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Table of Contents
Preface ................................................................................................................................................ 5
Chapter 1: Introduction....................................................................................................................... 8
Personal Unrelated Relevant Background ............................................................................................. 10
The Big Picture ....................................................................................................................................... 11
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 12
Chapter 2: The Certification Dilemma and the Gap of Relevance ....................................................... 14
Truckloads and Teaspoons..................................................................................................................... 17
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 20
Chapter 3: Some Basics on the Nitty Gritty of the Coach/Client Relationship..................................... 21
Elements of the Coach/Client Relationship ........................................................................................... 22
Coaching Client Awareness.................................................................................................................... 24
The Triangle of Awareness: The Physical, The Emotional, and the Mental ........................................... 25
Riding a Bike .......................................................................................................................................... 28
Guidance Counsellor.............................................................................................................................. 32
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 33
Chapter 4: Characteristics of Good Coaches: The Coaching Pie: Slice by Slice..................................... 34
Positive .................................................................................................................................................. 35
Enthusiasm ............................................................................................................................................ 36
Supportive ............................................................................................................................................. 36
Communication Skills: Goal Oriented .................................................................................................... 40
Knowledgeable ...................................................................................................................................... 41
Observation Skills................................................................................................................................... 43
Respectful .............................................................................................................................................. 44
Patience ................................................................................................................................................. 45
Be Clear.................................................................................................................................................. 46
Assertiveness ......................................................................................................................................... 47
Too Many Cooks .................................................................................................................................... 48
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 48
Chapter 5: The Coach and Client Entity.............................................................................................. 51
Praise and Criticism ............................................................................................................................... 58
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 60
Chapter 6: Coach as Teacher ............................................................................................................. 62
The Homework Analogy......................................................................................................................... 64
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 69
©2010 Scott Abel
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Chapter 7: ‘How to’: Communicating Effectively As a Coach and On‐line Coach ................................ 71
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 78
Chapter 8: Strategies and Tactics for Communicating Coaching Instruction ....................................... 80
1) Factual ............................................................................................................................................... 80
2) Explanatory........................................................................................................................................ 81
3) Justifying ............................................................................................................................................ 82
4) Leading .............................................................................................................................................. 83
5) Hypothetical ...................................................................................................................................... 83
6) Alternative Choices............................................................................................................................ 84
7) Summarizing: ..................................................................................................................................... 86
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 89
Chapter 9: Developing Coaching Communication Skills and Awareness ............................................. 91
Understanding the Exchange Value of Coaching Communication ........................................................ 94
Communication Boundaries .................................................................................................................. 98
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................... 99
Chapter 10: Advancing Coaching Awareness ................................................................................... 101
The Science of the non‐Science: Developing Coaching Intuition......................................................... 104
Attention/Intention ............................................................................................................................. 104
Undivided Client Attention Leads to Enhanced Observation Skills...................................................... 106
Empowerment in Process .................................................................................................................... 108
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................. 112
Chapter 11: Common Coaching Mistakes ........................................................................................ 114
1) The Coaching Biases ........................................................................................................................ 114
2) The Carrot and Stick Tactic .............................................................................................................. 115
3) Over‐Coaching ................................................................................................................................. 116
4) Vogueing.......................................................................................................................................... 118
5) Jargonizing ....................................................................................................................................... 120
6) Paralysis by Analysis ........................................................................................................................ 121
7) Emotional Reactions ........................................................................................................................ 122
8) Walk the Talk ................................................................................................................................... 123
Notes for Mentoring Students............................................................................................................. 124
Chapter 12: Where to Start?............................................................................................................ 126
Understanding Motivation .................................................................................................................. 129
Reasonable Expectations in Corrective Situations............................................................................... 131
Client Accountability and Responsibility.............................................................................................. 137
Character Types and Personality Traits ............................................................................................... 140
Notes for Mentoring Students:............................................................................................................ 143
Chapter 13: Client Interaction ......................................................................................................... 147
Client Feedback ................................................................................................................................... 150
©2010 Scott Abel
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...................................................................................................................................................................scottabel..........................................................at .......................... 154 The Job of Coach or On‐Line Coach in the Fitness Industry............................................................ 156 Coaching Bias..........................scottabel..... Downloaded from http://www............ 158 Conclusion ................ 164 4 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www...........................................................................................................................Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis............................. 162 Grooming and Mentoring ............com ................................................Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis............................................................................................ 163 Notes for Mentoring Students...........com ...............at Notes for Mentoring Students........................... 153 Chapter 14: Summary of Concepts and Conclusion .................................
the content of this book has yet to be addressed in any meaningful way within the Fitness Industry. the focus on what ‘certification’ to acquire takes the inquiry in the exact opposite direction in terms of what skills and talents are necessary to do the job. And to my mind. And with both critique and acknowledgement. I think if the true experts in this industry take up the cause of reading this book. And this myth is predominant in domain media and its field of study. And for me.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com. Downloaded from http://www. “what is the nature of the job of fitness professional?” The answer will surprise you! By example. The real question people are asking is ‘how to be a professional in the Fitness Industry?’ They are asking how they sustain occupational viability and career advancement in the Industry. this book is content‐driven. And this question should be. and not very well at that. Chapter 2 of this project addresses what I refer to as “The Certification Dilemma and the Gap of Relevance”. Like all my books. and none of them. However. And certainly accreditation can be important. This is known now as the information myth.at Preface Let me begin with some basic house‐cleaning notes.at . then over time. learning about the about the body is entirely distinct from learning about the client: And distinct. move forward from the basic premise and ideas contained herein. this book is self‐ published and self‐edited. Therefore the answer tends to be misleading. all of them. My hope is that other industry experts and coaches and consumers will use this book as a reference. 5 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. And these questions are simply not answered or even addressed within certification accreditation. it ignores the fundamental reality of the job. yet again. This is addressed in my first chapter. additional works could go a long way to eliminating the internet hucksters and marketers masquerading as “experts” within the field.com . There is no publishing company behind this effort to oversee and polish the final product beyond my own tweaking. And I would add to this. “what to know” to be a professional in the Fitness Industry. the question of certification does not answer the fundamental question for the fitness industry. It addresses. the skills and talents to do the job adequately and efficiently. So this book could really be a “call to arms” of sorts. The question is in fact the wrong question. It represents a beginning.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is what I mean when I say the information myth leads people in the wrong direction in pursuit of knowledge. As a matter of fact.scottabel. It is a fundamental problem of relevance.com . Over the years I’ve been consistently bombarded with the question “What certification is the best?” The answer is frankly. This means it may have some grammatical inconsistencies and flaws. I’m just putting that out there in all honesty: Having said that. this represents a sad reality. from learning about the client’s body. the Fitness Industry has become one dimensional in its focus. In fact. But industry accreditation is limited in focus and scope. Like many other industries.
But like any endeavour.scottabel. As such it fails to provide the real information for study on how to succeed long‐term within the Industry. This is the sole focus on the industry and its accreditation as it currently exists. This book attempts to do so. This project will show in detail just how limited in scope such thinking tends to be. is a two‐sided coin. Downloaded from http://www. The Fitness Industry suffers its own paradigm blindness in these matters. Expertise can be more clearly defined by examining in detail both sides of its coin. And this is the subject of this project. and what people are really asking is “how does a person establish and sustain career viability in the Fitness Industry?” The answers will surprise you. to put it kindly. To create your own work‐book for the job. This consists of the “what” to study. This book addresses coaching and on‐line coaching in the Fitness Industry. and after doing the exercises at the end of each chapter. To that end. The era of the Fitness Coach and the On‐Line Fitness Coach has been upon 6 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. they have not been directed to studying the “actual” job of fitness professional. The fundamental problem seeking solution. you will be exposed to a fundamentally different way of looking at the job of Fitness professional. I have also made sure to emphasize key points. How does that ever work? Current industry standards have a very kindergarten equation of “know this. merely copy and paste whatever you see in bold or underlined and you will have a Reader’s Digest version of this book for quick reference. In short. yet as other industries illustrate. the differences are qualitatively distinct and obvious: Funny how this industry of all misses this difference on a regular basis. Coaching you see. and phrases by putting them in bold font or underlining them.scottabel. and what it is not.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The industry focus leads to a blind‐spot of awareness only on the immediate aspects of application. This project is meant to empower both the wannabe Fitness professional as well as the Fitness consumer as well. After reading this book. On the one side is what is known as domain knowledge. And this leads to some blind spots in terms of the various realities of actually “doing the job” of Fitness expert. and then slot client in here”.com . as well as information and experience. Moreover. will take you in an entirely different direction than you would expect. this one‐dimensional focus on knowing information tends to neglect and objectify the actual client the fitness professional is supposed to be certified and qualified to help. often incorrectly. This project goes out of its way to make fundamental distinctions of concepts so widely used in the industry. This is the other side of that coin mentioned above. what it is.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. These terms are often used interchangeably in the Fitness Industry. acronyms.at Every book should solve one fundamental question or problem. Chapter 5 addresses the distinct differences between the “Coach” and the “Trainer”. It also will illustrate how and why so many people fail to make it as professionals in the industry.com . And the skill set involved. fitness goals are a process of acquisition and a focus on only the immediate elements of application is near‐sighted.
scottabel. what it should be.at us for some time.com . and how to do it! Read and find out that knowing about Fitness is much different than being and doing the job of fitness professional.scottabel. 7 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. It’s time someone addressed in real terms. what it is.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . Downloaded from http://www. what it isn’t.com .
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. There are elements of the fitness industry even at the highest levels that represent failure and not success. knowledge is NOT a skill. this neglect is part of their own industry paradigm blindness. This project requires. Yet once I explain this thesis in detail. it may have you reconsidering your career in the Fitness 8 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. With so much expertise so widely available in this industry now. Hopefully at the end of this project. And this is one reality the experts seem blind to. others who seek to establish themselves in the industry are left by the way side and do not make it.at Chapter 1 Introduction This venture is more important and substantive now in our industry than at any previous time I have lived through or discussed with my compatriots. I will be exploring this in greater depth.com .com . how can this be? The answers may surprise you. career success in the Fitness Industry has a lot more to do with traits of character that lie outside the knowledge umbrella of Fitness and what people understand expertise to actually be. And while perpetuating the information myth allows experts like me to further our reputations. present and past. And to be fair. I will be addressing these realities within the following pages.scottabel.scottabel. there will be an emphasis on the differences between trainer and coach. It is in fact a sad testament to this industry that these outside forces are actually more successful in recruiting and marketing people to their ‘fitness’ products than the actual expert base that continues lame certification processes that are incomplete and misleading at best. And a theme I will repeat throughout the remainder of this project is that knowledge itself is of limited value to long term success in the fitness industry. The reality of the internet. year in and year out. And it will not be where you think. and yet an overwhelming majority do not last or do not progress in their careers in this industry. There will be an emphasis as well on key words that mark what this industry is truly about. They rigorously apply themselves in everything the industry dictates to them is important. It’s a blindness that seeks to reinvent itself. And it’s not only about financial success that I refer. And to be clear. to be more open‐minded than ever before regarding what you think your skills are to being able to succeed in this business. The industry either consciously avoids these realities or underestimates their own failure in perpetuating them. Throughout this dissertation. but to career longevity more importantly. Regardless of the why. This is my version of what it truly takes to succeed at the highest levels in the Fitness Industry. I will highlight these words throughout the text.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www.at . you the reader. internet marketers and infomercial success that invades this industry is a testament to a huge gap that exists in the fitness industry and always has. many of you will be able to clearly see where emphasis needs to be placed for ongoing success in the industry of Fitness. And the fact is that what I see as clear truth puts me at odds against most of my colleagues.
at Industry based on the actual skill sets required of you. These professional symposiums and CEU courses are getting more and more carried away with a never ending litany of useless information and pseudo science at the expense of teaching and creating insightful and original leaders who truly help the consumer‐ base to reach and sustain their goals. The answer to these questions is “Coaching”. what I know now is that even when knowledge changes considerably. Yet. These questions are “How did I get here?” and “Why am I still here?” The answer to these questions is overwhelmingly one‐sided. As of January 2010. and I agree that “success leaves clues”. This is just marketing of knowledge. I have been able to stay viable in this industry for the exact same reason. So even though the skill set of coaching has a talent component to it.scottabel. Coaching and leadership are a talent.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I can say whole heartedly that the skill set to career viability lies outside the “knowledge realm” of Fitness and is more deeply connected to people skills.scottabel. coaching and leadership skills do not. Knowledge is usually contained in a box. It is not what you know that makes you viable for a career in fitness.com . It has often been said. And yet. but through an acquired and applied coaching skill set. the topic of “coach” in the fitness industry seems woefully missing. I got to where I am in the Fitness Industry not so much via my knowledge base. Or at the very least. this project will lead you to “light bulb” moments of how and where you can better yourself for career durability in the Fitness Industry. Looking back over the last few decades. The truth is. coaching skill is all about understanding nuance. This bridge goes beyond the illusion of knowledge base. The application of coaching skills presented here bridges a huge gap which exists in the Fitness Industry. when I peruse the index of lecture material at all these various conventions and symposiums. Career success in the Fitness Industry is marked instead by what you do and how you do it. Moreover. I started this project by asking myself two questions that I have been pondering for a few years now. Talent and ability seldom can have such lids to containment. the information myth. Downloaded from http://www. any address of the industry into “coaching” or “on‐line coaching” seems to remain in a vacuum. And because nuance is so complicated it tends to be ignored as a focus of study in an industry which clearly needs it. After watching “right ways” come and go over decades. And yet each era assume with arrogance that their new way is the “right” way.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . and scientism and instead addresses a fundamental skill set that cannot adequately be “studied” in order to be acquired. I am entering my fourth decade of earning a living in the fitness industry. My goal in this project is to share with all wannabe coaches and trainers the elements of coaching and leadership application which truly merit success and sustainability in the Fitness Industry.com . an ability if you will. what is considered “knowledge” in the industry has changed in both the diet and training realms. which cannot be studied to be acquired. there are 9 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. allowed me to develop a very specific skill set. Addressing this reality is the focus of this project.com . The premise of this job was to help long term offenders who were getting 10 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. philosophers. You could say I was “paying attention” to the observations of the world around me. as long as it is matched with an equal tablespoon of application skills. Shakespeare. at the same I was mingling in these blue collar worlds I was also studying Marx. If these component parts are studied enough to be understood. At the same time my studies took me in one mental direction. So what would seem like a disadvantage in my curriculum of study actually became my strength for being a great coach. Moreover.scottabel. Yet. Hume. my working reality had little to do with intellectual jargon or vocabulary.scottabel. both intellectually and culturally. and scientists with other students and faculty members.at . One of my first career jobs after my undergraduate degree was working with young offenders. even a tablespoon of knowledge is enough to truly succeed in the Fitness Industry. not theorists. I mention this because it is the opposite of the current vogue trend in the Fitness Industry where people graduate as empiricists. First. Why? Because the coaching skill set is about people. The truth is. My active and on‐going fascination back then with how and why different people perceived the world. Freud.at specific elements to the coaching skill set which can be addressed and shared.com . then they may leave ‘footprints’ for others to follow for bridging the gap between knowledge and application. Personal Unrelated Relevant Background To begin with my own journey of how did I get here. The important point is not to indulge you with my past. I will come back to this as well throughout the various chapters below. I put myself through school working in a factory by day. but very little to do with my knowledge‐base within the industry: The experiences that led me to being a great coach were the variety of exposures I had to different people from different realms through my past.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and as a doorman in a nightclub by night. I had to “defend” and undergraduate thesis grounded in theory and theoretical application of theory. The divergence of these two worlds was not lost on me. not about a limited domain of knowledge. I am from a very blue collar background. Next I assumed a job within “Community Corrections”. Downloaded from http://www. I learned the necessity of becoming adept at intellectually conversing on the subject matter of these writers. but to point out a very relevant difference of this past which forged my abilities and talents for being a coach in the Fitness Industry. let me share with you the following relevant facts that have everything to do with my success in the industry. etc. and why am I still here. Little did I realize at the time it was this very unique skill set that lent itself to me becoming a very successful coach in the Fitness Industry.
