The internet has spawned a new type of coach: the online coach. Like any industry, profession, or trade, there are examples of good, bad, and terrible practitioners to be found. I think that one of the main problems in this uber-internet era, is that its too easy to fall into the trap of following the superficial half naked social media post and mistake this for an indicator of a great coach.
Firstly, let me say that the best coaches are not constantly on the internet and on social media. The best coaches are too busy actually coaching, learning, training, and providing real value to their clients/ athletes/ members, and not hunting for likes and attention on Facebook. Of course sex-sells as they say, and working with a coach that practices what they preach is very important, but just because someone is ripped to death does not mean they are a quality coach. There is a big difference between being able to train yourself, and being able to train people effectively. Coaching is an art form that takes years to master just like any other craft. If you are considering teaming up with a coach to help you achieve your goals, I would recommend the following to give you the biggest chance of finding a coach that knows what they are doing and that suits what you are looking for:
Find out with a bit of research what coaching experience the person actually has under their belt. Its relatively easy to get into good shape for a 20 something eager trainer, and then all of a sudden gather a bit of a following on social media and start calling yourself a coach. Building years of coaching experience dealing with different types of people, with different goals, and actually getting results for people is a whole other story. Coaching is not about ego massaging, showing people how good you are, building up a little band of admirers, or making an easy living so you can live the good life as a coach. Coaching is about SERVICE, and forming a real relationship with the people you work with to help them achieve their goal. If you sense that your potential coach is not about service, does not have a strong set of coaching values and a solid coaching philosophy, or lack real-life coaching experience, then alarm bells should start ringing.
Coaching to me is not about getting ripped for the 'after' photos, turning into a gym rat, or just having someone there to beat you with a metaphorical stick for not sticking to the plan.
Personally speaking, I value building a strong relationship with my clients, providing a quality service and experience for both of us. I value producing an expertise based service that is enjoyable for client and coach. I value real food over supplementation and so called health foods. I value training that has purpose and is engaging as opposed to arbitrary gut busting workouts. I value being able to do things in a few months time that you cannot do today. I value being in the outdoors and experiencing life to the fullest. I value having a lifestyle that encourages enjoyment and sharing of food, exploration, and learning over being on a strict diet and a precision workout routine that takes up most of your energy and time. Consider what your potential coach values and honestly set them against your own values to see if you are a match.
This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.
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