Simple question, what is the difference between a coach and a trainer. I like to say, “you train dogs, you coach humans.” I’ve met and worked with a lot of great trainers throughout the course of my career, but great coaches are rare. So, what’s the difference? What qualities separate the two and which are going to help you achieve your goals. Well, that depends.
Most fitness professionals get into the industry because they’re passionate about working out and eating healthy, and because they want to help others in the pursuit of achieving their health goals. Training programs and certifications require technical knowledge revolving around anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, exercise science, and nutrition. What’s not required to become a fitness professional is any sort of formal training in psychology. To be quite honest, I’m not really sure how much it would help anyway. In my experience fitness professionals either have it or they don’t when it comes to understanding client psychology. The ones that do, make great coaches, the ones that don’t… well their careers in the fitness industry are either very short-lived or they spend years bouncing from place to place searching for somewhere they can just train.
What do I mean by “just train?” Like I said, I’ve met a lot of great trainers. They’re super educated. Some are beyond educated… They know everything there is to know about exercise science and how to put together an effect workout program. Some do a great job correcting form and forcing their clients to warm-up properly and foam roll. Great trainers do everything right by the book and still fail in the fitness industry and over 90% of their clients fail. Why? Great trainers are really effective with clients that require no coaching. If you love working out and don’t require any accountability whatsoever, then you should definitely hire a trainer. If on the other hand, you continually find yourself starting a program and falling off, staying consistent with your diet, or would rather go home and sit on the couch after work then stopping at the gym, then you probably need a coach.
Here is the reality. Great coaches are extremely, extremely rare. What makes a great coach? Adaptability! Every single person is different. What motivates and works for one, won’t work for another. You could explain a concept to 10 different people 10 different ways and each way will only make sense to 1 person. It’s complicated. Great coaches have a natural ability to adapt to the communication style of each individual in order to motivate everyone. That doesn’t even mean what they say. 10% of our communication is verbal. Non-verbal communication is just as important for a coach as verbal. So, what makes a great coach? Look at championship sports teams, there isn’t one magic bullet. There are plenty of different styles and approaches. However, there are 3 key qualities that every great coach has.
1.The most important foundational quality of any great coach is they care! They care about you. Your successes are their successes. Your failures are their failures. There is no such thing as a coach that doesn’t care. If they don’t care, they’re just going through the motions.
2.They know their stuff. Great coaches are also great trainers in terms of knowledge. This is simple. Go back to #1. Any coach that truly cares, cares enough to educate themselves to give every client the best chance of achieving their goals.
3.They recognize their value. Great coaches never undervalue what they bring to the table. If you need help but are also looking for a cheap deal, don’t even bother. Great coaches care almost too much and guess what? It can be totally draining. There’s only so much to give. If you want to be a part of that select group, then you have to pay for it and trust me, it’s in high demand!
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