by Eric McMahon, MEd, CSCS, RSCC*D and Daniel Jahn, CSCS, RSCC*D
Coaching Podcast December 2020
Dan Jahn, the owner of Maximum Sports Conditioning, talks to NSCA’s Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about cultural awareness...
Dan Jahn, the owner of Maximum Sports Conditioning, talks to NSCA’s Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about cultural awareness for strength and conditioning coaches. Jahn discusses recent racial incidences related to coaches and athletes, and suggests ways that coaches and administrators can do better in promoting positive conversations around these difficult topics. Jahn also shares his experience as a private strength and conditioning business owner in the greater Seattle area and perspectives on being a well-rounded coach and mentor. Find Dan on Instagram: @daniel_jahn and follow the NSCA Diversity and Inclusion Committee on Facebook | Find Eric on Instagram: @ericmcmahoncscs or Twitter: @ericmcmahoncscs
Dan Jahn, the owner of Maximum Sports Conditioning, talks to NSCA’s Coaching and Sport Science Program Manager, Eric McMahon, about cultural awareness for strength and conditioning coaches. Jahn discusses recent racial incidences related to coaches and athletes, and suggests ways that coaches and administrators can do better in promoting positive conversations around these difficult topics. Jahn also shares his experience as a private strength and conditioning business owner in the greater Seattle area and perspectives on being a well-rounded coach and mentor.
“And the first thing is, you've got to think about why you're doing this. And that can determine, and dictate, and sway the direction you go. If you're trying to choose your path, whether it be collegiate, professional, private, each element brings a bit of a different experience, different lifestyle. And so you've got to have different expectations for each.” 5:53
“So finding that balance between what we know as strength coaches and what your customer and client is actually asking for can be a little bit tough.” 10:06
“Culture awareness starts with self awareness. It's being honest, and being open, and being OK with not knowing everything, and being OK with truly internalizing that our experience is only true for us.” 26:45
“It's on us to really try to seek them out. And let them know that this is a field that they could thrive in, and this is something that they could do.” 39:44
“I've probably hired 50, maybe 55 people in the 14, 15 years I've been in business. And all of them needed to be empowered, needed to be brought up, needed to be uplifted.” 44:37
[00:00:00.67] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast Episode 92.
[00:00:04.39] Cultural awareness starts with self awareness. It's being honest, and being open, and being OK with not knowing everything.
[00:00:11.26] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know, but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.
[00:00:21.83] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. I'm Eric McMahon. And today we have Daniel Jahn with us of Maximum Sports Conditioning in Bellevue, Washington. Daniel and I connected earlier this year, talking about diversity inclusion and some of the initiatives that the NSCA has been working on during this year. And so we're going to talk about that today. I'm really excited to have you on.
[00:00:50.35] Before we start, I just want to learn a little bit more about your background, man. How did you get into the field?
[00:00:55.66] Yeah, yeah. Thanks, Eric. Appreciate you having me on, and I enjoy talking about these topics, these subjects. So I'm excited, man. So my story in this field is a little interesting. It's fairly unique. I actually fell into this industry.
[00:01:13.82] So the University of Washington, I played baseball there. And they do not have an exercise science program. And so I actually intended-- I thought I was going to play. And then I was going to-- my backup plan was to teach. And so I actually ended up getting degrees in history and sociology and a minor in physics, as well. I started out as physics and math.
[00:01:37.06] And then it's funny, because the lab time, it just overlaps with practice and games. And so by the time I was a junior, I had a bunch of classes under my belt. But I said, man, I don't think I can do this anymore. Because I'm missing so much lab time. So I ended up with a minor.
[00:01:55.84] But during that time, I really got to know the weight room. It was a big part of my career. And I got to know my strength coaches really well. I had some pretty amazing relationships with them.
[00:02:08.06] And so I kind of started a kind of like an internship, an unofficial internship after my junior year. I was medically disqualified my senior year. I jacked my back all up. And so at that point in time, the strength coaches saw enough value in what I brought in the weight room, just in coaching and working with our athletes at that time, that they decided they wanted to bring me on.
[00:02:38.71] And so kinese and biomechanics always came fairly straightforward to me. But physiology and anatomy was something that-- holy moly, that's a monster. And so I had to go back and sit in on a lot of the biology classes and zoology classes. There was some anatomy. Because the University of Washington actually has a great medical school, a great PT school, big athletic department. I mean, you'd think that they'd have an exercise science department. But they don't.