At the same time. If the ‘puzzle’ in question is a client. Then you work the puzzle from that conceptual beginning. Downloaded from http://www. not only to be understood but respected as well. the other only pieces. or paying no attention to the picture on the box. I see a totally distinct and relevant skill set than what these empiricists would even acknowledge. taking a look at the picture on the box to see how the puzzle will look upon completion. Client success is not about all you 11 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. This is the operating difference between a study of a domain of knowledge. and the required skill set of application. To my mind the more complete methodology is to address the big picture of the puzzle first. As I’ve said often in my seminars discussing paradigm blindness. I was once again moving back and forth in different worlds whose members perceived the world in different terms and mental images.com . Current experts would have you believe that an emphasis on the “smaller pieces” is what effectively puts the puzzle together to form the big picture. and having a visual idea of it while working the pieces. And the relevant point is the context of communication. only then looking into the smaller pieces. This people‐oriented skill set is not something that can be gained by graduating as an ‘empiricist’ no matter how deep that knowledge base may go.at . My mandate was to find them jobs and engage them in life skills training for reintegration into society in a healthy functional manner.at released from prison reintegrate into the real world. I label this lack of insight they share as “paradigm blindness”. The key word here which keeps popping up is “communication”. You communicate “with” people. As a theorist.scottabel. not “at” them. and working on ‘puzzle rules’ for putting the pieces together? One approach sees the whole. what the puzzle will resemble upon completion. The Big Picture Have you ever done a large puzzle? Individuals who graduate with “science” degrees relevant to the Fitness Industry see the focus of study much differently than theorists like me. This job required of me once again to move back and forth between very divergent realities.com . or “on” them. The community and the bosses had to be confident in my social work skill set and my communication skills.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I had to speak to the ex‐cons from their vantage point.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. then the big picture should be the mandate of application.” In fact I’ve forgotten more science of my industry than most experts will ever access. I had to establish ties both within the community and within the bureaucracy of officials I worked for. yet the Fitness Industry still take the piece by piece approach. My experience has been the opposite. “I’ve never met an effective coach in my industry who wears a lab coat. starting from the border etc and working in.scottabel. What is easier. and work from there. This experience established my capacity for communicating in varying degrees and vocabularies that serve me well as a coach. Why? Because I’ve learned that more and more scientific knowledge has little to do with being an effective coach.
Anyone can starve a willing participant and test their will power for 12 weeks. Why is this not being addressed in the Fitness Industry? Just like in social work.com . Notes for Mentoring Students • Is there a skill set for long term success in the fitness industry that the industry itself may be ignorant of.scottabel. guilt. The knowledge and information edge I acquired in the industry was just a natural component part of the process. he considers the immediate. You could say my knowledge base in the Fitness Industry was the smaller pieces of the larger puzzle. but about all you do. And when a good coach considers client compliance. Current expertise based in empiricism would have you believe the opposite. and a motivation to sustain them without entertaining obsession. this requires on‐ going people and communication skills. In fact this seems to be the emphasis in the Fitness Industry. then the result is not a success.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Long term success in the Fitness Industry is more insured by being a good coach. The communication skills I unwittingly developed by participating in different worlds combined with my early passion for bodybuilding led me to becoming a natural leader and coach. and the long term aspects of this compliance. Changing a client for long term benefit is all about process. But if the weight loss or transformation is not sustained.Downloaded from http://www. It’s time the industry addressed these false successes for what they are: Failure. you can teach someone to count calories and choose foods more intelligently to suit their goals. This is another lesson I took away from my social work experience. more so than a competent trainer. Short term success is simple.at . motivation. But imbuing a client with long term purpose and desire to succeed and sustain their progress serves both you as the coach and the client for the short term and the long term. or negligent in exploring in depth? 12 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. but a failure. These are all things that can be studied in a book.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and have a “successful physique transformation”. domain knowledge takes a back seat to people skills.com . Client compliance is the goal if you have even that tablespoon of knowledge referred to above. You can teach someone to ‘activate their glutes’. then this represents failure to my mind for the coach. In this sense. to the more important WHY? The focus on short terms results in the Fitness Industry only creates a turnstile type of business for the coach or trainer. the lingering. or outcome. you can teach someone to ‘squat correctly’.scottabel. But to engage someone to maintain a passion for doing all these things. A coach has instead a different mandate than short term success with its false indicators. consistency.at know. Coaching is about going from the ‘what’ and ‘how’. if my client ends up going back to jail regardless of short term compliance to rules.
and what it pertains to. Primarily. what is the coaching skill set about? Address this question consistently through the remaining chapters.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org .com .at • • • • • How much domain knowledge is really needed to gain and sustain long term success in the Fitness Industry? Explore the questions.scottabel. what specific aspects of your own character and environment drive you and sustain you. “How did I get here?” “Why am I still here?” In other words. How can you use them in your fitness career goals? Examine what Scott refers to as nuance. What is the benefit to the “big picture” analogy? 13 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.at .Downloaded from http://www.
to save them time. separate importance. “Trainer” and “Coach” are vastly different terms. How and why does the fitness industry confuse these two terms and use them interchangeably when everywhere else they mean completely different things? The lessons to be gained here are obvious. what is practical often strains what is actual. Regarding trainers.com . while coaching is something you do “with” the client. Yet let’s look at the professional sports world for some distinction. and separate context. With certification being earned merely from studying specific information and then being tested on it. And this is content over context. Downloaded from http://www. The current certification dilemma leaves far too many wannabe coaches and trainers in the Fitness Industry lacking in the most basic elements of a coaching skill‐set. If we observe the NFL. “trainer” and “coach” are far and away separate entities.com . On‐line certifications and CEU’s can be done at home from your computer. “Trainer” is correctly subordinate to the coach. the NHL etc one obvious observation can be made without error.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Any certification that can be achieved with as little involvement and requirement as is current in the Fitness Industry is not worth the paper it’s written on. Certification in its many current forms would have you believe that Fitness is an information‐based industry. As I always say “certified.scottabel. then how can this skill set possibly be evaluated in an objective home study process? I know several “qualified” trainers who have taken the home exams and CEU’s for someone else. “any 14 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Indeed this comparison will be a constant throughout this text. Let’s begin with a basic premise that will be examined in greater detail in subsequent chapters. In these professional brackets. Certification at various levels exists to basically insure this unfortunate reality. They are separate titles. And in reality these certifications often even at the advanced level do not mean much. This truth is lost in today’s dogma of microanalysis and dogmatic pursuit of chasing scientific representation. the NBA. separate impact. In professional athletics “coach” is EVERYTHING. The truth is this is a “client‐centred” industry. This distinction seems to be blurred in the fitness industry and the two terms are often used interchangeably.scottabel. To be clear. does not mean qualified!” Moreover. The actual people you are training to learn to guide are lost in the pursuit of more and more information and research.at Chapter 2 The Certification Dilemma and the Gap of Relevance One of the working falsehoods of the Fitness Industry is an undertone of what drives it. Any moron can get certified as a trainer. the Fitness Industry is a “relationship‐ oriented‐service industry”.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the fact is any moron can be a trainer. training is something you do “to” the client. This is a fundamental mistake. In the Fitness Industry let’s be clear and putting all political correctness aside. not practicality. JC Santana said some time ago. If coaching a client is indeed a “relationship‐centred‐service” orientation. It’s time experts addressed this falsehood in its truest sense and what it means in actuality.at . separate emphasis.
scottabel. Observationally. Most clients in the Fitness Industry are seeking cosmetic physique enhancement.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and especially those with impressive physique development.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Yet. Downloaded from http://www. Coaching and its requisite skill set should be implicit within this context.com . but about attaining a person’s highest level of performance and desire to do so. and often the addition of performance enhancing drugs. Success leaves clues. To be sure. Across the globe athletes with great physiques seldom spend time on focusing ‘studying’ how to achieve them.com . Coaching and understanding high performance leaves clues. there are clues which suggest something is missing in the Fitness world of study and certification. (i. And we also find there is NOT a similarity in a field of study. And the reality of this is that such overstatements are possible because of a lack of understanding of the terms “trainer” and “coach” within the Industry itself. testing someone’s will power in the short term with deprivation diets and hours of training. to “win” a contest or transform a physique. All too often and more and more frequently people are getting (but not earning) the reputation of “coach” which is vastly overstated. The fact this “actuality” can be confused in the Fitness Industry is proof again of a true lack of understanding of these key terms and their representations. As I’ve said and will say again. What truly links these athletes is a long history of “doing” their selected activity with a concomitant long history of being well‐coached within it. Coaching is the language of success.at . 15 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.e.scottabel. and it’s definitely not who had the most cherished secret exercises and diets. The truth of the common thread of high level athletes across the globe is not a field of study or a mode of training. coaching seems to be the common thread. has little to do with actual coaching or even trainer knowledge. In the fitness arena it’s about being content with the results of doing so. Action and coaching ARE the secrets. this is the reality which represents the fitness industry right now. We find across various sports and activities across the globe NOT a similarity in exercise orientation or practice.” And regardless of certification. If we go back to the professional sports world and observe high level athletes. what is observed is not which certification is most valued. And coaching relevance is what is missing in the fitness industry.at monkey can slap a bunch of exercises together and call it a program. certification programs or strength and conditioning journals) Yet the Fitness Industry has a narrow focus on studying ‘material’ regardless of relevance. Yet all these “nots” are the current pursuits to expertise in the fitness industry. coaching is seldom addressed in the realm of professional accreditation and certification for people in the Fitness Industry. Something is amiss. it’s not what area of study yields the most benefits. High performance is not about equal results.
I would not argue this point. and created to generate income?” And worse yet. or merely new. Mentoring may be the well‐spring for true success for longevity in the Fitness Industry. They attend the various symposiums and conventions offered by the industry.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. So this begs the question. I have several clients who themselves have several certifications. when ignored. Perhaps mentoring is better suited for the role of becoming coach in the Fitness Industry. they do not sustain them even in the short term. There seems to be very little job or career security from being certified by various fitness institutions or organizations. The fitness industry correctly wants to insure competence of trainers. “what are we really teaching?” “Is it relevant. And this also has a tremendous impact on clients in the industry. if the smartest people are ignoring what they’ve supposedly gained in these course upgrades.at Because the study of coaching represents more than one dimension and confounding elements of people and communication skills. 80% of certified trainers leave the industry within 5 years. So the business of fitness and certification is representing one thing. then what is the real benefit to the potential client? The ugly truth is that the Fitness Industry relies on the high turnover rates of clients and trainers within it. A few of them also take every CEU they must in order to “maintain” their standing in the field and their certification updates and upgrades. and I agree with it.at . And within this same time frame there is a lot of horizontal mobility of trainers jumping from one facility to another. The average trainer lasts merely 18 months in the vocation. Whether its fat loss or physique transformation the truth is even if most people actually achieve their goals. But merely ignoring the coaching component just leaves a void in the area of accreditation and certification in the Fitness Industry which is misleading. In other words. And information held out as knowledge. Once again the actual and the practical are different worlds. And once again we see this reality reflected in professional sports as well. but in actuality is another. Downloaded from http://www. Nearly all respected coaches at one time were mentored as subordinates under other career coaches. in order to sustain itself. This shows a lack of stability as well as little opportunity for advancement. it seems to be simply ignored in the arena of certification in the Fitness Industry. But the inside information here is important to reveal. this high turnover rate of trainers and clients does not represent success of higher learning. There exists almost a total 100% recidivism rate for clients in the Fitness Industry who have achieved their goals.com .com . And a study of comprehensive course work for the skill set for coaching may more adequately suit a degree program in University.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. To my mind. These are falsehoods. But the trainers are misled to believing their certification somehow represents requisite skills for lasting in the industry and moving up within it.scottabel. Every single one of my clients under this certification umbrella which represents knowledge has reported to me they’ve never used a single bit of information they’ve acquired as a result of upgrades by paying for new CEU’s. is anything but knowledge.scottabel. Even consumer clients themselves are likely to move on from the Fitness Industry within a five year period. accreditation and certification in the 16 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.
