Job title Speed coach
Employer Nike/BXR London
Meet the speed coach!
Courtney, explain what a speed coach does…
I teach group classes and I do one-on-one sessions, and I do general PT sessions. I’ve got a lot of clients who are now using me for development in speed, runners who are both short and long distance, who are trying to get better times. It’s about woking on their technique for speed development, injury prevention – especially for the longer distance runners. My background is sprinting, so I feel really comfortable in it. With speed, you cant lie about it because it is what it is – how fast you can run 100m is just how fast you can run it. It’s quite clear to see the results, and its less subjective that other things. I like the rawness of speed.
It’s good because there is an end result. I might go to a HIIT class or gym, and get stronger over time and measure it by weight, what you do is measurable and is a replacement to HIIT training and strength training as well isn’t it?
Yes for sure. Strength is a massive part of developing speed. You need to have the right protocols in place, but speed is about being able to put maximum strength into the floor as quickly as you can; as strong as you can, on repeat. So getting stronger is a big part of getting faster.
It’s important then that you get can as peak performance as possible with this training, if you’re getting both speed and strength then its the pinnacle of your body’s ability to perform..
Yes you’ve got strength one end and speed the other, so in the middle is power, which is just a mixture of both. You can’t be powerful without being strong and you cant be powerful when you’re slow.
“Strength is a massive part of developing speed. You need to have the right protocols in place, but speed is about being able to put maximum strength into the floor as quickly as you can; as strong as you can, on repeat.”
Do you work with individuals and teams? Celebs and sports people?
All kinds of people. One of my clients has just completed her first half marathon, and she’ll tell me that whenever she gets to 3k/4k her back starts to hurt, so we work on her technique with drills, and she got stronger. We did some technique work and got her conditioned for it. For her, I never took her on a run. I never pushed running to her, everything was gym-based. Then she did her half marathon and her time for that was better than her previous 10K, even though she ran twice the distance. Most people think that the day after your half marathon you’re going to be a mess and struggling, but the next day she was like: ‘Right, what are we doing in the gym?’ and was ready to go. From there she passed on that info and let so many people that had followed her journey and were close to her wanted to do similar work with me. As a celeb trainer, I train people like Skepta, Rizzle Kicks, Ellie Goulding – these are linked with a group of about 15 trainers and we share them out between us.
So you’ve got a sprinting background. When you were sprinting did you always know that you wanted to go into the coaching side of things?
Not at all. I just thought I would be a sprinter and do that professionally. When I first was about to apply for uni I remember going to the open day and talking to the head of football and he was saying ‘maybe you should get into football’. And when I went to Uni about three months in I got injured. My coaching set up was different and the track scenery changed, maybe I wasn’t there to do the warm up or whatever but I got injured. I didnt get injured on the track but playing football, but I hadn’t put myself in the best condition fitness-wise. So it took me a really long time to recover and get back from the injury, and while I was out I was blaming it on uni and assignments. Being away from home I also didn’t really have the guidance of family and coaches. By the time I could get back into it, two years had passed and the love had been lost a little bit because I was just so far behind. So I started running and training, and coaching just became a happy replacement.
“I’d say just be yourself in how you teach your classes, because your clients will like you for being you and the things that you say.”
So did you have to get qualifications?
Yes. So when I was doing a degree in accounting and finance I was going through it with no real end goal in mind, so after a year I decided to change. I was at Kingston Uni originally and then changed to Southbank and did a sports and exercise science degree. I was then in the uni football team and sprinting, I then did my level 2 qualifications in teaching for one-on-one situations. I did a spin qualification as well, so I used to teach spin – that was the first group class I ever taught. Then I started to teach circuit classes, and then I started working at GymBox and a found a boutique gym in covent garden called Another Space. I started working there doing boxing classes, and after about a year I moved to the current boutique gym called BeExcel in Baker Street. It has an actual gym attached to it as opposed to just rooms for classes, and has the right vibe.
The fitness/coaching training world is fairly saturated so how do you stand out from the rest?
So far I’ve been pretty lucky. But in general, I’d say just be yourself in how you teach your classes, because your clients will like you for being you and the things that you say. It’s not going to be alien to everyone. For me the first classes I taught in East London taught me a lot about coaching, that you cannot please everyone, so you have to kind of do what you believe in and then the people that have the same mindset as you will gravitate towards you. The ones that don’t will just go and see someone else. So just be yourself. A lot of people say I want to be just like Joe Wicks, but Joe Wicks is Joe Wicks, so you can’t be exactly the same as him.
These guys are also exceeding because of their personalities.
It’s good to always keep learning. Some guys will get their qualifications and thats them, they’re done. I think it’s important to keep learning and educating yourself, and follow influential people. Ask questions, do research etc.
Mark LawsPersonal trainer
BodyPower UK Ltd/Mark Laws Performance Coaching
Who we work with Past and Present
Careers in Sport
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