[00:03:08.02] So anyway, I learned the nuts and the bolts and got the certifications and then was hired full time, early 2000s. So that's how I fell into it. But in talking about diversity, and inclusion, and race, and things that are going on in society, those things have always been a passion of mine.
[00:03:30.59] I actually left the University of Washington in 2006 to run a nonprofit organization, which trained and mentored kids who couldn't afford it, kids from the city. And we actually grew too quick. And so that's when I stopped, and I started my own business at that point in time. So I needed to, of course, feed my own kids before I could feed others. So that's what I opened up Maximum Sports about 14 years ago.
[00:04:01.57] But I continued-- I sat on several racial equity teams. I've been on the board of three different nonprofits. Those nonprofits work in the areas of mentorship and development of African American boys and youth of color, health and fitness programs for youth of color. So along with running the business, and training kids, and coaching, I've continued with my passion, and helping the community, and dealing with race relations.
[00:04:35.48] That's interesting. And I do want to dig into coaching in the private sector with you a little bit here today. And I know we're going to dive into the cultural awareness topics quite a bit here today. But on the coaching side, just to get going, talk about coaching in the private sector. You started in college. And you also worked in nonprofits and community initiatives, working with youth.
[00:05:05.75] And now working in the private sector, that is an emerging space within the strength and conditioning field. I think we've seen it, over the past 20 years, really take off as coaches look for more career opportunities. You've been successful in the private sector space. Talk about those professional prospects for coaches and just what you think of working in the private sector as a strength coach.
[00:05:31.31] Yeah, it's funny, man. I knew nothing about business when I decided to get into one. And so, of course, I had to learn that, as well. And there's a few lessons that I always try to encourage young strength coaches getting into the field to really think about.
[00:05:50.91] And the first thing is, you've got to think about why you're doing this. And that can determine, and dictate, and sway the direction you go. If you're trying to choose your path, whether it be collegiate, professional, private, each element brings a bit of a different experience, different lifestyle. And so you've got to have different expectations for each.
[00:06:17.57] And so the thing about the private sector is you're not just a strength coach. You are a business person at that point, right? The way that you feed your family is based on how well you run your business.
[00:06:33.90] And so there's a business expert named Michael Gerber who I followed when I first started learning about all this. And he said that 90% of businesses fail early, within the first three years, primarily because you have a lot of technicians who think that they can just-- because they have great technical skill, that they can build a business, a successful business, just around that technical skill. And the truth is that it takes a whole lot more than that.
[00:07:05.49] So as a strength coach, just know that if you do enter the private sector, if you've been in the collegiate world, or if you've been in the professional world, or maybe you haven't been in the world at all yet, just know that there are a lot of things that you are going to be doing that don't have anything to do with strength and conditioning, but are absolutely essential if you want to continue to feed your family and make money. And then the next thing that has been hard for me in the private sector, and I tell my staff this a lot in terms that are starting out, is that you have to find the right balance between the science behind what we know and the marketing and business intuition you need to actually make money.
[00:07:55.59] OK, so for example, I am unlimited-- as someone in the private sector owning a gym, the athletes come in, and they're there on a set amount of time. They've got club practices going on, high school practices going on. They might have college practice or whatnot. They've got homework to do. They've got parents that may be driving them.
[00:08:17.82] And so working with timelines was a significant shift for me. In college, it's like the kids show up, you've got them until you say it's time to go. And in the private sector, if I know I've only got an hour with a kid, when they show up at the door to start, their parents say, look, man, I really need little Josie to jump higher. She's pretty strong. She's pretty fit. But we just can't get her elevating over that net well enough. So can you guys help with that?
[00:08:54.41] And the answer is yes. OK, yeah, we can help this little Josie. We can help this kid jump higher. But knowing that, as strength coaches and professionals in the field, we understand the science behind building the body and building power. And they don't always align with what the public is asking for.
[00:09:13.04] And so you have to find this happy medium between, OK, my programming needs to follow the science. And at the same time, I've got to make a dollar. And I've got to figure out how that I can get little Josie jumping higher in the hour that she's here and her walking out the door, feeling like, wow, Mom and Dad, we just-- that was awesome. We did a lot of jump training work. And I really feel good about it. And I can't wait to go back.
