You need a coach. Take a moment to think about your favorite sporting moment, or athlete, and think about the fact that the people responsible for that moment didn’t do it by themselves. Literally every world champion, gold medalist, and record setter got there through the help of a coach, someone to oversee, instruct and guide their training. If the best athletes benefit from having a coach, doesn’t it make sense for you to have one too? You need a coach for:
#1 Knowledge and Experience
While you may have been in the game for a while (whether that’s working out, or competing in a sport) as an “athlete” or individual you’ve only had the opportunity to experiment on yourself. This is a time consuming task. You can only try one thing on yourself at a time, and usually you have to give different things a try for prolonged amounts of time to see if they are working. A coach works with dozens, hundreds or potentially thousands of people (especially through an entire career), and this gives them many people and scenarios to work with. Personally I can tell you I’ve put two similar people with similar goals on differing programs to see which one works better. The speed with which a coach can accumulate a large volume of experience is much greater than the individual. What happens if you become injured, or meet an obstacle you’ve never seen before? That is when the experience of a coach truly comes in to play. A good coach has likely dealt with these situations before, and will know the appropriate course of action.
#2 Taking Emotion Out of the Equation
Have you ever heard of paralysis by analysis? It refers to the phenomenon of learning so much about a subject that you become confused on what to do, and obsessed with making the absolute choices. I see this happen often with people who try to take their fitness into their own hands, and even more so when people try to improve their nutrition. Here’s another saying for you: There is more than one way to skin a cat. There are a lot of methods people can use to reach their goals. A good coach knows that, and will use that to pick the right game plan for you. When you’re in charge of your own program or nutrition it’s too easy to convince yourself not to stick to the plan. Instead of sticking to the road map you laid out for yourself, you decide to make changes on the fly, telling yourself it’s for the best. Do that 4-5 times and there no longer is a plan, just a bunch of spur of the moment decisions that lead you all over the map. A coach helps you too look at your training and/or nutrition analytically. Taking emotion out of the equation is the best thing you can do for your training. It allows the program to be written with rationale, instead of making potentially dangerous or rash decisions based on desire or frustration.
#3 Long Term Planning
To piggyback off of #2, a coach thinks in the long term for their clients and athletes. What we see with results obsessed clients is over work, under recovery, and a lot of times underfed individuals. This yields quick change on the scale, but that change plateaus just as quickly as it came, all the while your strength, mood, and general health will suffer, that is, if you even make it that far. When people exercise to wits end, and/or drastically cut their calories, they will usually fall of the wagon quite quickly, and stay off of it for quite some time. You do the math: Is it better to consistently lose a lb a week for 52 weeks, or to lose 10lbs in two weeks, fall off the wagon, gain it all back, and then repeat that cycle every other month for 12 months? The same goes for weight gain and building muscle. A good coach is always looking at the bigger picture, and realizes that each workout is just a very small piece to a much larger picture.
#4 Analyzing Strengths and Weaknesses
11 years in the business has taught me that most people are over critical of themselves, and self defeating. People tend to over exaggerate their downfalls, and understate their strengths. A good coach can analyze your strengths and weaknesses and plan accordingly. On the flip side, people tend to gravitate to ignoring their weaknesses and simply doing the things they like to do i.e. things they are good at. Ever seen those guys with big muscular arms and not much else? This is a result of doing what you like to do, and not what you NEED to do. Often my clients will jokingly say that I’m punishing them or that I’m sadistic for asking them to do something difficult in training, but in truth, those tasks are put there because they probably need to work on those particular things, and that’s the very reason why they DON’T like them. Think about a particular game you like to play, whether it be checkers, or scrabble, or basketball, etc…you probably enjoy it because you’re good at it, and you like it even more when you’re WINNING. Performing exercises that you’re good at and constantly can easily make progress makes training a lot of fun. Doing squats if you have weak legs isn’t very fun, and is the exact reason why you should do them.
#5 Making Change
Recently I had a client ask me if they could go back to doing the exercises they did when they first started because they felt like they saw more progress in the beginning. This is the common mistake of assuming correlation=causation. People often see greater progress in the beginning…why? When you go from being sedentary to active, there is a big change in the stimulus you’re placing on your body. The more radically different a stimulus is to your body from the “norm” the greater the change will be. But this doesn’t work in a linear fashion. As you become more fit, exercise becomes more “manageable” for your body. We see it all the time with people who exercise on their own, or don’t follow a program. Running 3x a week doesn’t make you lose weight anymore? Run 5x a week! Eating 1,500 calories doesn’t drop pounds anymore? Eat 1,000 calories! A good coach knows when to do more, or when to do something different. It’s important to frequently change the stimulus to keep your body adapting. This is actually the concept that programs like CrossFit and bootcamps use, although to the extreme by changing the stimulus daily via “constantly varied” or “randomized” workouts. This is a fool’s errand however, because the greatest way to continue to imply stimulus on an organism is progressive overload, and the greatest way to achieve that is by continual practice. Becoming proficient at different exercises is the greatest way to increase exercise intensity. Greater intensity=greater stimulus=greater results. We call this building the ability to work hard, and we’ve discussed it on our blog before.