It actually represents its failure. piling up information like one brick stacked upon another merely creates a wall. In other industries where the proof is in the pudding. such as the skill‐set of coaching within the industry.’ over ‘bricks of information’. Truckloads and Teaspoons Within this gap of relevance. this would not be possible. remains ignored as an on‐going source of study and upgrade.scottabel. Now. What is needed is a doorway between fitness expert and potential client. what is actually complicated but accessible and relevant. you give an absolutely wonderful hair style to your first few customers. This ugly truth is akin to learning calculus in grades four and five only to grow up to be a life skills counsellor in a group setting somewhere. And because of this. and the potential client on the other. The weakness in this should be obvious. the Fitness Industry has become so one‐dimensional as to be almost unrecognizable. not succeeding in providing career opportunities for its students. To be clear. unscrupulous marketers can swoop in and trump knowledge with ‘get results quick’ schemes and formulations which rake in millions. Yet. By analogy. Truly there exists a ‘gap of relevance’ within the certification process. And with all the latest gadgets and techniques you’ve been . going into my fourth decade of coaching in the Fitness Industry. it is actually failing. merely so they can create both a source of income and arbitrary criteria to test and evaluate. regardless of its relevance for Fitness experts. What is the likelihood you would maintain and sustain your new business? But this is the exact scenario played out so subtly in the Fitness Industry. With the industry reinforcing this dogma. You open up a shop. This represents the same mistake played out in public education facilities. Creativity has taken a back seat to pseudo science and paradigm blindness within the expert base. As a business now. Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. imagine going to barber college or hairdressing school and getting certified. These organizations insist on complicating what is simple. the Fitness Industry insists on creating a bubble of complication only for the sake of having its membership study it.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . 17 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. So because this industry relies so much on short term emphasis and turnover.com . Then imagine within the next few months all their hair falls out.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This has everything to do with teaching ‘skills of application.at . Organizations are creating CEU’s that year after year are just more of the same of representing complicated methodology as relevant material to study. this “gap of relevance” is what I call the “certification dilemma”.at industry. it ends up with the Fitness expert on one side of the wall. The Fitness Industry is stuck in the same ideology Warren Buffet warned against when he stated that professional organizations are a conspiracy against the laity.
This neglect assumes a lot. This lack of a common knowledge. Resistance Training: Recommendations 9) Time Course of Postactivation Potentiation During Intermittent Submaximal Fatiguing Contractions in Endurance‐ and Power‐Trained Athletes.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. As we can see in these above examples there is an emphasis on information. Yet.at . 2) Quadrennial Planning for the Athlete 3) The Post‐Workout Protein Puzzle: Which Protein Packs the Most Punch? 4) Theory and Practice of Vibration Training 5) Neuromuscular Control Training Programs to Reduce Lower Extremity Injury Risk 6) Changes in Sweat Mineral Concentrations After Heat Acclimatization 7) Relationship Between Maximal Squat Strength and Five. which is actually service‐oriented.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. Lectures like the ones listed above are the new smoke and mirrors show which represents knowledge yet are anything but 18 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. once again my real life experience in the industry is that many of the experts themselves lack a clear and deep understanding of the underlying principles involved.com . None of the above lecture material suggests a skill set of application techniques to aid the Fitness Expert to be better at his actual job of being a fitness expert. make such above lecture material even less viable as useful tools in the Fitness expert’s upgrade of actual skills for working with his clients. DURING & AFTER. This seems to be left up to the individual. these were some of the lectures offered: 1) Lean Body Mass and Weight‐Bearing Activity in the Prediction of Bone Mineral Density in Physically Active Men. What we witness is the staggering overemphasis of speakers and experts breaking down and compartmentalizing more and more useless detail at the neglect of the actual skill set involved within any industry like this one. Downloaded from http://www. or worse a finding of information. Ten.scottabel.at By example just within the last few symposiums in the Fitness Industry. and Forty Yard Sprint Times 8) Nutritional Supplementation BEFORE. call it the ‘consonants and vowels of Fitness’. 10) Effects of Load and Contraction Velocity During Three‐Week Biceps Curls Training on Isometric and Isokinetic Performance. It assumes that attendees at such conventions already have and understand an underlying base of information that we refer to as the basic principles of Fitness.
Coaching and its requisite skill set address this problem of truckloads and teaspoons. the Fitness Industry needs to more clearly and deeply address “application” rather than merely reinforcing piling up information. Instead as in most industries.at . even one with advanced or numerous accreditations. (If you do not know the word empiricism look it up now. how much “information” is enough? There needs to be some kind of filter as well as to what information is actually applicable as skill upgrades vs. client‐centred. And while many pursue the fitness industry with a passion to learn as much as possible. And the emphasis of the Fitness Industry at the highest levels reinforces this mentality. And what I’ve seen my whole career in this industry is that this truckload of information is useless when the links to application and context are never taught. The application of knowledge as a basic skill set is being ignored and knowledge is being mis‐represented as acquiring more and more information regardless of applicability. This is the blindness within the industry trying to train and create expertise. instead of expertise being a resource within the relationship of being implemented as something you do “with” the client. The failure of the Fitness Industry as a business is that it reinforces this myth at the expense of addressing what truly would lead to longevity for a career in the Fitness Industry. This begs the question. All the information advanced or basic is useless if it cannot be utilized properly within the application of protocol. the mistake is in thinking this makes the person a better coach or trainer. To look at the above the question becomes. Information is not knowledge as is obvious above. It’s obvious to anyone that client compliance only will lead to goal achievement.com . Gaining that truckload of information may be interesting to the pursuant but if it translates into only a teaspoon of applicability or actual value to the potential client.scottabel. Yet none of these above lectures imply the ‘how to’ of being a better fitness professional armed with a more useful skill set for client implementation. then more is lost than gained.com . These symposiums which represent “performing better” for the fitness expert still creates a chasm between “us” (the fitness expert) and “them” (the fitness client) This mentality continues to reinforce the mistake that expertise is something you apply to do “on” or “to” the client.at knowledge. So the certified fitness trainer.scottabel. information itself is becoming the new dogma. Coaching is all about the “art” of application. what information is better suited to more scientific environments. As a relationship‐oriented.) This is its strength. A Fitness Expert can have a truckload of information stored in his brain regarding industry knowledge.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. not its weakness. 19 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. “how would this lecture help me as a fitness expert. My point is all about the industry blindness toward knowledge acquisition within the vacuum of application skills. Downloaded from http://www. Coaching is broader based and is not rooted in empiricism. ends up with a truckload of information. yet only a teaspoon of knowledge of application and/or practicality.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. service industry. help my client reach his goals?” Implicit within the answer to this question is the mistaken concept that the information provided somehow lends to this answer. There is no science root to it.
and how does it play out in the industry? Examine a few common elements of a coaching skill‐set.com . People skills. and emotional intelligence are far more vital aspects for career success in this client‐centred. To ignore the context under which domain knowledge content is applied would be like having someone study textbooks on basketball and then have them try to coach hockey. And the coaching skill‐set is the focus of the rest of this project. relationship‐focused. A sustainable existence for a fitness expert mandates this reality. The coaching skill‐set is at the centre of this art. This is the context within which true domain knowledge is applied. and within it. Notes for Mentoring Students • • • • • • What is the true nature of the Fitness industry? How is it best suited to coaching? What is the modern certification dilemma. Without a background of context and relevance. It’s time someone who has studied and successfully demonstrated these skills within the industry started speaking this language of context and application: it’s time someone started teaching the elements of coaching and leadership.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. application skills need to be more deeply considered as part of required study and preparation. not a success of understanding the value of what the requisite skills truly are in the fitness industry.scottabel. the knowledge content of any domain lacks the common sense and reason necessary for the skill set of application. The top Fitness Industry experts all acknowledge the reality of the science and the art of expertise.com . emotional maturity. Discuss the “ugly truth” and the “gap of relevance” of the certification process. To bridge this ‘gap of relevance’ as it currently exists in the industry. which essential skill‐set is being ignored? Discuss the analogy of truckloads and teaspoons. and a total neglect of the art.Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. Examine what is missing and what is lost? What is the current industry bias. Coaching and leadership skills trump the knowledge base as far as true facets to long term career success are concerned. Domain knowledge is but a mere component of this skill set.at . 20 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. service industry. What I witness is a total emphasis on the science. Examine your own gap of relevance or focus in this regard.at This is a failure.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.
this can be a huge liberation. Clients are coming to you because they 1) assume you have a level of expertise that they do not possess. However. By 21 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. (so keep this in mind) My realization that coaching talent is the true nature of how I have sustained myself in this industry. the flip side is that this reality also allows for total imposters and posers to enter the mix without any background structure for measuring real‐world success. By studying these worlds in detail. However. This fact underlies all that I have been saying. On the expert side. there are many potential coaches out there who unwittingly think of themselves as “trainers” and by doing so undersell what is a tremendous talent which often goes unrecognized. these underlying points illustrate the nature of the relationship between client and entrusted expert. Coaches in these industries are subordinate to a tight management and bureaucratic structure which does not exist in the coach/client world of Fitness. Downloaded from http://www. In general. and these consumers are often seeking ‘coaching’ over ‘training’ although they themselves may not even realize it. The general nature of this relationship is the focus of this chapter. service‐base. I have spent a great deal of time studying biographies of great coaches in both sport and industry. Although these goals and abilities of clients will vary.com . There are consumers in the Fitness Industry who will continue to purchase ‘products’ on the internet or via the infomercial sell.com . has led me to an area of study ignored within the Fitness Industry itself. client‐focused.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. to try to reach their goals. The nature of the Fitness Industry is a relationship‐centred. For effective coaches who truly understand the nature of coaching. However.at Chapter 3 Some Basics on the Nitty Gritty of the Coach/Client Relationship Whether you work in a gym as a trainer. I have also undertaken an in‐depth study of world leaders as well. But it will be explored in great depth beyond this chapter as well. and 2) they want to employ you to use this expertise to help them achieve some specific end or goal. This reality allows for a wider potential of open‐ended environments of interaction and coaching styles.at . or whether you are an on‐line coach like myself there are similarities within the client‐base. This is illustrated by the money and time clients have invested in the process of hiring the Fitness expert.scottabel. But what is certainly implied in all instances is a level of trust and commitment on the client’s part.scottabel. some common denominators relevant to the Fitness Industry reveal themselves. there are relevant differences with the coaching environment in large industries like corporations and professional sports. there are others who seek person to person guidance for reaching their goals. This has led to the enormous pirating of expertise by internet and infomercial hucksters who capitalize on the consumer’s desires for attaining and sustaining real fitness results. some distinctions are also true.
always be a skilled trainer as well.scottabel. Elements of the Coach/Client Relationship The number one element for effective coaching is so rudimentary it is almost missed. means being able to risk losing them as well. both subtle and divergent. the coaching talents of potential do not get proper and regular attention. The ‘coach’ on the other hand manages. What will become obvious is that this role of coach is far more impactful than the role of trainer in the Fitness Industry. The science of training becomes an industry dogma which unfortunately neglects the art of coaching. Many clients may have goals which are incompatible with their lifestyles: Or. Stepping up and not promising a client guaranteed results or absolute goal achievements is all about being honest and speaking the truth. This is something most trainers cannot or do not even address. But the reverse is not true. 22 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. And as stated previously.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . Honesty and sincerity are the backbone elements in the coaching relationship. I have learned that an important explanation for my four decades of existence in this industry is this backbone of honesty within the coach/client relationship: Being real and truthful with clients. this element can often be overlooked or misrepresented. It’s time the two became mutually inclusive. there are huge and important qualitative distinctions between the role of trainer and that of coach. and evaluates PEOPLE. influences. When a coach has to forsake this element because of financial need or security. The first step in the process for many is to just be made aware of the differences. this lack of recognition within themselves is a tremendous loss. influences.at focusing on oneself as a trainer.com . they may lack the current commitment for an existing lofty goal as well. this is a mistake. The effective coach will also. more is lost than is gained. If we examine these roles as a component part of a relationship. Because of the ‘business’ side of the relationship in the client/coach context. some potential coaches who read this may actually shed their own perceived identity as a “trainer” and launch themselves into the more demanding but rewarding role of “coach”. it’s possible to be an effective trainer but a terrible coach. within the client‐focused relationship. Often this is due to a simple but incorrect use of the term trainer and coach in the Fitness Industry as being somehow interchangeable. And honesty means truth. The ‘trainer’ manages.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. For people who have the inherent ability and talent to be ‘coaches’ in the industry. inspires. it is obvious which role will have greater impact and create more momentum and production toward reaching a common goal on the client’s behalf. Moreover. yet the skill set required for being a capable and qualified coach within the industry remains relatively ignored. Downloaded from http://www. This is where the rubber meets the road in the essence of coaching: Honesty. and evaluates WORKOUTS.scottabel. Thus. This industry thrives on the ‘quick fix’ mentality of its consumers. inspires.at . By exposing the difference of trainer and coach in this project.
