Life Coaching on the gym floor
By Cat Coluccio
Any gym instructor will tell you that their role extends far beyond the original job description of prescribing and instructing how to exercise. Where novice trainers might think that their world will simply consist of showing eager clients the right way to perform a barbell curl, or callipering and calculating body fat, experienced trainers know otherwise. These trainers understand that they will be hearing about their client’s work problems while he performs those curls, and that they will be offering tissues and encouragement to the lady they just callipered.
It is a bit of an ongoing joke amongst trainers. You are taught how to demonstrate the correct technique for squatting with a loaded barbell across your shoulders – yet the reality is that once the client knows how to perform that exercise, your REAL role becomes apparent – that of confidant, counsellor and general therapist. This is where having life coaching skills can make all the difference.
Most personal trainers get into the business to make a difference. They want to encourage people to live active, healthy lives, yet many don’t last in the industry long for various reasons, one of which I believe, is due to the fact that these trainers are unable to attract and sustain clients. During my own experience in the fitness industry, I have seen trainers come and go and I can determine very quickly these days which work experience student will go on to be a successful trainer and which one won’t.
It all boils down to communication. The trainer that can listen intently, then reflect and respond compassionately to their client is the trainer that will be a success in their field. When I see work experience trainers focussed purely on the technical aspects of instructing, or, worse still, talking nonstop about themselves to the client – I know that their time in the industry will be short lived. Clients can go anywhere online if they simply want exercise technique – when they come to you though, they are looking for so much more. They are looking for someone who will believe in them, someone who will encourage them, someone who will push them – oh, and someone who will show them how to perform an exercise safely.
Notice that the exercise instruction was last on the list?
Communication skills, rapport, compassion and the ability to coach people to move forward and take action – even when they are having a crappy day – is what personal training is really all about. In reality, it is life coaching taken out of the office and on to the gym floor. As you measure that female client’s body fat, you are walking her through the process of acknowledging how she got to where she is. You are then working with her to set goals and formulate a plan of action to move forward. Next, you are motivating and encouraging her to continue in the implementation of that plan when the going gets tough and lastly, you are rewarding her with praise when goals are met along the way and working with her to set and take action towards new goals.
Life coaching 101 – and the personal trainer who recognises this and takes steps to build their own skills and understanding in life coaching techniques is the trainer who will have loyal clients who return to them time and time again. These clients know that this trainer has something different about them – this trainer cares about the whole client, not just about how well they lift a barbell.
I personally believe that all exercise professionals should take the time to study life coaching skills. The conscious integration of these skills and coaching techniques into personal training can makes all the difference in having a business focussed on simply teaching clients to perform exercise correctly, to being a vibrant heart-centred business built around seeing clients flourish on the gym floor and beyond.
Cat Coluccio is a passionate, empowering and experienced motivator, Cat is a qualified educator, personal trainer and life coach.
Cat has worked with people of all ages, in varying roles such as a high-school teacher, a music director, a conductor, a lecturer, a principal of a tertiary training college and a professional musician. She also homeschooled her own two children for six years during their high-school years as they travelled the world with their respective sports.
Embarking on her own midlife reinvention once her youngest started University, Cat retrained as a Personal Trainer. Following seven years of working in the fitness industry, she returned to the classroom once more to study Life Coaching, and now offers her own unique brand of personal coaching.
With both her face to face and her online clients, Cat nurtures, encourages and uses her “tough-love” approach to challenge them to give their all, and is profoundly privileged to witness significant transformations in her clients’ lives.