Hiring a coach can be a big decision, and a big investment.
And sometimes even those of us who teach and motivate others for a living need our own coach!
For the past month or so, I’ve been doing 1-on-1 training sessions at Capital Strength and Conditioning in Raleigh, NC.
Three times a week, my coach (and CS&C owner) Matt directs me through an hour of mobility, strength work, and some high intensity MetCon type work.
I’m working hard and getting good strength gains, while avoiding injury and burnout. It’s been insanely helpful for me as I’m getting back into a more serious fitness routine after a year of new-business stress, major life changes, and a car accident in January that really set me back in my overall athleticism and body composition.
Before starting with strength coaching, I was feeling frustrated and de-motivated at the gym as exercises that once felt easy and fun were suddenly difficult and uncomfortable. After a few weeks of frustration and irritation, I decided that if I was going to take my fitness seriously, it was time to get help.
Joining Capital S&C was a big investment for me – it’s the most I’ve ever spent on any fitness pursuits. I’ll admit, I was nervous at first to spend the money. But as time goes on I couldn’t be happier that I made the commitment.
Not only am I feeling more energized and capable of running a business, but I’m also becoming a better coach myself as I learn what it feels like to be on the other side of a coach-client relationship.
I find myself looking forward to my training sessions in advance, and enjoying the feeling of steady, sustainable progress.
And I’ve got to admit, it’s nice to be told what to do for once, instead of having to make every decision myself! (All my entrepreneur friends know what I’m talking about!)
If you’ve been considering hiring a “coach” – whether that be a personal trainer, nutritionist, or even a business coach – but aren’t sure if you should take the plunge, here are my top 5 reasons why investing in a pro to help you reach your goals is totally worth the money.
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When you’re first starting out with a big life change, whether that be a workout routine, a new diet, or a meditation practice, sometimes the hardest part is sticking to the changes for more than a couple of weeks.
This is why short-term challenges are so popular. It’s easy to stick to a healthy diet or exercise program for 30 days. But what about after those 30 days?
While some people are great at self-motivating, others need a little more of a push from someone who cares about their success. That’s why in the group programs I work in, such as 14Four or Paleo Rehab, we always suggest finding an accountability partner to help you stay motivated when your intentions about eating whole foods and exercising regularly start turning to a desire for a doughnut-and-Netflix binge.
Having a friend or family member as an accountability partner is a great inexpensive way to stay motivated as you work on changing your lifestyle habits. But it can be awkward to rely too heavily on someone who doesn’t necessarily have the time or expertise to help you stay on track in a meaningful way.
Sometimes it can even strain your relationship if you’re always talking to that person about your personal goals and achievements, or asking them for advice. (Nobody appreciates a one-sided relationship!)
That’s why hiring a coach is a great option. Sure, you’re paying them to help you, but any coach worth her salt is going to actually care about your ability to achieve your goals.
As a nutritionist, I love celebrating my clients’ successes, and helping them stay positive after an off-the-rails experience.
And as a training client, I love knowing that every time I walk into the gym, my coach is there waiting for me with my workout plan ready to go. I actually get excited about going to work out.
When you hire a coach, you may even find yourself making better decisions on a daily basis. Not because you want to “please” your coach, but because you want to make your investment “worth it” by making better choices in your diet, movement, and even your stress management or financial practices. (More on that later.)
It’s easier for me to forgo a nightly glass of wine or cook a healthy meal at home instead of eating out when I understand how these decisions will affect my training outcomes.
When you’re accountable to someone you speak with regularly, it’s so much easier to stay motivated and make the right choices on a daily basis.
Many times, we’re our own worst critics, needlessly picking apart everything we do and assuming that our behavior or abilities are far worse than they actually are.
Other times, we turn a blind eye to something we know we should or shouldn’t be doing, and our bad habits become set in stone as time goes on.
When you work with a coach, everything is objective. Your coach doesn’t take it personally if you had a slip up. They’ll help you get back on track and identify the conditions that led to the slip up in the first place so you can avoid harmful mistakes in the future.
Your coach will help you not only improve your weaknesses, but also capitalize on your strengths, so that you are both challenged and encouraged during your sessions.
