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Coaches in Public Health: Empowering Communities

Kosta Telegadas
Dec 7, 2023

When I began my career, I thought training the general population would be a death sentence. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Coming off being a graduate assistant at a Power 5 university, I was very frustrated about finding a job in athletics.  Before leaving for the tactical side of the field, I worked for EXOS in Detroit, MI starting with training the general population, before getting promoted to work with athletes after a short period. Below are the benefits that younger S&C coaches could use to develop their skill set. 

Widespread Health Benefits: 

Working with the general population allows S&C coaches to positively impact many individuals. Improving the fitness and health of the general population can reduce the burden on healthcare systems, decrease the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases, and enhance the overall well-being of a community. By providing training and guidance to the general population, S&C coaches can help prevent common health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and musculoskeletal problems. Preventative health measures can save individuals and society as a whole from significant healthcare costs and suffering. 

Injury Prevention: 

Proper training can reduce the risk of injuries, especially for people engaged in physical activities, such as recreational sports or labor-intensive jobs. S&C coaches can teach proper techniques, strengthening exercises, and injury prevention strategies to minimize the risk of injuries. One of the biggest injuries I would always run into with my general population clients was low back injuries and upper cross syndrome. Believe it or not; golfing, sitting at a desk all day, and terrible diets were the main causes of programming adjustments and variation utilization in our training groups. These are easy fixes if coaches administer basic programming well. 

Improved Physical Literacy: 

S&C coaches can help individuals develop better physical literacy, which is the foundation of overall fitness. Teaching movement patterns, proper exercise form, and functional strength can enable individuals to engage in various physical activities more effectively and safely. Most athletes S&C coaches work with are already playing professional or college sports. These athletes typically have at least a basic level of body awareness, acceleration, strength, and overall conditioning levels. However, the general population typically does not. If you can coach general population clients, you can coach at higher levels in my professional opinion. 

As a coach; sometimes our community gets lost within the realm of science, higher performance, and practicality. This can and sometimes will lead to a decrease in general physical preparation within programming decreasing. Those who train the general population will develop a higher level of understanding in programming general physical preparation which will let them become a better coach in the longevity of their career. 

Education, Empowerment & Community Building: 

S&C coaches can educate individuals about the principles of exercise, nutrition, stress, and lifestyle management. This knowledge empowers people to take control of their health and make informed choices, leading to better long-term outcomes. S&C programs for the general population can foster a sense of community and support. Group training sessions or fitness classes can create a social environment that motivates individuals to stay active and engaged. This can also create higher levels of mental resiliency to withstand hardship as life continues to throw challenges in our clients’ lives. 

Diverse Clientele: 

Working with the general population exposes S&C coaches to a diverse range of ages, fitness levels, and goals. This experience can help coaches develop a broader skill set and adaptability in their training methods. Another aspect of training a diverse clientele is the need to communicate differently with all aspects of the different clientele’s culture, backgrounds, values, etc. Coaches who train various types of personalities will realize being a “social chameleon” will assist with building trust, culture, and buy–in within these diverse populations. The way you coach a single mother of three children vs a C-Suite executive of a corporation might be opposite each other. If coaches put people first and methods second; then results will come. 

To sum up, during my time training the general population; I found that it is a rewarding endeavor as an S&C coach. This is because it offers an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on public health, improve individuals' quality of life, and develop a versatile skill set. Moreover, it aligns with the broader goal of promoting a healthier and more active society. 

Go out and make your communities stronger, healthier, and mentally resilient! 

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