#6 Peaks and Valleys
The best athletes in the world take time off from training. This is important for both physical and mental health. It doesn’t matter how much you love something, doing it all day ever day will eventually wear you down. Sometimes time off can actually lead to better results. A great example of this is our athlete Mackenzie, who competes in Weightlifting who dealt with a back injury last year. She missed quite a bit of time from the injury and her time was sidelined. So what happened? About a month after coming back to training, she was hitting all time personal bests in all of her lifts. How? It was pretty obvious that Mackenzie actually benefited from taking both a mental and physical break from training. This is why I give my athletes a mandatory month off after major tournaments every year, as well as have different phases of training throughout the year some much harder or easier than others. The same thing goes for our general fitness clients, who receive their programs in 4 week blocks, with the first week of every program being the easiest. That means every four weeks you get an easy week, to help your body recover. Smart coaches know where the peaks and valleys in training should be, and that you can’t push 100% all of the time, and is able to recognize the signs of over training or over reaching, and curtail the problem before it gets out of hand.
At Arkitect Fitness we aim to empower our clients with knowledge through education. We don’t want you to just blindly do what we tell you to do, we want you to understand why it is we do what we do. As important as having a coach is, they can’t be by your side 24/7. There are going to be a lot of scenarios in life when you have to make decisions that will effect your health or performance, and a good coach will arm you with the knowledge you need to make good decisions. Many “coaches” are afraid to empowe their clients for fear that they will won’t need them anymore, but we’ve found the opposite to be true. Giving our clients knowledge gets them better results, builds a better relationship between coach and client, and typically helps to make the client a lot more autonomous, which is actually less work for the coach. Finally, a great coach never stops learning. While you may be into fitness, you still have a full time job to worry about. Continuing to learn more about health and fitness is the coach’s job. Coach’s educate themselves, and that education gets passed down to you, with all the useless junk handily filtered out for you.
#8 Saving Money and Time
Arkitect Fitness is a premium fitness service. Many people say they can’t afford to spend money on a good coach, but in the long run it’s actually less expensive, because you don’t waste time or money on things that don’t work. How much is your $120 for the year at Planet Fitness worth if you didn’t get anything out of it? How about those diet cleanses that just dehydrate you to make you think you’re actually losing weight? Time is the one thing that we can’t get back, and most of us could use a little more money in our pocket. On the flip side our body is the only thing we have for life so you should probably take care of it. A good coach isn’t cheap, and a cheap coach isn’t good. Spending a small amount of money on something that isn’t worth the time, is the worst possible scenario, but if you decide to go it alone, and don’t get any where, losing that time is almost just as bad. A good coach will make sure that your time and efforts are pointed in the right direction and not squandered.
#9 Motivation and Inspiration
Good coaches know how to motivate their clients, whether that’s by verbally encouraging them, providing them with success stories, or simply reminding them of their goals and the progress they’ve already made, keeping your clients motivated is a huge part of being a good coach. Good coaches also lead by example, which is why I record all my workouts and post them publicly as well as invite others to train with me, it’s also why our nutrition coaches track their own macros and make their food journals available for clients to view. We are not perfect, we have our own obstacles and hurdles to overcome, but we love to show our clients that we trust our own methods. A good coach also knows how to read a client or athlete on what it is that really motivates them. Everyone has some deeply rooted intrinsic reason for being here, a good coach can play on that to get the most out of their clients.
At the end of the day, a good coach takes the guess work out of training which leaves you to focus on your goals and accomplishing the things you need to do to do that. I’ve found over the years that people are much more successful when they have a plan laid out in front of them. The gym (or wherever it is you train) should be a place where all your distractions are left behind so you can give 100% to your training and reaching your goals. Why take the added stress of wondering if what you’re doing is going to work on top of all the other stressors in your life?
As mentioned in the beginning, even the best ahtletes in the world have a coach. It takes a special kind of individual to succeed without one and I hate to break it to you, but you are not a unique snow flake! Coach Katie has coach Kat manage her nutrition for her. I write the programs for coach Katie and coach Kat, and my training has suffered over the years when I didn’t have a coach for my own workouts.