The benefits of having a coach

I’ve seen several times in forums and facebook groups, people mocking trainers and coaches. Sometimes online coaches, sometimes even in person ones. “Why would you ever need a trainer when there’s so much free info on the internet?” I’d guess most of you disagree, and rightfully so, but nevertheless, they have a point. Why would someone indeed need a coach, if you can just search and find all the information you need on the internet?

First and foremost, this is not an advertisement for my services. The goal of this post isn’t to sell myself, this applies to every coach and every coaching endeavor.

So, why would you need a coach? What’s the benefit of having one versus going on your own?

There are 6 main benefits:

1) Advice/information

Nowadays, you can search for literally anything on the internet. However, without a solid foundation of knowledge, it’s incredibly hard to know what’s actually good information or not. Yes, you can search “How to lose weight” on Google, and you will have tons of blogs and forum posts popping up. But you will quickly notice, not all of them say the same thing. One might say you need to increase protein, another might say you need to stop eating carbs, and another one might say you just need to do high intensity cardio. So who’s right? Who should you trust? This is the problem.

Information is easy to get and free, but how can you know the information you’re getting is accurate? Even by yourself, you can get a rough idea, by reading books, scientific papers and following the world’s experts at a given topic. But most won’t have the time, patience, or background to do be able to do so. That’s where a coach comes in. He has read the papers, the books, and follows the experts. He also has experience, and has likely been in the similar situation as you. He will know what is true and what is bullshit, and give you exactly what you need, skipping all the effort of trying to filter misinformation yourself by trial and error and dozens of hours reading.

2) Accountability

Any good and honest coach will tell you that there isn’t any magic tricks or secrets to performance nor body composition. If someone claims they discovered a magic method that will make you shredded effortlessly and increase your bench press by 50lbs in 2 weeks, you should be very skeptical. Although you obviously need to know what you’re doing, most people fail because they simply stop doing what’s necessary to produce the result they want.

When you’re doing something on your own, it’s hard to keep yourself accountable. Doing your own plan is cool because you set up things exactly the way you want to, however, in the long term, it’s easier to follow someone else’s plan rather than your own. It’s easy to rationalize your failures and come up with excuses. But if you have someone watching for you and planning your training or diet, you now feel responsible for your own actions. Now you know someone cares about your progress and wants you to succeed, so you feel bad if you disappoint them. This is crucial especially for people who don’t have a lot of support from their friends and family, which unfortunately happens quite often in regard to adopting better and healthier habits.

3) Objectivity

It’s hard to be objective about your training and dieting. This is one of the reasons why coaches often get coached by other coaches. We’re currently coaching 3 coaches right now, both for diet and training. One of them is a strength coach, and knows nothing about nutrition. But the other two give both training and nutrition coaching. Most of what they’re doing, they very likely know why they’re doing it and know how to do it themselves.

But even with all the knowledge and experience in the world, it’s very hard to be truly objective about your own progress. Imagine you’re squatting. You might know a lot about squatting, and you might have been squatting for years, however, it’s always a benefit to have a camera recording your lifts. The camera records objective data, it doesn’t care about your bias. Sometimes you feel the lift was very slow, but when you watch on camera, it looked like a warmup. Sometimes you think your form was pretty good, but then when rewatching it you notice several flaws. Same applies to coaching.

Not to mention when left on their own, people often start over-analyzing everything, worrying about every little detail. If their weight isn’t going as it’s supposed to, they’re very inclined to change calories too soon, or if they miss a weight in their training, they immediately think something is wrong with their programming. They do this because they lack objectivity. A coach can analyse your progress with detachment, avoiding unnecessary changes that can harm your progress.

4) Support

Sometimes the journey is hard, it’s just part of the process, and that’s part of what makes it so fulfilling. But when it gets tough is when people are most prone to giving up, they start to lose sight of their goals and just keep focusing on the negative drawbacks of what they’re doing, getting into a bad mindset. A coach can give you a motivation boost so you can get through less positive phases, so you can keep progressing in order to reach your goal.

Not only can a coach motivate you and encourage positive behavior, but also help you forget the past bad behavior. Many times people cheat on their diet, by for example eating an entire bag of cookies. They gave in to the temptation, and now they feel like they fucked up. Now they feel terrible and disappointed with themselves. They feel like they failed. This negative outlook often leads to continuing the bad behavior. Either as an excuse (I already failed the diet, what difference does it make?), to seek emotional comfort, or both.
But in the grand scheme of things, the extra bag of cookies wouldn’t make any difference. A coach can remind you of that and make sure you’re looking at the big picture. However, if now you ate an extra 4 bags of cookies, and then you quit your diet tomorrow, that’s more problematic, and that is obviously going to affect your long term progress.

5) Discipline and habit

Motivation only goes so far, and that’s why I referred to it as a boost. It’s incredibly useful, but it’s also very limited and temporary. What gets you going on the long-term is discipline and habit. Without it, people are doomed to fail. You can’t be motivated 24/7, it just won’t happen. Some days are just going to suck, no matter what. What makes you keep going on the long term, it’s not motivation, but habit. And where does habit come from? Doing it, over and over again. And to do so, you need accountability, which was covered in point 2.

Since someone is responsible for you, you’re more likely to stick to your plan, even if you hate everything and everyone in that specific day. Overtime, you build a habit of doing what you need to do. With or without a coach, it doesn’t matter. Even if you aren’t motivated or enthusiastic today, you did this 500 times, you will just do it one more without thinking too much about it. This is what gets results: training and eating smart, consistently, for a very long period of time.

6) Buy-in

I love doing what I do. I love getting people leaner, stronger and healthier. And in order to help the most amount of people, I’ve tried working for free, or close to it. At the time I didn’t have many clients to begin with, so I thought: “What difference does it make? Might as well help people and get more experience.”

But to my surprise, it didn’t work. It was a total disaster. Even though it has all the benefits previously mentioned, when you’re being helped for free or a very low price, even if subconsciously, you’re to take it less seriously. If you failed or you’re not doing as well, so what? You didn’t lose any significant amount of money. Obviously not everyone is like that, but a big portion is, despite hard to believe at first. The more resources (in this case, money) you put in, the more seriously you’re going to take the service, and the harder you’re going to work to adhere to that service as much as possible.

If everything else fails, you might keep going just for the sake that you’re already into it, the money is spent and you made a commitment, and that alone might be enough to avoid poor choices that compromise your progress or giving up halfway.

So as you can see, there’s many benefits to having a coach. And a coach isn’t worthless just because now you can read a few blog posts. Does everyone need a coach? Of course not. But is it useful? Yes, without a shred of doubt.
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