Brooke, the Progression from Lifter to Coach


Brooke wandered into my gym almost three years ago. She was young, in her first semester at Michigan State after getting her Associate's from the local community college. The guy she was dating at the time was a client of mine and he suggested she come in to check it out. She must of liked what she saw because she joined and became one of my hardest working clients.

The only other thing I really remember from Brooke's early training is that she had these incredibly long legs and she just couldn't set her damn back when she deadlifted. I remember clearly thinking that maybe she just wouldn't deadlift maybe she would have to do some sort of alternative pull, and that is crazy because it is the only time it has ever happened to me. The deadlift is just not that hard of a lift to coach and I have never really had a problem getting a novice to do it correctly, but Brooke was going to turn out to be a rather hard case so we just agreed to not give up on each other. She stuck with it until it worked itself out and got a lot stronger along the way.

Brooke did what all of my favorite trainees do. She showed up consistently, didn't say all that much, listened very carefully to what I had to say, and asked good questions when necessary. That is the recipe of being coach-able, and being coach-able is a very important part of learning about training. Most people already think they know it all and are not all that interested in listening, but Brooke was different. She paid attention.

After about a year of training and getting decently stronger it became apparent that Brooke had become interested in what we were doing on a larger scale. She wasn't just a lifter and client of mine, but rather a person who could see the potential of what we were doing. Instead of simply thinking about herself like so many other people do, she started thinking about how others could benefit from basic barbell program like Starting Strength.

One day after a training session she asked me if I would be open to the idea of her doing an internship at the gym. It would be for independent study credit towards the business degree she was pursuing. I knew she was smart and organized, and my growing business could use the help. It ended up being a win-win.

The initial portion of her internship was simply to work on the behind the scenes part of a coaching practice. We discussed marketing strategies and ways to be more efficient, but at that stage of my business development I was swamped with far too many people to coach and it was becoming very obvious that in order to grow I was going to need more coaches. So Brooke provided me with a lifeline and started the process of becoming a coach.

It was very slow at first. She didn't come from a solid science background, so some of the concepts from the books were difficult for her to process. I told her to be patience and chew it off slowly because that is exactly what I had to do. The coaching part was also a little rough in the beginning due to Brooke being a little shy, but again, I told her to be patient because I also had to overcome the same things and knew that she could do it.

After Brooke completed her formal internship with me for university credit I was not sure if she was going to stick around to be honest. She had a long road ahead and she knew it. I knew it too, and I know just how frustrating it can be when you are moving towards something you really don't understand and you aren't quite sure how to get there.

But Brooke didn't quit. She kept showing up.

She even called me one day and asked if I thought she could open a private women's barbell gym in a few years, so we moved on to the next stage of the internship process.

I told her that if she wanted to open a gym than she was going to have to become a coach and not just any coach, but a coach that could inspire and lead women towards getting stronger. It takes a special person to be able to connect with others in a way that will allow them to see how much stronger they can become and without that ability a coach in this business is going to fail.

Her focus during the next phase was to really dig into the material. She read all of the articles, watched all of the videos, read and re-read all of the books, attended Training Camps Sully and I put on, spent time at Greysteel coaching with Sully, went on an Iron Intern exchange to Iron City Athletic Club to visit my buddy Nicholas Racculia, and asked me and a lot of other coaches a lot of questions. And of course, she kept getting stronger along the way by remaining dedicated to her own training and learning more about the process.

Brooke helped coordinate mock seminars, coached anyone she could work with, helped organize events at the gym, lifted in a few of our in-house meets, and basically committed herself fully to the goal of becoming a Starting Strength Coach and working towards having her own professional coaching practice. In a gym like mine where I am constantly busy having help around like Brooke was literally heaven sent and I will forever be grateful for her dedication through those times.

This past November she went to one my old interns gym in Chicago, Kratos Strength Systems and passed the platform evaluation at a Starting Strength Seminar with flying colors. Becoming a Starting Strength Coach requires both a practical evaluation of coaching skills on the platform and after successfully passing the platform a thorough written examination is required, so after getting back from the seminar Brooke wrote a 27,000 word essay about what she knew about the Starting Strength model and it was enough for her to pass. She had accomplished a major goal she had set for herself. She was the only person out of 30 at the seminar that went on to earn the Starting Strength Coaching credential.

After becoming a SSC she started the process of developing her own coaching practice and established Eisenbar Strength with the objective of helping more women realize the benefits of barbell training and the importance of increasing strength. She is now in the process of building a clientele of both women and men here Black Iron and over in Farmington Hills at Sully's gym. She will also continue in helping assist me in offering training camps, seminars, and other events to help spread the awareness of our training methods.

As if she wasn't busy enough Brooke is interning at Starting Strength Online Coaching and will eventually start helping clients all around the world as well.

Brooke is a good coach. She has a really good eye and a great deal of experience to draw from. When she is working with a lift they know what they need to work because Brooke clearly communicates it to them along the way. I am confident that she has the tools to help just about anyone get started with barbell training. We are glad to have her aboard here with us at the gym and are very excited to see just how many more people she can help get stronger.

Nice work Brooke! We are all very proud of you. And I am glad we never gave up on the deadlift because it was very cool to see you pull 300lbs.

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