Hiring the right coach can make the difference between your success and failure. The difference between enjoying the process, seeing consistent results, feeling supported and engaged or feeling like you’re spinning your wheels and not really going anywhere.
With that in mind, it’s a pretty important decision!
1. Hire a professional
Ask for qualifications and testimonials. Ask to speak with current clients. Hiring a coach is a significant investment of your money, and most importantly - time. Ensure you do your due diligence and so you’re investing both your time and money wisely.
The questions are potentially endless:
What did they do before coaching? Where have they worked? What environment have they coached in? What is their educational/sporting background? What type of clients do they work with most frequently? What successes have their clients had?
Surprisingly, coaching (and especially in the online world) is something of an unregulated industry - which means it’s wise to tread with care, especially when you’re relying on them for advice on nutrition, training and more.
2. How ARE THEY growing AND developing?
Is your prospective coach pushing to improve themselves? Do they invest in their progression through continuing education, mentorships, travelling for seminars and conferences? Do they treat coaching as a true profession or just as a ‘job’?
No-one would choose a Surgeon self-educated through YouTube and Instagram videos and coaching should be no different. You deserve the best when it comes to achieving the goals that are important to you.
Improving your health and performance is a multi-factorial endeavour that requires a deep understanding of various topics from biochemistry, anatomy and physiology to communication, periodisation and nutrition. Your coach should be able to discuss these topics with you in an easy-to-understand manner that makes sense.
3. Do they have real-world COACHING experience?
Being a cheerleader, and being a coach - are two very different things. Shouting instructions and high-fiving people after a group ‘WOD’ does not constitute coaching and has little carryover into the realm of online coaching outside of the use of ‘high-five’ emojis.
I firmly believe it’s a pre-requisite for any online coach to be a competent in-person coach for years FIRST, and it’s also important for that coach to continue some aspect of in-person coaching to retain their ‘coaches-eye’ and in-person skillset.
While coaching clients online and in person do have differing demands, having done both over the past 9 years I can say with a degree of confidence that while coaching online is different, I continue to draw strongly from in-person coaching experience.
Methods of assessment, constraints, movement variations, cues and exercise selections are all different when used remotely, it takes time and experience to find what works and what doesn’t work in a remote setting - has your prospective coach been working remotely for the years it takes to develop and refine this?
4. Are you one of 15 or one of 150?
Online coaching is often promoted to aspiring coaches and trainers as a means to ’scale’ their business and live the #laptoplifestyle. While it is indeed possible to manage a high (70+) client load (I’ve been there….never again!) it’s also a recipe for coach burnout. Being coached by a large organisation can leave you frustrated by a lack of communication, flexibility and support and the feeling of being just one among many.
Communication is a massive factor in online coaching and needs to be seen as a major piece of the puzzle. Are you able to speak with your coach on a weekly basis? Do they make themselves available to answer your questions, offer feedback and support? As client load increases, typically communication and availability of the coach will decrease so this needs to be a consideration when it comes to hiring someone.
Your prospective coach should take the time to deeply understand your motivations and goals so they can better help guide you towards them, being invested in, and caring about your success.
5. DO THEY LOOK AT (AND UNDERSTAND) THE WHOLE PICTURE?
Online coaching should provide you with a ‘one-stop-shop’ to achieve your fitness and performance goals. Your coach should have the ability to help you with nutrition, improving your sleep, assessing your movement, optimising your breathing, balancing demands of work/family/life AND communicating that with you in a jargon-free easy to understand manner.
If you have to work with one person on your nutrition, another on your mobility, another on your programming and another on mindset, that’s a someone disjointed approach that’s unlikely to lead to your long-term success. You are an integrated, complex organism and everything affects everything else, so it’s key to have one trusted advisor who can look at the whole picture and move you systematically towards your fitness and performance goals.
Hopefully this short list has given you some food for thought when you hire an online fitness coach. As I mentioned early, the world of online fitness coaching is currently unregulated and something of a ‘Wild-West’, ensure you take your time, shop around, ask questions, speak to people and make an informed choice before committing.