[00:09:47.00] That on one side. The other side being, well, I really got to get this kid to learn how to squat properly. And right now, she's still a little bit off. And that's all I really want to be doing. But unfortunately, her mom's paying the bill, and she wants her doing jump training stuff. So finding that balance between what we know as strength coaches and what your customer and client is actually asking for can be a little bit tough.
[00:10:18.56] I mean, I can speak to that from-- there's a lot of connections to what we see on the professional side when we're working with athletes who are adults that are making decisions for themself about their athletic career and their development. In a way, at the professional level, you do feel like more of an educator or a service provider.
[00:10:50.12] And your job is to provide a variety of options that exists within the field. I think that conflicts with the traditional coaching mentality, in a way, of leader in the front of the room or with the whistle, really laying out every detail. And they're going to do exactly what I say.
[00:11:10.76] But that is one, when you were talking about that, I was like, wow, that really brings me back to professional baseball and working with professional athletes, even through the developmental years of the minor leagues. Where these are young adults. And they are vested in the decision making process, as well.
[00:11:32.67] And that brings me to another thought, is that we have evolved as a coaching community to be better listeners, and be more open to feedback from our athletes. Everything from surveys that we put in place to gauge recovery, or sleep habits, or nutrition. We obviously care. But I think we're doing a better job of showing we care and integrating that care mentality into our coaching practices.
[00:12:05.78] For sure.
[00:12:06.83] But no, that really connects, and I think, sheds light on the language we use as strength coaches at times. We can be talking very technical strength and conditioning, talking shop. Or we can be promoting or marketing.
[00:12:22.85] And it's a subtle difference at times. But the perception and what we see-- and we see it all the time on social media of coaches going to war over comments of how something gets presented. But it may not be truly what was meant or truly what that coach believes at their core. And so I think that's really interesting.
[00:12:47.00] Yeah, the private sector space is an area of the field that I think needs to develop more. Because there's so many career options available by learning business skills as strength coaches. If you look at-- I mean, we all know some of the major chains out there. But just coming from a small community up in the northeast without a lot of strength and conditioning options, I know that as an athlete, I would have loved to have a local strength and conditioning facility that I could have gone and get the training that I had to seek out.
[00:13:27.44] And so it truly is a impactful area of the field that gets overlooked at times. But I think it gets foggy, too. Because what's the difference between private sector strength and conditioning and personal training in that way? And do you have any thoughts on that? That's a question I get quite a bit, actually.
[00:13:51.03] Yeah. I mean, that was a hard one for me, too. Because I didn't-- I'm not a personal trainer. And I didn't go into this field to be a personal trainer. And so the thought process behind how they go about their daily routines and about their business is very different from me. I mean, I came from the collegiate strength and conditioning world. And it's all about coaching. And it's all about the athlete, and it's all about the team, and it's about winning.
[00:14:20.39] And so the self promotion side of personal training in the private sector was always kind of a hard thing for me. So the way that we've always approached it is that we're here to coach. And you can-- when you set up your business, you can decide how you want to run it, who you would like to work with, who you want to see, where your special niches. Who are the athletes that you want to service? How do you want to service them? And if you stay true to that, I think you'll have some good results.
[00:15:01.61] The tough part for me, actually, even beyond the separation between strength coach and personal trainer was sales and marketing. That's the most important part of any business. It doesn't matter what they tell you. That is-- that's the core and foundation of the business, sales and marketing.
[00:15:18.12] And when I look back down the line of my career, I think that I learned a lot of that from recruiting. The collegiate strength coaches could tell you. Collegiate recruiting is really all just sales. And so I remember not knowing anything about recruiting. And my first year as a full time guy, swimming was one of the teams that they gave me.
[00:15:45.62] And they brought in-- I mean, this was like first week on the job. They bring in 10 swimming recruits. And here they are with their parents, and I need to figure out what to say and how to say it so that they are excited about coming to the University of Washington.
[00:15:59.24] And so over the years, you learn the words and the language-- you mentioned language earlier-- and the things that resonate with people, specific to sport and specific to need, and goal, and desire. And that carries through into the private sector. So I think, conceptually, it's all about meeting people where they're at. What is it that they need? What is that they're looking for? And being honest about whether or not we can provide it.
[00:16:30.44] As a private business, yeah, we will get questions, inquiries from folks who don't really fit our model. And so I'll refer them to other places. If they don't quite fit in here, then there is somewhere else that they can be. And so I think designating your model, and who you are, and who do you speak to, and what do you want to do, I think that's a big part of that separating yourself from the personal training world.
