Becoming Coach Mom


My whole life I’ve played sports. When I was a teenager, I started to get into coaching. My senior project in high school was to host a young girls pitching clinic where I taught young girls how to pitch a softball. I loved seeing how one cue I gave could help the girls be more consistent in their skills and also show themselves they could do it.

When I decided that academics were more important than sports I said goodbye to college athletic scholarships, but knew I could never say goodbye to playing. Luckily, my college had a club softball team which I tried out for and eventually went on to be the player coach.

Coaching my friends and peers, and deciding who to play and who to bench taught me a lot at a very young age. I had to be clear in expectations and in communicating both the plan and feedback for how my friends could improve to get the starting spot. I had to commit to helping them be better, which helped our team be better. I had to make hard decisions outside of my feelings, if it meant what was best for the team.

As a player myself, I also put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect and to be a strong leader, charting the course of our season both in the dugout and on the pitcher’s mound.

A woman pitches a softball in a game.
My CrossFit Level 2 course photo

Finding Exercise Again

Fast forward a few years to finding myself early in my career, in a new city, with few friends outside of work, and having fallen out of any sort of regular fitness routine . . .

I knew I needed friends and exercise, so I walked into a CrossFit “box” (what we call gyms) down the street and immediately got addicted. If you walked into the box in the middle of a class, you would swear everyone was crazy: barbells flying all over, music blasting above noise disturbance levels, and sweaty bodies throwing themselves on the dirty, dusty floor. I became obsessed with exercise again, it was all I wanted to think about!

It was only natural to follow my progression like I had in softball, to become an athlete and then a coach. So after a few years of taking class after class and visiting numerous boxes in the Charleston area and abroad, I decided to become a coach and took my Level 1 course. I was intimidated because I wasn’t perfect and couldn’t do every move, but I knew I wanted to help others benefit from the sport like I had.

Becoming a Coach While Becoming a Mom

I started my coaching career not too long before I became a mom. Because I also have a full-time job, I couldn’t coach much but I loved every single second I was on the coaching floor at the box. I knew my time was limited, so I committed to making the most of it, for others and myself.

I also remember taking my USA Weightlifting Certification course when I was 13 weeks pregnant. I had a seasoned instructor for that course, but he looked at me like I had three heads when I told him I was pregnant. I knew then that I could bring both my experience and knowledge to the floor to help others during and after their pregnancy.

My pregnancy with my son was so hard. I was put on “bed rest, but not bed rest” by my OBGYN at 32 weeks along. We found my son had intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and I had gestational diabetes and hypertension (blood sugar and blood pressure regulation problems). Movement had become my method of working through my emotions and staying connected with my rapidly changing body. Suddenly, though, I couldn’t do it any longer for the remainder of my pregnancy. I had a hard time “scaling back” from workouts and focused on daily walks and squats to a chair so I didn’t overdo it. Mentally, it helped me understand my own limitations and work within them.

Coach mom: A pregnant woman stands in front of a chair.
Chair squats in my third trimester

Coaching After First Pregnancy

After my son was born and both of us were fine, I could not wait to get moving again. Even after being “cleared” at my six-week postpartum appointment, I felt like I was in a whole new body even just moving about life, let alone doing organized exercise.

I used the principles I learned in my coaching certifications to get stronger and recover after nine months of growing a tiny human. I was so thankful to get back to the coaching floor.

I came back to coaching with a renewed mindset. I had an even greater gratitude for my body and what it could do, both in and out of the gym. I have always felt strong physically in the gym, but I felt a new level of confidence and pride in my body; my body just did the most miraculous thing a body is meant to do and I wanted to share about it!

I had a new fire to help people get well and achieve a level of fitness to stave off any physical ailments; I was so thankful I could play even a small part in their journey.

Fitness During Second Pregnancy

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I stayed coaching until I was about six months pregnant. I loved showing my classes that I could still be fit and active and modify the workouts to meet me where I was.

With two under two at home, my life would be chaos for a while which meant I likely couldn’t get back on the coaching floor any time soon. My gym understood and supported me. I knew I’d have to find a new sense of normal for the foreseeable future when it came to working out and chasing after two little ones.

Reaching for a New Coaching Goal

While taking a break from coaching, my CrossFit certification was nearly expiring. I needed to either retake my Level 1 course for another five years of certification or take the Level 2 course which was geared toward gym owners and coaches instructing athletes in the gym. Even though I hadn’t coached for about two years, I always had it as a goal to get my Level 2 certification so I knew it was either now or never.

Coach mom: A group of people posed together.
My CrossFit Level 2 course photo

I took the course and to say I got humbled would be an understatement. It was one of the best courses I’ve ever taken in my life, in terms of personal development. I learned how to be relentless with my instruction, be clear and concise, and think about my messaging (in both word choice and how I showed up for my classes).

Becoming Coach Mom

I’m not sure what my future looks like at the front of a group class, but I know for sure I can apply what I’ve learned to being a mom, just like I have throughout my whole athletic journey.

One quote from an expert instructor at my course has resonated with me weeks later:

“Before you expect someone to do something, you have to tell them what to do.”

It’s so simple but so profound, on and off the coaching floor . . .

Before I expect my son to tie his own shoes, I have to show him how and coach him through each step of how to do it.

Before I expect my daughter to share with a friend, I have to show her how to do it, even when I don’t think she’s watching.

When my son refuses to throw away his garbage, I have to tell him several different ways of how and when to throw it away — and not give in when he tries to fudge his way through the task.

These things are small but they are how we get better, as adults and children. Through my practice being meticulous and thinking about how others hear or see my instruction, I’ve been able to rethink how I coach my kids. Even though “coach” isn’t a title I really embody much physically anymore, I really resonate with the title of coach mom.

I’m my kids’ biggest cheerleader, but also one of their greatest instructors. Just as it’s a privilege to help athletes move and feel better, it’s an incredible privilege to get to show my kids how to be successful and teach them what I’ve learned.

As a mom, I often have to make decisions for my family that may not be the most popular or most fun, but are for the right reasons. I love my children, but I can’t always be their friend. I sometimes have to be serious and make the right choice, especially when it’s the hard choice.

As a coach mom, sometimes I have to make hard decisions with the goal in mind. Sometimes I have to practice day after day, rep after rep, until I get it right.

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Tina Plemmons
Residency training brought Tina to Charleston and after securing her full-time dream job as a clinical pharmacist, she couldn’t leave. Tina was born and raised in Punxsutawney, PA and attended the University of Pittsburgh before coming to the Lowcountry in 2014. She also holds several fitness and coaching certificates: Crossfit Level 1, USA Weightlifting Level 1 and Pregnancy & Postpartum Athleticism, that she used to coach Crossfit locally. She and her husband Andrew call West Ashley home, along with their two bulldogs, Bosworth and Jackson, and their two young children, Reid and Charlotte. Motherhood has reignited her passion for writing in her "free time" - fueled by lots and lots of coffee.


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