Alex: Profile of an amazing coach

Last week I wrote about our little bandwagon about Yoga with Adriene, the best online yoga journey I’ve ever encountered. I emphasized that it wasn’t a sponsored post, I just really really really LIKE Adriene.

Well, here is another such post. About my favourite fitness coach ever, Alex Boross-Harmer.

A few months ago, Alex told me that her aspiration as a coach was to make a space so her clients feel that the hour spent working out is their best hour in the day. And I realized that this is exactly how I feel with her — first in her classes, and now in personal training, I feel supported, challenged, encouraged and stronger than I’ve ever felt in my life.

Alex’ is the first class I ever felt inspired to dance in — just because her joy at being in the gym is infectious. (And I am not a person naturally given to expressing joy). She is so good at what she does that I never feel she’s asking me to do something out of reach — but then I find myself deadlifting 170lbs or walking on my hands, things I never in my wildest dreams imagined doing at almost-55. She is phenomenal at pinpointing the thing that gives me joy and intuiting the precise moment where, with encouragement and detailed analysis and guidance for my particular body, I can take it one step further. She does this so effortlessly that I forget she’s half my age and so incredibly fit on her own she is almost another species from me.

I was trying to figure out why Alex is such a powerful presence, compared to so many other teachers and coaches I’ve had in my life. With other coaches in small group fitness classes, I often find myself feeling inept, or like I can’t quite get the form right, or I’m hopelessly clumsy. It’s hard to articulate, but with many other coaches, even when they do and say all the “right” things, I can feel held back in a way. It’s not something specific like being adjusted, or told I should stay at a lower weight to focus on form, or lack of encouragement. Other coaches can do all those things “right,” and it’s fine — I can get a good workout, have a fun class.

But Alex has a unique, powerful ability to authentically connect in a way that makes me feel like she really *sees* me — sees the power in me yearning to unleash, sees my desire to see myself as strong, to feel more and more resilient in my relationship to aging. She’s 27, but she sees it — in a wordless way. And she creates a space that enables me to grow into and trust the Strong, Confident Cate we create together. With her, I am simultaneously fearless and 9 years old, and wise and strong and 55. I will hurl myself upside down in a handstand in the middle of the floor, and I will trust her when she tells me to slow it down.

I keep trying to understand how she creates such enlivened safety. Some of it is what she says, some of it is her design of our sessions, and some of it is just a way that she metaphorically holds me as safe to explore and push myself.

Here is 7 seconds of Alex coaching me through a round of pushups:

I’m currently doing a certification program as a leadership/life purpose coach, so I’m paying a lot of attention to What Makes a Good Coach. I see a lot of the specific things I’m learning in Alex — holding the client’s agenda, making it about me, not her, championing, exploring what I need, advancing the learning. But many coaches do this. What makes Alex special is emblematized in a tattoo on her arm that says “get comfortable with uncomfortable.” She is authentic, and she is always seeking deeper self-knowledge, authentic connection. And that is a remarkable space to feel safe to deepen my relationship with my body. Thank you Alex ;-).

How about you? Have you had a fitness (or other) coach that truly inspires and pushes you? What made that person great?

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who stands on her hands and ponders authenticity in Toronto. Alex is Alex Boross-Harmer, who has a new website:

4 thoughts on “Alex: Profile of an amazing coach

  1. Love this! Great coaches are so hard to find in our industry. When training new trainers I always talk about how the number one goal is authentic connections, but so many of them forget that instantly.

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