At a crossroads

This has been on my mind for a while and it is time to get it off my chest.

In previous years I would coach maybe 1-3 competitors at a time for fitness/bodybuilding competitions.  Placings would be anywhere from 1st to 4th. Pretty good, I think – but in people’s minds this is what happened: When they won, the competitor got all the credit – when they lost, it was because I was a lousy coach. Just one of those paradoxes I have accepted and come to terms with over the years. On top of that I have competed myself (bodybuilding) and never done well, and “how can someone who can’t bring himself into top condition be a good coach for others”? Some outstanding logical reasoning skills being displayed in that sentence, but I digress.

This autumn I had a total of 8 competitors in 5 contests: Norway Open (8 competitors), NM/Nationals (6), Arnold Classic (1), Nordic Championships (3) and finally the World Championships (2) in Budapest this weekend.

The beautiful and just completely awesome Christina. National, Nordic and now World Champion.

Results overview, counting total finals placings (going from memory, my apologies if I missed anyone):

  • 1st and Overall, 2nd , 3rd and 4th place in Athletic Fitness
  • 1st, 1st and Overall, 1st and World Champion in Bikini (my only bikini competitor)
  • 1st and Overall, three 1st place, two 2nd place, one 4th place in Bodyfitness
  • Oh…and in other news, a 19 year old girl set 4 National Records (squat, bench, deadlift, total) in powerlifting and ended the season winning the Nationals, qualifying for the World Championships on her first try. I got her into powerlifting in February this year, after having worked with her for about a year before that. It deserved a mention since it is relevant to this post.

So after such a great season, I get to hear through the grapevine (Jungeltelegrafen) what people in the BB/fitness community are saying about me, and it both shocks and disappoints me. “Borge is just lucky, and good at picking the best talents and potential champions. They would have won anyway, with or without his help…” Among various other things, of course, but this one really got to me.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I didn’t pick ANY of them, ALL of them ASKED ME for help, and I did what I could to maximize their individual potential. A lot of them were debutants and had absolutely no expectations going into this, and neither did I.

Now, I don’t just give people a template to follow and let them figure it out on their own, it is an individually tailored training program and diet with weekly and sometimes daily updates and adjustments.

Some people never made it to the stage, and had to quit once they realized how difficult a contest prep can be, especially combining it with a family, social life, work and studies. Some came to me a little late, and as I always tell my competitors: “if you think you need 8-12 weeks to get in shape, double it and you will be in the ballpark”. It takes time to get stage ready, especially for the first time competitor.

Some people just needed to fix their emotional issues and how comfortable they are inside their own body, instead of thinking a physique contest will “fix” them. I am brutally honest about this, but also make an effort to provide solutions and better alternatives.

Some can’t handle it and I never hear from them again, they often just move on to a coach who will tell them what they want to hear instead of what they NEED to hear. Some really appreciate it and thank me for setting them on the right path and giving them a healthier mindset.

One of the most competitive and driven people I have ever met – Solveig, National Champion and winner of Arnold Classic, which is one of the worlds largest and most prestigious fitness contests. And me, winner of Worlds Least Photogenic Person (unofficially). At least I won something.

 

For those of you who haven’t worked with me – I’m not just a diet or training coach. Almost half of my time and energy is spent on the mental and emotional aspects. I provide support and motivation during those days when everything sucks. People open up to me and share their deepest thoughts, what makes them happy, what drives them, their fears and their dark side – things even their closest friends or family know nothing about. I guess it is easier to open up to someone you don’t know via e-mail, and I truly respect that trust. Then you have the competitors. Anyone who has competed or even dieted for a long time knows that when it gets to a certain point, your mind starts playing tricks on you. You don’t see ANY progress even though everyone else does. You start overthinking and overanalyzing every minor detail and will end up making irrational and destructive choices if left to your own devices for long enough. That is when I have to step in and be the voice of reason, keep their head straight and their feet firmly planted on the narrow path to success.

I believe everyone have the tools to find their own way, but you need to eliminate all the “noise” (well meaning friends, the media, facebook/twitter/instagram/blogs etc) and listen to your heart – what do you really want vs. what does everyone expect of you. Hint: what you believe everyone expects of you may not be true, it might just be a creation of your subconsciousness to rationalize why you are doing things to yourself which is making you unhappy.