[00:17:04.91] That's interesting. Dan, you have a unique educational background and path into the field. Other than the fact that you were an athlete and experienced strength and conditioning and took it forward into a coaching career, how did your unique college major and educational background-- how does that impact your coaching today and the influence you have with your athletes?
[00:17:34.66] Yeah. I mean, gosh, that's a great, great question. In general, I think the more well rounded we are as coaches, the better we do, the more folks that we're able to connect with, build bonds of trust with, communicate with. Not everybody learns the same way. Not everybody receives information in the same way. We don't have the same life experiences.
[00:18:00.80] So I think that's one of the reasons why I really value diversity in this field and every field. Is we're bringing different life experiences, different paths to the table. And, especially as a coach, we want to take all these different paths and align them and be able to direct them, and empower them, and coach them to success. And in order to do that, you've got to have a pretty well rounded-- I believe you've got to have a well rounded understanding of who you're working with, what they need on a daily basis really.
[00:18:39.20] And I know you spent time in the professional world. That's something you guys do really well. Highly, highly skilled athletes who may have very different needs on a day to day basis, I think that's a big deal.
[00:18:53.95] So I think just the ability to conceptualize what we're doing from a global perspective, stand back and look, and say, I've got a water polo team coming in here. And I know one of them's got a meniscus tear. One of them's got a strained rotator cuff. I know two of them are studying for finals. And I know the team's been on a losing streak. You know what I mean?
[00:19:29.82] And so to be able to take all of that in and still provide the language, the communication, the energy that they need to move forward on that day, I think takes some understanding, some skills and background and knowledge of more than just how we're moving iron. So anyway, I don't know if that answered your question there, brother.
[00:19:58.55] No, man. And I think this comes through loud and clear whenever we talk, is that it's all about being more than a strength coach. And we are impactful in the lives of our athletes, our co-workers, whether that's our athletic trainers, the physical therapists we work with, athletic administrators above us, and our fellow coaches. We have a huge influence on the people around us in these roles. We are put in a-- we're very fortunate to be put in a position of influence. And that comes with a certain level of responsibility towards how we act and sort of our just professional character that we bring to our job every single day.
[00:20:49.19] Dan, that brings me to kind of how we connected initially. Our friend, Scott Caulfield, kind of made the connection earlier in this year. There was a lot going on in the media related to cultural awareness and racial incidences that were occurring. You made the connection and simply said, I have a message. And I want to have a platform to say it.
[00:21:20.30] I'm very thankful that you did that. Because we've been communicating ever since, going on probably six months now of great conversations. You contributed to our special interest group, hosting a cultural awareness meeting that was well attended. And we've put that video out in our college special interest group. And you are scheduled to speak at our Coaches Conference coming up here in January on cultural awareness for strength and conditioning coaches.
[00:21:51.26] One of the things I told you first right on was, this is a topic, cultural awareness and race, that honestly, I'm not all that comfortable talking about publicly, professionally. This is something that I think is true for a lot of coaches and a lot of people out there. I've heard you say, you like talking about it. So if you would, talk about how cultural awareness is applicable for strength coaches, and just some of the things that have been going on this year, and the work you've been doing.
[00:22:30.74] Yeah. Well, I'll preface it all just by saying, hey, strength coaches, we are not above or outside of society at large. And one thing that-- if you haven't realized over the last four years that we are very racially divided, now coming to the close of 2020, hopefully you do.
[00:22:55.40] And part of that is because we come from a culture that really doesn't talk about race a lot. And I do enjoy talking about it. It's something I've done my whole life. And so it comes fairly natural to me. But it's because I've worked through a lot of these issues that we tend to put on the back burner, the back side of our mind, because they're uncomfortable. They're difficult to talk about, talking about our history, our identity, how we formed our own racial lens, our own racial experience.
[00:23:28.70] And especially for white folks, right? Because typically in America, white folks don't grow up around the table, talking about race, the way other marginalized communities of color do. It's a must that that community of color talk about race. But as white folks in America, it's not a real normal thing. So you don't have a lot of experience interacting with the topic and discussing the topic.
