Inward vs. Outward
The coach knows that change comes from within. To effectively change what is within, a good coach knows that there must be a certain amount of reflection and looking inward. You hit a new PR, now why did that feel so good? You didn’t let yourself quit, why? You were able to employ more willpower and maintain focus over the weekend, how’d you do it and why did it work?
A trainer will focus on the facts such as you didn’t do your cardio, or you didn’t get to the gym 5x last week. These might be true, but aren’t the REAL reason a client needs your help.
The help is within themselves. Understanding why they need and want to do these things and how to conquer the aspects of their mindset that will allow them to succeed first, with a coach in the gym, and then through other aspects of their life.
Starting fitness and changing your mindset starts with an important shift away from self-deprecation towards one of self-forgiveness, love and kindness. And if you think that’s a hippie dippie thing then I forgive you.
Either way, no measurable progress can be made when fear, negativity, and judgement are the main motivators. It must come from a place of healing, love, and positivity.
This is where your mindset shift takes place. Knowing that you have worth, are worth improving, and have a lot to offer not only with your effort but also your life, your skills, and your being.
Commander vs. Leader
At a basic level, almost primitive, a trainer is a commander or a master. This is in contrast to a coach being a leader or a trusted companion. Both can achieve “results” but in very different ways and often for different lengths of time.
The best coaches, best mentors, and best online fitness coaches don’t give orders as much as they inspire and affirm behaviors. Behaviors that the coach knows will make the individual better in any capacity.
Knowledge vs. Experience
Due to education, certification, or independent study/research, a trainer “knows everything”. This is an important step in the process to mastery of your craft. It is not a bad thing, but it is immature. In contrast to knowing everything, as a trainer might, a coach knows he doesn’t know everything.
A coach and a trainer both know the basics, the fundamentals, but where a trainer lacks the experience to adapt, a coach knows how to apply those basics across a wide range of methods to achieve the best results.
Every trainer starts out with the intention of getting clients, helping them with their goals, making some money doing it or some combination of the 3. This entry level trainer does not truly understand the game yet. In the beginning, it’s all about making workouts hard, maxing out, and making sure the client “feels” the workout. All of these components have a place, but it would be disastrous to this trainer’s ego for a client to say he/she wasn’t sore because that would mean the workout was bad… He/she has yet to learn how to differentiate between effective workouts and workouts that produce noticeable side effects i.e. soreness, fatigue, sweat. This person thinks if the program is just right, and the nutrition is just right, then the client will succeed. And for some people, this is correct, but this is not coaching…yet.
A coach knows that changing someones mindset is more important than changing their body for 6 weeks. A change in mindset will cascade into all aspects of their life, where a change in body will be only that.
The trainer probably talks too much, tries to control how hard the client works and what the client does or eats without understanding that this involvement is most likely the problem. This trainer will try and fit the client to the system, rather than fit the principles to the client. This is an important distinction between a coach and a trainer.
The best online fitness coach, health coach, and even the personal trainer transitioning to coach will know that the best effects of coaching come from fitting the system to the client’s abilities, needs, and strengths while also providing challenge to those abilities, needs, and strengths (weaknesses also). In contrast, the trainer tries to fit the client to the system despite their abilities, needs, strengths and weaknesses.
Transition from Trainer to Coach
Once the trainer realizes that hard workouts and controlling clients actions are making no progress, the transition begins. It begins by asking questions and having conversations. This is where the importance of a relationship is realized, and the trainer will find out that clients who he has a relationship with will succeed, and those with whom he doesn’t will not.
At some point in the trainers journey to coach, the trainer will begin to have uncomfortable conversations with clients, hard conversations that involve truth-telling, vulnerability, and calling people out. This is the first step to becoming a coach. This is what leads the trainer into the coaching realm where he/she can understand that change comes from within. It is the coach’s job to give the client tools, to help motivate them to WANT to change, then to let them take the wheel, or own the process.
From developing the ability to have difficult conversations arises the coach. The coach can take the failures, shortcomings, and weaknesses of the client, as well as their triumphs, successes, and strengths, to inspire change in a positive and supportive manner. In fact, there is no other way to inspire that change than by being supportive and hopeful.
For a coach, there is no endpoint, only getting better and helping people better and more effectively than he/she has before. Becoming a coach is only the beginning. There is no best online fitness coach, no best business coach, no best coach in general, because the methods can be so different and the results so dramatic.
The phase of trainer is over, and the role of coach has begun. There is no turning back. And the coach wouldn’t have it any other way.