Spartan Race don’t just organise awesome obstacle course races, they also developed courses unique to OCR, which are tailored towards both the regular Joes, as well as the advanced athletes and coaches around the world.
With SGX in particular, I wondered if this certification would be worth my time and the hefty price tag
When I first heard about the Spartan SGX, one of those courses, becoming certified as a group exercise coach sounded like a great opportunity. Especially knowing how limiting and specialist the typical fitness courses are. Obstacle racing is too unique of a sport, and it requires tremendous adaptability: athletes need to be able to run long and fast, to climb, carry, jump and be virtually indestructible. So as long as I’ve been in this sport, there was always a question nagging at me: How do you coach a person for such a challenging sport? With SGX in particular, I wondered if this certification would be worth my time and the hefty price tag.
If you look up the workshops and online courses for becoming SGX certified, you won’t find more information than the typical Spartan jargon about grit and building bodies that are always ready for action. It wasn’t the jargon that finally sold it to me; it was the mental benefits that the course conveys.
As a trainer I was struggling to keep my clients motivated and to push them hard enough (just past their breaking point) to prepare for their races. Every one of them wanted to succeed, but there was still something missing to unlock the success. It was my desire to help them finally unlock it was the reason why I eventually signed up for the Spartan Group Exercise coaching course.
The SGX course basics
I won’t go into every detail of the Spartan SGX curriculum because, well, that wouldn’t be cool but we can go over the basics. This course consists of several phases–and modules within them–which cover:
- The Spartan code, its values and understanding how it transfers to training;
- The key fitness components that define and make a Spartan;
- Nutrition and getting familiar with the body mechanics;
- Importance of polarisation and periodisation in training;
- Using animal and primal moves to build unbreakable bodies;
- How to design workout plans, homework assignments, circuit training schemes etc. – everything you need as a coach to turn a group of raw athletes into Spartans;
- Understanding if you are a coach, mentor or trainer and which role to embody in order to motivate your clients.
That last bullet point was the biggest takeaway I got from the SGX course. It literally transformed the way I see people.
The biggest lesson I learned
When I started to coach people who were preparing for obstacle course races–especially when it came to group exercises–I motivated everyone and communicated with them in the same exact ‘V’ way, embodying a Spartan, stoic and seen-a-lot hardcore trainer. When it came to motivating, my tone was all ‘take it or leave it’…
Going through the SGX course opened my mind so I started to listen and understand what individuals respond to and how I can use that to forge a Spartan core
However, what the Spartan SGX course taught me was how to motivate every individual without turning group exercise sessions into 1-1 sessions. I learnt how to transfer my own strength and ideas to others to help them persevere. Crucially, I learnt to adapt.
Going through the SGX course opened my mind so I started to listen and understand what individuals respond to and how I can use that to forge a Spartan core inside their bellies.
For example, one of my clients–let’s call her Jane–would crash and give up on almost every effort during training. I could never find a way to communicate with her so as to stop her cashing out too soon – nothing worked. Kudos to her though, she nonetheless always showed up for our training sessions. This made me realise the problem was in my training methods. I was a trainer, not a coach, and she didn’t respond to that role at all.
Using the techniques from the SGX training, I helped her finish and build her better self–to build a better humans as the SGX motto goes. Jane got fitter, stronger and persevered through some tough efforts. She also started to enjoy racing so much it became a hobby which might just turn into a racing career.
So was Spartan SGX worth the money and time?
Was it worth doing the course just for that one big lesson? Yes. For any fitness enthusiasts and trainers, the majority of the course material will be easy to grasp. It’s common sense. Perhaps even the lesson I learnt is common sense to some.
However, knowing how differently we approach coaching people, I do think you’ll find something useful for your own progression to being a great coach. Not to mention, you’ll also have the ‘honourable badge’ of being a bigger part of the Spartan movement.