It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish

Little kid

I think about this topic frequently so it’s time that I put it in writing.  Originally I intended to entitle this “High, Low or No Expectations” but after listening to Dan John on a podcast the other day I found the current title more appropriate.  It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.  The rest goes like this:

Walking into any gym to start your training journey can be understandably intimidating.  Whether that’s truly a beginning to this training thing, resurrecting an old passion for fitness or maybe it’s seeking help from a coach. That coach is likely someone you don’t know and not only are you paying this individual, but also trusting him/her with your body.  Kind of a big deal.   As a coach, when I first start working with someone, and I mean that very first day and/or week, you might say my expectations are zero, low and high all at the same time!  That surely makes sense right?  Let me explain.


Each person that comes in the door or asks me for help, whatever it is, is simply a blank slate until further notice.  I can’t pass judgement on someone’s skills, fitness or potential to reach their own goals simply by looking at them.  We’ve got to get moving, assessing and talking.  At that point we are simply gathering information.  Only then can I start to put any kind of roadmap together.  If you tell me you can’t do all sorts of things, well that’s all fine and good, but we’ll see eventually if that’s true.  Maybe later and maybe even right now.  The same goes for the opposite end of the spectrum.  I’ve met plenty of people with various backgrounds in all sorts of athletics and alleged experience in the weight room.  If you claim to be good at all sorts of things already I will in nicest way possible tell you that in due time you can prove it to me.  In other words, if I may generalize, those that think they’re not any good probably aren’t as bad as you they and those that think they’re really great or advanced are likely not as good as they think either.

Finally, I believe that it’s within this brief  time (a week or 2 maybe) that I meet someone and begin working with them that I have extremely high expectations for them.  And make no mistake, these expectations will continue on.  You may or may not know where you are starting, but I do.  And with that I know what you’re capable of.  I know where you can finish.  I probably won’t tell you, but if you trust me and put in the work on your end via consistency, this will end well.  And by end I mean you’ll see some great improvements and hopefully learn a lifetime of skills.  I’m certainly not the “rah-rah” type coach but I expect great things from each and every person.  Why?  Because it doesn’t matter where you start.

The bottom line is that you may or may not believe in yourself, but I do.  I know what you can accomplish and it’s likely far more than you can imagine.  Better every day.

– Mike Baltren

2 thoughts on “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish

  1. Anne Baltren

    This reminds me how much your job is like counseling. You have to start with simply gathering information, then you can tell me what you want to work on. And most people aren't aware about what they are good at or not in their personal life either 😉

    You are a rock star. And in your non-"rah-rah" type writing and coaching, you are extremely encouraging. Your knowledge and eloquence give people a lot of confidence. I dig it.

  2. Hobbes

    I know what you are getting at here and I agree with it. But the title may not be the best. To me, it is focusing on the process and getting the person to love the process that is critical. There is no finish – so it doesn't matter where you start – there is no finish!

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