Training versus Coaching.



Be a Better Coach


1. WHAT IS COACHING and what is it not?

2. WHY IS COACHING IMPORTANT and what are the costs of not?

3. HOW TO COACH WELL and what to avoid!


Within the fitness industry, indeed in general, “coaching” has become quite the buzz word. It seems cool and current to call yourself a Coach rather than a Trainer (even when mainly “training” clients). But is there a difference, and does it even matter?


If Personal “Training” is about the trainer providing expert fitness and nutrition programming for their clients to get great results, fitness “Coaching” offers a much more collaborative approach of nurturing the right mindset and personal strategy WITH clients as opposed to FOR clients, creating a client-centred plan for them to execute.


A coach may or may not deliver the program, but will certainly help their clients become more accountable, support them to make lasting changes in their lives and help them to own their own results, and genuinely take back control of their health, weight and fitness for good.


One is not necessarily better than the other, but Personal Training positions the trainer as the expert. Their clients are clearly the recipients of their expertise. A good PT will work beyond the confines of exercise and nutrition providing whatever necessary email and closed Facebook support to help a client “comply” with the program or “adhere” to what is prescribed, but principally the client is to follow the trainers' lead.


This is as opposed to the Fitness “Coach” who adopts an expert-expert model of working with their clients. Whilst the Coach, like the Trainer, is of course expert in exercise and nutrition, the client is also an expert (not simply the recipient of the Coaches' expertise) - and their expertise is of equal importance. A clients’ expertise is in themselves, their preferences, their awareness about what they truly desire, who around them could help and what they most struggle with.


A Coach assumes their client is fundamentally capable and resourceful and just needs guidance and support to help them identify and accomplish the result they want in fitness.


A Coach helps their client play to their strengths and builds a program WITH their client around THEIR client. Whilst the Coach has a great understanding of exercise and nutrition they do NOT assume they know best. Instead, they offer their expertise as possible solutions positioning their expertise as a resource for the client to use. But the eventual plan comes from the combined expertise of both parties not solely that of the Coach.


A clear example is when a Coach can offer information about the role of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the diet and can even provide information about how specific amounts of such macronutrients have helped other clients they have worked with. The Coach can be quite sure, what they did with other clients produced the results that were gained. However, they can never be certain they would necessarily provide the same results for a new client. And therefore this is how they provide such information, stating they are not sure what their client makes of this but such and such macros have worked particularly well with other clients they have worked and they wondered whether this is something they think could work for them.


Now the client may well reply that, for sure, they would like to try this too. However, this is not a prescription, but a collaboration where the approach is co-owned. The buy-in from the client is greater than if just told of the approach they will be adopting. As a Coach you must also be prepared for a client replying that such an approach is just not for them. Given there are many different approaches to achieving great results, this is also very reasonable.


Now that is not to say a Coach won’t or shouldn’t question their client’s response. For when they do it is entirely possible they will reveal more about why they are not open to such a plan and indeed may lead to some important mindset-related issues that one way or the other, at some point, would have inevitably shown up anyway.


Or it could be as simple as the client having an overriding desire to feel back in control of their own diet, for example following decades of following other people's diet plans. It may be they just don't want to follow any set formula, but be more flexible in their approach and just eat more intuitively healthily.


You see flexible dieting, intermittent dieting, low carbohydrate, vegan, 2 meals a day, 3 meals a day, 4 meals a day or 5 meals a day can all have their place and the skill of a Coach is to find the right approach for their clients to have the best chance of creating the results they desire.


Clients’ expertise is critical in the process of creating a stronger mindset for change. They know what they might prefer in terms of a way forward, they know what they are capable of in terms of re-prioritising things in their life to make this happen, and even what support would most enable them to do this. This expertise is paramount if the aim is for clients to be more resourceful and change for good.


Clients are central in the process of them changing whatever elements of their health, weight or fitness they intend to change. Empowering clients to become self-motivated and back in control of their health, weight and fitness becomes the ultimate goal of the Coach. This is especially relevant in fitness and health and particularly weight loss since most of the results clients ultimately accomplish come from their choices and actions when their Coach is not there.


And sure, you can be BOTH a Trainer and Coach. But the two are not the same and therefore the terms should not be used interchangeably or synonymously.


The reason this is so important is that all too often, even with a Personal Trainer, clients end up resorting back their old ways as soon as training with their trainer ceases.


Clients can become dependent upon their trainer, not end up more resourceful or self-motivated and in the end still struggle with their mindset around health and fitness.


Even with a Personal Trainer and with clients who just want to be “trained”, they can sometimes not show up, or not make much effort to adjust their diet or only work-out with their trainer and never between appointed sessions. This can be a problem and where you need to coach.


With so many people needing our help, and there are! And with a current crisis around diabetes and obesity, stress and inactivity and there is, there really is some urgency to help people develop a stronger mindset around fitness, be more resourceful and self-motivated to change.


With such a huge market desperate to find lasting solution for their health and fitness-related problems, it is important to prevent dependence on you as their trainer and, instead, empower clients to take back control of their health, weight and fitness for good through your programs.


And there is no better way than online!


Darren T.

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