 5K’s to marathons. Her competitive drive led her to CrossFit in 2010 where she started training to compete at the elite level. In 2011, her first year competing in CrossFit, Jenny placed 2nd at the Northern California Regionals earning herself a spot to The 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games where she gained the title as the 6th Fittest Woman on Earth. In 2012 she improved her regional standings, taking 1st in Northern California and once again a spot to The Reebok CrossFit Games. Injury took her out of the 2013 season, but is working hard at returning to the Reebok CrossFit Games in 2014. Although, she enjoys competing, Jenny's true love is being outdoors mountain biking, hiking, waterskiing, snow skiing, camping and more with her boyfriend, Marcus and two yellow labs, Ziggy and Pogo. With her love for sport and exercise, Jenny chose a career as a personal trainer so she could share her passion of health and fitness with others. Attending Cornell College, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education with an emphasis in Fitness and Wellness. Prior to Norcal, she has trained in gyms, private training studios, and coached soccer. Her 10+ years of coaching experience has allowed her to work directly with a wide variety of people from children trying to discover their coordination to adults wanting to shed a few pounds to professional athletes looking to be the best in the world. No matter what walk of life you are coming to her from, her mission is to make you realize your potential and help get you there. She will prove to you that you can be stronger, more fit, and healthier than you think you can be. With her inspiration, motivation and dedication, she will challenge your body, encourage your mind, and help you to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Jenny will help you be your best!

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  1. Matt B

    Very great post Jenny! I 100% agree with this! This is why I still jump into classes all the time. It’s nice to get evaluated and critiqued on my form. As a coach, I love it when people ask me to watch their form. It also makes the coaches feel important! We don’t want to be just standing their all the time and be watch dogs, this allows for more interaction between coaches/clients! And just as Jenny said, if we ask you to scale down weight or scale down the movement, there is always a good reason! We want you to be safe, efficient, and have fun at the same time. And taking that one step back, two steps forward are sure to follow.

  2. Justin S.

    Very true Jenny! Like Vince Lombardi said, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

  3. Good post. As a client, I’m always hoping for some critique from the coaches, cause I know there is always something that I am not doing right.
    Except when Shawn tries to explain something and goes off on three different tangents and you don’t even get the movement done :)

    • Shawn G

      I am not sure what you are talking about? Most of the time…..Oh WOW look at the size of the squirrel :-)
      Is that a Rocket Ship out front…..”What was I saying again”

  4. Thanks Jenny! I am so grateful to all of you, for your time and critiques. This was an excellent post ! Thank you!

  5. Mona Dagy

    Thank you Jenny. Great post. I have resently had to take many steps back, but I am slowing getting stronger and I attribute my success to all the NorCal coaches. You can watch me any time.

  6. Mike Shaw

    This is great advice for anyone who wants to improve. The tendency is to want to lift heavier because we think this equates to improvement. The quest for better fitness sometimes means backing off and concentrating on form and full range of motion. Good artticle Jenny!


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