How to Choose a Nutrition and Fitness CoachApr 08, 2022
My Client’s Experience With a Bad Coach
Prior to working with us at KJO Coaching our client Aubrey had another coach...a coach she found online who provided weekly check-ins for a relatively inexpensive monthly investment.
After a few months with this coach, Aubrey realized she wasn't making any significant progress towards her goals even though she was following the guidelines from her coach very closely.
You know that feeling when you've put your trust in someone, and you have the best expectations for them but then they don't follow through?
It sucks because you begin to second-guess everything.
That's what happened to Aubrey. But instead of getting angry and quitting (or, often worse, staying quiet and progressively becoming more resentful), she brought her concerns to her coach.
I wish I could tell you that her coach took these concerns seriously and that the coach used Aubrey's feedback as a catalyst to better communicate with Aubrey, repair her trust, and get her back on track to her goals.
But unfortunately, her coach did pretty much the exact opposite by turning the blame back on Aubrey and making her feel like the lack of progress was all her fault (can anyone say, gaslighting?? Yikes).
As you can probably guess, all this did was make the situation worse. Aubrey not only felt like she couldn’t trust her coach but also like she couldn't be honest and share her feelings. This interaction made her feel lost, broken and helpless.
Some version of poor coaching practices like this are still common for all kinds of reasons, in this case, the coach was definitely lacking the experience and skills necessary to help Aubrey. So, rather than admit to this, the coach translated her insecurities to her coaching practices.
Of course, it's clear that projecting insecurities onto a client isn't the "right" way to do things. But the issue runs even deeper.
Instead of this coach seeing an opportunity to learn and develop her coaching skills to best help Aubrey using a growth mindset, she fell into a fixed mindset trap of defensiveness.
The coach’s behavior also pushed Aubrey into a fixed mindset and left her assuming she was broken and unable to change. This coaching relationship did nothing but develop self-doubt and insecurity in both people involved.
This story about Aubrey's previous coaching experience is exactly what I want to help you avoid.
How to Choose the Best Coach for You
Now, you don't have to hire me or any of the coaches on my team (though we'd love to have you!). Instead, I'm going to walk you through some important aspects to look for and specific things you should do when looking to start a relationship with a health and fitness coach.
(And yes — this is a relationship and should be treated as such!)
Tip #1: If you come across a coach that just wants to "tell you what to do" or doesn't bother to ensure you two connect and have a relationship... keep looking.
Finding a fitness coach can be tough.
Where do you look? Whom can you trust? How will you know for sure? We hear these questions all the time.
Interview Potential Coaches
The first recommendation I have for you is to chat with the coach or someone on the coaching team before you decide to sign on. Not only does this allow you to learn about their qualifications, but it also allows you to get to know them a little bit better (and them to know you).
Interviewing doesn’t just mean assessing whether or not the coach has enough knowledge.
Ask yourself if you vibe well with their messages? Do you feel like you belong in their community?
For example, at KJO Coaching, we have a two-step process to help you feel confident in your decision to work with one of the coaches on our team. First, you complete a short application, and then you book a free consultation call with our client success coach so that you can fully determine if our team is a good fit for you and your goals.
I’d also consider asking to speak with current clients of the coach you’re considering hiring. Just like you might speak with someone working at a company you’re considering working for, chatting with current clients can provide tons of insight into what it’s really like to work with this specific coach. Your coach should also have testimonials and success stories readily available to share with you!
A Coach’s Education Matters
There are plenty of people on the internet today trying to make a quick dollar selling workout programming or proclaiming themselves as a “coach,” which becomes a problem when they don’t have the necessary knowledge to make safe and successful programs for their clients. Too often, we see people promoting programs and methods that have “worked for them.” But the truth is, being good at working out and being good at coaching are two very different things.
It’s important to be sure that the person you’re trusting with your health and well-being is educated in the science of the human body and has a full understanding of how their recommended programming will impact your health.
