The world of personal fitness professionals, or coaches, seems to be an ever-changing, ever-growing industry, replete with “innovative” methods of training. Many coaches who push these so-called new techniques promise unrealistic results, and stress the importance of dishing out your hard-earned cash. Now, there are good coaches out there—even great ones. But those genuinely helpful experts are tough to come by.
With the army of coaches at your disposal and an industry loosely, if at all, regulated, you may be better off taking matters into your own hands. Money doesn’t grow on trees, and neither do great coaches. What’s more, a great coach isn’t cheap. If you’ve decided that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze for you, let’s look at the steps you should take to be the best coach you can be for yourself.
A Good Coach Wants You to Self-Coach
Being your own coach doesn’t involve knowing everything. All it takes is a commitment to lifelong learning, with the goal of one day severing your dependence.
Many trainers and coaches have a dirty little secret: They want your dependence. Your reliance on them provides them with a repeat customer. Selling long-term packages, products, or other services guarantees a paycheck. They try to create an environment of full-service training, without the “burden” of educating you on the how and why of what they are doing.
Yes, every coach has bills to pay, but they also have the underlying responsibility to educate and pass on their wealth of knowledge so that their individual, group, or class can become independent. The coach must create an atmosphere where clients are engaged with the reasons, processes, and nuances of the program. This will subsequently elevate the client from trainee to self-learner to self-coach.
Adopting this philosophy will not only set the coach apart from the pack, but also set up a unique and authentic situation of genuine knowledge and care for their clients. This inevitably creates a powerful reputation for trustworthiness, which is more effective than the standard assembly-line trainer.
Who Needs a Coach?
At some point or another, everyone needs a coach. The first time you step into a facility to better your performance, health, or life in general, you are entering uncharted territory. Form, technique, programming, and other organic variables could all use a bit of instruction for the newbie. And regardless of experience level, if you’re the type who depends on others for every element of your training, then you may need a coach for a significant amount of time.
But if you have mastered the basics of training and its most fundamental principles, and you are ready to educate yourself to the next level, you can learn to coach yourself. Let’s define what steps you need to take to become your very own coach. This actionable list may seem rudimentary, but the steps are essential to build your initial foundation of knowledge and accountability.
Steps to Become Your Own Coach
1. Define your goal
The first step is the most important. Without a clearly defined goal, your ability to program your own training will be virtually impossible. Is your purpose hypertrophy, pure strength, performance-based, or general health reasons? Whatever the goal, write it down and define it with as much detail as possible. The more specific, the better.
2. Write Out the Steps
A goal is great, but it’s just a nice little statement without any meat behind it. You will need to define the steps needed to accomplish your task. These would be the tools, intermediate objectives, and plans of action associated with your goal. Again, be specific and leave room for adjustments as you gain more knowledge about yourself and your training.
3. Obtain Just Enough Knowledge
Don’t be a victim of analysis paralysis. Study, research, and ask questions, but don’t let that process become so important and consuming that you never actually do anything. The problem with too much information is the subconscious avoidance of action. You plan, plan some more, and then keep planning until you’ve run through numerous programs without any real test or results to assess. Learn just enough, and then go put it into action.
4. Learn From Doing
This step is another critical component to success. The more you act, the more you learn. With action comes a wealth of real-world experience. Failures are guaranteed, but they also educate and serve as a rite of passage for those who want ultimate success. If you never step up to the plate and take a swing, you’ll never hit a homerun.
5. Evaluate, Adjust, and Move On
Use your failures to help you assess and adjust. The more you test your programming skills, the more you will drill down into what is uniquely useful for your own goals. In other words, never stop evaluating your progress. Don’t ever become stagnant and simply go through the motions.
6. Schedule tune-ups
At times, every self-coach will need what I call scheduled tune-ups. These are times when you should seek assistance from a qualified, trustworthy coach to evaluate your programming. This allows another perspective to enter the fray and provide priceless feedback.
Why would I talk so highly of self-coaching, and then seemingly backtrack to getting someone else’s help? Because the truth is that sometimes we spend too much time in our own little worlds without much vision of what else is going on around us. Additionally, we tend to bend toward our strengths and forego our weaknesses as an act of personal bias. At times, we need a swift kick in the tail to get us honest again.
Choose Your Own Fitness Adventure
Just as the pursuit of your goals never really ends, neither will your development as a self-coach. Once you enter the world of lifelong learning, you will constantly shift, evolve, and morph your training philosophy to assimilate the knowledge you have gained. The choice to coach yourself or seek a coach is ultimately yours. You can either take an active but mindless role in your training, or you can break free, seek personal ownership, and walk your own walk.
Ready to take the leap, but confused on how to plan it?