I completely understand, though – sometimes too well, and I end up owning their problems instead of just providing support and guidance. Being an extreme empath is what makes me a great coach, but I am also a nervous wreck watching my guys and girls on stage in front of the judging panel and audience. I am overcome with joy and tears when they receive their trophy. I am overcome with feelings of inadequacy and failure when they don’t receive their trophy, and the disappointment in their faces haunt me for many days and nights after. I realize everyone can’t win, but I still begin to wonder if I could’ve done a better job.

When a friend asked me to remember the last time I felt extreme happiness, I said it was when “X” won (name omitted). Ponder that one for a moment. My happiest moment was when someone else got awarded a trophy for their accomplishments.

So, I hope you can understand and appreciate that being a coach takes a lot out of me, both physically, emotionally and spiritually. I work with around 30-40 people at a time, and 90% of my clients have no interest in fitness or bodybuilding, they are just regular people or athletes from various sports – yet the energy I put into the remaining 10% is what is tearing me up inside. Not the competitors (well, most of them haha), but the whole drama and negativity surrounding the whole thing. It just annoys and saddens me how many in this sport feel the need to criticize and badmouth everyone else, just to draw attention away from their own insecurities and flaws and make themselves feel better.

Oh, I have been there and I know how easy it is to get “sucked in”, so don’t think for a second I am trying to glorify myself or point any fingers. My whole point is just to put into perspective why I am so fed up with it all right now. I realize that the more success you have, the more criticism you will have to tolerate. I have had to grow thicker skin over the years, trust me, but when I see all the positive energy and feedback I get from everyone and everything else I work with (I share a small % of it on my facebook wall now and then), I begin to wonder if it is really worth it anymore.

So – making an already long story short: I am not sure I want to be coaching athletic-/bikini-/bodyfitness or bodybuilding next year.

I am already fully booked as a coach, in addition to working as a writer for international magazines, doing workshops and seminars for 3 companies throughout the country, not to mention being a teacher and consultant at AFPT (Academy For Personal Training). I have a book project going, but less and less time to finish it or to publish articles and blog posts to share my knowledge.

Sometimes days and weeks have passed where I don’t even get to see my friends or family, I have made sacrifices I probably won’t be so proud of when I’m old(er) and looking back on my life. I love my job, but certain elements which comes with the territory are affecting my motivation and well-being in negative ways, and if I want to do this a few more years and be a good coach, friend and human being I have to make decisions that will disappoint a lot of people.

Right now, I don’t know yet. I will spend the Christmas holidays relaxing with my family and friends, and hopefully that will put things into better perspective for me, allowing me to make the best decision. Thanks for listening, if you made it all the way through.

Best wishes for a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May all of you choose the right path – the one leading to a happy and fulfilling life.

 

21 Comments

  1. Så kjedelig at det blir sånn Børge, men for å si det sånn – de ryktene jeg har hørt om deg er at du er en av de beste og at du virkelig kan sakene dine!!! Bare så du vet det 😉 ha en riktig god og fredelig jul!!!

  2. I’m not so certain that I’m the best person to offer anyone sage advice regarding decision making. But I do think it is an issue that each of us are faced with on a daily basis throughout our lifetimes and thus worth discussion. I often tell people that “on the safe side” is my middle name since I make safe decisions often and very quickly. However, if there is a thing of more complicated nature, i can sit on it for a very long time before acting upon it. Just to make sure it’s “right”.

    Sometimes I will procrastinate on making a decision because I’m not clear on what I really want. Other times it is because the unknown factors of how a decision may affect me in the future scares the bejeepers out of me. Occasionally the saying “nothing ventured, nothing gained” will get whispered in my ear by an inner voice to help give me a needed nudge forward. Other times feelings of dread will build inside my being simply by a mere thought of making a change. I will then heed that dread emotion as a signal to think twice before taking the plunge. Using your gut instincts can be very helpful in decision making.

    Truthfully, I almost never take a plunge into anything without mulling it over twice, or even thrice in my personal life. At times I feel disgusted with myself for not being able to joyfully jump into things full-heartedly, instead I’m generally testing the water with my toes beforehand. I realize that I tend to over analyze situations, living in my head too much. By not allowing my heart to beat any extra beats, I often feel as if I am stifling my creativity in these moments. At the same time I figure I’ve probably saved myself plenty of headaches by not routinely making quick misjudgments.

    There is only two arenas where all of these “rules” do not apply, and they are; at work – where I’m the boss and decision making is in fact very easy.
    And secondly, when training is involved, and i have you my friend to thank for that.