So it’s not always just the message which is important. But the process of the undertaking of the coaching is an on‐going and interactive experience. The focus for the coach is about advancing the person. and an acute ‘listening skill’ for the coach is a specific way to fast track building trust within the relationship. Many of these skills cannot be taught. This serves many ends. but the nature of the relationship itself implies that the coaching process is an interactive one.com .at Clients who seek “secrets” or “quick fixes” are not well‐suited to a coaching environment. And ‘listening’ means being able to understand not only descriptive and explicative elements of client feedback and communication. No. Often clueing people in to reality is a great stepping stone in forging a relationship.scottabel. not the goal. but all potential nuances involved there as well. from one application to the next. The combination of honesty right from the beginning. the content above represents obvious distinctions between a coach and a trainer. fails to prepare potential coaches for their actual working environment. particularly building client competence and confidence. The coach does indeed prescribe training and/or dieting protocol “to” the client in a one‐way street application.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the coach 23 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. then. And a worthy coach can build on these elements of process. This attention to client‐focus ends up serving the coach in the long run because the client stays in the relationship longer as there is always more to learn and build on. but the context of the message that a coach needs to develop a sound skill set for as well. the above bears re‐reading several times over. And this is only the beginning.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. merely pointed out so that a willing coach can work on them. The Abel Approach. something unheard of in the Fitness Industry. honesty may be the backbone of the relationship. Downloaded from http://www. These are secondary in reality. A coach encourages a client from one goal to the next. But. As I addressed in my book. This way. as a focus on the person.) The coaching process.at . This means that effective listening is an important skill for a coach to develop. the client’s learning is progressive.com . for an industry to entirely neglect such requisite skill sets. Using appropriate biofeedback cues which give a coach insight into the client’s experience and devotion to application and process. Moreover. And real coaching is a relationship. The interactive nature of the coach/client relationship must be emphasized and we will be exploring this in much greater detail. even though they underline the relationship. but something he does “with” the client in terms of process. stay with me for a five year period. This reality alone explains why my clients on average. not just the goal. or the physical skill set of the client. Coaching is not something the coach does “to” the client in terms of training. Therefore. (We will be exploring these coaching skills deeper in subsequent chapters. This is not to imply that the prescription of protocol from the coach is some kind of negotiation.scottabel. is one which encourages and evaluates a client through building an interactive relationship. And it is strong for a coach to tell them so in advance. a coach truly invested in his client puts an emphasis on the client’s experience of protocol. As indicated above.
moves in the exact opposite direction. “what is good or meaningful about this feedback relative to previous feedback? How could you improve it further”? Because the focus is essentially and correctly on the client and the process. and complicated workouts tend to eliminate the individual from their own experience of protocol application. Downloaded from http://www. they are more likely to invest more deeply in it. By contrast.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. They remain committed and proud of their own application and experience within it. The coach’s feedback enhances the client’s experience. only creates client dependence. engages them to be more invested in the process and experience of application. These scenarios of complication. advises and instructs in a manner which gives the client the amount of latitude they can handle within the application of protocol.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. As the client is given the independence for owning their own process. teaching opportunities extend themselves well beyond counting reps and sets. as encouraging “client awareness”. Coaching Client Awareness I refer to the inclusion of the client in finding his own solutions to problems or improvement. When the coaching question of “how could I improve this further?” is shared with the client. An aware coach instead. within the experience and learning. complicated formulas. the coach may implore to himself or the client. 24 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. People familiar with my coaching know one element of this I call. calories or grams. Creating client dependence. not just of the process but of themselves within the process. This serves a client’s need for autonomy. “keeping it alive”. not independence.at is armed with assessments and evaluations which can be poured back into the coach/client interaction. Rather than just tweaking technical changes of diet or training the coach actively seeks teaching opportunities within the communication. So the coach is not just “dictating” protocol but encouraging creativity and initiative within the process of application.at . The coach can then pose questions or feedback in a manner that further enhances the client’s knowledge.com . and provides the building blocks for client competence and confidence moving forward. For instance. This is far more empowering than merely encouraging client compliance and leaving it at that. This is a huge element missing from the context of trainer/trainee. To prepare clients to work solutions themselves. This is one element that a focus on quantifying results can never offer. rather than a focus on fundamentals. the potential solutions become suggestions to be worked out for the client by the client. as is the trend in the modern Fitness Industry. these current vogue trends in the industry of complicated tempos. The difference for the coach in creating an environment of creativity and independence is far and away distinct from the trainer/trainee environment.com . The client subtly takes on working on his own solutions or enhancement of his training experience.
com . (mental) as well as their attitudes of employing the strategy toward goal‐attainment (emotional) is a major problem in the Fitness Industry.A. the client’s physical goal is secondary to engaging him within the process of achieving it.at . And the goal early on is to set the old adage of T. In a true coaching environment. The neglect of the interplay of how a client thinks.scottabel. Winning or absolute results are to miss the mark. first and foremost. But of course. Downloaded from http://www.M. For a coach learning to develop this skill set. And this commitment is ‘to the coach’ and then back on to the client. (Together Everyone Achieves More) in motion. The Triangle of Awareness: The Physical. The coach has to be aware on all three levels of physical. The Emotional. The coach. the coach is better equipped with dealing with client obstacles or client strengths which will coincide more heavily on one part of this triangle. The coach has to be able to interact and acknowledge multiple dimensions of the client’s aptitudes and potential. the client becomes more committed to his own higher performance and awareness. the triangle model itself implies that all three sides are connected. The imperative first step is for the coach to reiterate his investment in the client and the client’s goals. This will be the focus of most of this project when all is said and done.com . and emotional abilities and awareness of the client.at This qualitative difference in a true coaching focus achieves higher performance via enhancing client commitment rather than client control. mental.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. should care. Acknowledging this trinity within the coach/client relationship gives the coach several options for engaging the client early on. but simple assessment of a client will lead a coach to notice certain sides of this triangle may weigh more heavily in client interaction. their level of understanding and processing relevant information. By mentally employing the triangle model. And this coaching competence is yet another intangible which separates a coach and a trainer by wide margins. The goal from this starting place is client ‘improvement and progression’.E. mental. it helps to see the trinity as a triangle. This is just establishing a working base for interaction within the relationship for moving forward. and the Mental The goal for effective coaching is to acknowledge the interplay within this trinity. It’s an important communication for a client to know someone else takes both them and their goals seriously.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. of the client’s actual working attitudes and capacities. In other words. This suggests a coaching skill set well beyond consideration of training and diet protocol. This is but 25 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Seldom will clients just proceed down a straight line of process of goal setting to goal acquisition. and emotional had all equal sides of awareness and ability. If a coach is to indeed engage “client awareness” then the coach has to be aware. It would be nice if the triangle of the physical. himself. unless there is a competition involved.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is so misleading as to almost be a lie. no two people will share the same experience of that program. coaches the person ‘through’ the program.com . Client biofeedback will serve as an ongoing coaching tool for assessing and evaluating relevant client experience of protocol as it unfolds. coaches the person.at .scottabel. prescribing protocol based on calendar weeks. and handle them the same. the effective coach. two people may vary widely on their understanding of the qualitative aspects of applying and experiencing protocol. The experience of both clients within protocol application will mandate a different coaching awareness and skill set. The current paradigm blindness of the Fitness Industry leads people to believe that a special and unique recipe is the answer to their physical goals. simple is better. Assuming application as an absolute is the biggest and most common mistake in the fitness industry. It creates the illusion of control. No two people share the same life stressors. The goal for the coach early on is to get a client excited about his/her work and application in the ongoing process. More accurately. Downloaded from http://www. not client experience. a person with 10 years of competitive experience will need less guidance on diet and training discipline. both in the immediate and the forthcoming process. And yet this falsehood has been played out for decades in the fitness industry. When it comes to such recipes. It falls on the coach to take the time to outline what is expected within the application of protocol. and diligence. Client protocol should be set out in as simple terms and formulas as possible. More importantly. commitment.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the process is anything but a straight line. The current market trend of experts and wannabe experts is to create client dependence by formulating very complicated workout and diet processes and structures to follow. Client application of protocol and what is to be accomplished within it should be clearly set out by the coach in plain and concise explanations. To micromanage physical application completely misses the point that coaches coach people not programs. What is entirely missed by the myopic focus of slotting people into programs is the reality that although two people may actually undertake the same program. This is what leads to higher performance and higher performance is what leads to goal achievement. a return to fundamentals is far more efficient for building client competence and confidence in the process. More often than not. than is fancy or complicated training or diet protocols.com . No two people adapt or recover at the same rate. This is far different and much superior to “program prescriptions” which arbitrarily change just because a certain amount of time has passed.scottabel. When dealing with people in real life who have real lives.at another myth of the Fitness Industry with its dogmatic representation of process. does not include. not the program. but negates the actual client. How can something so obvious go so obviously missed for all these decades in the fitness business? The effective coach. Again. The above explains the 26 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. which I have discussed many times. than say a client who has never been active and has little real‐world understanding or preparation for the regimentation required to reach long term cosmetic goals. For example.
and awareness. a lack of patience. physical. Quick file notes and references can serve the coach to this end. is a limited skill which will not serve the client in the short term and especially not in the long term. “young” .scottabel. and leadership during the coaching process and application. “passionate but impulsive” etc. A coach’s sincere trust and confidence in his own abilities eventually leads to a deeper trust from the client to the coaching relationship as well. and where they should focus their attention in the ‘triangle of awareness’.scottabel. mental.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . and only accept feedback about it. “educated but not smart” . For a coach to focus entirely on workout protocol and application. Often. an irritation to the coach. how they learn. Quick reference notes reminds the coach of “who” that client is as an individual. Interaction should be encouraged as the process teaches both client and coach how to improve the qualitative application of any program moving forward. and both are two key elements to coaching if coaching is to last beyond an immediate here and now focus. commitment. emotional) In regards to instructions and client application of protocol. 27 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Rather than perceiving questions as an exhausting irritation.at potential variations of the coaching ‘triangle of awareness’ as to where coaching attention needs to be most heavily emphasized. comprehension. awareness.“insecure”. Downloaded from http://www. Because of the focus of the volume approach to clients for financial gain in this industry. “naive”. is usually the first skill to be surrendered as fiscal needs trump qualitative concerns for the client.“experienced but not knowledgeable”.e. This is for the coach to own.com . This is how progress truly unfolds. The coach needs to establish patience as a viable working tool for gaining insight into the client: how they process information. a client’s questions can seem like an interruption or worse. patience. but a good coach also needs to trust in his own level of expertise. (i. It helps to put the client into some kind of framework so the coach can deal with the client from the perspective of “who the client is” not “who the coach is”. who is focused on moving the client forward. And this is not only an interactive mandate but an introspective one as well. the most important coaching skill to develop. The assumption of interruption or irritation is truly in the coach. what they know. It is not by merely following sets/reps prescriptions etc. clients are not mind readers and neither are coaches. A coach needs to develop patience in his client’s mode of learning and speed of learning ‐ yes. questions actually provide the coach with an ongoing assessment tool regarding their actual client and their own working experience on levels of knowledge. A client may be “inexperienced”.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Yet patience leads to trust. their level of commitment etc.at . An effective coach does his best to eliminate this emotional reaction within himself.
How many children would ever continue to learn to ride a bike if they did not have coaching which focused on building their confidence and competence in doing so? The small initial goal should be employed as a means to improve performance and compliance which builds greater trust and effectiveness with the coach/client relationship. (e.scottabel. the child no longer needs the parent oversight. (i. A real coach keeps focusing on creating one scenario after another to be mastered to the point where the coach is no longer needed for employing that particular skill.at Riding a Bike By analogy the role of coach vs. leads to that child trusting the parent to teach him how to drive a car. Downloaded from http://www. So they focus on creating client dependence so they never learn to independently ride the bike. Or. However the goal is always to create independence. the coach focuses on the person (the child learning to ride). Encouraging a client to master a skill doesn’t mean the end of the coaching relationship but a progression of it! Like learning to ride a bike. one child may have better balance and learning skills than another etc. For example.scottabel. This is the difference between a coach and a trainer.e. To reiterate: the trainer focuses on the bike (the workout). small successes build on themselves. the skill may be an emotional one like consistently being able to get back up on the bike after an inevitable fall. trainer can be explained within the context of a parent teaching a child to ride a bike. the skill to be mastered may be a physical one like actually riding the bike without parental support. The goal is to get the child to be able to ride the bike without parental support. The coach needs to see past the immediate physical goal. qualitative experience. This is obvious yet this is also missing in the fitness industry. How long the parent strolls alongside the bike and holds on to it for the child will vary in time and support. the trust created for the parent. The parent does not go on and on about the working parts of the bicycle but focuses on the child “on” the bicycle. the coach can then build on that to engaging a client to master another.com . Once they can ride.com . and an experience of process where success can be accumulated and experienced like a Pac Man of process gobbling up momentum as he goes. And like learning to ride a bike. A client should be led in a process of experience. another may have a more daredevil mentality.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the client absorbs and masters a skill which proves to them they are capable of higher performance. The coach should always be working toward client‐mastery to a point where the coach is no longer needed for guidance in that particular skill set. by the child learning to ride the bike. The “bike” is merely one element of a bigger picture. If you watch a parent teaching a child to ride a bike you witness an interactive. This last sentence is what scares the modern fitness expert. 28 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. So according to the triangle of awareness.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. One child may be afraid to fall off.g. having or mastering a skill they did not previously posses) Success is self‐motivating. This is counter‐intuitive.at . like clients who cheat on their diets)The relevant point is that by coaching a client to master one skill.
com .com . Over time. A good coach can be a tool for the client discovering skill sets that can take them in an entirely different direction. the triangle of awareness of this particular client was that mentally and emotionally she had requisite skill sets for succeeding in any number of arenas. This cannot and should not be avoided. regardless of immediate gain. anger. However. An aware coach will pay due attention to these skills and coach the client in a manner that strengthens these skills further regardless of the immediate goals. this is a loss of potential. or paralyzing self‐consciousness. Public critique 29 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. process. criticize in private” applies. Part of teaching toward mastery of a skill is also acquiring appropriate feedback effectiveness. not presenting them with issues of self‐ consciousness which can crush such forward momentum. Imagine when the child falls off the bike or crashes it that the parent yells and screams critique in front of other children and parents. (something I see all the time) As a coach. Instead of pursuing a dead end street of mediocre results in Fitness competition. As a coach. A case in point is my first mentoring student. imagine the parent teaching the child to ride a bike at a busy playground or schoolyard. Within any client and the process engaged of teaching them to ‘ride a bike’ a skill set of obvious client strengths will reveal themselves to the coach. I could not just substitute my judgment for a client’s goals. However. Her commitment to this particular goal was not only causing physical deterioration but emotional issues as well. Most clients will reject such an intrusion. Criticism and reality checks are often required of a good coach.scottabel.at However. Downloaded from http://www. Public critique only leads to defensiveness. she had goals and aspirations for competing in the Fitness Industry. commitment etc would lead her to discover for herself that her current physical goal was incompatible with her other tremendous skill sets.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The point is that an aware coach should not be so myopic as to acknowledge only the immediate cosmetic or physical goals of any given client. based on mastery of ‘riding the bike’. Too often in the fitness industry a client’s immediate goals are reached. Initially. As coach. Then the pursuit of this goal was causing physical issues counter to her goals. Her commitment to tasks and discipline and dedication were way above average. critique needs to serve its purpose of moving a client forward. I knew if I led this client appropriately. this client after some back and forth regressions and progressions. but they were misdirected toward this goal. A word of caution for any coach is the reality of critique. By example. the client may be led to successes that were different than the initial goals he set out to accomplish. she has since opened her own personal training studio and is thriving fiscally and mentally/emotionally for doing so. only by sacrificing skills they have in other areas. her mental acuity and associated skills of organization.scottabel. The working adage of “praise in public.at . direction. found for herself a new calling. because of the triangle of awareness.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Over time it became obvious she did not have the requisite physical genetics for doing well. It was the leading the horse to water analogy.
