Friday, December 16, 2011

What is a Coach?

What is a coach? I read a great blog post written by Neghar Fonooni on her site, Eat, Lift and Be Happy discussing just this, and it it is too good and has too many relevant (and awesome) takeaways for those of us in the industry not to share. For the full blog you can visit her site but for the most part I have included it the post below. So, without further ado and courtesy of Neghar Fonooni, what does it mean to be a coach?


A client of mine (who also happens to be a personal trainer) said something interesting to me today as we spoke about our roles as coaches:


I'm in the business of being positive.


Not the business of being elite, famous, or rich. Not even the business of being the most educated, knowledgeable trainer in the industry. The business of being positive.


Go ahead. Be successful. Go to every single seminar , workshop and certification that you believe will make you better at your craft. Watch every DVD, read every book and article and listen to all the pod casts that will broaden your knowledge base and make you a smarter coach. Expect the best in terms of effort, performance and attitude from your clients. Have a standard as a professional that you hold yourself to each and every day. Develop a methodology, live by your training philosophy. Build your brand, make some cash. Do well. Hell, that's what I strive to accomplish on the regular. We certainly need more qualified coaches in this industry, so the more education and experience the better.


But will all of that make you a better coach? Will all of that ensure that you go into the world and do good?


The way I see it, there are two things that make an exceptional coach (or professional in any field for that matter):


  1. Knowledge and experience, beyond the requisite education as well as the skill and talent necessary to articulate the knowledge and translate it into results.

  2. An inherent and relentless intent and desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those they come into contact with in their professional realm.

A great coach simply cannot possess one without the other. They are two sides of the same priceless coin. If all you've got is a long list of certifications and a strong desire to be profitable and reputable upon your merit as an educated professional, chances are you're kind of a jerk. You probably possess more arrogance than apathy and expect your clientele to demonstrate perfection in performance and compliance. When they fail to achieve this (because inevitably, they will) they are quite possibly met with irritation, disappointment and disapproval on your part. You might rock at training people, but that's not the same as coaching people. Trust me. I almost became this trainer.


Conversely, if all you've got in your tool box is sickeningly positive affirmations with limited substance or science, well, then you're basically Richard Simmons. You are a well paid cheerleader. You will undoubtedly uplift others with your sunny disposition and eternal optimism; alas, you will fail to get them fit to their fullest potential. You will lack the tools and the expertise to assess movement, correct movement and create strong and powerful movement. You might make them happy but you probably won't get them very strong. A truly effective coach embodies both. An extraordinary coach inspires and educates; does well by providing a quality service but also does good by providing encouragement. I often find the need to remind myself of this, and realign my actions with my vision and purpose. Because the thing is, I am ridiculously lucky to do what I love for a living and I owe it to those who trust me with their bodies, hearts and minds to be extraordinary every single day.


Lets blow up this industry up with remarkable coaching. Let's do well for ourselves and do good for other by following these two principles throughout our coaching careers:



  1. Get educated. Simply put, know what the eff you're talking about. You cannot make a significant difference in someones movement without being armed with knowledge and hands on experience. Take the time and initiative to learn from those who have been successful in the field and continue to produce stellar results. Obviously people like, Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove, Mike Boyle, Mark Verstegen, Dan John, Brett Jones, Gray Cook, etc. are all valuable resources.

  2. Be in the business of being positive. Spend some time learning how to be a better coach and a happier person in general. Take the time to offer e-mails, texts and phone calls of encouragement to clients. Make them feel as though you are invested in them as human beings, not as dollar signs. Be the BEST part of their day. Ultimately, everyone wants to feel as though they are a part of something special; everyone wants to feel legitimately cared for. Your clients want this more than they want to be in shape, even if they don't know it. Evaluate your coaching skills and the character of with which you interact with your clients. Are you someone who would you would want to spend an hour with?

I have a client that comes to see me every Tuesday and Thursday. She isn't the most athletic or coordinated person. She might never do an Olympic lift or dead lift twice her body weight. But at the end of every single session she says, "I feel better than when I came in here." That's what it's all about.


~ Courtesy of Neghar Fonooni

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