    I know I’m not naturally gifted with superb genetics, an intense competitive mindset or any other trait that many athletes have “god” given that make them natural champions. But i love to push myself forward in certain arenas, especially at work or in the weight room.

    I would consider myself quite successful in my work field for my age, and with your help, i finally feel successful within mastering the “weight room” and a healthy balanced lifestyle also. Yes i wish to compete, but without your help, and i mean your help, that was just a dream i had, you made that dream a possibility.

    Many might consider what you give people a simple service, training and diet plan, that’s it. Personally i don’t, and i would assume without much knowledge to base this upon that clients that go past the initial phase understand what you give in return is far more then that. You have an amazing gift to make people the best “me” that they can be, and the best isn’t necessarily in form of medals or appraisals from any others, but best in the sense of seeing their own potential and working towards it with inner peace and balance in life.

    As long as you are open to the public for coaching, it will always be both ends of the scale of people that you encounter. That is just part of the game in any field of work i guess, and your frustrations are pretty similar to the ones i have in my work field every three months. It’s then you grab hold of the good, the ones that understand you, the 10% if you will, they trust you and will always have your back and support you regardless of what you decide/do. And that enabled you to move forward and push through those boundaries. And trust me, you have the support of MANY more then you think, they just find it hard to say in a non cheesy way 🙂

    We all understand when the decision we are facing is of a nature that changes daily life, we can stop dead in our tracks at times. And since life doesn’t always seem to allow a retreat option in our decision making, it gets harder. However, seen from my my perspective – the crossroad you are at now does in fact give you exactly that. You have an option to take time off the competition circuit if you wish. Come back if you wish. You can even hand pick athletes that you have been accused of if you so wish. Who cares what others think, it’s what you know and the person that you coach knows that is important. No one else’s misinformed thoughts count.

    Happy Holidays my friend, and enjoy the marzipan!

  3. Børge, for meg er du den komplette coach og et fantastisk varmt og godt menneske. Kritikken du får må være fra folk som ikke kjenner deg og ihvertfall fra folk som ikke har hatt deg som coach. Jeg håper inderlig at du får hentet nye krefter og motivasjon i julen for jeg blir utrolig lei meg om du velger å ikke coache oss fitness-folk neste år.
    Du har hjulpet meg til å ha et sunnere tilnærming til dette med diett, trening og konkurranser. Selv om det har vært et hardkjør for kropp og hode, så vil jeg påstå at jeg har det ganske så godt nå. Det er fordi jeg har hatt en coach som faktisk setter andre ting i livet høyere enn det å prestere i en konkurranse.

    Ønsker deg en riktig god jul og jeg håper vi sees neste år. Stor klem

  4. Er det noen som fortjener ferie og avslapping nå så er det deg! Utrolig kjedelig at en lidenskap av et arbeid skal ende med slike følelser. Jeg bøyer meg iallefall i støvet over den kunnskapen du sitter på og måten du bruker den på. Noe jeg har fått erfart og er knall fornøyd med!!

  5. Børge!! Jeg har vurder å stille til BF, og har derfor søkt rundt etter en coach. ALLE jeg har pratet med har anbefalt deg!! Og dette er folk som IKKE har hatt deg som coach, men som kjenner til deg og er i samme miljø som deg. Du har bygget opp noe som er uerstattelig – og har et GODT rykte. Ikke la noen andre presse deg ned!!

  6. Jo mer shit man får, jo bedre er man sies det. I dette tilfellet stemmer det.

    Du gjorde opplevelsen av en (alt for kort..) og hard konkurransediett til en avslappet og fin tid for meg. Jeg følte at jeg var i gode hender og at du virkelig gjorde ditt ytterste for å få meg i best mulig form.
    Å være så psykisk stabil så lavt på kcal som jeg var, tror jeg skal mye til å være. Det kan jeg takke deg for. Skulle jeg konkurrert igjen ville jeg uten tvil valgt deg som coach, så jeg håper håper håper at du begynner med konkurransecoaching igjen før den tid kommer.
    Tillitsfull klem fra ei ellers veldig skeptisk jente 🙂

  7. It is a sad state of modern society that sometimes we can become too successful for our own good. Why should that be?

    I don’t know you personally, but it has become obvious to me that you reached a high level of expertise in your chosen field, even being recognised by your peers on the other side of the Atlantic. With this recognition you will always encounter jealousy from the scum of the earth along the way. It is a given and there is no escaping the fact, but many such as yourself, have to come to terms with it.