A coach can objectively analyze what you’re currently doing, and identify what changes you can make to start moving towards your goals in a sustainable way. There’s no emotion or fear driving your coach’s decisions, which is a big reason why we get stuck when we try to go it alone.
We’re afraid to try something new, or to make the wrong decision, or we feel discouraged and hopeless about a situation we want to change.
By feeding off our coach’s objectivity, we can look at our health as a problem that can be solved, rather than an insurmountable barrier to our happiness.
Case in point: I’d been avoiding exercises I wasn’t very good at, like pushups or pull ups, and getting frustrated if I wasn’t performing as well at movements I thought I should be good at. I’d been out of commission from my accident for almost 3 months, and when I started exercising again I was getting angry and overwhelmed by the challenge of recovering my physical abilities.
It made me not even want to step foot in the gym.
Since I’ve started working with a coach, he doesn’t let me avoid the movements I hate (as much as I want to), and he helps me refine the movements I’m good at so that I can gain strength quickly and feel confident in my physical abilities. Rather than feeling upset, nervous, or angry during workouts, I feel empowered and excited.
And I’m actually getting better at those movements I was avoiding. (Imagine that.)
When I work with clients on their diet and lifestyle habits, I don’t get angry at them if they went off the plan, even if they’re angry with themselves. Instead I focus on identifying the factors that led to the poor choice in the first place. By identifying the cause, we can come up with ways to make better choices the next time around.
And as my clients start achieving good results, I’m able to keep track of their progress over the time that they work with me.
It always amazes me how quickly people forget where they started when it comes to their health, and I get a kick out of reminding people how much improvement they’ve had since we first started working together.
One of my favorite things to hear is “I totally forgot about that!” when we’re talking about a former symptom that has resolved! It’s truly amazing how fast we forget about health issues we used to deal with when they slowly start to disappear.
Having a coach who is completely objective about your behavior, health concerns, and goals can allow you to make evidence-based changes to your diet, exercise, and lifestyle routine to get on a path to feeling better quickly.
Behavior change becomes extremely challenging when you try to change way too many things at once, or become paralyzed with indecision when trying to decide what to focus on first.
My experience with clients has shown that most people can really only handle around 2-3 major changes at a time. As much as people like to go gung-ho on their lifestyle changes, my clients are far more successful when we break up their behavior change into bite-size chunks.
When we are faced with too many decisions to make in our daily lives, our ability to exert self-control dwindles with every decision we make.
The more automatic our behavior can become, and the less we need to think about our choices, the more self-control we can exert. We’re then able to stick to our intended changes with ease.
To make that behavior more automatic, pick a handful (2-3) of major changes you plan to focus on and practice those changes daily until they become habits. Maybe that’s meditating every night, or eliminating dairy for 30 days, or aiming for 10,000 steps daily.
By narrowing your focus to just a couple of goals, you don’t spread your self-control as thin and you’re more able to stick to the changes you’ve committed to.
Another way to reduce how much self-control strength you need to use is by working with a coach. This is an incredibly helpful component of my personal training program. I just show up to the gym and my coach tells me what to do.
It doesn’t really take any mental energy (just physical!) and when I get home, I still have plenty of self-control strength left to focus on my business, get lots of work done, and stick to the other healthy habits like eating well and going to bed on time that I’ve committed to.
In my one-on-one sessions with clients, we work together to develop 3 (or so) specific action steps to work on over the coming weeks. These action steps will help them move towards their goal as quickly as possible.
They don’t have to make a decision about which changes they should focus on – I mostly do it for them. And they don’t become overwhelmed by the thousands of potential diet and lifestyle strategies that they’ve read about on the internet.
This can really help them stick to the plan better, because they have a solid direction to focus on.
By getting a coach to create a focused plan of action for you, you can avoid some of the frustration and “analysis paralysis” that comes from trying to make these decisions for yourself.
Knowledge and experience may be the most important consideration when choosing a coach to work with. Your coach can keep you accountable, be objective about your goals, and help you choose a direction to follow – but if they’re giving you bad information, then the investment is not worth it.
