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Use Cases and Advice from CoachNow Power Users: Olympic Weightlifting Coach Spencer Arnold

Man spencer arnold in black and white wearing gold and silver medals around his neck
CoachNow is relied upon by the world's best coaches, academies, and national programs in 60+ sports across 140 countries worldwide. 

And, the more I interact with the thousands of coaches in the platform, the more impressed I am with all the unique and interesting ways they leverage our features to suit their business needs. 

So, in the next few months, I’ll be profiling some of our powerhouse users, asking them questions about their coaching, business and tech they use to make it all happen. The goal here is for them to share their insight and hopefully inspire you to think outside the box when it comes to potential use cases for CoachNow. 

Today, we’ll be profiling Spencer Arnold, Head Coach and Founder of Power and Grace Performance as well as the Strength and Conditioning Director for Hebron Christian Academy. 

To supplement this post, check out this episode of The ConnectedCoach Podcast. 

Let’s get to it. 

How Do You Integrate CoachNow With Your Coaching Offer? 

We use CoachNow a ton in the business and it’s truly unmatched in when compared to other, similar platforms. I’d say it serves two main purposes for us. 

First and foremost, it lays the foundation on which we create meaningful relationships with our athletes, especially those that are remote. I often call it the “breeding ground” for our interpersonal relationships and I love that CoachNow is wholly dedicated specifically to the coach relationship.  

So for us, having that digital “Space” is critically important for both establishing a relationship of trust between the coach and athlete, but also being able to track progress and document resiliency of the athlete over time. And, as a fun knock off effect of that documentation, those who use CoachNow often stay with our company for longer. 

The other purpose is probably the more obvious one. CoachNow just does a really good job of giving us a place to give feedback and for them to receive feedback and ask questions. The features of the app make it really easy to give technical feedback quickly, and of course it’s also great to keep all of our communications with athletes in one place that’s easy to track over time. 

To summarize, I’d say CoachNow enables us to build better relationships while also making our athletes better weightlifters in a more technical sense. And I think athlete’s need to actually hear the coach's voice. It helps immensely for the athlete to hear when, e.g. their coach is excited vs an emotionless text “great job!”. Thats what CoachNow does so well - it gives me the ability to offer dynamic content that feels more “human” than just text. 

Olympic Weightlifting is a technical sport that requires lots of hands-on coaching. How do you structure your training both in person and on CoachNow? 

This is kind of what makes us, us. We have found a great way to take a sport that is historically only coached in person and adding additional resources for improvement when you are at the gym alone. To be honest, this really came into being when COVID hit - at that point remote coaching became necessary for the business to stay afloat. 

I struggle to say that we do this better than everybody else, but we're certainly one of the leading edges in how we create a weightlifting program that's progressive, scientific, and evidence-driven. 

When we bring on an athlete, I personally create a custom program. CoachNow is just one of the elements, the interpersonal element. We also use other tools to help us build a picture of who this athlete is, not just from a technical perspective, but also emotionally and physiologically. I want a full picture of who they are, what they want, and how they are going to get there. 

Then, as they begin training we track the data religiously. Nothing is copy and paste, everything is personalized.  We want to be intimately involved in every single step and it be much more like an ongoing relationship. 

So that's a pretty unique niche for weightlifting, it's pretty unusual for athletes to be able to pull up their program and see all the data they're producing within their own workout sessions. 

And how does CoachNow fit into that larger ecosystem? 

Well, through CoachNow, they also have immediate access to all their historical interactions with their coaches and can easily contact them between sessions. 

While we use Google Sheets to track the data, it’s great that you can pin that resource at the top of the athlete space so they don't lose track of anything. And then, if they have any questions, they just post about it or comment, it really makes it so easy for them to get immediate feedback. 

Have a question about the program? CoachNow. Don't understand something about your program or need a demonstration? CoachNow. And of course, when they work out, we encourage them to post certain lifts in their Space for analysis and feedback in real time. 

So every, any, and all communication is in CoachNow. Whether that's technical coaching, emotional engagement, or, you know, commitments that they're not following up on or that we're not following up on - all of that happens on CoachNow. 