of which there are far too many in this industry.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . The goal when possible is always to empower the client and not diminish them. the worthy coach leads the client to ways and means to solve issues for themselves. It’s not only misleading but untrue. The effective coach uses client feedback for clues as to help remedy any such setbacks. They do not maintain their conditioning in the off‐season. but criticize in private. each year pro athletes have a training camp to prepare them for the conditioning required for the upcoming season. It’s part of being human. Coaching is not about supplying a safe place for clients to land or retreat to. the coach does not seek to jump in and solve the issue for the client. One of the modes a coach can employ for giving clear instructions is to ask client’s specific questions.com . Obviously the coach seeks a consistent cooperative mindset. clear instructions and their purpose are to instead foster independence and initiative to spur a client to higher performance standards. This is not to say that performance or application problems will not arise. rather than a cooperative one. The same is true for any fitness client. The coach with an ego problem. Non‐linear progress and application of process is to be expected.at . Criticism is often an integral part of client interaction and it must be delivered decisively. They will and they should be expected. especially when coaching is ineffective or immature. So unless unavoidable. if given the chance and the means. not the coach’s. The responsibility for goal achievement is the client’s. expected or unexpected. The coach should not be seeking to be a client’s ‘everything’ but rather the coach serves as a catalyst for the client becoming this themselves. This is what I mean when I say the creditable coach does not supply a safe place to land or retreat for the client. if it is truly 30 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. interaction is the key. praise in public. and build the confidence to becoming independent of the coach in terms of future problem solving. These things tend to get clouded. Pro athletes are often sidelined with injury or illness and the same is true of the general fitness client. clients are their own best source for problem solving. I call this ‘glorified babysitting. wants to always “be” the solution and create client dependency. The coach’s stake. leads the client to find their own solutions. To lead the client to ways and means for solving issues of process or application themselves empowers clients on a deeper level.scottabel. Instead. Downloaded from http://www. Life happens. More often than not. Once again. Too often on various web forums it’s easy to witness public criticism which was well‐intended spiral into personal attacks and personal agendas. Clear instructions can lead to specific questions which can in turn lead back to more specific instructions. The fitness industry likes to present goal achievement as some magical linear process of application from point A to point B. This is not to negate criticism. but also respectfully.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. But unlike sponsoring client dependence. Process is always non‐linear in both experience and results.’ The effective coach. instead. only to instruct to handle it wisely and maturely.at creates a reactive mindset. However. For example.
relationship element of coaching and the coaching process and its nature. when relevant communication with the client may be more important to the situation. It’s the client’s experience of protocol that matters most. And results and achievements. Currently. the industry’s focus on all things physical at the neglect of the triangle of awareness gives clients faulty mindsets when undertaking a protocol.at genuine. he begins to see less value in industry trends etc. the less value they will place in industry subterfuge presented as marketing techniques and buzzwords. A further bonus to this role of coach is that the more a client initiates solving his own issues from his own experience along the way. So a coach will factor in the reality of plateaus and occasional regressions. Yes the coach is the requisite expert in the relationship but part of this expertise has to be a flexibility of skills that can vacillate between needing to be right in application.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. but a weakness billed as strength. In fact an over‐emphasis on numbers. As a client matures in this manner.scottabel. An over‐emphasis on quantifying everything will dilute and dissolve an individual’s qualitative differences.com . Quantifying everything or attempting to is misleading. The coach instructs the person. which is non‐linear. not a coach. not the program. negates the fact that all people are different. or that everyone should rest a specified interval according to the clock. can be an added source of perceived pressure for the client. The industry is misleading in both regards as to the coach/client relationship and the non‐linear process involved with it. is in the client.at . Downloaded from http://www. it does not enhance it. such as “secret” or “advanced” or “fast”. All these formulas which dictate that “specimen A” should be able to lift this much percentage more of max 1RM per week. not in the results achieved. as is now common in the fitness industry. the industry has over‐indulged the physical application at the expense of client reality. and wanting to do right for the client. Directions within a program therefore must be appropriate to both the client and their situation.com . This is reflective of the interactive. The relationship is not always a one‐way power structure from the coach to the client. This is not a coaching strength. Trying to quantify everything is a mindset of a trainer.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. circumstances and life stressors mean this experience will always be non‐linear in process. Directions from a coach speak to the non‐linear reality of process and application. By example. Again without the acknowledgement from the coach of the triangle of awareness. too much quantification kills the program.scottabel. There is no “specimen A”. A coach must be able to give up that need to be right. Each individual will experience application of protocol in their own unique way. 31 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.
Effective coaching is about increasing the client’s learning curve and adaptability to becoming more competent. Plain and simple. and the industry is getting entirely too carried away with itself by forgetting this fact. this eliminates many potential coaches from the reality of the demands of the job. Good coaching requires a strong backbone. So the two necessary elements of a coach as guidance counsellor can be broken down as follows: Guidance: the coach gives the client ample direction for them to move themselves forward at their own speed.com . gives them a recipe to follow for dealing with similar issues or stagnation in the future. Downloaded from http://www. this means walking your talk. the role of coach requires being able to wear many hats at one time. True coaching is therefore being part “Guidance Counsellor”. I hear from far too many wannabe coaches who tell me they want to inspire people and be a role model. If the coach is paying attention to the triangle of awareness. Most clients are undertaking fitness as an indulgence. They seek “coaching” as an avenue to receive it. he is able to help clients be more aware of their behaviour and attitudes and thought process. But for this relationship to have any lasting integrity the leadership must have boundaries and must have established avenues of trust and respect.at Guidance Counsellor As we can see. And a good coach must also be capable of evaluating and assessing the triangle of awareness. emotional. not absolute. This can be related back to the client to assimilate in terms of how these mental. The coach is still the leader in the relationship of coach and client.scottabel. It requires some personal strength earned in the trenches of life. Clients are not automatons. not an occupation. Counselling: because the coach pays attention to the triangle of awareness.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Most lack the requisite skill set for even elementary level coaching. yet their own lives are a mess. his coaching will always provide real opportunities to praise good work and valiant consistent effort regardless of outcome. People who ‘want to be leaders’ seldom make good ones. Unlike being a trainer. Life happens to them and around them. It is not always about the results.at . Building a level of client competence also serves to build client confidence. and be comfortably able to move back and forth among its three sides.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. For a coach. However. not the comfort of text books. because that desire makes the 32 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. Coaching a client through an issue and helping them figure it out for themselves. I see far too many wannabe coaches in this industry who are truly needy people wanting attention and validation. or physical evaluations are influencing their experience of protocol for good or bad. To think so is the difference between a mediocre trainer and a competent coach. cheerleading the process of client interaction is also ineffective and lame. And competence is an individual skill set which is relative.com . dealing with people means they are not mere component pieces in the application of a process.
to my mind. True coaching is about the other person. Have you been studying any of these skills in your preparation as a professional in the fitness industry? If so.at goal a selfish. Do an assessment of each and draw a triangle of awareness for each client.scottabel. where and how? If not. The coach must.Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. “be the change you want to see. mental. as Ghandi put it. • Do you define yourself as coach or trainer? Do you have any coaching skills based on what you’ve read thus far? Do you have any clients with whom you do more coaching than training? Make some notes how to make yourself more efficient to exercising some coaching skills. There is no better form of instruction. emotional) You can even make one or two sides of the triangle in bold text for emphasis. • Reality check: Examine why you want to be a professional in the industry. So for a real coach to be truly effective.com . Where and how could you improve? Where and how could you better focus on the experience of process. or client compliance? How could you better marry these two elements? • Think of 3 of your current clients.at . Where does most of the emphasis lay? What do the sides of the triangle look like for each client? (physical. what do you need to do first? • What is the central focus for the coach? • What is client awareness? Is your current strategy one of emphasizing client competence.scottabel. Do you have a true “service‐based” mentality? Are your motives genuine? Make a list of skills you have or interactions you’ve had which enhance a client’s experience and moves him forward? Do you live by example? If not. and the process of experience? Make notes. and employ the “riding the bike” analogy.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.” Notes for Mentoring Students • Address and discuss what the true nature of the Fitness Industry is. how could you improve in this area? 33 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com . live the example he expects from his clients. What are you strengths? Where could you improve? • Examine the true nature of the role of coach. Does this help you better understand your client as an individual? How can you use this new knowledge to enhance client experience and client awareness? • Think of a couple of your clients. egocentric one.
I like to use the “pie” graphic whenever addressing any complex intertwined idea where the component ‘slices’ are requisite elements to the concept of the ‘whole”. the modern Fitness Industry is a Global reality. Downloaded from http://www. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. With on‐line international coaching. there are many people masquerading as coaches in the Fitness Industry who do more harm than good. Once again. these component characteristics mark the starting point of attributes which any good coach must possess and/or work on to improve. By using the pie analogy. This chapter goes a little more in‐depth at delving into specifics of necessary requisite characteristics of a good coach. Yet. However. Effective Coaching. let me explain the pie analogy. This whole emphasis reduces the trainee to an object within the description of “what” and “how”. whether someone calls himself trainer or coach. the current focus from the top down continues to focus on the “what” and the “how”. However. do they take time to consider where they may be lacking within it. Most professionals do not take the time to consider what this whole even consists of. It’s a great and effective model to use as a teaching tool. Clearly. the nature of this professional relationship is that it is indeed an ongoing.scottabel. The fact this reality is completely ignored in symposiums and certification studies needs to be addressed and rectified. the industry continues to ignore its greatest asset. the reader can properly address what slices of their own ‘whole pie’ may be smaller or missing from the whole. By completely negating the actual individual. if Fitness goals were this easy to accomplish.com . Some of these characteristics may seem obvious as they exist in most working relationships. the pie analogy reinforces that all slices are composed of these characteristic ingredients which make up the whole.at Chapter 4 Characteristics of Good Coaches: The Coaching Pie: Slice by Slice The characteristics of a good coach are marked by one word: Context. I have been alluding to what makes a good coach throughout the text thus far. then the Fitness professional would not have a job. qualitative context. And there are thousands of website which reinforce the same. I need to reiterate. let alone. the talent of coach is one where the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. And the word characteristics is chosen on purpose: While the talent and ability of effective coaching cannot be taught. 34 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The emphasis on this chapter is to properly address in “context” the characteristics involved in good coaching.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. And it also continues to ignore its most basic reality. For the most part. Moreover.scottabel. (1999) Before addressing each characteristic one by one. this chapter is fashioned from a chapter in Marshall Cook’s book. interactive one.at . This is where the difference lies. One look at You Tube and anyone can find an endless array of provocative exercises and complex instruction. The framework and milieus of coach/client interaction is always a subjective and personal.
or at least willingness toward it. modelling. evaluate client weakness in application. the talent of a good coach cannot be attained merely by studying these characteristics. But honesty within a professional relationship always needs to pay attention to both context and nuance. If upon initial evaluation the coach feels that a background of positive energy cannot be established. and assertive. Downloaded from http://www.at In other words. Hence the whole pie is beyond its recipe. These represent the key characteristics of a good coach in almost any industry or domain. One size certainly does not fit all. All should strive for honesty within them. The Fitness Industry’s neglect of this context is one of its most pronounced failures of recognizing the new era of its own reality. it’s often best to pass on establishing the relationship to begin with. However. People are not always going to be compatible with a specific coaching style or 35 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. We will address these characteristics one by one below. But moving between these aspects of coaching requires that the client knows and feels the overall energy is in a positive structure and framework. The goal of the coach is to enhance the “experience” of the client’s application of protocol. the characteristics of a good coach discussed in this chapter are here for study.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. And the requisite characteristics involved are the characteristics of a good coach.com . clear. let’s acknowledge that the coaching relationship should begin with the key ingredient of honesty. The goal of the coach from the onset is for finding meaning. And yet I know very few coaches who even consider this.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This does not mean creating false pretence for positive interaction. supportive. and creating momentum on behalf of the client moving forward. Creating an environment of positive energy and being able to sustain it during the nonlinear process of coaching is a key characteristic of a good coach. knowledgeable. It means being adept at diplomacy in interpersonal skills and interaction. “it’s not the recipe that matters. and sometimes even being critical. respectful. The characteristics involved require being enthusiastic. patient. The one constant within this context for professional honesty is that it should be attached to being positive as consistently as possible. There have been many times in my career when I felt it best to not engage a potential new client beyond the initial inquiry.scottabel. This reflects the parent/child element of coaching referred to earlier. Therefore. Positive Everyone coming into the coach/client relationship will have different skills and abilities and varying realities and life stressors. So whether the coach’s feedback is critical or corrective. initial client assessment and evaluation should always take this into account. the client always receives this information within a framework of knowing the coach is always on their side. trusting. Effective coaching is all about being able to be positive (not patronizingly so) while still being able to correct mistakes.” So before examining these characteristics slice by slice. Or as I say in this business. it’s the chef. observant.at . focused. All relationships will be different.
but moves to another team without incident or issues.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com world view.com . or sustained if a positive working environment cannot be established and assured. Fostering a cooperative attitude is at the nucleus of the ‘positive environment’ which the coach must create and be able to sustain. If a coach’s interaction reflects negativity or even apathy. achieved. The coach’s initial assessment and evaluation is not only to determine “who the client is”. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. (Those are for the client to claim.com . and it needs to be tendered by the coach in his leadership role. not a cheerleader. A good coach needs to recognize this can often require a lot of work and effort beyond just presenting a positive attitude. This is a very telling statement. This is what I mean when I say the coach has to ‘be real’ both regarding himself and his potential influence with a particular client. Being supportive means understanding the application of the coaching experience as 36 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Being supportive is a consideration of nurturing the interactive coaching environment and experience itself. He is not a fan. Enthusiasm The coach must establish his leadership role in the relationship right from the onset. It’s not about being enthusiastic regarding the client’s goal.) Supportive Being supportive means building on this coaching enthusiasm and the positive context within the relationship.scottabel. A good coach must be capable of inflecting enthusiasm both for the short term process and the long term possibilities of dealing with any given client.scottabel. The same applies even in the Fitness coaching environment as well. The enthusiasm which must be sustained is for the relationship moving forward. the results will reflect that energy back to him. This may go beyond the application of protocol for the client. The coach is the leader in the relationship. But this enthusiasm needs to be genuine. but also to ascertain and consider the variables of personality involved which can help the coach realistically determine if he can ‘stay positive’ for the duration of the relationship. The coach needs to be enthusiastic regarding the relationship and the client’s experience of the application of protocol and the feedback provided. but about the client and the relationship itself. NOT for the establishment of the client’s goals. We see this all the time in professional sports where a player is just not a good fit with one coach.at . The coach’s first few interactions with any given client or potential client sets the tone for the relationship moving forward. and not a sycophant. Optimal performance cannot be nurtured. We often hear the phrase in professional sports of whether “the player buys into the coach’s system”.
