One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

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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.

By | 2012-02-23T05:30:19+00:00 February 23rd, 2012|In The Gym, Movement, Uncategorized|9 Comments


  1. Matt B February 23, 2012 at 7:58 am

    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. February 23, 2012 at 8:19 am

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

  3. Johnny K February 23, 2012 at 10:16 am

    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 February 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm

      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. Katie S. February 23, 2012 at 11:17 am

    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 February 23, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    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 February 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    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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