We all have our own ideas of what a fitness coach should be like.
Some picture the bouncy aerobics instructor, full of energy, who motivates customers and is always chipper. Others may picture the taskmaster, yelling at their customers to push themselves through one more set of reps.
They may seem completely opposite of each other, and probably are, but that is absolutely okay.
The beautiful thing about fitness coaches is that there is literally someone out there to fit anyone’s style and needs. But, regardless of which type you would choose, there are a few traits that every fitness coach should have.
This applies equally too if you are looking for a fitness coach or if you are choosing to be a fitness coach. It’s important to have these qualities. Now, there are a couple of things that should go without saying (but I’m going to throw them out there anyway).
1. A fitness coach should be well-trained and educated. Obviously, fitness coaches should know their stuff, from proper exercises to nutrition, to first aid…they should be the whole package.
2. A fitness coach should be a good communicator. Someone who does not know how to relate an exercise or correct a person’s technique is not going to be an effective coach. And communication goes for scheduling and returning calls, texts, or emails, as well.
But there are other important aspects to consider. Here are five ideal traits of a fitness coach.
An ideal fitness coach knows when to focus on the client. They listen to the client’s goals and make sure that the program fits the client's needs, both physically and within a schedule. They don’t project their own outlook but instead foster the client’s desire to do and to be better. They also use time wisely and don’t waste it with long-winded lectures or non-important information.
Not only should fitness coaches be good communicators, but they also need to be relatable to their clients. This doesn’t mean that they need to be best buddies or fake common interests (clients will see through that).
Instead, good fitness coaches know how to read people and how to offer small personal tidbits that the client can latch onto and use as motivation. A fitness coach can’t be too perfect, otherwise, the clients will be constantly chasing a false ideal, which will only frustrate them. But admitting a favorite cheat food (for example) can help foster trust between coach and client.
It’s all about making the clients comfortable with the personality, because a good fitness coach is going to push their clients physically, and the clients need to be confident that the coach understands them.
By nature, a fitness coach should be encouraging and motivational. But they also need to be patient. The coach knows what it might take for the client to reach target goals…but the client may not be aware of the actual amount of work needed.
Even if the coach/client dynamic calls for stricter motivation (see: the yelling coach above), a coach still needs to be patient to help the client reach their goals. Knowing when to ease off and when to push are also a part of this trait. Most importantly, an ideal fitness coach will not project their own goals onto the client, but rather encourage the client at a proper pace.
Since we’re talking about this one, let’s be honest about clients: some of them may come to a fitness regime with a completely unrealistic set of goals. Whether they want to have a body that looks like their favorite movie star, or they want to lose a lot of weight in a short time, their goals may not be achievable in their chosen timeframe.
Aside from the fact that they are working with (most likely) a false set of ideals, they are also setting themselves up for failure. A fitness coach needs to listen to what the client wants but then be honest in the analysis of the goal, adapting it to more realistically achievable pieces.
Tact plays a big part in honesty. So, if the coach knows something isn’t going to work in the desired six weeks, for example, but would be achievable in ten weeks…that needs to be clearly, tactfully, honestly relayed to the client.
As mentioned above, an ideal fitness coach knows their stuff, and that is part of professionalism. But there is more to it. A coach isn’t in it to waste time, and presumably, neither is the client. The image projected is vital to the level of service (and response).
The fitness coach should be punctual to classes or appointments, arriving early (if possible) to start right on time. They don’t lose exercise time gossiping or telling long-winded stories, they get right into the exercise. Remember, some people may be on a time crunch and are relying on the session to deliver results; that won’t happen if the session is more talking than exercise.
Dress for success
In business, suits often project power and proper respect to the position. Other professions have uniforms (fire department, police, nurses, etc.). A fitness coach is a profession, and, as such, coaches should have a professional code of dress as well.
Torn garments, items that are too small, too large, or otherwise inappropriate for the required method of exercise, project an attitude of “I don’t care.” Fitness coaches would do well to look at their wardrobes and rearrange accordingly so that each outfit conveys “I do care.”
All wrapped up
So, there it is. An ideal fitness coach is professional, honest, patient, relatable, and focused. If you look carefully, each of them can be tied into each of the others as well.
Again, whether you are wondering what to look for in a fitness coach, or looking how to be the best fitness coach you can be, these five traits are excellent to keep in mind.
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