How to be a Better Fitness Coach [based on psychology]

behavior change coaching evidence based goal achievement mindset coach personal development psychology research
Text image: Evidence based G.R.O.W. model for effective coaching

Hey coaches, it’s Coach Kasey here, and I want to share some of my Ph.D. knowledge and years of experience as a fitness coach with a super succinct fashion. 

Today, I’m going to break down my evidence-based G.R.O.W. model for effective coaching. This method is something they didn't teach you in your nutrition or training certifications⁣.

But that's okay because that’s what I’m here for!

What is the G.R.O.W. Model

I’ve distilled nearly five years of mindset and behavior change research and over six years of coaching into this four-pillar framework.
This framework is my attempt to simplify the core elements of effective coaching practices from a psychological perspective.⁣

This is how we operate at KJO Coaching, and it is the FIRST thing I share with every coach that goes through the Health Mindset Coaching Certification.

But of course, this is just a framework.⁣

Just like any other framework, theory, or philosophy, there's a lot to it.⁣ As nice and tidy as it is to distill things into four main components, this is all pretty surface level.⁣

G is for Guidance

You can be a coach without being a good guide. 

Guidance involves an understanding that your client has all of the information you need to guide them towards behavior change. They know their lifestyle, goals, and what works for them better than anyone else does. 

Just telling your client what to do will not work for long-term change because being a good coach is about so much more than giving advice. As a coach, you should guide your clients to make behavior changes that will help them achieve their goals. 

R is for Relationship

Whether we want to admit it or not, humans are innately social creatures, and we need support from others. 

Building a strong connection with your clients is required for them to feel safe and willing to share all aspects of their journey with you, and it is necessary for you to provide the best possible coaching. 

I’m not saying you need to be best friends with your clients, but the number of times we get new clients from previous coaching relationships where they simply didn’t feel like they “connected” with their coach is a lot. 

Aka - people frequently end relationships with their coach NOT because it was a bad experience, but because it truly lacked a sense of relationship.

Rather than being a coach who loses clients because the connection isn’t there, focus on creating that relationship with them. If you have genuine relationships with your clients, you’ll not only retain more clients, but they will be more successful, too. 

O is for Optimization

As health and fitness coaches, we’re in the business of prevention and optimization. 

Compared to the traditional medical model that aims to repair what’s “broken,” as coaches, we’re in a unique (and powerful) position to help people reach optimal health.

We aren’t just there to fix ailments as they arise. We’re trying to help our clients prevent health issues from arising.

To do this, we should focus on leveraging the clients’ strengths, not just picking out their weaknesses. By focusing on their strengths, your clients can optimize the aspects of their lives they’re already doing well in, and they’ll be more motivated to work on the aspects they’re struggling with. 

And remember - your client isn’t broken. Don’t act like you’re there to fix them!

W is for Wisdom

You’re a health and fitness coach with plenty of knowledge and expertise.

And this is why clients hire you.

But from a psychological perspective, we need to be careful about HOW that wisdom is translated. We need to do so without making assumptions or coming off like a “know-it-all” – this can backfire big time. 

You’re the expert on fitness and nutrition, but keep in mind - you’re not an expert on your client’s goals, preferences, knowledge, strengths, lifestyle… they are!

Before you jump to any conclusions and start providing solutions, ask more questions (do less telling), and let your clients take the lead. You can read more about the types of questions you should ask your clients here.

How You Can GROW


Within each of these pillars: Guidance, Relationship, Optimization, and Wisdom, you can find hundreds of evidence-based strategies, methods, and theories.⁣ It’s far too much to put in a single blog post!

I do my best to cover many of them within my 13-week Health Mindset Coaching Certification, but even then, there's always more (which is where the alumni group comes in!)⁣

Just because topics of psychology, communication, behavior change, and mindset fall on the "soft science" side of coaching (compared to things like biology and physiology) doesn't make them easy or intuitive.⁣

But because of that assumption (that communication skills and mindset are “easy” concepts to master), these factors are often overlooked, and legitimate training in behavior change is rarely sought out.⁣

This is the ART of coaching.⁣

This is what makes you a GREAT coach.⁣

This is what metrics like client adherence, retention, and success are born out of.

Don't get left behind.⁣

Join the Health Mindset Coaching Certification waitlist now to become a better coach with more successful clients!


Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachkaseyjo @kjocoaching