An effective personal trainer must have the ability to switch between training and coaching and understand the difference between the two. This article will help you understand what you need in order to make your fitness journey a successful one.

Let me start by saying that I have been both a Personal Trainer as well as a Strength Coach. Although admittedly I have spent the majority of my career as a coach, the last 3 years I have been completely focused on what it takes to truly transform a beginner client’s life.

Coaching at its core is all about bringing a client from point A to point B in an effective and safe manner (which is why the term coach actually derives from “stagecoach”… interesting when you think about the similarities). Where training differs from this is that it is all about teaching people new behaviors, new movements, and a new lifestyle. For most people this is what they need from us to start their journey. Training clients want help understanding the why behind what they are doing and it is through building their self efficacy that we make a lasting impact to their lives.

Does this meaning that coaching is useless for the general population? Absolutely not! It is through repetition that skills and behaviors are built, and this is where coaching comes into play.

Let me give you an example:

Client A comes in with little experience and wants to learn how to squat. When this occurs we need to teach the client not only how to squat but also the benefits associated with doing a squat. We want to go over everything from proper technique to which squat to do and how to progress from one variation to another. This process occurs rather quickly given the right circumstances.

Now what happens once a client knows how to squat? Well if they are like most people what is suppose to happen and what really happens are two different things. It is through constant practice and refinement (and a lot of mistakes) that we learn to squat. The plus side to this is that although this process takes a lot more time it does not need to be as intensive as the initial stages of learning.

During those first few months a client predominantly needs training, while in the later months they need coaching. So why are most people unsuccessful? Because most people want to jump right into coaching without building a foundation first. Training must be done in a one on one setting which is where the investment in a trainer comes in, the plus side to this is that if you find the right one your cost should decrease as your needs become less. Coaching truly shines for those who have been trained and who need only the right information, feedback, and refinement in order to keep moving forward.

People tend to hire either a trainer OR a coach and the truth is that they need BOTH to be successful. What value is a trainer without a plan on practicing a skill long enough for it to be a habit? Likewise what good is a coach if you never learn how to do it on your own? Find someone who can do both and you will be on your way to finally mastering your own fitness.

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