[00:23:57.52] And so as strength coaches, there's lots of times where it's important to address. It comes up. Like I said, it comes up in society. It comes up in our weight rooms. So I think a lot of us just think we can close the door, turn the lights on, put our head down, and start training people on things like how to move more efficiently, how to run faster, and how to move some iron. But unfortunately, we all take our experiences everywhere we go with us.
[00:24:30.61] And I've had several experiences, both as a coach and as an athlete at the college level and the private sector, that have forced me to really discuss it with people and talk through it. I had really bad experiences. I mean, one day I came in-- this was early on in my coaching career. And one of the kids on the football team had decided-- we had a training dummy that we were using.
[00:25:04.18] And he had decided that he was going to tie a rope around its neck and talk about dragging it behind his truck. This was like a year after that guy down in Texas actually was killed by those Klansmen or whatnot after being dragged. And he did it right in front of the other staff. And so you have elevated incidents of bigotry that sometimes will pop up and happen.
[00:25:29.71] But I think more often, you have little nuances, little small conversations, things that pop up that make you a little uncomfortable, or maybe that you just don't know how to address or how to talk about. Those types of things happen all the time, right? And so I think it's important for us, as coaches, as figures of authority, as enforcers, as motivators, as people who are dealing with youth, kids, folks younger than us, folks who look up to us like you mentioned, people who are going to be vulnerable, and they're going to be empowered, and everything in between. And we are right there with them through that whole process.
[00:26:19.51] For us to really connect with them and establish that bond of trust, it takes some cultural awareness. It takes us knowing that-- or at least having some idea about the social and racial experience that they're having. And in order to do that, it's not easy. First, it takes self awareness. That's one of the things I'll bring up in our talk in January. Culture awareness starts with self awareness. It's being honest, and being open, and being OK with not knowing everything, and being OK with truly internalizing that our experience is only true for us. Other people may be having very different experiences than us. And so if we expect that someone else will react to and interpret information the same way we will, that can lead us to trouble sometimes.
[00:27:21.87] So I think, at the crux of all of this for me, it's just being open, being OK with being uncomfortable. We tell our athletes all the time, dude, you've got to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And typically, we're referring to physical discomfort and overcoming physical discomfort. But I think, as coaches and as people, we've got to be able to be willing to be socially uncomfortable, too, to really get through this.
[00:27:56.38] We do have a serious racial divide. And in this past year, I think one of the things that's happened is there's been this culmination of events that have led to kind of a bubbling over in every sector. And you and I had talked about Iowa. We talked about Colorado State. We talked about Wisconsin and all of these different scenarios and situations that have to do with cultural awareness, racial insensitivity, some bigotry.
[00:28:26.05] But overall, it really has to do with race in America. And I believe it to be the most complex domestic issue that our country has. And so these are not easily discussed topics. And it takes some time to really dive in. And so I think, like I said, just being OK diving in, being OK with your experience, no matter what your experience is. Don't negate-- I don't expect anybody to negate their experience, no matter who they are. We want to share it. We want to talk about it. And we want to understand it and understand other people.
[00:29:07.60] So there's a lot to unpack. And what I've found, since you and I connected earlier on in the year and in talking with strength coaches about this stuff, is that it's not in our wheelhouse on a day to day basis. And so it can be pretty intimidating. And so folks don't really want to touch it with a 10 foot pole yet.
[00:29:31.87] And I understand that. I understand that people don't want to offend other people. They don't want to be misrepresented, mis-characterized. You've got some people getting fired over things that may be questionable. But I think that this is all a part of what we need to disrupt. This is systemic racism at its finest. We are all implicated. None of us created it. Nobody living is at fault for it. But we're all responsible in trying to correct some of it.
[00:30:15.61] So there's a lot to it. But I'm hopeful that I got to your question there, brother. But I think the main thing is, hey, let's just talk through some of this stuff so we can understand it, so we can be better coaches, better teachers, better providers.
[00:30:35.29] I feel like I have a lot of questions to follow up. But the one thing you said makes me think. There is a lot of fear of having the conversation. But what you're saying is that it's important to have the conversation of race and be comfortable with it enough to discuss it. And as strength coaches, we have great connection with our athletes that we can connect with them on levels that other coaches can't. And it's in our scope to take it to that next level and challenge ourself to have those conversations. But it is really tough.
[00:31:16.63] And one thing that I think about is how casual the weight room environment can be at times. The music's going. We're having fun, right? The guys are hitting their numbers in the squad. And athletes are moving around, and there's energy. But then something happens. And it can be a huge interruption, just like any of these very public situations that there's articles, and coaches are getting fired.
