If you are considering hiring a personal trainer or a life coach or both, then you have likely committed to making a change in your life? Acknowledging that you could use some help with this change is a great first step! However, making the decision to find the right help can be confusing and frustrating. As a personal trainer who is also a life coach, I want to share my objective view to help make your decision easier?
Having a personal trainer who is also a life coach can either be overkill or a significant benefit depending on three primary variables:
- The scope of your fitness goals
- your self-perception about your physical abilities
- your level of mental agility
To better understand this relationship, lets explore these three variables individually to see how they might impact your decision to hire a personal trainer, a life coach or both?
A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. Essentially, a fitness goal is a desire to change. We can measure the size of the goal based on the amount of change required. The challenge that most people have with goals is their ability to realistically align their goal with their expectations. We are often over-confident and under-educated when it comes to aligning reality with our fitness goals and this leads to false expectations. The larger the goal, the larger the miss. In some cases, willpower, ability, discipline and grit can deliver achievements but, in other situations, we come to realize that we weren’t willing (or able) to do what we needed, in order to have what we wanted. This latter scenario is demoralizing and leads us to the proverbially, “we have bitten off more than we can chew”. What makes these two cases so different is the individuals emotional investment in the fitness goal and it’s impact on their reality. Wanting perfection will create excellence, but emotional attachment at all cost can lead to frustrations.
Mental agility as it relates to goal achievement, is a persons ability to regulate their own emotions. This simply means that you do not allow yourself to have huge uncontrolled swings in your emotions. This doesn’t arbitrarily mean that you have the emotional capacity of a robot. What it does mean is that you have control over the amount of stress and satisfaction you experience as it relates to your life situations. With emotional regulation, you have the ability to respond to circumstance and life situations instead of “reacting” to them. Our ability to regulate emotion is essential to managing our intended behaviors and habits. Gone unregulated, our emotions and habitual behavior have the ability to influence our self-perception, especially if they are compounded with false expectations around our goal. In the arena of fitness expectations and physical change, emotional regulation is an absolute necessity for the enjoyment, sustainability and accomplishment of the goal.
Self-perception plays a major role in whether people will start exercising, and it may impede some individuals from beginning a program even if exercise has been recommended for medical reasons. In fact, some people will view themselves as incompetent without ever trying to exercise. Fortunately, these inhibiting self-perceptions are modifiable. The key here is: Without self-acceptance, there is no ability for making real change. You must be able to accept where you are in life before you are able to understand where you want to go. Regardless of the size of the goal, no amount of self-improvement can make up for a lack of self-acceptance. In an environment like physical change where continuous improvement is required, a lack of self-acceptance is detrimental to the goal. Eventually, the doubt and fear that emerge from your lack of self-acceptance will defeat willpower, determination and discipline.
Therefore, the depth and breadth of these three variables will impact whether it is necessary and or beneficial to have a personal trainer who is also a life coach. Depending on the combination of these variables: size of the fitness goal; your mental agility and your self perception; you might need to change how you think about yourself and your abilities, while also gaining a deeper understanding of what is motivating you to accomplish this goal?
- If the goal is relatively small and the individual has a good self-perception about their ability to accomplish a goal, their need for emotional regulation will be relatively low and therefor the knowledge, encouragement and accountability that a personal trainer provides may be enough to aid in the achievement of the goal.
- If the goal is large and the individual has self doubt about their ability to complete the goal, then more emotional regulation will be required. If the individual lacks the ability to regulate their emotions to the extent needed, then a personal trainer/life coach can help the individual over-come these doubts and establishing an empowered mindset that lead to the achievement of the goal.
Personal training and life coaching intersect at the realm of mental agility. Relative to fitness, mental agility is the space were issues like motivation, determination, resilience, responsibility and purpose reveal themselves. Although personal training and life coaching both focus on goal attainment, personal training remains more emotionally superficial, where client insights are gained primarily through physical achievement and new knowledge. Life coaching goes much deeper to identify the intrinsic influences that fuel self determination. Good life coaching will create cognitive insights that move the client towards the truth of who they are and helps them reconcile their emotional relationship with their goal. In this scenario, life coaching helps the client through transformational change. These new insights change their self-perception and fuel new empowering beliefs. When the source of our motivation comes from within, we have a high level of control over what we are doing; we understand our ability to learn and grow; and our motivation is fueled with deep, purposeful meaning. Recruiting a personal trainer who is also a life coach will likely guarantee the enjoyment, sustainability and achievement of your fitness goal.
Selecting a good personal trainer or life coach is a whole other issue.
Whether you are looking for a personal trainer or a life coach or an all-in-one, it would be smart to listen to how they speak to you during the initial consultation. Are they showing an interest in you and your goals or are they talking more about themselves, their accomplishment and how much they know about how to help you? A good coach or trainer will be curious about you, your history, your motivations and will probably ask you more questions about yourself than you are likely comfortable with. Often a coach or trainer will refer to how they do things to gauge your understanding of the process and to assure that their process is aligned to your goals and values. These conversations are necessary and build a partnership mentality that help align expectations.
Good coaches know that the client owns the agenda and the coach owns the process. What this means is that the coach should be trained to use their knowledge and skills to establish a process that solely serves their clients agenda. In this case, the clients agenda refers to your goals. Some examples of a client agenda might be to lose weight, run a 10k, complete an obstacle coarse challenge, start a new business, improve a relationship or fix a re-occurring dysfunctional pattern in your life. For any of these goals, a coach/trainer is responsible for helping set realistic expectations and guiding you to your final destination without:
- injecting their own bias
- adding their judgement
- having any motive to fulfill their own emotional needs during this process
The simple fact is, there is no room for a coaches ego or insecurities during this process.