A Letter to Coaches and Trainers
Dear Coaches and Trainers,
Much to the dismay of many who will read this I spent about 90% of my exercising time (I don’t call it training because honestly I am just working out for fun at this point in my life) at one of those dreaded, “commerical gyms”.
Also much to the dismay of many of you they run those, “omg its soooooo awful” 90 day fat loss challenges” and they display the results on big leader boards of the client, their weight lost, and the name of their trainer.
Over the last 2-3 of these challenges there is one trainer in particular who has had his clients in 3 of the top 5 spots with each losing around 20-30% of their body weight in 90 days. That is pretty mind blowing. Over the last 2-3 years of my time there, I have been part of the 5 AM regular crowd, I have gotten to know this trainer fairly well since we chat every morning as I get warmed up (my warmup this consists of me laying on the floor trying to convince myself I shouldn’t just go home and go back to bed) and he waits for his 5:15 to show up.
You might think he has several degrees, certifications,decades of experience, knows a lot about nutrition, and programs the crap out of every little detail in order to get such good results. If you thought that, you would be wrong. He doesn’t have a single 4 year degree, has the minimal certification, always asks me for pretty basic nutrition advice, and i’ve seen his programs. . . they are so simple most people wouldn’t pay 9.95 for them.
The inquisitive person I am, I asked him the other day, “What do you think distinguishes you from the other trainers in here”? His response, “The only thing that makes me different is I care more about my clients than anything else. I do what is best for them in every single situation”. This highlights the single biggest point of this letter. Coaching people is about the client, it is not about you.
We currently live in an era where intelligence, knowing the research, and showing your intellectual superiority over other coaches and trainers has become the number one currency in our industry.
As nutrition coaches we struggle with this, and actually for good reason. A lot of people identify who they are by their dietary framework. People often associate who they are with something like “Paleo”, of IIFYM, or Flexible Dieting, or whatever dieting buzzword they use; this includes coaches. While it is difficult, as a coach you shouldn’t care what “system” you fall into. Ultimately you need to fall into the system that works best for the client. Maybe you, yourself, eat according to the IIFYM system and you get great results from it. That is fantastic! However, if your client is someone who enjoys eating “Paleo” your goal shouldn’t be to convert them to your way of doing things but rather use the fundamentals you know and get them where they want to be within their system.
Here is an example from my own coaching. I had a client who told me she was gluten free, that she hadn’t been diagnosed with celiac or gluten sensitivity but just found she felt better and wanted to stick with it. Did I spend any time going over the data about non-celiac gluten sensitivity and yadda, yadda, yadda. No, I shut my mouth and listened to her story and then we worked together to find carbohydrate rich foods that were gluten free and would work within her system.
As trainers we also need to check our ego at the door. We need to match our programs to our clients goals. If we have a 50 year old women who wants to go from 33% body fat to 20% body fat the goal of a program shouldn’t be to highlight or showcase how much we know about autoregulating daily undulating periodization. It should be structured to get them from A to B in a fun, safe, way that they can follow, adhere to, and enjoy. If we work with an elite athlete who is trying to accumulate volume and make progress the AR DUP program might make sense, but we need to know when and where to use specific tools. The tool you use should be exactly what the client needs, not what we think is “cool”.
In the end, it is our job as coaches or trainers to get people to their goals. While it may indeed sound cheesy and canned, to quote Ryan Holiday, “Ego is the Enemy”. Taking a step back and really making sure that your coaching is client centered will go a long way in helping you get better results as a coach or a trainer. So, I guess, in the end, it does come back to making your more successful. Quid Pro Quo.