[00:31:51.48] And it does show that maybe we aren't doing enough. We're not having the conversation. Is it enough to fire a strength coach and say that you've taken care of the problem? What do you think about that? How do you deal with that situation, when maybe there is an incident on campus, where words get said or something happens that someone takes offense to? How should universities, colleges, departments deal with that?
[00:32:27.53] Yeah. Well, this is a strong one for me. The immediate firing without diving into the behavior is one of the reasons why we keep having to go over these issues with people. So there's been tons of incidents.
[00:32:49.15] But the one that I like to bring up is one that's local to Seattle. It has to do with the Sounders. They had a guy who was a former coach. I think you and I had talked about this before. But there was a former coach who had become an announcer. And he made a statement. I think-- I don't know if it was on Twitter. I think it might have been on Twitter. It was kind of an ignorant, slightly bigoted statement, but honest, slightly bigoted, ignorant, but honest.
[00:33:21.13] He said that, hey, he didn't-- I can't remember exactly what he said. But it was like, I always tried to recruit the Blacks. And when they played or any time that there was one that was good, I went after him. And I'm no racist. I have Black friends. And so then the Sounders came out. They announced that they immediately cut ties. And they said, hey, we will not stand for this kind of racism and bigotry.
[00:33:53.74] And the problem that I had with this particular scenario is that there are many, many folks who don't understand why the statement, I have Black friends, is problematic. They don't get that by saying, hey, I have relationships with other people of color, therefore I am immune to bigotry or the more impactful part of systemic racism, which is like implicit bias, and how we go about our cultural practice. So for me, we are at a stage in our lives and in our country's history where we have to unpack this stuff. We have to just talk about behavior.
[00:34:45.98] So for me, what a better approach would have been is, OK, we are going to pull this guy in. Maybe we pull some other members of the team. And we're going to have a public conversation about this. We're going to teach people. We want people to learn. We need to move past this kind of thing. We want people to really understand the impact that systemic racism has on all of us.
[00:35:12.71] It disadvantages some at a much higher rate than others. But we're all-- I believe us all to be the victims of systemic racism, because it makes us all weaker. It makes us weaker as a society. So I get very frustrated with universities, teams, even businesses that just simply cut ties with someone without actually diving into the behavioral issue and working through it.
[00:35:37.55] And so then the other thing that I have that I need to discuss on this is context. So I believe context matters. Just simply treating all uncomfortable incidents of racial injustice or any racial incident-- you can't treat them all the same. So we talked about Iowa. I don't know the details of the Iowa situation. But what I heard was bigotry. And that kind of thing does need to be stamped out.
[00:36:12.80] Hate, in my mind, has no place here. It has no place in our society. It has no place in our weight rooms. So open bigotry, which I always try to define for people-- bigotry is our conscious, hateful acts towards some racial group. So spraying the n-word on somebody's car, or calling somebody a racial name with intent to harm them. So those types of incidents are actually far less common and don't really have the impact on the community that, for example, implicit bias does. And I don't know how much time we've got here. But implicit bias, I'm going to do, of course, in January.
[00:37:02.60] But unconscious prejudice, the way that we behave on a daily basis and don't recognize, those little interactions that we have can have huge impact, especially on our athletes. And so I try to get people to understand what those are, and what those mean, and how they affect the people around us, and our athletes, and our teams more so than to understand bigotry.
[00:37:36.62] I have met very, very few bigoted coaches. And I think that that trend will continue. I think bigotry will continue to become less frequent in our society as time moves on and we evolve. But unless we discuss what systemic racism is and how it affects our behaviors and our relationships, then that will go on.
[00:38:01.90] I want to talk systemic racism in terms of opportunities in the strength and conditioning profession. I think that's a question I get a good amount. What's the percentage of African American coaches in our field? And that's an area we can do better.
[00:38:24.58] And I'll be honest, I don't have great statistics to share on what the NSCA demographic is. But I can say, just from experience, just from being in the profession, this is an area we can do better across the board. What are your thoughts on how we, as a strength and conditioning community, can grow diversity and inclusion among the ranks of professionals?