    More importantly to me when reading this, is that at any one time you can have up to 30 clients under your wing and you share their highs and even more so, their lows, along their journey with you. This negativity that can surround you at any one time, in my view, must take it’s toll on you – and it seems like it has. I agree with what Erik N. has written above – if indeed this is the case – what the heck – you do have the opportunity to step back for a period, reassess, and who knows, come back stronger and all the better for the experience.

    I am sure that most of us, hope you make the best decision for yourself.
    Good luck!

  8. Enkelte har alltid en uvane med å kritisere de som er på toppen, det får dem selv til å føle seg mindre usle. Ikke la dem hindre til til å gjøre store ting, for det er nettopp det du gjør!

    Og en annen ting. Nå synes jeg det er på tide med ny artikkel/blogginnlegg Børge.. Begynner å bli smålei av å lese alt du har skrevet for 100gang.. Hehe!

    Du gir meg så mye motivasjon, og jeg suger til meg alt du skriver, ikke stopp nå er du snill!

    • Ja, jeg vet…er ikke så lett å finne balansen mellom kunder og skriving, når jeg også har forpliktelser for skriving av artikler til internasjonale treningsblader/sider, samt forelesinger for både de store treningssenterkjedene samt AFPT. 🙂 Det blir nok mer tid når nyttårs-rushet roer seg…

  9. Hei Børge!!

    Hadde ikke du et innlegg en vei om jenters kroppstype i forhold til trening og kosthold? Når jeg googler det kommer det bare opp eksempler på menn som; ectomorf, mesomorf og endomorf. Er dette relevant i forhold til damer også?

    God søndag 🙂

  10. Borge,

    I’m disappointed to hear that you’re feeling this way. I haven’t heard any bad talk about you–why? because I don’t cruise message boards anywhere. Thats exactly where this talk begins and people just feed off each other with no shame or repercussions for their actions. People love to talk shit on the internet because they know there aren’t any consequences and it makes them (temporarily) feel better about themselves.

    So what you haven’t done great in your personal career as far as placing goes..do you look better each time you go up on stage? I imagine so. Thats something to be proud of–much more than winning a damn trophy. You clearly know what you’re talking about when it comes to nutrition and training, your clients and your writings speak quite loudly for it. As far as I can tell, you’re one of the top guys in your field. If you are letting the haters get to you, thats a shame. If you love what you’re doing, keep going. However, if you take a break and enjoy yourself, try that out too. It really can’t hurt. With your free time you may discover some hidden creativity and put your energy into that.

    On a more selfish note, I really would like to read your book once it is done. Either way, don’t live for others – especially those you don’t know and try to bring you down! It may not mean much, but you’re still alpha in my book. Thanks for all that you do.

    • Thank you for the kind words. I might just take some time off soon, perhaps it will enable me to finish that damn book finally 🙂

  11. Så deg på gymmet her om dagen, vurderte å si hei, men droppa det- fulgt deg i 5ish år (via artikler, lite stalking). Er akademiker og helhjertet følger av slagordet “paralysing by analysing (?)” så er ikke rå-sterk selv etter så lang tid. men det er IKKE din feil 😀

    Takk for mye spennende lesning- herlig med en som ikke lirer av seg ukentlige artikler for å alltid ha noe å si, og gjerne motstridene råd, som jeg ellers ser overalt- man tjener jo lettere penger på den måten. Du er logisk konsistent og det liker jeg. Lykke til videre med det du måtte foreta deg. Ser frem til en bok!

    • Takk for hyggelige ord! Neste gang må du jo komme bort og hilse på – jeg biter ikke 🙂 (i hvert fall ikke hardt…)

  12. I appreciate you. YOU are making a HUGE impact on other peoples lives as you are growing and expanding… incredibly inspiring. Thank you for all that you do, and SHARE. I can only hope more people understand the underlying gift here, the meaning to LIFE, “purpose”.

    Have a Merry Christmas, xo

  13. Borge, I just wanted to encourage You. You are skillful, your eyes are full of kindness and I believe that all that winnings are yours at least 55%, though i am not a competiting bodyfitness model.
    Thank You for you Biorythmic diet, i feel and look incredible since i have realized i am a low-carb type girl and started taking 70% of carbs in the evening “around” the training and for the last meal.
    Cheers from Moscow

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