It’s that time of year when all the nutrition/fitness/health/fat loss/diet/ body transformation coaches and trainers seem to come out of the woodwork. There are literally hundreds of posts on social media about coaches who can “finally get you the body of your dreams.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, that’s how online coaches market ourselves and get clients, myself included. Where we can run into trouble though is separating the bullshit coaches from the real deal coaches out there.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars on coaches and trainers. I’ve actually spend over $3000 alone this year on a business coach and that’s chump change compared to some programs. I’ve also spent probably triple that on trainers. I’ve had some really bad coaches and trainers, some who were so-so and some who blew me away with their knowledge and abilities to help me reach my goals.
In this article I’m going to tell you exactly what to look for in a nutrition or fitness coach before you sign the contract and give them your hard earned money because there are a few key things to look for that separate the bad asses from the bullshitters.
1. Credentials don’t mean crap, really, and knowledge and experience mean everything.
From a fitness standpoint, in order to be hired at most gyms you are required to have a personal training certification. This shows the gym that the person is legit simply because they passed an exam. I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit on that. Just because someone has a piece of paper saying they’re a certified trainer does not mean they are a solid trainer or coach. That also doesn’t mean that new trainers can’t be fantastic. I’ve worked with some new trainers who were stellar and others with years under their belt who weren’t all they talked themselves up to be, but that’s why it’s so important to do your research.
Look at your potential coach’s background knowledge and experience. Ask to speak to their past or present clients. If a coach has nothing to hide, they’ll have no problem referring you to their peeps or going deeper into their background and experience. Remember that more letters after a name does not mean a better coach. Book smarts don’t always translate to good hands-on/in-person skills.
2. They’ve been in your shoes.
Let’s say you have a fat loss goal and you’re looking to hire a coach. Once you find your potential coach, ask yourself (or them) if they even have experience with fat loss to begin with. Your coach will help guide you largely based on their experience and what’s worked for them. If they have zero experience with fat loss, I’d be a little leery.
I once hired a 22 year old guy as my fat loss coach. He talked about being athletic his whole life, finding the weight room and packing on muscle, etc. Nothing in his bio said anything related to fat loss, but I hired him anyway because he talked a good game and name dropped some of the best coaches in the industry- not a good move on my part. He had zero experience in working with a 26 year old woman with severe body and food issues who had just developed an extra 20lbs of fluff and that was extremely evident in his coaching style.
You want to hire someone who has been-there-done-that so you can relate to them and they can relate to what you’re going through. This will help you develop trust with your coach knowing they’ve been where you are.
3. They can tell you the reasons behind why they’re asking you to do something or not to do something.
I’ve told this story before but it’s worth repeating. When I was training for a Figure competition my coach cut out all solid fats from my diet and told me I could only have clear oils. I asked her if I could have coconut oil since its clear when it’s heated and she told me no. When I asked her why, not even questioning her response but really actually being interested in why not, she replied “because I said so.” RED FREAKING FLAG. (Side Note: Wanna know the real reason why that I learned a while later? It was because that was what the teams’ nutrition protocol told her to tell me. It had nothing to do with me or my body, but everything to do with the cookie cutter program I was on.)
If a coach asks you to do something specific, they should follow up with a legitimate reason especially if you ask. You’re essentially putting them in charge of YOUR body and therefore have every right to ask the questions and get the answers. If they can’t give you a reason that you’re comfortable with, it’s time to fire their ass and shop around again.
4. They offer open and honest communication and lots of accessibility.
A good coach will not just tell you what you want to hear. A big part of the job is sometimes giving tough love and guiding clients back in the right direction. You don’t want a coach who will just ‘yes’ you do death because that’s not helpful- I’ve had a coach like that and got absolutely nowhere in terms of reaching my goal. Hire someone who is willing to teach you the ins and outs of their methods and who will work with you until you “get it.”
A good coach will also hold you accountable to your goals and will be sure that you’re holding up your end of the bargain. Accountability is the number one thing people need when they’re making a lifestyle change so if your coach doesn’t give you lots of access to them, that’s a big problem. The whole point of hiring a coach is to have a solid support system in place for when the going gets tough. If they don’t offer you lots of communication and support they’re probably looking for a quick buck so keep looking for someone better.
5. They practice what they preach and live the kind of lifestyle you want to have.
I think this is a really important point that often gets overlooked. Hiring someone whose lifestyle you want to emulate is huge. Example: I’m a big fan of a former Figure competitor who offers online training and nutrition coaching and while I admire her for lots of reasons, I personally don’t want a lifestyle where I have to count macros, have to do hours of food prep each week and spend hours in the gym, so I wouldn’t hire her for a coach even though I think she’s wonderful.
When you’re looking to hire a coach, remember that they’re going to coach you mostly based on what works/worked for them which is a beautiful thing because nutrition and fitness isn’t one-size-fits-all. This means it’s important to look at how they live their lives because the more they can relate to you (and visa versa) the more you’ll trust them- sort of like “if they can do it, so can I.”
6. They live up to the hype according to their past/present clients.
Always, always, always check references. Your potential coach’s job is to sell themselves to you. They want your business and some will tell you exactly what you want to hear to make you think that they’re the one for you. Talking to past clients will give you a really good idea of what that coaches style is actually like, how accessible they are, what kind of communication and feedback they give, what their personality is like and what kind of results they get. Don’t be afraid to ask. You’re putting your health in their hands.
Being a coach myself, I’d love to work with you if you have a fat loss goal or if you’re a long-term dieter who is sick of not seeing lasting results- more info on my coaching program can be found here. If you’re looking for a different kind of coach, I have a large network of peeps that I can refer you to! Lemme know what you’re looking for and I’ll help you to the best of my ability. Just fill out this form and let me know what you’re looking for so I can help!
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