[00:38:53.44] Well, yeah, I always think about my own story, man. I would have never been in this field. I would have never even known this to be an opportunity had it not been for some of the coaches at the University of Washington putting their arm around me and saying, look, dude, you have something special. You communicate with people, and you vibe with people in a way that maybe we can't and that doesn't come around very often. And so we want you to do this. We believe in you.
[00:39:20.84] And I think that it's up to us, as strength coaches, to be able to do that with our athletes and identify athletes that could do well in this field, especially women and our athletes of color, underrepresented folks that could be in the field, that we could be learning from, that we could be growing with. It's on us to really try to seek them out. And let them know that this is a field that they could thrive in, and this is something that they could do. I mean, they have to-- people have to believe that there's the door for them to go through it. And so for me, I wouldn't have even known had it not been for those coaches encouraging me.
[00:40:09.70] And then on top of that, I also think that it takes-- we know this is not an easy field. And it's tough, and we need support, and we need connection. And we need to know that other people have struggled through it.
[00:40:26.23] And one of the frustrations I have with this industry now that I've been in it for 20 years is that there's a lot of egos in this industry. And I feel like there's a lot of, hey, I've got the answer. You don't have the answer. These guys need to listen to me. And so to me, that kind of infighting and that kind of bolstering, I think it hurts the industry overall. And I think it pushes people away.
[00:40:55.18] And so I try not to-- that's not who I am. That's not the kind of coach that I like being around. And so I think we could be missing out on opportunities to get really great people by sticking our chest out and claiming that we're the best in the world. So I think it's on us. And I do think the NSCA could do more of just really trying to reach parts of segments of the population that may not have been exposed to the field, and the expertise in the field, and what it could do.
[00:41:35.59] I mentioned to you some time ago that just partnering with organizations, maybe nonprofit organizations that are doing work in this area, but are still an arm's length away from doing it at the level that the NSCA does, and providing the service and the knowledge at the level the NSCA does. So I think being able to connect with those kinds of organizations will help.
[00:42:05.77] Because dude, there is-- originally, when I left the University of Washington, I only left because one of the things that I saw there was that most of the athletes came from privilege. And I'd say 75% of them had the ability to get the skills training. And they were coming from schools that had strength coaches. And so for me, I thought, well, man, there's a lot of information here that would have been very helpful to me as a high school athlete and as an athlete that's in a community that doesn't have a lot of money that I want to be able to provide to kids.
[00:42:48.29] And so I think having that reach for an organization like the NSCA is a big deal. For coaches that are at our level, it's a big deal. And so I think it's imperative that we do it, man. It's on us.
[00:43:06.47] I do agree that, as a field, we have not been the most welcoming to our young coaches. And you look at-- there's so much attrition within the strength and conditioning field. And you could say, oh, well it's because salaries are low. And these are long hours and tough jobs.
[00:43:26.10] But people are seeking out this profession because they care, because they have a passion for helping others, for sports, for strength and conditioning, for working out, and just training with themself. They have something that drives them to this. And then something now is driving them away.
[00:43:42.99] And I think we can all look back on, depending on which generation of strength coach you are, on an early internship experience or kind of a horror story of doing something that didn't build you up, but maybe knocked you down. And it was sort of a gut check for, man, does this feel right for me? I don't know how much I can take of this. And I think we all go through those moments.
[00:44:11.85] But how, as a field, do we get young coaches? It's important to pay your dues and get experience. But how do we do that in an empowering way that grows future leaders in the profession?
[00:44:24.48] Yeah, well, I was gonna say-- I was just gonna piggyback on that, man. And I really do-- and you're right spot on. And you and I have talked about this before, too. And I really think it comes down to our language. What kind of language do we use? How do we-- I mean, I've probably hired 50, maybe 55 people in the 14, 15 years I've been in business. And all of them needed to be empowered, needed to be brought up, needed to be uplifted.
[00:44:55.35] But at the same time, needed to know, it's a grind. And that's a good thing. You need to grind to learn. We learn under the bar, like Dave Tate's book. You learn under the bar. We've got to do this, man. Let's go. But I'm doing it with you. It's not me against you. And it's not, if you don't do this, you're out. I don't want to see you anymore. It's like, hey, I'm here. We talk to our athletes that way. We need to talk to young coaches that way.
[00:45:22.26] Yeah. No, I agree, man. I really like talking to you about this stuff. Because it just brings so many ideas of how powerful our role is as strength coaches, and how impactful we can be in the lives of young athletes, other coaches. And I think we all get to that point, as coaches, that, wow, I've had such an impact in my role. And this is what I do, and we want to pass it on to that next generation. And it truly is important to advance the starting point for that next generation.