There are a few reasons why a coach’s expertise is so important. One of the most important reasons is safety. If your coach doesn’t know how to keep you safe while you’re going through their program, you’re almost guaranteed to get injured or have detrimental health outcomes down the road.
While it’s hard to know ahead of time if a coach will keep your safety in mind, if you ever feel like the recommendations a coach is making to you is potentially unsafe or not respecting your physical limits, find a new coach.
Unfortunately I’ve worked with clients who came to me after following another program that had them eating 1200 calories per day (or less), working out 6-7 days per week, or avoiding foods arbitrarily that was leading them to feel fearful of food.
We had to work hard to undo the damage caused by these unsafe programs, and it frustrates me that there are so many people out there peddling “quick-fix” programs that do more harm than good in the long run.
A coach who has established expertise in the topic they are coaching on should be able to give you evidence-based guidance that will prevent you from doing harm to yourself. This type of coach will help you solve your health problems in a way that addresses the root of the problem, not a way that gets quick but unsustainable results.
And expertise doesn’t just come from education. A coach with plenty of experience working with clients will have a deeper understanding of how to address your health concerns and help you reach your goals. I learn more every day from working with clients, and over time I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned to new clients in the same position.
The best coach will combine expertise with clarity in the way they present their information to their clients. Health and fitness can get pretty complicated sometimes, and many of my clients come to me with information overload, either from reading too much or working with another health professional that doesn’t stop to explain their recommendations in a way they can understand.
So when you’re working with a coach, make sure you ask for clarification, and don’t be afraid to say you don’t understand something. A good coach will have no problem changing the way they explain their advice so that you can get on the same page.
What I’ve learned from working with my own coach that as a client, working with someone who has a lot of expertise and experience makes me feel confident in their recommendations. And asking my coach questions or asking him to clarify his recommendations allows me to better understand why we’re doing things the way we’re doing them. That way I feel good about what we’re doing and know we’re on the same page.
And since I’m getting the results I’m looking for, I trust him even if I don’t completely understand something he tells me to do!
For this final section, I’ve asked my coach Matt McLaughlin to write up his own top reason for investing in coaching.
Here’s what Matt has to say:
Achieving goals requires action. Not just a single act, but a consistent commitment to doing what needs to be done. Even when it’s uncomfortable.
Read those words again: consistent commitment. It’s the secret sauce to success.
The trail towards success is blazed by the consistent commitment to the right habits and actions.
You must have 100% clarity that you are on-board and willing to do what it takes to change.
Clarity can be tough. But, what brings clarity? Decisive action. Decision through action brings clarity.
Making the choice to invest in yourself is a powerful, and clear, signal that you are ready and willing to commit to your goal. Investing in a coach is an investment in yourself. You are taking action and making a powerful statement that you are ready to commit to success.
Ultimately you have to hold yourself accountable to your commitments. If you aren’t clear on your commitment, or dedicated to doing what it takes – then you aren’t ready for the success you desire.
I can attest to Matt’s statement here. Making the decision to invest in myself and commit to regular coaching was pivotal in moving my mindset into an “I can do this” state. And this positivity and clarity has snowballed into other areas of my life beyond my health, such as my business.
My decision to take myself seriously and invest in my personal goals has permeated into the rest of my life, and I feel 1000% times better than I did a month ago when my motivation, energy, and passion was lacking.
And it’s the consistency I’m getting from working with a coach that’s really getting me the slow but sustainable results I’m looking for. It’s not as sexy as “Drop 10 Pounds This Week!” but it works, and my body is thanking me for it.
Now Go Hire A Coach!
Those are the top 5 reasons to hire a coach to help you reach your goals!
While I focused on diet and exercise in this article, these reasons can apply to any coaching situation, including business coaching, life coaching, financial coaching, and beyond.
If you need nutrition coaching (and want to work with someone who knows what it’s like to be a client herself), check out my coaching page and sign up to work with me one-on-one.
And if you’re in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, I highly recommend checking out Capital Strength and Conditioning for high quality, professional strength and fitness coaching that won’t burn you out or bore you. (PS – I’m not getting paid for this endorsement, I just want to share my good experience with y’all!)
Have you ever worked with a coach? What made it worthwhile for you to hire a pro? Share with me in the comments below!