two kinds of people, broadly

At The Quad, we broadly have two kinds of people who join us. First, beginners. This is the group we highly identify with because that's where Raj and I started. Being utterly clueless, being confused about this universe of getting fit and then slowly figuring it out by feeling the change - that's what I remember about my days at the gym until I eventually got lucky. Taking control of that process is liberating and that's what we specialise in selling.

The second group, much smaller in number, are folks with training experience. Primary difference between us and them is just that they didn't quit their careers to take up fitness as their career. But apart from that, they are rather serious about their commitment to fitness and what role it plays in their lives. Similar to how The Quad Squad feels about fitness. Again, another group we identify with closely as they think about fitness how we do.

Photo courtesy: Rahul Sadagopan

It is fun working with our community because the past and the present co-exist together. And as we learn from each quarter and each year of coaching, we get better and better at bettering this journey that most of the first group take at The Quad as they become the second group.

meet SC

This is about a student of mine from the second group - someone who had a serious commitment towards training. And what I learned from them. Let's call them SC.

Now, SC had prior training experience. They had trained at premium gyms abroad under multiple top trainers and had enough skillset in barbell training as well as callisthenics, and some kettlebell work as well. During our assessment (an assessment is simply a way to understand student's goals and also where they are starting off from), I quickly realised that this was a person who knew what they were doing. With a bit of fine-tuning in technique, they were ready to join my advanced class.

Photo by Kyle Johnson / Unsplash

Technique in the lifts is something we constantly will want to get better at and at The Quad, we love coaching and refining technique. While SC's skill and technique were solid, there were a few glitches. This is not a unique situation at all and all of us, especially me, gain a lot to being coached under watchful eyes.

no easing in

I suggested to SC to ease in the first quarter and get used to the lay of the land and how training worked at The Quad. Polish the technique, get used to training outdoors and all that.

SC was not having that. With clarity of thought, SC requested 1:1 skill coaching to iron this out. In group coaching, there's a lot of communal learning, a lot of watching and talking with your partners and exchanging notes. A fun way to learn. But sometimes, we learn better by ourselves or in a private setting. SC understood this and wanted the best path forward.


SC took a month or so and got comfortable with kettlebells. Even though they had a lot of top-class training experience, the open-mindedness to take feedback and the drive to improve stood out.

When students like this show up - with intent and drive, with humility to learn, all we have to do as a coach is let them do their thing and wave to the crowd when we get the plaudits. But in reality, the student does most of it.

SC had my attention and my respect from that first interaction.

The shortest path is to get coached. Find an expert. As someone who did not take the shortest path to figure out fitness, I realise the value and power of what SC did. The hardest path is simply finding the expert. After that, it is about showing up.

Back of Hercules in main square in Florence, Italy.
Photo by Simone Pellegrini / Unsplash

Over the years, there were a lot of places where I could add value to SC's training and lifestyle. We improved SC's approach to health and fitness, as well as their skill and technique. But all of it was made straightforward with the intent, drive and humility they brought to the table.

While motivating our students is a big focus of ours - we love supporting our community and make it fresh/fun for them via challenges, via the fun programming and all that - for all of us, it eventually has to turn on a switch inside. And when that switch is turned on, we become unstoppable. If it is my job to constantly keep that switch on, well, eventually the process fails. But if we work together on it, then magic happens.