There are various types of education available to fitness and nutrition coaches, from certifications to advanced degrees. It should be clear that your coach has taken the time and effort to invest in their education (no, experience is NOT enough!). Certifications and degrees allow them to be better equipped to take on the challenges that come with your individual needs!
At the very least, your coach should be formally certified by an organization recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This ensures that their certification meets the appropriate standards so you can be confident that your coach has a great education.
Education is something we place massive value in at KJO Coaching. I can proudly say that every one of our coaches has an impressive list of certifications and degrees (in fact, our founder and CEO has a Ph.D. in mindset and health behavior change!) to help them coach to the best of their ability. I would encourage you to check out the bios of our coaches - they provide perfect examples of what a highly-educated coach looks like.
A Coach’s Education Doesn’t Replace Coaching Experience
Fitness coaches cost money, right? Of course. A fitness coach is truly an investment in yourself, your health, and your quality of life (well, it should be, with a good coach!).
But that investment will vary depending on things like education as well as experience. And although experience can’t replace education — the reverse is true, too. Experienced coaches are better coaches. The end.
Do you want to be somebody’s guinea pig and spend your hard-earned dollars on a coach that may become overwhelmed or not have the knowledge base to cover any issues that may arise during your contract? Probably not.
Finding a coach with experience under their belt, not just in years, but specifically with clients similar to you with similar goals, will always make for a better coaching experience. If you’re a client looking to lose 100 lbs, you don’t want to work with a coach who has only ever helped individuals lose 5-10 lbs.
The same goes for performance goals. If you’re looking to progress as a powerlifter, you likely won’t want to hire a coach that only has experience working with runners.
Coaching Style Affects Your Success
All coaches have their unique way of communicating with clients. That said, some styles are “better” than others (remember Aubrey’s story??).
But so long as you know a potential coach provides quality coaching, the next thing to consider is what kind of support you respond to best. This will require some self-awareness!
Are you someone who needs some tough love to stay on track? Or is your preference for more gentle coaching and maybe even some extra hand-holding? Neither of these is right or wrong — it’s just personal preference! Finding a coach with qualifications, experience, AND a coaching style that helps you stay motivated is crucial to your success.
Access and Communication With Your Fitness Coach
Access and communication varies WIDELY in the coaching space. Some coaches will only speak with you via email once per week, whereas other coaches provide you with 24/7 access to them.
Of course, some of this is a personal preference. If you feel like you don’t need a ton of support, you may not need a ton of access to your coach.
But, what if you were to find out that it’s typical for the coach you’re interested in hiring to not respond to their clients for 3-5 days at a time? Even if you think you don’t need tons of access to your coach, this will definitely still impact your experience and your chances of success.
For instance, at KJO Coaching we have a comprehensive accountability check-in with our clients every single week. And outside of that check-in, clients have access to us coaches for questions and support at any time.
Not every coach or coaching company values this level of communication and support, but for us, it’s necessary to ensure the best experience for our clients, and it allows us to effectively provide the nutrition, fitness, AND mindset guidance that we offer.
Invest in a Fitness Coach, Invest in Yourself
Okay, now I know coaching is a significant investment (not just financial but energy, emotion, and time, too!) But who better to invest in than yourself?
That said, if you take anything from this article, please let it be this: don’t be lazy with this process.
Take your time to really assess the coach you’re looking to hire (and the company they work for). Don’t just choose the “cheaper” coach because you can save some money.
Keep in mind that “cheaper” coaching options typically mean you’re exchanging some monetary savings for a coach with less education, experience, and/or individualized attention!
When hiring a coach, be sure to do your homework and see what qualifies this coach to be a coach (and if they deserve to be YOUR coach!).
We’d be happy to take the guesswork out of this for you!
We can confidently say that there’s at least one coach on the KJO Coaching team who not only has all the qualifications listed above, but will also fit the specific coaching style you prefer and help you with your unique goals.
If you’re interested in working with a stellar coach who has the education, experience, and mindset to help you reach your goals, you need to apply to work with us! Click HERE to learn more and apply! You can also reach out to us through email or social media if you have more questions about working with us before starting the application process - we would love to hear from you!
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