Online Coaching – How to Get the Most Out of Working with a Good Coach (And how to tell if you have a bad coach)

In response to questions from people on the Facebook page a little while ago, I asked Colin to write this blog about online coaching.  Online coaching is an affordable option to working with a trainer in person.  Personally, I’ve done both and think each has its place.  When I first started lifting, I was worried about getting hurt and was intimidated at the gym.  I felt I needed to work with someone in person to get started.  However, technology has advanced to a point that has allowed online coaching to become a good alternative if you have some experience and aren’t a complete fearful mess like I was back in the day.  Because my online coach (Alberto Nunez, 3DMuscleJourney) only works with competitive athletes,  I asked my friend Colin to write about this topic since he has more experience working with people who have general health and fitness goals.  

As someone who is not only an online coach but also has an online coach, I have perspective from both sides of the coin. A lot of people seem to have interest in getting help and taking the guess work out of training and/or nutrition and in fact many do hire themselves a coach, but how do you make sure you get the most out of your investment? That’s exactly what I want to talk about today.

As I mentioned I have my own coach despite being a coach myself and many of the greatest coaches in the world (no I’m not calling myself one of the top coaches by any stretch) have their own coach too. No matter how much knowledge you have on a topic for many people you are just too invested in your own results and you have a tendency to do things you know better than because it’s YOU. You are too emotionally invested in yourself, most people are, coach or not. However, this is not meant to be an article explaining many of the benefits a coach can bring but more a way to make sure you get everything you can from one if you do decide it’s for you.

Before I get into that, however, I do feel it’s my duty to make one thing very clear. No matter how good a coach is they can’t get you results via osmosis. You MUST be prepared to do the work. A good coach can certainly simplify the process and help you get the most out of your efforts but no matter what you have to do the work. If you’re looking for the next “thing” that will work for you so you don’t have to work hard, hiring a coach won’t get you anywhere. You’ll just be left frustrated, and so will your newly hired coach. I hate to say it (okay no I don’t) there are no magic pills. So if you’re not ready to dig deep and work on yourself, save yourself some time and money. Now with that said, let’s dig into what you can do to make sure you get the most “bang for your buck.”

  1. Communication, communication, communication

Yes, this is worth stating multiple times. Honestly I could easily have made this entire article about communication and it will be a huge portion of it. It’s without question the most important part of a client/coach relationship. This can be taken in many ways. First you have to be totally open and honest with your coach. Your coach (or at least a good coach) won’t berate or criticize you if you slip up, end up in a massive binge, miss workouts, whatever. But they do need to know exactly what’s going on to best be able to help you. Sure we want you to follow the plan and do well, but if you don’t it’s you that you ends up hurting, not your coach.

Make sure to send your check in on time. If you’re not doing the work and get in a bad place mentally, tell them. Good or bad your coach needs to know what’s going and NEVER assume they know what’s going on, they can’t read your mind. If you keep information from your coach he/she will be left blind and could possibly even make things worse. If you’re eating more calories than you say you are and you aren’t getting results, your coach may reduce calories and/or add in more work to compensate when unnecessary or even put you in a reverse diet when it’s completely unnecessary.

Along the same lines you should never feel like you are “bugging” your coach by asking them questions. You hired this person for a reason. You are PAYING them your hard earned money, use them! You should never feel bad for wanting your questions answered or even questioning why they do things the way they do. A good coach will explain why they do things the way they do anyway and if a coach ever says something along the lines of “Just do what I say” you need to fire them immediately.

Remember there is no such thing as TMI. We need to know everything INCLUDING outside factors. Yes, being extremely stressed out at work or depressed or other stressful things in life can and will absolutely make a difference in your programming as well as help explain things with your training that may otherwise not have made sense. This doesn’t mean you have to or even should explain every detail of your life and treat your coach like a counselor, but they do need to know if there’s something going on that could impact focus, hormone levels, recovery, etc.

  1. Take advantage of EVERYTHING they offer

A big mistake a lot of my clients make is not taking advantage of certain services that come with my coaching. The most common one being form critique. I set them all up on a training space with an app called Edufii where they can take video of their technique and send to me to take a look at. The biggest downside of an online coach over a live trainer is we can’t be there to see how things look and guide you on the spot. So not only is it in your best interest for your safety, but also to make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible too.

I know for a lot of people it’s uncomfortable taking video in a gym setting. And some clients can be uncomfortable sending progress pictures and things of that nature. These things are in place for a reason and as previously mentioned, a coach needs to know/see everything possible to make the best possible decisions for your program. If you’re working in an inefficient way or worse an unsafe way you may end up with a serious injury that could have been prevented. At the very least your coach won’t be able to get you as good of results as they could have.

  1. Trust the process

At the same time, however, don’t have blind faith. What I mean is your coach is doing things the way they do it for a reason. As I already mentioned they should be explaining why they do things already, but if you get a bad feeling about anything just ask them to explain. Ask them for reassurance. You’ll find out fast if they know what they’re doing or not. If they truly have your best interest in mind and are knowledgeable, you need to have faith everything is going to work out. Remember that progress is never linear and there are many stages to building a better body. But if you’re going to get there you need to be “all in” and to stick to the program to the best of your abilities. It will never be perfect, but you have to believe in what you’re doing.

It’s also best to ignore outside voices and opinions. EVERYONE will have an opinion on what you should or shouldn’t be doing. If you listen to everyone you’ll end up running around in circles and going mad. As I mentioned if you have questions or hear things you’re interested, bring it up to your coach. But it’s wise to try and block out as much as you can and get all your information from your coach because there is a lot of bad information out there.

 

So there you have it. The biggest thing is you have to LET your coach help you and not let yourself stop you. Never assume you know what your coach is thinking or how he/she will respond to what you have done or say. Most of the time you’re just basing it off your own feelings which most of the time we as humans let our own thoughts run us over. Thoughts that we’d never believe about anyone else. Let go of control and let them guide you to become the best you can be.

Now I’ve talked a lot about a “good coach” in this article, and that’s important because a BAD coach will not only make your experience miserable but they can do WAY more harm than good. You wouldn’t even believe some of the horror stories I’ve been told. A bad coach could mess with your metabolism and can even go as far as helping create an eating disorder for a client. So with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list of signs who you’re working with is a bad coach:

  1. They yell at, demean, scold or belittle you
  2. They recommend hours of cardio daily
  3. They force you to eat extremely low calories for your body (“low” calories means something different for everyone)
  4. They take any “extreme” approach on anything
  5. They never explain why they do anything
  6. They never ask you about your training/nutrition history before creating your plan
  7. They get mad when you ask questions
  8. They don’t return emails for days
  9. They tell you sugar makes you fat
  10. They ban certain foods (assuming no allergy/intolerance)
  11. They think certain exercises like the squat should look exactly the same for everyone
  12. They force you to do fasted cardio
  13. They recommend 2x-3x bodyweight in grams for daily protein
  14. They tell you carbs at night make you fat
  15. They recommend more ab work to burn belly fat faster
  16. They tell you they can speed up your metabolism while losing weight

 

If you ARE looking for a coach to help take the guess work out and hold you accountable I am accepting clients for training and/or nutrition help. Just head here and select the option you’d like.

If you’re looking for more information you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance and a kick in the rear from time to time. WARNING – I tell you what you NEED to hear and not what you WANT to hear. So if you’re sensitive and like to place blame instead of take action, you’ll definitely want to pass. But if you’re serious about taking responsibility and changing your life, you should love it.

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