So while CoachNow started for us as a way to tell them what they were doing wrong, it quickly morphed into an ecosystem where almost all of our “relational” business lands. I’d say the foundation for client retention happens on CoachNow, since it helps them build a meaningful relationship in a way that I haven’t been able to replicate anywhere else. CoachNow is just a much smoother, easier place to integrate all the pieces of the puzzle. 

On the podcast, you touched on your philosophy around onboarding new athletes, I’d love to get a followup and capture that here. So, could you please explain your “Machine” for onboarding new athletes? Say you’ve already sold them, what do you do next to onboard them and ensure high retention? 

First, know that I'm the singular gateway to the program, so before we even get to that stage they have to interview with me to ensure that they are a good fit. There are lots of things I need to check to make sure they are a match. 

Then, assuming that goes well, it’s a four week onboarding process for a client when they join. And in those four weeks there are five pillars they have to get through. 

The first pillar is more basic, things like remote movement analysis. Our team doctor will ask them to film, say six or seven videos and post them in a private folder to look for certain movement imbalances. He then creates a physiological response for us with analysis on the movement patterns he noticed. This allows us to write appropriate programming for their unique physiology. 

The second pillar is behavior analysis. Kind of like a personality test but a bit different. This is because I have found that many coaches forget that there is a crucial “human element” to coaching an athlete. This behavior analysis lets us get a best view of what that human is holistically. Because think about it. Some  athletes hear a sentence like e.g. “I don’t think you can lift this” as a challenge, others think of it as a comment on their abilities. The same cue can have a vastly different effect on a different athlete. This behavior analysis helps us understand more about who the person is and what they need to be empowered. 

The third pillar is CoachNow. We make the expectations around using the platform incredibly clear and ensure that we are really, really diligent about them creating good habits around communicating with their coach. That means not only posting videos, but also asking questions and making sure they integrate CoachNow into their training plan from the start. It is their primary communication channel after all. 

The Fourth Pillar is a four week initial acclimation program. Essentially it’s an intro workout plan. This program is a general template that we give to everybody that teaches us about them and their response to training. This initial period helps us understand their response to different training stimuli so that we can ensure the appropriate program is prescribed to them after their acclimation month.’

The Fifth and Final Pillar is integration with the team and groups. While we want a very strong relationship one-on-one with their coach, we also want them to feel a sense of community in the organization as a whole, with other coaches as well as the other athletes. I spoke about retention earlier and I think that what really keeps retention is relationships. If you have a bad week with your coach, some people would be tempted to just leave the program. But if you’ve got 10 other relationships with people around you, you’re certainly going to be more committed to sticking around. This causes you to persevere. No one leaves a community they love, so ensuring that sense of community early is the final step to full integration to the program. 

I’ve found great success with this 4 week onboarding, and I think it’s quite unique!

You’ve clearly seen great success in your business and that’s great to hear. What’s your advice for new entrepreneur coaches? Anything you would have done differently?

I think advice for people getting in my space is to start small. Don't try to outgrow your foundation early. That's the thing with remote coaching is it can get really big, really fast if you catch the right trend. Prepare yourself early for the future growth. Don’t assume you’re gonna have 20 clients forever, then be surprised when you have 200. Have the structure in place for 200+ from the get go.  

Another thing I’ll say: don’t discount the digital coaching space. Lots of coaches (specifically weightlifting coaches, in my experience), think that it’s a necessity to be in person all the time. I argue that, as long as your relationships are solid, they really don’t need to be in person. You need to figure out a way to cultivate these relationships independent of your location and you’ll be able to scale much faster as a result.

Lastly, be ok with slow progress. The foundational work is more important than the flashy stuff that people see. I heard the saying a while back “companies that explode overnight implode overnight” and that really rings true with me. Hire people that you can trust early on and be patient and let them develop the skills needed to grow with you. 

And, of course, have fun! There will always be challenges, but as long as you love what you do it’ll all work out how it’s supposed to. 

Hope you enjoyed the chat and gained some insight from this interview! 

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Here’s to using CoachNow to propel your business forward! 

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