Posted by nyssa on June 25, 2012 in , , ,

This weekend, I was lying on a bed in a small coastal NSW village and doing some channel surfing when I came across an interesting documentary. The documentary was titled “Guru Greg” and it referred to Greg Chappell’s ill fated time as coach of the Indian cricket team. It was narrated and produced by John Doyle (aka Rampaging Roy Slaven) and it was a no holds barred analysis of this era of Indian cricket. It started when Chappell was first appointed and the Indian media was hailing him as a “guru”; a man who was going to single handedly reform Indian cricket and usher in a new generation of super-stars. He was the messiah who was going to improve the youth and prolong the careers of aging stars Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly. The long and the short of this was that the Indian side produced a trail of losses and a player revolt led by former captain Ganguly led to Chappell being absolutely crucified by the Indian media and population in general. He was abused physically and verbally at airports and a motion was moved in parliament to have him dismissed. Chappell did not have his contract renewed and the messiah of Indian cricket, Guru Greg, left with his tail between his legs.

This led me to thinking; can a coach or trainer really ever be a “guru”? Is it all hype with no real substance to it? Or are coaches and trainers really people who inspire people to greatness and have a tangible role to play in all of our lives? To expand this topic in more detail, I am going to focus on two types of coaches; business coaches and personal trainers.

The role of the business coach is one that has crept to prominence over the past decade. I have a great number of peers and friends whom I respect greatly who absolutely swear by their business coaches. In many cases, these people could even be classified as a “life coach” and their roles are obviously very much appreciated. The skeptical side of me though asks “shouldn’t your boss be your business coach?”
What is it that you are not getting from your boss that you are getting from a business coach? This week, I was having a discussion with a lady who was strongly arguing the case that I should also hire her business coach. The business coach has apparently revolutionised her business and also set her on the path to personal success as well. I listened intently for a while and asked one question that I felt important: what is it that your business coach actually does for you? After about five minutes of “waffle”, she finally answered that she tells me “that I am really good and I am on the right track”. I couldn’t believe my ears. Her business coach was brilliant because they tell her how good she is. Dear oh dear oh me!! Surely, we don’t need that much reassurance. Surely it would be more valuable to actually be told that to take your business further, you could implement these strategies etc and here is how I would recommend you do it. However, the reason that this lady employs a business coach is to tell her that she is “good”. Needless to say, this lady has now employed her business coach on a retainer for $15,000 per month with no quantifiable KPIs. I am really in the wrong profession.

This brings me to personal trainers and sports coaches. The interesting point about the Greg Chappell story is that for years he disagreed with sporting teams having coaches. His brother, former Australian captain Ian Chappell, once famously said that the only role a coach should have in Australian cricket was “to take a team to and from the ground”. Yet he was to take on a role as the coach of the most passionate (and wealthy) cricket nation in the world. Now my position on personal trainers and coaches will undoubtedly be controversial in my own company. Our Office Manager in Perth moonlights as a qualified personal trainer. Half of the people in the Brisbane office use a personal trainer. My head of Corporate Services has thrived since she began using one and will most certainly give me “cold shoulder treatment” for expressing this view. However, I believe that personal trainers can be another false idol. Firstly, let me confess that I am an overweight 95kg man. My weight fluctuates within the cuddly to obese range. I eat poorly, drink too much and exercise spasmodically. I know exactly what I should do to lose 15kgs. I am not convinced that if a personal trainer told me to change my lifestyle I would listen. If I needed somebody to shout at me for an hour, I would just leave work earlier (only joking). I decided to get a view from a fit person before writing this blog so that I give a better balanced insight. My mate is a “supreme athlete”. He has competed in the Hawaiian Iron Man and his idea of a relaxing day is a 20 km run followed by a 100km cycle. I think he is a freak and he is the antithesis of me in this way. However, he detests personal trainers with a passion. He feels as though they prey on people and manipulate their insecurities so that they become dependent on them. He convinced me not to hire one when a gym opened in our building and I have still not relented. He gives me an example of one of his relatives who ended up spending more on his personal trainer than he did on his mortgage and children’s education. When he ended up bankrupt, his personal trainer (who was earning $480 per week from his client) was nowhere to be seen (even though he told his client once that he would make a great personal trainer which only fuelled his ego even more). My mate’s message to me was that sustainable discipline comes from within and it is up to the individual to commit to it. You need to do everything in moderation and in the context with your life. I tend to agree with him.