Part of being supportive for a good coach is the ability to employ life experience to anticipate clients’ needs and use interaction as a source of “prevention” in terms of problem solving and foreseeing potential obstacles to a client’s positive experience or application. These things may have nothing to do with the actual physical prescription of diet or training.com . The coach provides the information. there are people who knowingly or unknowingly sabotage themselves frequently. devotes his time and energy to client interaction.’s Montreal Canadians franchise.H. and he answers questions or troubleshoots in a manner which promotes moving coach and client forward in the process. and addressing inconsistent feedback. either logistically or because of mental/emotional blocks to higher performance. And while this example shows that such stressors are beyond the application of training or diet protocol. The interactive coaching environment needs to serve the purpose for supporting the client as the process unfolds. A coach may also need to serve as a source for countering conflicting information. Combined with these logistical problems.at well. To do so. but instead. This coaching experience should be able to grow ‘from here to there’ and this can only be fostered within the coaching context which is supportive. and therefore be called away from their own pursuit of personal goals. Therefore a coach being supportive can go a long way to guiding clients beyond external sources of sabotage etc.com . This can often include guidance for the clients in terms of counselling regarding external negative influences. Downloaded from http://www. dispelling faulty information. He may only have access to hotel gyms and limited equipment. Like my good friend Trevor Timmins who is a scout for the N.at . and the client’s purpose and experience of application of protocol. I often haven clients who are bewildered by others who deliberately try to sabotage their diets or training protocol by offering their ‘opinion’ or even enticements or critical commentary. Consistency may be more difficult for some clients than others.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. On the other hand. This is the requisite skill set regarding being appropriately supportive. have everything to do with who the client is as a person. people who have a great deal of responsibility can also be called on at a moment’s notice. both of the client.scottabel.L. I’ve coached corporate leaders and others who travel for a living. or they are just unrealistic about structure and regimentation required to reach 37 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. He can often be in several times zones in a couple days’ span. Trevor may often spend the majority of a day or two day in an airport. they can certainly have an impact on it. he supplies the appropriate tools for the client’s understanding of protocol (video clips etc). Trusting The first basic about “trusting” is to again accept and acknowledge the non‐linear aspects of performance and real life. the coach must be able to make the protocol as easy and suitable for the client to understand as possible.
And other coaches. concerns the willingness of the client to move forward with the coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Often people want to achieve personal physical goals only so long as these goals do not require a lifestyle change.scottabel. If this kind of trust cannot be established upon initial assessment. are just as ineffective. the first circumstance to “trust” is that the process from start to finish in a coach/client relationship is never a linear one. Everyone is different and this is to be expected. To just dictate demands and commands from either ivory tower negates the actual intended message. Even though this falsehood continues to be the impression the Fitness Industry leaves on both professional and consumer. A coach must be able to trust a client will implement advice in good faith. A coach should not have to seek confirmation that a client is implementing instruction to the best of their abilities. The trust. The reality of the process of structure and regimentation may be something the client has underestimated. It’s not about a client’s ability or level of understanding. trying to build a clientele will have no time to train themselves but will preach time management to their trainees. It is never as simple as Point A to Point B. ‘do this. who coach based on their own past achievements.scottabel. Coaching is not glorified babysitting. Modeling A good coach models the characteristics he expects from his clients. the trust has everything to do with ‘good faith’ within the coaching structure and relationship. Yet we see this reality played out in the Fitness Industry all too frequently. Trainers. They will also vary relatively in terms of motivation and consistency. it’s best to let the potential client go. not a client’s need for a modeling example. A coach needs to also be able to trust that a client will indeed apply prescribed protocol in good faith. There is not a single coach in professional sports who concerns himself in the off‐season with chasing athletes or checking up on athletes to make sure they are staying in shape. It will eventually serve.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The ‘do as I say. Downloaded from http://www. and all others in between. This is especially true for on‐line coaching. and doing their requisite preparation and conditioning. not as I do’ mantra is not effective coaching.com . By contrast. when a 38 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.at .com . even unconsciously as a roadblock between coach and client. So for both groups of client. and the results will be this’. A coach needs to be able to trust a client will communicate truthfully and honestly within the set up of client feedback.at personal goals. the first reality to trust in for the coach is that the process and the relationship will be qualitatively non‐linear. This type of modeling based on past ‘glory days’ only serves a coach’s ego. Trust is also a two‐way street within the coach/client relationship itself. Clients will for certain vary in their ability to follow and implement instruction. and advise him to seek other arrangements. Again. The same type of trust is necessary in the Fitness client relationship as well. therefore.
even though no parent would intend to do so. (the how and the why) Often. even or especially for coaches. measureable.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is the difference between a wannabe coach. However. yet warn their children not to smoke are still more likely to have children who will take up smoking. The coaching focus should always be about keeping advice specific and clear. The coach keeps his focus primarily on the client and the relationship and only secondarily on the prescribed protocol. is not good enough in the real world of coaching. Knowing your stuff. The application of this advice. A good coach should never underestimate that his own actions speak louder than words.com .at . I’ve seen few coaches in the fitness industry who even make this connection as part of the equation as to their own effectiveness. Professional coaches are often the first to arrive and the last to leave. situationally.at client can know and feel that a coach is applying the same high performance demands to himself. and it must be reflective of a lifestyle of living one’s own truth. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. this mental example is worth a million words. This type of modeling is not to be confused with physical prowess or application. Interaction with a client must be focused and must be specific to that client. must be manageable. for the client. The elements of 39 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. By example. even a high level competitor is actually more in need of modeling than he is of just a change of protocol. in terms of day to day occurrences. Focused The good coach needs to have his focus in the right place. This is true. In studying much respected professional coaches we see what they model is a passion for the job and sincerity in its application. Talk is cheap. and the truly great coaches who are subject of study in many different fields. a potential client. we see in parenting the most effective means of prevention for anything is via modeling the exact behaviours. A great coach can go beyond just giving a client a program and diet to follow (the what). They garner respect as the modeling leaves the player or employee wanting to emulate the same level of commitment and diligence. This is especially true when problems arise or circumstances interfere with the client’s motivation or application of protocol. no two clients will share exactly the same life experience or attitudes. or in terms of their attitude toward consistency of applying protocol to achieve specific ends. We are talking here about qualities of character. modeling must be sincere. it must be unconscious. Parents who smoke. but is himself an illustration of how to be disciplined and responsible in terms of demanding higher performance. Obese parents are more likely to raise obese or overweight kids etc. No two clients will think alike.com .scottabel. having accomplished something a long time ago. Modeling is a tremendous characteristic to impart in the coach/client relationship. and particular. or worse. especially text book knowledge.
Unfortunately.at . the focus is client‐centred. but re‐channels it. the 6 week commitment. and a longer term emphasis which was measureable. This way. Obviously in both examples. The best coaches can communicate as much from the client’s perspective and attitude as from their own. at their own rate.scottabel. So I gave particular instruction that would have a day to day journaling of protocol and accountability to me for a 6 week period.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. or not. Again. Focused attention on the client means not expecting any more than a given client is capable of. It was always one step forward and two steps back. It was just enough emphasis to be manageable and non‐threatening. Communication Skills: Goal Oriented This characteristic of a good coach builds on the previous few discussed above. not according to some arbitrary expectations of a coach. As often as possible.scottabel. The client had not ever put together a consistent effort over a two to three week period. advanced communication skill is a talent which is composed of many other elements of communication ability and experience. Clients will progress.com . can evaluate and assess how well they manage and measure up to the advice given.at ‘manageable. Downloaded from http://www. For some clients commitment to protocol and consistency is a given.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. focused client‐attention can and should give the client the means for self‐assessment. whatever that may be. A good coach can effectively put himself in the shoes of his client. a coach does not expect any more than the client’s current capacities and abilities allow. measurable. most were just rationalizations. This is a skill acquired and developed from experience. but to communicate more effectively. this capacity really cannot be taught or studied to be acquired. The focused‐advice in such an example is to give the client something tangible where they themselves. and particular’ do not mean always being subject to the coach’s evaluation and assessment. not to sympathize. If I am coaching an offensive lineman from the NFL. than if I am training a shy 12 year old figure skater who has a controlling parent. and the accountability was specific (particular) to the client’s issue of consistency. and within this focus. Focused attention on the client doesn’t take responsibility from them. 40 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. to focus on the program and not the client is to fail as a coach. some were legitimate. For others this may be the exact problematic issue. The excuses varied. In short.com . I had a client who was terrible with consistency. For instance. my language will be much different and therefore my tactics of communication. to them. It had just enough support from me to engage the client to a higher performance standard. we had a mutual short term emphasis of day to day journaling. A coach can easily and effectively place himself in his client’s working environment.
Many goals presented by a client will not be realistic and a coach does a person no favours by indulging these goals without comment. At the same time. from three different walks of life. especially in the Fitness Industry make the mistake of coaching only from their own vantage point.scottabel. It truly begins here. who has never played basketball.” Before I can even engage any one of these people as a potential client. Downloaded from http://www. I have to be able to communicate to them from their level of reality. Most coaches spend decades acquiring real world domain knowledge in a given arena. and not deflating their motivation to undertake the process of coaching in order to gain what they think the “20 lbs of muscle gain and fat loss” would add to their lives. For me to coach effectively for both clients.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and drop 20 lbs of fat. 35 year old man. ability.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com The coach must be able to relate to the tremendous disparity of knowledge. from not only my own experienced vantage point. Too many coaches. to communicate this effectively also means not crushing their self‐esteem.scottabel. who all want to “gain 20 lbs of muscle. Client lifestyle or anthropometric assessments makes some goals unrealistic for clients. who has already been competing for several years. I’ve had inquiries from three different people. Obviously. And while this example seems obvious.com . And to be able to do this effectively. if I have a stay at home mom who has gained unwanted weight and feels inadequate and self‐conscious enough to seek on‐line coaching. not just my own.at . her real world of experience is qualitatively much different than the competitor I coach. It’s only the Fitness Industry which seems to lead people to believe they can become experts by studying text books 41 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. This goes right back to what I consider the fundamental mandate of real and true coaching: and this is the desire to do right over the need to be right. In terms of goal‐orientation. why these goals are unrealistic for them. Communication skills need to also convey a respectful attitude even when delivering criticism. a 5’ 3”. as I write this. the coach in the Fitness Industry should acknowledge that these types of promises are made and marketed on a daily basis within the industry and its fringes. Communication skills need to be both effective and clear. This week alone. For example. specific communication skills often require being honest and realistic with clients. at least in the short term. is not going to make it to the NBA just because he acquires my coaching expertise.com . Knowledgeable Obviously a great coach has to be knowledgeable about his field of endeavour. A good effective communicator can exempt his own pride for the sake of effective communication with a client. I first have to step outside my expertise and explain to each of them. I have to be able to relate to each of them. skill. and environment of any given client. but from their less worldly one as well.
track coaches. This is a blind spot for the industry which continues a myopic focus on specialized knowledge at the expense of any focus at all on the real working environment of the fitness professional. etc. I witness far too much of this in the new era of coaching in the fitness industry. The confidence a client has in a coach is directly proportional to a coach’s communication skills. supplement or health gimmick.scottabel. and more importantly.scottabel. all have spent most of their lives in the trenches of the specific domain where they now coach. Downloaded from http://www. not deeper scientific explanations. clients need to be confident of the coach’s level of competence and that he knows the ‘job’ as well as anyone else. The Fitness Industry misleads consumers and wannabe experts with the impression that domain knowledge is all that is required for expertise moving forward. Domain knowledge is but a mere component part. This relationship element of focus must be one of professionalism and skill. not his domain knowledge.at . the industry gives the impression that “certified = qualified”. The effective coach again. the elusive aspect for the coach is that this ‘job’ is client‐ centred and not information‐based. not on them. Most of the questions that clients will have are matters for qualitative deduction.at or reading industry periodicals. The effective 42 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. works with people. There is indeed a level of specificity involved in true coaching prowess. you never see coaches who spent their lives in basketball suddenly becoming professional hockey coaches. However. real‐world of working with the willing fitness client. Seldom have any of these coaches spent time in “study” of acquiring knowledge to be good coaches. basketball. the coach’s knowledge base should not be a source of pride or arrogance used in the coach/client relationship. or demonstrated tremendous frustration to a level of speaking which was entirely over their heads.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I will often get clients inquiring as to the viability of some latest exercise. he does not need to be a rocket scientist within it. Coaching is a specific and unique talent and ability. hockey.com . I do not have to know the never ending pseudo science or real science behind a cleanse to understand the motivational factors behind a client’s inquiry about it. or worse yet. Domain knowledge for a coach should merely be another resource for them to tap into during the coaching process. These “experts” may be interesting to follow in a lecture format. A good Fitness Coach of course should have adequate working knowledge of the field. A good coach receives greater respect and loyalty when clients feel and know they are in good hands. Yes. Moreover. however. (“cleansing” pops into my mind as an example) As a coach. For instance. but they would make terrible coaches on the front lines. And by example. but it does not encompass it. Football. I’ve witnessed some of the smartest and most respected experts in the Fitness Industry give lectures where most people either walked out.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Domain knowledge fits comfortably within this frame. in terms of the coach’s relationship with them during the process. both in terms of application of protocol.
