| Coaching Conversations: So You Want to be a Mercenary

Author / Adam Campbell

We’ve finally come full circle. Living life as a Mercenary coach,the part-time/assistant coach, is never easy. Riding your Harley from gym to gym while your leather coat whips in the wind. You cannot undervalue the importance of making connections and building relationships, especially if you must navigate and operate in different gym cultures. You cannot let them see you sweat!

After all this hustle, maybe you felt something stir up somewhere inside you, calling you to action and driving you to join the coaching ranks. Awesome! Biased opinion, I think you’ll love and will find it extremely rewarding. But, I would remiss if I didn’t mention other aspects of the job, that may sometimes get overlooked when you step into the Merc world. I’m not bringing these up as a way to dissuade anyone from throwing their hat in the ring, but more to be transparent to what folks are stepping into, to help better prepare them for the way ahead.

Your Knowledge

Every coaching journey begins with a first certification. If you’re looking for where to start, I can point you in the direction of the best one out there on the market; it rhymes with Power Athlete Methodology. What’s key here is that this first cert also isn’t also your last. Just because this is only #sidehustle doesn’t mean it only gets #sidehustle attention.

Despite being a part-timer, you have just as much responsibility to continue pursuing your coaching education as any other full-time coach. One of my gyms offers an allowance for all their coaches to put towards one certification or seminar each year, specifically for this reason. Remember, in the classes you run, the athletes and clients are looking to YOU to be the expert. Pick up some books on programming, coaching, and strength training. Find some new seminars to attend and certs to earn. Heck, listen to some new podcasts on your morning drive. Whatever you do, keep that pursuit of knowledge going.

Your training

Lots of people (myself included) got the initial spark because they love to train. You’re already coming to the gym and banging weights in your free time; as a coach, you get to keep the workout AND help others along their in own iron journey? Sign me up. Plus, more time in the gym means more training time, after all, right? Eh….no. True, you are spending more time in the gym, giving up 2-4 hours out of your day to be a coach. But, unless you’re leading a spin class, you’re not working out while you’re coaching. So this means that if your prime time to train was in the afternoon and that’s now when you coach, I guess your training time moves. Or, maybe that means you coach in the morning instead, which could mean getting less sleep. My alarm goes off at 4:30AM every day, and I’m in the gym about an hour later. On the occasion that I have to coach a morning class, just move that timeline one hour to the left.

The point is, you’ll have to face reality that your training might suffer a bit in the name of Empowering the Performance of your clientele. I’ve seen too many folks join the coaching community because they love to workout, but are unwilling to let their training take a hit. And they can’t let their #mainhustle slip, so the only thing left to suffer is their coaching game.

Your Free Time

As a Mercenary coach, you don’t always get to choose your favorite hours. If you’ve got a regular 9-5, this limits your options to coaching before or after work. If it’s after work, that might mean you might miss those happy hours, trivia nights, and Taco Tuesdays. There’s always Friday nights to make up for it…until you remember you’ve just spent the whole week waking up early to train, going to work, and then coaching. Maybe you can muster the energy to go have a beer and not fall asleep in the booth. Or, maybe you’re so wiped you’d just rather go home and pet your cats before falling asleep. Perhaps you took the advice in section one and are furthering your coaching education, meaning now you need to make time to study. Which means less free time for all of the above (minus the cats, of course). Either way, just be prepared for the extra demand on your time, and what that could mean.

Case in point, we once had to call a coach in on a Friday night. He bitched on the phone, and then when he got to the gym proceeded to loudly complain why people have nothing better to do on a Friday night than workout. Loud enough that the class heard. He didn’t coach for us much longer after that.

Your Personality

Do you like working with people? Do you like public speaking? How about public speaking to large groups while giving direction and potentially demonstrating a movement? My first day coaching, I walked in and had to run a class of about 20 people. 20 people I didn’t know, looking to me for their workout. Does that fill you with excitement or terror? The good news is, you don’t have to panic if you’re not the public speaking type, or if you really haven’t practiced. Coaching provides a relatively low stress environment for you to get reps in and hone this skill. But, depending on your class size, you do have to be prepared to stand up and put on a 5-7 minute show while you talk about the plan for the day. If you’re comfortable getting up in front of folks, this will be a breeze. If not, it’s just one more thing to consider before jumping into the mix.

Earn the Title

If you’re looking for an easy way to test the waters, ask if you can shadow a coach for a couple classes. You’ll get a good idea of what it feels like to be up front, leading the class and keeping this organized. If your fire is still sparked after that, head on over,sign up for the next semester of the Power Athlete Methodology, and earn your Block. Then, get out there and start Empowering people’s Performance.

One last thing to remember: Coaching isn’t just a hobby, but a career. People stake their livelihoods in this field, and to treat it as anything less disrespects both the title and those individuals. Just because you’re a Mercenary, doesn’t mean it’s not a full-contact position. Come in prepared to give it your all, leave it all on the gym floor, and I promise you’ll get back much more than what you put in.

Related Content:

EDUCATION: Power Athlete Methodology – Level One Course
BLOG: Life as a Mercenary Coach by Adam Campbell
BLOG: Relationship Advice for the Mercenary Coach by Adam Campbell
BLOG: Power Coach: Process by Tex McQuilkin

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Adam Campbell

Adam grew up a lifetime athlete, playing soccer, baseball, basketball, and practicing martial arts, earning his black belt at age 12. While in college, he decided to join the Navy and earned his commission in 2008. While on active duty earned his CrossFit Level 1 in 2010 and CrossFit Football certification in 2012. He was part of the first class to go through the Power Athlete methodology course, and the first group to earn their Block One certification in September 2017.

Adam continues to stay active, earning a spot on the All Navy Rugby 7s team in 2023 and playing Rugby for a local men's club in San Diego, California.


  1. […] So You Want To Be A Mercenary  by Adam […]

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