I’m an avid Game of Thrones fan: every Sunday, 8 pm, I glue my butt to the couch and dive into the fantasy world of Westeros.

Knights and Kings. Princes and Princesses. Lords and Ladies. Blood and guts and sword fights and the occasional gratuitous sex scene. GoT is my shit!

You know nothing, Jon Snow

Scorned redheads like to point out all the things Jon Snow knows nothing about. He knows nothing and he’s a bastard. And he was stabbed in the chest. Like, a dozen times. Dude can’t catch a break.

I often find my inner monologue saying the same phrase:

You know nothing.

And, sometimes,

I know one thing: that I know nothing.

I think Socrates said that one.

Newsflash: I’m a personal trainer and coach by profession, and, I love my job:

I help people get stronger, leaner, and fitter each and every day; and during the process, drop knowledge bombs on my clients and friends: Hows. Whys. Whens. Do’s and Don’ts of all things strength training and nutrition.

But there’s a problem: who holds me accountable? Who pushes me to get stronger, leaner, and better every day?

I’m the “lone wolf” in my independent training business. I’m the one and only “go-to-guy” for all things fitness.

I’m the boss, marketer, and accountant to my business.

You, the reader, may be the father, the mother, the caretaker, the breadwinner, or the educator.

In other words, we all wear various hats. Sometimes, too many hats. We juggle numerous responsibilities, and sometimes our training programs fall to the wayside.

I am my own coach. Maybe you coach yourself or write your own training programs. What follows is why being your own coach may be a bad idea.

The Knower of All Things

Sounds powerful: Knower of All Things.

Like the Three-Eyed Raven and his ability to see the past, present, and future.

But this ain’t Game of Thrones.

When it comes to training, I feel like I’m supposed to have all the answers. I’m supposed to know every little nuance and method to design the best training programs. I am the coach, after all.

In essence, I’m trying to be the Three-Eyed Raven

I don’t know everything

I know a helluva lot, but I’m still learning every day.

The point is this: we don’t have to know all the things. Instead of trying to be the Three-Eyed Raven, we ought to be more like Bran, seeking guidance and knowledge from someone else.

Or think of it this way: Men and asking for directions

We know we should ask someone who’s more familiar with the area, but instead we grit our teeth and charge forward, convincing ourselves we know the way.

In reality, we don’t. In reality, we need help.

If you coach yourself, you have an idiot for a client.

Dan John said those words. Since he’s been coaching longer than I’ve been alive, I think we ought to listen.

When you coach yourself, you overthink the process. You rely on your knowledge (and biases) to try and write and execute the “perfect” program.

Ultimately, though, being the “knower of all things” works against you as you debate and second-guess your decisions on your way to nowhere.

What’s interesting is that I write great programs for my clients. They get stronger and more athletic each and every week. It’s incredible.

When I write programs for myself, however, I’m just the fucking worst.

I change too many variables, too often, to know what really made a difference. I destroy my progress by not committing to the process.

So I hired a coach

I hired a coach to write my workout programs and hold me to the flames when it comes to my nutrition.


So I can wear one less hat.

I’ve handed the responsibility of program and nutrition design to another qualified professional.

Hiring a coach removes the stress and anxiety of designing my own programs, and simultaneously removes any opportunity to sabotage my progress.

If I don’t follow the program, I let him down. If I work hard and focus consistently, I hit my goals faster.

I do all these things, because as Dan John likes to quip, “because Coach says.”

“Because Coach Says”

I hired a coach because I need accountability. I need someone to make sure I get from A–>B faster.

Exercises. Sets. Reps. Load. Calories and Macros. No matter how I feel about it, I’m going to do the program, as written, because my coach said so.

Deviating from his program might mean I miss my goal. Missing my goals comes at a cost: literally, dollars.

Now it’s on. I’m committed and being held accountable to do the work with 100% effort.


I have three months to work through the program, follow his nutrition guidelines, and achieve my goals. Before, when I was my own coach, I had no hard timeline. I just gave the ol’ can another swift kick down the road.

Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, would call that The Resistance.

I’m looking the Resistance in the face and punching it in the fucking jaw.

“The Mountain” Gregor Clegane

A goal without a plan is just a wish

My goals are physically written down. Instead of loosely-based and floating around in my head, my goals stare me in the face every day. There’s no escape.

My goals are written, I have a plan, and I have a timeline. This is no longer “I wish I was ripped like Ryan Reynolds” or “I wish I was strong like Gregor Clegane.”

We’re now in the upright and locked position.

Learning Opportunity

I’m a much better coach today than I was a year ago, and phenomenal compared to the coach I was six years ago.

Since I love to learn more about training and nutrition, I now have an opportunity to learn from another coach and colleague in the profession.

I explore my program with renewed fervor as I try and understand what my coach thinks and how he approaches my program design.

The “ooohs” and “ahhs” and “holy hell’s” have blathered out of my mouth this week.

It feels good:

What this has to do with you:

You’re wondering what any of this has to do with you. If it’s not obvious, I’ll tell you:

If you’re struggling like I was, with your workouts or your focus or your dedication, it’s time to consider hiring you own coach.

I’ve been coaching myself for the better part of 10 years, and I’m just now hiring a coach.

How silly is that? I’ve been my own coach for 10+ years and instead of admitting I wasn’t doing the right things, I just puttered along hoping that one day I would just wake up and be like, “holy smokes! who’s this dashing, handsome, totally ripped guy staring back at me in the mirror?”

But, that hasn’t happened. I’m excited, though, at the thought that in just three short months, it could happen.

For the first time in a long time, I’m excited to train. I’m thrilled I get to hit the gym four times a week and crush the weights. I’m finally on the path to achieving my goals.

If you’ve felt this way before and you’re ready for a significant change in the right direction, don’t hesitate to reach out and find the right coach to help you achieve your goals.

You’ll be glad you made this decision.

I know I am.

Andy Van Grinsven

About Andy Van Grinsven

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