Why is it important to talk about coaching? Why isn’t it enough to just have knowledge and expertise on a topic and call yourself a coach?
When you look back on all the guides, mentors, and teachers you’ve had, surely you will remember one who stands out for you. What was it about them that made them different from the others?
I’ll bet it wasn’t just their knowledge and expertise in the area.
When I facilitate fitness coaching, it’s never about only educating my clients on nutrition and exercise. It’s about how that person thinks, how they feel, how they want to live, what drives their behaviours, and what can motivate them to change. I can’t just tell them about macros and deadlifts and send them on their merry way.
When you become a coach, you take on the role of a teacher, motivator, analyzer, problem-solver, guide, and facilitator of self-knowledge. You need an array of tools and skillsets to stand out to your clients and help them get the best outcomes.
Coaching = Facilitating Self-Discovery
Ask WHY (x3)
Their mission is to write down what they want, and then ask “Why” 3 times.
This is what a goal might look like:
What do you want? “I want toned arms”
- Why do I want toned arms? “Currently my arms look a little soft and I want them to look lean”
- Why do I want them to look lean? “Because I’ll be able to wear sleeveless tops”
- Why do I want to be able to wear sleeveless tops with lean arms? “Because it’ll make me feel sexy and confident.
Bingo. When they get to a feeling, that’s when you know they’ve hit jackpot.
People’s goals are hardly ever superficial desires. Goals are a way for someone to feel something. Or at least they think that attaining that goal will make them feel that way.
A coach helps her clients facilitate self-discovery. Through breaking down goals, you help your client understand what they want to feel.
Based on the goals you’ve now charted out, the next step is to create a plan. Of course, expertise is required in this area. How can you get your client to have more toned arms? Through expertise, you can create a strength training and fat loss progression,
In addition to that expertise, I personally think it’s more important to find ways to help your client recreate that feeling he or she is seeking.
I discuss this in a lot of detail in my article on co-creating coaching contracts with your clients.
Execution is the stage where you cut off your client’s head.
Just kidding, just kidding. That was a test to ensure you were still reading. You passed.
It may come as no surprise to you that although your client may have agreed to do one thing, they will end up doing another. Habits are hard to change. Approaching clients with unconditional positive regard can create a space for them to understand their own behaviour.
Ask what questions instead of why questions. “What made you want to ____” versus “Why did you…”
Ask yourself: How can I hold them accountable? How often do they need check-ins?
In my experience, one of the keys to ensuring adherence to the plan is to celebrate all the wins – big and small – when your client sticks to the plan. This helps remove focus from the outcomes such as a goal weight or dress size and rewards your client’s actions. It helps your clients understand, through experience, to only focus on what they can control (eg eating 30g of protein every meal) v/s what they cannot control (losing 5 lbs every month)
In the old paradigm, the objective was to keep your clients subscribed to your services for as long as possible. However, I have always felt that the goal of a coach should be to help the client achieve sovereignty over their behaviours.
Throughout the coaching process, it’s important to keep checking in with your client and give them autonomy little by little. Some of my clients start by workout out with me 3-4 times each week.
When they feel confident they know what they’re doing, I start giving them workouts to do on their own. They have the option to reach out to me for support if they need to. The number of workouts we do together decreases and the ones they do on their own increase. Before you know it, the client is consistently doing their own workouts and enjoying them!
What Does That Mean For My Coaching Business?
If clients become autonomous and no longer need me. What does that mean for someone who wants to run a coaching business?
The virtuous-sounding answer to that question is that when you facilitate true and lasting impact in a person’s life, that in itself is an incredibly rewarding feeling, and their results will speak to the people around them, like free marketing for me.
And while that’s all true, to be honest, this kind of one-on-one coaching is not the perfect business model. It does not lend itself well to scaling because it does take a lot of time.
But it gives me energy. I have developed other skill sets that I can monetize, while coaching can nourish my soul and help me deeply connect with fellow humans.
What’s your approach to coaching beyond the expertise piece? How has it served you and what are the areas you’re working on? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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LOVED this Neha! You certainly give coaches a lot to think about here. I’m sure many have not gotten past thinking about their exercise, however, you are correct. It’s necessary! Thanks for writing this!