Do Your Homework!
You want to formalize your training a bit more and find a good coach, but you’re not quite sure where to start. That’s ok!
Finding a coach that can not only help keep you accountable, formalize your goals, but also help you see your maximum potential is key! Let’s break down some things to look for when finding a coach that can thoroughly understand and work with you to better your overall health!
A coach, at the very least, should be certified! Ask your trainer this question! Where did they get certified from? There are many companies that certify trainers. The most common are NSCA, NASM, and ACSM. There are more worldwide but typically those are where a trainer is generally certified from since they are highly recognizable in the NCCA accreditation process.
Next question to ask or take note of: what kind of continuing education courses has your coach studied? To keep their certification, a coach must re-certify every two to three years by taking a certain amount of continuing education courses. The number of continuing education courses (or units) differs upon certifying agency. An example of these courses is the Recovery Cycle Clinic created by Dr. Dane Bartz. Additionally, the Pain-Free Performance Specialist Certification (PPSC) created by Dr. John Rusin. This also lets you in on what clientele your coach enjoys working with! If they do a lot of research or courses on athletes, kids, the elderly, general population, pregnant women, etc then those might be the people they generally enjoy taking with. Does this mean you shouldn’t hire them if they seem to generally work with a certain clientele? Not at all. All coaches are equipped to work with a variety of clients! However, don’t be discouraged if a coach turns you away if they feel like your goals are outside of their scope. That's a good thing! They are being honest about what they feel confident in and might even have another coach they can refer you to that can better help you.
Movements & Coaching
One thing someone might not think about is how the movements are programmed and how the coach expresses what they need you to do. If you’re looking to build overall body strength and you don’t feel like your strength is increasing at all after consistently working out for a couple of months, then maybe it's time to find a new coach. Each week or every couple of weeks your weight, reps, sets, and or movements skills should be progressing in some way. Progress doesn’t always mean weight, reps, and sets should be going up constantly, but progressing in a way that makes sense via the principle of progression (watch our video on Principle of Progression). For example, you might do 3 sets of 10 reps of a certain weight for a month, then the next month you might do 4 sets of 8 reps of a certain weight. The reps have gone down but the sets have gone up. This is a form of progression within programming and is something to be aware of. If you feel like your workouts don’t progress or make sense each week, perhaps ask your coach what kind of program they have you on and break it down! Or even ask to see how they have programmed for you with explanations of movements.
Following up with movements and programming is coaching. This is the way a trainer is asking, showing, and helping you through movements. All coaches have their own way of coaching movements and that's completely ok! You can tell someone to squeeze their glutes a variety of ways, however, if you feel like you’re not understanding a movement and your coach is getting frustrated rather than helping then that might not be the best fit for you. It's all about REAL Coaching (read our article "Become the Best Coach").
Pay Attention to your Emotions!
You should feel comfortable and confident in your coach. If the vibe is lacking between you two, then perhaps reassess why that is. Are you generally more of a shy or quiet individual and already getting yourself to work with a coach was hard enough? If so then don’t quit out on your coach! It might be you that needs opening up instead.
If your attitude is not the issue and you still feel like the connection isn’t right then it might be time to make a switch. If your coach consistently is not interested in how you’re feeling during the workout, nor do they ask about what you’ve got going on outside of the gym, they are always on their phone or even has a bland demeanor, then that is a big no. Everyone likes to think of their hairstylist as their therapist and in a way, coaches can assume that role too. We have to care about not only your physical well being but mental as well. If you’re struggling with personal issues that reflect in the gym that could put you at the potential for injury if your mind is elsewhere during a workout.
You don’t need to necessarily interview your coach, however, keeping an eye out on these concepts, and how you feel when you’re with your coach is so important! You want a coach that not only understands your goals but knows how to help you get there and be able to explain what they're doing. Everyone has off days so don’t knock your coach if they have one bad day or you’re feeling down on a day you come in. It’s all a part of putting in the work. A big part of finding the right people you vibe with, whether its training or elsewhere, is to always trust your gut! If you feel like something isn’t right then never be afraid to speak up to figure out why!