So, there is a collation of my opinions on business and fitness gurus. I am sure that I have offended a great number of people but this is not my intention. I respect all people who have established a business, including business coaches and sports and personal trainers. I certainly could not do what you do. I just hope that the clients have their eyes open to what they want to achieve when they hire you.

Brad McMahon – Managing Director

On another note, thank you very much to all of our customers who have supported Optimum throughout the financial year 2011-12. Looking forward to your support again next year.


  • Cam says:

    To say teams don’t need coaches is what I believe to be a incorrect statement. A coach is a leader who sets out goals for their team to complete. A coach teaches game plans and is one of experience and knowledge. They provide guidance and set a pathway for self and team development. Of all sports to refer to cricket is possibly the worst…it is a sport without a focused game plan. However sports such as afl rely on a structured game plan set by the coach, the coach has an perspective of the game which the players do not. Coaches know the capabilities of the players and know when to interchange and call the decisions which can open games up. Being a former semi professional athlete I have been talent identified by national talent scouts and have played representative football for several codes. I myself have coached and a prime example of when it was needed was in my senior year of high school when I decided to coach the girls afl side. Very few of these girls had played the game before and lacked knowledge on what to do. My job of coach was to guide these young ladies and help give them a better understanding of what to aim for when playing. This coaching has progressed me into a career of personal training. This is a passion I have, my clients have lacked motivation before they started training with myself, my job is to provide them with the knowledge of what a healthy lifestyle is and demonstrate procedures for them to achieve their personal goals. Some clients of mine do lack motivation and it is my job to keep them enthusiastic and disciplined because unfortunately people naturally just lack it.

    Finally I would like to touch on business mentoring, I have had a business mentor for several months, this mentor charges $500 a week which I have to pay over a period of 6 months. To many this seems highly overpriced however my mentor has set myself up with a job in qlds most corporate and largest gym, I am only 19 and making close to $2000 a week which is more than most people my age. My mentor has taught me skills which help me sell, market and most of all achieve my clients results. Being one of the youngest trainers in the gym people are often quick to judge me until they see my capabilities as a trainer and thanks to my mentor I have learnt to deal with corporate clients and become one of the most successful trainers in the gym. Several trainers without mentors struggle simply due to the fact they do not have a business coach or someone to keep them accountable. I can honestly say using a mentor is the greatest investment I have made to date.

  • Brad says:

    Thanks Cam for taking the time to reply and congratulations for doing so well professionally in a short space of time. I think that I know somebody you train and she speaks very highly about all that you have done for her.

    I appreciate your comments and you are obviously a personal trainer who provides value for money as well as have received value for money from your business coaches and mentors. That is great to hear. My point was to highlight that this is sometimes not the case and I struggle to understand why somebody would ever hire a business coach purely to “tell them they are doing a good job”.

    I will disagree slightly with your analysis that cricket is a “sport without a focused game plan” though. In my youth I actually played a little bit of cricket and game plans were detailed and carefully executed. “Wagon wheels” detailing where batsman score, “bowling grids” analysing how bowlers construct an over and fielding SWOT analysis were common way back then. I would certainly say that it was a far more focused game plan than anything I experienced in rugby league, which was the other team sport I played in my youth. Once again, this is just a personal opinion.

    Once again Cam, thanks for taking the time to post a reply. It is great to hear a story of somebody like yourself doing so well and I am glad that coaching and training has paid off for you. Good luck for the future and your career in general.


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