[00:45:58.74] And one area that-- I feel like leadership books have really, just over the course of my career and just the time that we've been in the field, there's so many leadership books out there. And we get a lot of language from books that get written or things that get put out there that revolve around leadership. But we, as strength coaches, we have to check our own language. And we have to bring our own language into our coaching environment.
[00:46:29.95] And I think it's empowering to say that you don't have to be a best selling author to bring quality language to your situation that helps take this field forward. I think too often, we rely on pop culture messages at times. And we use a lot of terminology that gets recycled over and over again.
[00:46:53.35] But I think at the core of communication, and we know this as coaches with our athletes, that it's about being authentic. It's about being authentic. And when we talk about these tough topics, like race, it's OK to say you don't have all the answers here. It's OK to say, man, this doesn't make me feel comfortable. But I'm open minded to talk about it with you, and let's work through this. And I think that's really what brings people together.
[00:47:23.79] Like I said, man, I really enjoy talking to you. Because it makes it very welcoming for me to think through this. And I think we need more of that in this field. So I really do appreciate that. Dan, you are on the education task force for our Diversity and Inclusion Committee. And that is a group that started up this year. It's a growing initiative, just with everything that's been going on.
[00:47:50.24] And this is a group that's come together. We're having conversations, and we are really trying to vault diversity and inclusion into the networks of the NSCA at our events. And that's going to be contagious across the board in terms of other programs, right, our special interest groups. It really speaks to the number of opportunities there are to volunteer and what it takes, how you connected with us, just by reaching out.
[00:48:25.88] We are a volunteer driven organization. And I think that is what makes us great, is that the NSCA is not the-- it's not us, here at the headquarters in Colorado Springs. It's you. It's the coaches out there. It's the different voices that are in the weight rooms with the athletes that are engaging, that are learning, that are working through these challenges. So we appreciate all you're doing, man.
[00:48:53.15] Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate it. And I'm excited about the task force. And I've got to say, I appreciate you, man. I mean it takes bold people to make bold steps. And this is a bold step. This is something that we haven't seen the industry really taking a strong stance on. And shoot, it makes me feel good and empowered.
[00:49:12.05] And I talk about you all the time, brother. Because we need more people in positions like yours who are making significant choices to make an impact and change things. So if it wasn't for you opening these doors, man, we wouldn't have the opportunity to make these things happen. So I'm thankful to you, and I'm thankful to the task force, and to the NSCA for making this platform available to us.
[00:49:42.26] That's awesome, man. You are always open. And I've connected you with so many people over this past year. But we're going to include your contact information in the show notes. But could you share how can our listeners get in contact with you if they want to reach out, if they want to continue the conversation?
[00:50:03.00] Yeah, for sure. I'd probably say email is best. And then of course, I do always like throwing out myself, I'm old school, man. You know me, brother. I'm still trying to keep up with the social media thing. I finally started an Instagram this summer after the George Floyd stuff happened. Because I was finding that a lot of people did have questions about race and felt uncomfortable talking about it. And so I just started an Instagram, just strictly to put out information and try to help people, just to talk about the subject without so much intimidation and concern.
[00:50:40.08] So it's just my name, @daniel_jahn is the Instagram address. But email is probably the best. And then you can always put up my cell number, man. I'm always down to talk about this stuff. I'm always down to help people. So I'm ready. Anybody-- if somebody wants to get a hold of me.
[00:51:00.78] Awesome, man. So yeah, follow Dan on Instagram. Also, if you want to hear more from Dan on some of the topics that we have discussed today, you can go into our College Special Interest group on Facebook for the NSCA. And under events, there is a meeting that we held on cultural awareness for strength coaches, a little bit of a teaser for what's coming at Coaches Conference here in January. That's really coming up quick here.
[00:51:31.59] So we're getting excited about Coaches Conference and in hearing the full version of your talk. And yeah, we're just really thankful to have you on the show today. Thanks for being here.
[00:51:44.21] Thanks, Eric. Appreciate you, bro.
[00:51:46.17] That is Daniel Jahn of Maximum Sports Conditioning in Bellevue, Washington. To our listener, we appreciate you listening in today. And we'd also like to thank our sponsor, Sorinex Exercise Equipment, for their support.
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