If you read last week’s post, you know that a coach can be a huge help in finding and keeping motivation. And you learned that coaches have coaches too!
But it’s a big scary world out here with lots of coaches – and “coaches” – vying for your time and resources. So how do you pick the right coach for you?
As someone who has worked with more than a few coaches over the years, I’ll give you the steps I follow and my best advice.
Have a Goal in Mind
It’s easiest to get started when you know where you want to go. You don’t need to have a super specific goal in mind (your future coach can help with that), but you should definitely have at least a rough idea of what you want to accomplish with your new coach.
Being specific about your goals will help you find someone who specializes in helping people achieve those goals. For example, if I want to run my first half marathon, a powerlifting coach probably isn’t the best choice. But if I want to get stronger or try competing, I’m going to need a strength coach.
Once you know what “genre” of coach you’re looking for, start shopping around. I recommend spending a good amount of time on this step. If you’re looking for an in-person coach, an easy place to start is with a Google search for “personal trainer near me” or “ coach near me.” Then start poking around.
Check out each coach’s website, bio, blog, and social media pages. Pay attention to the kinds of words and images they use and the people in their photos. This should give you a sense of their methodology, approach, level of professionalism, and typical clientele.
Is this coach putting out words, images, and messages that you want to support, learn about, and be around? Do their values align with yours? Is that something that matters to you?
Once you narrow your list down based on your searches…
Investigate the “Letters”
Here are 3 things that are NOT accurate indicators of how good a coach is:
- Amount of letters after their name
- Number of followers on social media
- What their body looks like or how how much they lift
This might sound weird coming from a fitness professional, but don’t put too much emphasis on credentials, i.e. all the letters after someone’s name. The basics are definitely important! But anything beyond the basics is often fluff. In this case, the “basics” means an accredited certification or degree in the field. (See below for more info on fitness accreditation.)
Simply *knowing* information, being able to build a following, or having big lifting numbers or big muscles doesn’t mean that someone is able to *apply* the information to coaching YOU. And that’s really what matters.
Check Out Client Results
Once you make sure the coach has at least one accredited credential, look at client results. This is a demonstration of application! Check out testimonials, and read Google reviews (these are often more honest than testimonials on websites). If you’re on social media, you can check out the accounts of some of the coach’s clients to see what kind of progress they’ve made. It’s also not uncommon to reach out to people and ask about their experiences. This happens all the time in online fitness groups!
The bottom line here: don’t let flashy letters, posts, or looks obscure what you’re *really* looking for, which is a coach, not a professor or an influencer. (This is not to say that professors aren’t smart or aren’t good coaches; they certainly can be. There are also influencers who are excellent coaches. It’s just important to be able to distinguish between them.)
Get On the Phone
I cannot overstate how important it is to talk to potential coaches before making a decision. Any quality coach should be happy to hop on the phone or Zoom with you to talk about your experience and goals.
This is also the best time to ask questions. Have a list of things that are important to you, and don’t be afraid to ask about them. Remember that a coach’s job is to meet you where you are and help you reach your goals. So lay it all out there for them! Be honest, ask good questions, and take in the responses.
Stick With It
Remember that fitness – and relationships – take time. It’ll take you about a month to get into a rhythm with your new coach, and another couple months to really find your flow, optimize communication, and start seeing results. Plan to stick with a new coach for an absolute minimum of 12 weeks; aiming for 6 months is even better. This gives your body time to adjust to the program, and your coach gets time to know you and your needs. At this point, you’ve done the research and hopefully picked a great coach! If you’re serious about making a change, trust your new coach, trust the process, and be willing to stick with it.
I followed my coach on social media for quite awhile before we started working together. I checked out her methodology, looked at who else she coached, and read lots of her posts. Then we hopped on call to talk about what I wanted to get out of coaching, and so I could learn more about her approach. After all the research, we decided to work together. It’s been a couple years now, and I couldn’t be happier. The upfront investment of time was more than worth it to build my physical strength and our coach-client relationship.
We’ve got your back! You can schedule a free coaching call with the Power Plant Team any time using this link: Click to Book Your No Sweat Intro. We also encourage you to poke around our website (thepowerplantgym.com), Instagram (@powerplantstrength), and Google reviews as you continue researching coaching options. And no matter where you end up, we’re happy you landed here!
*Some notes about accreditation in the fitness industry:
Different disciplines have different accrediting bodies, but you’re only a quick Google search away from finding the legit ones. Just because it’s an acronym doesn’t mean it’s accredited. In strength and fitness, the big accredited organizations in the United States are ACE, NASM, and NSCA (which also does CSCS).
If you’re looking for a specialty service, like yoga or golf, you can look for the big names in those specific disciplines (like Yoga Alliance RYT for yoga, or TPI for golf).
You’re also likely to come across the letters “CPT” which means “Certified Personal Trainer.” Another big one is “CGI” or “Certified Group Instructor.” These should be accompanied by a certifying body, such as ACE-CPT (which means an American Council on Exercise Certified Personal Trainer).
Fun fact: even though they certify people to work hands-on with people’s bodies, only a tiny percentage of fitness-related certifications have any hands-on training requirements. It’s a lot of reading and videos and online tests. Remember that while continuing education is incredibly important, it doesn’t always relate to the practical *application* of that education. That’s where client results and a conversation with the coach come into play.