Observation Skills This is another aspect of the qualitative talent of coaching which is seldom addressed. This is especially true for long term career sustainability. the better he will coach them.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. Therefore. gathering more scientific information is eventually a losing battle in real‐world coaching. Ongoing communication with a client can foster opportunities for the coach to foresee patterns that are either desired or undesired. This necessitates observation skills which individualize client feedback to see realities the client may be ignorant to. This is true even of a vast majority of people who may share similar needs. For on‐line coaches. or nip potential problems in the bud. both for positive or negative. the individual himself is negated. is a tougher skill set to develop. the actual interaction with individuals becomes increasingly negated. The coach can then act promptly and pre‐emptively to reinforce good patterns. The more efficient a coach is at coaching individuals as individuals. can give a coach assessment strategies which effectively and purposely allow him to ‘read between the lines’. the coach who continues to focus attention on gathering information to impress and dazzle clients with his knowledge base is actually making a statement that he is focused on himself more than his client. not just the “what”. Indeed.com . but far more imperative to effective coaching. while effective coaching has more to do with a mentality of ‘observe and evaluate’. observation skills are particularly relevant. Therefore. Domain knowledge is subservient to the triangle of awareness to effective coaching skill and ability.com . understanding their strengths and weaknesses. 43 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Plain and simple.at coach addresses the relevant “why” for the source of the inquiry. Knowledge and information should be shared and delivered as the client’s capacity and awareness dictates. The Fitness Industry continues to focus an emphasis on a ‘measure and test’ mentality. Yet because the industry tirelessly and endlessly narrows its focus on exercise and physical affects and effects. The coach’s job once again is to be guiding light and mirror to his clients. physically. Observation skills. it is only a component part of the job of coaching which is more relationship based. Psychologically. but of relative value within the coach/client relationship. but also what may not be being said as well.scottabel. being ‘knowledgeable’ is important. emotionally. mentally. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. while it’s imperative for a coach to study and attain a certain level of domain knowledge. Knowing your clients.at . This psychological reality translates to the coach being less effective rather than more effective within his relationship with clients. because they are based on actual individuals rather than programs. Assessing client feedback necessitates advanced communication skills which can intuitively involve observation and evaluation not only of what is being said.
The true coach begins from a position of self‐respect. and the emotionally arrested. and mental capacities as well as varied physical capabilities. Yet the client had not put a real week’s worth of training into the current program. lab coat experts’ caters only to those to whom book knowledge makes sense etc. emotional. there is no pride to hurt or offence to take because respect for the relationship is a given from the onset. that he was not who he presented himself to be. For instance.com . I coach doctors. After a few months the client asked for a new program. nor was he worthy of a new program. I had to lay out for this client the reality that by comparison to the hundreds of other people I train and coach.at For example. he was the least consistent and committed person I had seen to date. This isn’t so much because of shared interest. students.scottabel.scottabel. Currently. Downloaded from http://www. All have varied intellectual. He did not need.com . In this example. competitors train competitors.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I used this as a statement point for a reality check.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. observation skills far outweigh the need to measure and test any particular physical skills or anthropometric measurement. it was obvious he was delusional in his self‐ perception. all the way to bartenders. (the coach’s triangle of awareness again) More often than not a given client’s goals may have to be re‐examined and re‐framed in order to be realistic and workable. but because of 44 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. both pro and amateur. He had not worked in a way where he could have possibly adapted to the current program. I also pointed out to him that as a trainer and leader for his own clients. and to what specific areas they may lack in terms of reaching their goals. which is earned. In fact.at . this client lacked real‐world commitment on almost every front. For the coach. Regular feedback from this client was filled with inconsistencies and excuses for missed workouts and lack of diet adherence. he hadn’t put together even one solid week of consistent and committed dieting and training. the ‘egg head. I once had a client who was also a trainer. university professors. This client was all about “appearance” and “posing”. high level competitors. The effective coach is respectful always of where the client is coming from. as well as overweight housewives. and not who he thinks himself to be. in no uncertain terms. so called ‘coaches’ can only be effective when coaching clients who think exactly as they do. Respectful A coach like me deals and engages people from all walks of life. Yet. We witness this divisiveness throughout the fitness industry. He missed and cancelled appointments with his clients. and then envelops the coaching relationship within it. in coaching this client. I had to tell this client. or can or cannot handle in terms of feedback and critique. doormen. People would not listen to him for long if he didn’t model his own instruction and advice to clients. bodybuilders train bodybuilders. Too often. He considered himself a ‘high end’ trainer and competitor. The respectful coach can and should avoid making assumptions of what a client can or cannot do. captains of industry. he was dropping the ball.
With a healthy backbone of self‐ respect. no matter how busy or occupied the coach may be.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Leadership and guidance requires patience above all else. It is once again. disregard. from the client’s level of perception and knowledge.com . this acceptance for the ‘like‐minded’ only. For those seeking a career in Fitness.at . Self‐respect for a coach is actually more about humility than arrogance. A client may indeed be ignorant of information or knowledge a coach may consider mundane or rudimentary. about understanding the importance of doing right for the client. However. or even portrayed as being some kind of nuisance. no matter how simple such inquiries may seem to the coach. it does not enhance it. This is not to be confused with arrogance. rather than being right for validation purposes. Patience means giving this question and this client due energy and enthusiasm in response. Patience Absolutely part and parcel of being respectful results in a tone and attitude of patience in the coach/client relationship. As already discussed in chapter 3. is limiting for long term prospects. Its part of the context of being respectful discussed above. And this cure is indeed part of the coach’s mandate. This stunts the coach’s effectiveness. the coach can correctly be respectful of the coach/client relationship as well. This does not ever mean a client is stupid. not arrogance. Patience means the coach is consistently acknowledging the client’s own perspective.com . as well. patience needs exercise to become an ongoing skill and trait of advanced coaching. from engaging clients with a patronizing or arrogant attitude when addressing client inquiries. Anyone who undertakes instruction in a field foreign or unfamiliar to them will be trusting the instructor to not only teach but to meet them with a certain attitude of decorum.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. So the coaching relationship begins first. and limiting to the coach’s own personal growth as well. with a coach’s well‐rounded attitude for his own self‐respect. A specific client may be asking the coach a question the coach has fielded one million times already. The effective coach works directly from the perspective that ignorance is curable. it is still a necessary question from the client’s perspective or he wouldn’t ask it. Imagine if questions are met with an attitude of disdain.at limited communication skills and closed minds. relative to his own within the ongoing coach/client interaction and process. An attitude of patience prevents the coach. And this lack of respect for a client’s alternative perspective weakens the coach’s potential impact on clients as well. but it is one guaranteed to sustain the coach in a working environment in this. This is a very mature and advanced coaching characteristic.scottabel. 45 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The coach needs to be able to understand the client. Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. or any other industry.
serves the coach vocationally as well. and patient manner.at By example. where they supposedly are ‘there to help’ I’ve been met with attitudes of arrogance. Be Clear Having to repeat yourself louder and more slowly (even in regards to attitude and tone only) is an application of arrogance. Talking down to.com . respectful. This only enhances the coach’s communication skills. Moreover. Downloaded from http://www. Several times when I have been to giant stores. So the coach should be respectful and patient to all client inquiry and interaction. There are many ways of accomplishing this. because it reinforces his own viability.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The obvious realization of humility for a good coach is that if a client did indeed have the same level of knowledge and implementation and skill‐set of the coach. There is no downside to unwavering patience as a coaching characteristic.scottabel. if a client isn’t getting the coach’s message then repeating it several times serves little purpose. especially if there is confusion or lack of understanding. because he addresses this question from the context of each client as an individual.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. while a question or inquiry may be old to the coach. If real coaching is indeed about coaching the person and not the program. Communication precision is a requisite skill for a competent coach to acquire. but in retail attention as well. then the coach would be out of business. When employing the element of patience to answering even the most mundane questions.scottabel. Once again. only to be met by the ‘expert’ who converts the ignorance to a perception of ‘stupidity’. both for the coach in the immediate relationship and service of his client. the coach reinforces his own skills from the old working adage that “teaching is like learning twice over”. Whenever I witness such an interaction it reminds and reinforces to me the importance of patience in my own role in a client‐centred business. This is patronizing to adults. then it necessitates a coach being clear and concise while engaging the client. I’ve witnessed this many times not only in the Fitness Industry from coaches or trainers who lack patience. At the same time I’ve seen experts in these places only too eager to help or engage consumers in a friendly. If the client does not understand the coach’s intended message or instruction. It’s all about professional etiquette.com . then this is on the coach to be clearer. or talking above the heads of clients both tend to treat clients as ‘stupid’ rather than ‘unaware’. The coach needs to be able to communicate the instruction or feedback from the client’s perspective. and no adult will tolerate this for long. Moreover. impatience. the coach may answer this question several different ways over time. and patronizing my lack of knowledge. There is only tremendous upside.at . serving others appropriately. In particular I’ve seen this at Home Depot where people seem to be ‘inconvenienced’ by inquiries which illustrate a consumer’s ignorance. 46 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. and in terms of growing his own coaching skills as well.
There are tons of examples of fake coaches out there who deliberately talk over client’s heads as a means to try to intimidate them into following instruction and leadership. Over time. because this is still a one‐way communication from coach to client. and ineffective coaching.com . true assertiveness is a strength which should not be confused with aggressiveness. or ‘at’ the client. since it is so often ignored. The problem here is a misinterpretation of what this term actually means and implies as a coaching characteristic. A coach is a leader and leaders must lead. To insure clarity. not mutually engaged toward the client’s goals. But it doesn’t end here. one way styles of communication from coach to client only moves the two further apart.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. assertive 47 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. In other words. People come to certain Forums to make posts that are all about the WOW factor of intellect. with and for. Eventually.at One of the surest ways for being able to reach a client is by use of analogy. Yet these people do not seem to realize they fail to have very much impact in the real world of results and application. this approach will only create continued frustration and resentment from this style of one‐way communication. False confidence is not assertiveness. Being assertive is about maintaining a strong presence without demanding subordination. that it becomes an actual characteristic of good coaching. But this is false leadership.at .com . Once again this reinforces the point to as much as possible talk ‘with’ the client. Moreover. he should already have a certain understanding of that individual. The point about clarity is in establishing and continually reiterating an understanding of the coach’s agenda on the client’s behalf. Assertiveness An effective coach must be assertive. Yet this common sense necessity is so often over‐looked and underplayed. a good coach will think of an example of an analogy to employ that speaks to the client from their own sphere of influence.scottabel. the client. To do so with anything short of an assertive attitude is to lose the position as a perceived strong and capable leader. I’ve seen this as well even on my own web Forums and other web forums. To make a message more meaningful and clear for a client. Furthermore. Talking down to. the coach should engage the client to reiterate the message back to him in some form. Since the true coach coaches the person not the program. the coach can ascertain if clarity is satisfied or not.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. or talking above the head’s of clients is instead about trying to co‐opt the client to obedience. Downloaded from http://www. Being clear also implies ensuring this clarity by engaging the client’s own feedback. which is a weakness. This is an important element of client interaction too often over‐looked. As the client repeats the message or the analogy back to the coach. being clear in communication is all about creating a mindset of cooperation. a good coach will be the boss without necessarily being bossy. and not just ‘to’ the client. So.
Instead it serves as an assertive statement as to the structure of the client focus. Being properly assertive is to once again re‐address the role of coach.com . Arguing differences of philosophy or methodology lead away from the relationship in real terms. engaging consistent interaction over this method or that method eventually leads to a consistent focus of “what is missing” rather than an emphasis on meaningful application of what is actually there. At some point there should exist a mutual understanding of the coach’s knowledge and leadership as the focused structure of the relationship.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. client physical improvements.at leadership which is client and relationship based‐ not program based‐will garner loyalty and respect.Downloaded from http://www. But assertiveness must be sincere. People engage the coach for help in the process of achieving their goals. this leads to that one way type of communication which is destined to break down. or none of them”. that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. To do so takes both the coach and the client away from the ‘client‐focused’ element of process. Assertiveness is about the client engagement.com . The coach’s job is 1) engage the horse’s thirst. They have little to do with sharpening specific skills for quantifying. it does not close the door to inquiry. In this sense. not the protocol.at .scottabel. it should not have to be consistently proven within client interaction. Trust in the coach should already have been consistently built upon. By analogy. This should not be a central or even fringe element of client interaction. So while there are many ways of doing things or accomplishing goals. This analogy should be re‐examined on a regular basis for the effective coach to maintain proper perspective regarding asserting himself within the relationship. the relationship element of coaching necessitates the reality for the Fitness client.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. not some kind of act or role playing. and reduces it instead to classroom type pontificating. However. How then are these characteristics viable and essential? To what aspect of coaching do they actually address? 48 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. which is relationship based. measuring or testing. In essence. “I call all the shots. not build up. and 2) lead him to the water appropriately. Too Many Cooks All the above characteristics imply the coach keeps an open mind particularly in terms of ongoing client interaction. The person has hired the coach for a specific reason.scottabel. not protocol based. the job of coach is not to make the “horse” drink the water. Notes for Mentoring Students • Note that all the above characteristics of a good coach are qualitative in nature. When I say to new clients. this should not be mistaken for inviting other expert opinion into the relationship on a regular basis.
with the standard of each slice of equal size. this is qualitatively impossible. and give each ‘slice’ an appropriate size in terms of which of these characteristics you exercise the most (the largest slices) and which of these you seem to exercise the least. • Examine how the “triangle of awareness” from Chapter 3 is affected by the characteristics of a good coach. (the smallest slices) The perfect ‘pie’ graph has each slice the same size. These characteristics must be flexible to recognizing the client.com . And how do these characteristics further enhance the triangle of awareness? 49 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. So employ your own honest pie graph. and the ongoing nature of interactive application of any particular emphasis above. every so often.Downloaded from http://www. Re‐graph the pie. In real life.scottabel.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and consistently changing and flexible according to both the individual client.scottabel. and use the pie slices as a reference. this pie graph is alive. • From your own experience. examine two to three recent client interactions.at • Make a pie graph for each slice of ‘characteristics of the coaching pie’. In other words. All these characteristics of a good coach exist in unison but not in concert at any particular time. Where were you weak? Where were you strong? How could you improve? • Honestly sit back and evaluate the pie graph slice by slice. Put the two side by side so you can constantly and consistently exercise the characteristics of whatever seems to be your own smaller slices. and the current situation or discourse. • Also be aware and observe that each client as an individual will also require a different emphasis of interaction at any given time.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Place it somewhere visible for you to see consistently.com .
Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . Downloaded from http://www.at SECTION 2 Developing Advanced Coaching Skills 50 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org .scottabel.
emotional. Trainer Focus is on program application Coach Focus is on client Focus is one‐dimensional: physical Focus is multi‐dimensional: physical. environmental etc (the triangle of awareness) Autocratic in application Democratic in interaction Talks a lot Listens a lot Dictates Inquires Prevents and Instructs Presumes and Assumes Explores and Interacts Seeks Control Seeks Commitment Demands and Commands Challenges and Evaluates Works “on” the client Works “with” the client Puts immediate results first Focuses on the Process Fixes and Solves Seeks Reasons and Linear Cause and Effect Seeks ongoing Results in many forms and allows for plateaus.scottabel. Downloaded from http://www. and even regressions (non‐linear acknowledgment) Assigns blame Take responsibility 51 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel.at Chapter 5 The Coach and Client Entity The rest of this book will be about delving much deeper into concepts previously mentioned.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com .com . To do so. mental. let’s just quickly review the stated and obvious differences between ‘coach’ and ‘trainer’. The role of coach and the relationship of coach and client will be duly explored from several angles.com . stagnation. Thus several themes will be repeated because of their relevance within any given context. And the most basic approach to developing advanced coaching skills is to acknowledge first and foremost the coach “and” client as an interactive entity.
scottabel. But making a client into a “good client” lies well beyond the applications of programs and diets. Yet the coach himself also seeks results. (reflection and mirror component) good or bad. although properly stated. yes. This is the entity to which I referred above. Coach Gambetta said that the coaching role progresses from guiding light to more of a mirror. Specifically address the differences between coaching a ‘program’ and coaching a ‘person’.at . There is neither ownership nor credit for the coach in the client’s achievements or non‐achievements. for both coach and client. as discussed previously. The coach must properly engage a client with a style where the client takes over the responsibility for achieving their own goals. This is achieved by fostering the coaching relationship as the priority with emphasis on protocol. Each client comes from his/her own level of understanding of process demands.at Focus is on “what” and “how” Focus includes “what” and “how” but with more emphasis on “who” “why” and “where”. In order to begin this. It’s the 52 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com . A great coach prepares the client to always be able to hear the truth. having a good client is not a given. Ensuring these. So. The client is the context! This list is not exhaustive. A coach cannot achieve results without good clients. And while the coach also assumes the role of trainer. Notice the differences between the trainer and the coach. nothing more. For the coach. So the circle begins where a client seeks coaching in order to achieve some kind of goal. The coach is the guide. to properly engage and challenge a client requires both tact and diplomacy. I’ve found that a great coach can do both for the duration of the coaching relationship.com . Consistency and compliance are necessary for any measure of achievement.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The role of coach has little to do with “information” once a certain level of knowledge has been acquired and practiced. Downloaded from http://www. This guiding hand should compel the client to be able and willing to act on the coach’s feedback.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the reverse is not necessarily true.scottabel. However. and confident enough to be honest. articulate. It’s included in the column format specifically for quick access to address the obvious and subtle differences between coach and trainer. the coach must be observant. Usually the perception here is that it is the client who seeks achieving results. The coach can only help the client progress to and beyond the goal if the client is indeed a good client. the coach’s results lie within the client’s application and progress. From the above it’s clear that coaching is a special and unique individual relationship between leader and follower. as far as evaluation and assessments are concerned. consistency and compliance is the number one priority in terms of beginning a process of coaching evaluation and assessment: as well as continuing and evolving the “coach and client entity”. making the client become “a good client” should be a conscious and concerted project of the coach.
As mentioned in chapter 4. Instruction such as.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. for true coaching and guidance is completely ignored in the industry which focuses on “instruction” over “guidance”. both for the physical protocol and the actual client. The industry continues to nullify the coach and client entity.scottabel. What seems glaringly obvious. “awareness coaching” is the most natural and effective kind of coaching since it comes from a shared context or field. The client is an expert on himself! Even the self‐deluded client gives the coach pertinent information and insight into how that specific client thinks and feels about his goals and the ongoing process of achieving them. and absolutely essential within the coach and client entity. by taking part with the client in and during their process of application. the determination above of the “coach and client entity”. all kinds of opportunities for coaching present themselves. It’s weak and it’s incomplete. By comparison. One‐way dictation of application is not dialogue and not interaction. (the coach and client entity) However. In this sense. Learning and acknowledging a client’s aptitudes and attitudes is absolutely essential for effective coaching. the current industry one‐way street emphasis of ‘coaching‐ dictation’ is not only incomplete but practically incompetent. yet very few have any idea what client interaction and engagement actually means. “do this program for this many weeks. The nature of the emphasis of client interaction is often ‘stated’ in the Fitness Industry. And it’s a facade the 53 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. and then do this” negates the qualitative differences among individuals. Real coaching is individualized on many levels and each particular coaching relationship will be unique in terms of elements of coaching focus and guidance and instruction. This is not possible if the coach is not present to take notice and offer feedback. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. No one can coach a client they do not know. Instead. It’s very weak instruction at best. by emphasizing that programming and application are something you do “to” the client.com . as well as the ongoing physical process and application. the industry continues to perpetuate this myth at every level of accreditation. This is a profound area of neglect in the fitness industry.at coach whose style and technique form the coach and client entity so that the client is a “good” client. especially among the internet marketers.com . it should be noted that in the Fitness Industry this kind of real coaching is less common because it requires greater skills and attention on the coach’s part.at . It also negates the relationship element upon which the coach and client entity is founded. Listening and responding honestly to a client from a base of knowledge and skilled communication is far and away more effective coaching than the industry myth of just “providing” protocol and advanced information. instead of “with” the client.scottabel. Effective coaching is based on client‐interaction. A client has expertise of tremendous value to a worthy coach. Yet. the coach coaches one client at a time: Hence. regardless of knowledge base. The emphasis of the coach and client entity is on interaction.
no TEAM in professional sports gets to the final championships by emphasizing the final championships from the start of training camp. The aware coach knows these two elements are often not mutually inclusive and more often than not are centred on industry dogma and internet/infomercial gimmicks and promises. Downloaded from http://www. we see the opposite in such examples as “New Years Resolutions”. before and after pictures where the person never maintains the “after” status is misleading to many consumers in this industry. This is faulty thinking. There is a reason 98 % of such resolutions fail. This will have the end result take care of itself. and clients need to be dutifully engaged to understand this deception. For example. Immediate application only leads to absolute results in the long term. It’s a focus on the client’s perceptions and experience of himself within that journey. In contrast to the professional sports example above. Instead they know and work toward this goal with an emphasis on the process of “getting there”.at industry currently hides behind as it continues to “certify” people at all levels without any acknowledgement of the interactive necessity of process and application. properly engaging the full entity of coach and client means getting the client to focus and emphasize on the process at hand.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The coach’s goal is on the process and more importantly client ‘mastery of process’. Instead. For example.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the coach and client entity is about a focus on the journey. Such statements are usually made in the immediate without any contemplation or regard for the long term process of actually achieving these goals. So. Everyone is duly motivated before an undertaking.at . protocol must be matched to a client’s capabilities. with their concurrent emphasis on sacrifice and discipline. This way ‘the goal posts keep moving’ as the saying goes. This represents another of the one‐dimensional mistakes made in the industry. Immediate application only leads to absolute results in the long term. End results are often an illusion created by the commercial and cosmetic side of the industry. a client focus which is only on the long term goal (like a New Year’s resolution) will not likely sustain motivation and 54 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. yet becomes the marketing absolute for perceived goal setting and attainment. The good coach cannot take such claims at face value. But once the dieting and training demands ensue. The same should apply in coaching a fitness client to a long term goal. are very common threads of expression when clients undertake physical transformation goals of diet and training. not necessarily their goals. “I’m willing to do anything” or “this time nothing will stop me”. The emphasis at this level is all about one game at a time and the preparation involved for each and every game at hand. It is easy for any client or person to report to a coach of being “more motivated and inspired than ever before”.com . Motivation cannot be sustained long term. for diet or training. if the focus is primarily placed on results and not the process of getting there. Therefore.com . not the goal.scottabel.
If true goal attainment was only about the protocol. sometimes even week to week.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is also what necessitates follow up and interaction within the coaching relationship. Anyone can go on You Tube and get thousands of variations of exercises and techniques. the residual. and the long term requirements for continued success. Coaching is the relevant people‐ oriented connection of client to program. then by now. By example.com . the experience within reaching them is always relative. the effective coach knows a client is succeeding when they are focused and staying on the right path within the process. And this is the essential acknowledgement in the coach and client entity.com . Yet trainees continue to fail to reach targeted results and most quit and give up entirely within a fixed period of time. not programs. then there is no measure of relevant qualitative assessment and evaluation. The modern trainee ends up bouncing around from one program or workout to the next without a relevant context to abide in and learn from. this is akin to leaving grade 3 students on their own to decide if they are ready for grade 4. Even with effective and proper instruction so widely available. So. The difference is in the quality and style of coaching people. Capitalizing on learning opportunities and teaching opportunities is negated if consistent follow up is not a viable outlet for the client in the coach and client relationship entity. engaging the client to focus on the actual process of application serves the immediate.scottabel. the modern digital environment would have solved everyone’s problems for achieving and sustaining cosmetic results.at . Many clients with physical transformation goals may also not understand that even if they achieve these lofty goals.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Therefore. It’s this reality that leads to what I call “pinballing”. therefore they will always be a hit and miss proposition. Major Websites advertise and promote systems of training all the time. The coach and client entity must acknowledge both the non‐linear aspects of performance as well as creating opportunities for clients to gain positive momentum by reaching even very small goals during the process of application. This emphasis is not on sets and reps. and the application of process. Therefore the coach and client entity is about instruction and guidance through the course of the process undertaking. This even happens 55 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. month to month. but also about a client’s individual ongoing experience within the process as well. Programs and diets are not about people. This coaching reality is what separates the New Year’s resolution‐types of goal setters from the professional sports champions mentioned above. Downloaded from http://www. if the training and diet experience is not matched with some kind of follow up. calories and grams. they may not be likely to be sustained long term. It’s about the process of application yes. but focused attention on the process of “doing”. Merely dictating protocol for a specified time period is arbitrary (actually even lazy) and it does not properly consider or engage the client.at inspiration for the course of time goal‐acquisition will demand. And this coaching takes place more in the mental sphere of the triangle of awareness than it does in the physical sphere of programs and diets. Goals are absolutes.
at en masse where we witness various Forums groups members pontificating and commenting on systems of training or diet. in qualitative terms. There are elements of lifestyle which will always factor into the client’s training and diet regimen. as the goal acquisition is immediately pending. This is not coaching. there is often a tendency to move away from the committed goal.scottabel. “Coaches” instead are reinforced to the illusion of a very narrow and myopic focus and vision that only entertains the physical realm and end results. and body fat is now low to the point where it has consistently affected hunger and energy). and the process of discipline.at . This happens frequently and it’s up to the coach to re‐engage the client to focus on the process.com . that do not elicit true evaluation and assessment for a trainee’s progress. Assigning arbitrary time periods. or more importantly. To reiterate. For example. (They are also not likely to stay with the present coach or trainer either!) What the industry misses all too often is that coaches need to understand a client from 56 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. not a career. it is mediocre training. this element of coaching. if a client is not progressing toward their personal goals. they are not likely to stay on course. capability. This has everything to do with discipline in process. Another difference within the coach and client entity is the nature of the focus of process. the reason behind their work and efforts if they are going to truly value and embrace the results of both. but they add pressure to people who pursue fitness as a lifestyle commitment. on‐going opinion and editorial dressed up as expertise. when clients are at the highest levels of challenge (say. strict dieting for weeks and weeks. The coach and client entity should always be properly focused on the process of the application of protocol. This is why the concept of the coach and client entity is such an important consideration.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This must take place at the pace a client’s lifestyle.com . what I refer to as the coach and client entity is virtually ignored in this industry. Clients may need to be consistently reminded over time about the bigger picture aspect of their goals. In so doing. and linear time tables are not only unrealistic. and understanding allow. Realistically. coaches who merely focus on the physical realm also tend to lose track of the focus on the client’s process of moving forward. A client must learn to understand. And there are elements of personality which effect the client commitment just as equally. instead of a sense of achievement and celebration. The non‐physical realm remains completely ignored by the industry in terms of relevance. not just the attainment of the specific goal. Beyond the physical protocol itself is the necessity of lifestyle focus for true long term goal acquisition and continued progress and sustainability. if they are not experiencing growth and challenge and enjoyment within the process. Downloaded from http://www. However. but merely instead. At best. And this approach is completely limited in scope. Yet the triangle of awareness is the specific strength of the coach and client entity.scottabel. the negligent coach is actually only adding an increased sense of pressure to the process.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.
Since the coach and client entity engages the client from the client’s own level of understanding. An effective coach needs to follow the steps of always “crawl before you walk. Since the goal is to build client confidence and competence. and repeat yourself as a coach. This is especially true in the early stages of the coach/client relationship. serve as fantastic coaching tools within the coach and client entity. It begs the question how this fact of human interaction can be so widely missed and negated in the fitness industry. and not solely on the coach’s knowledge base. In contrast. once again. the coach who is engaging the client from the client’s own level of awareness. For any client in any realm. While the industry continues to reinforce assessing clients and working on their weaknesses. common knowledge for the coach may be brand new and intimidating to the client. this also begets a discussion of praise and criticism within the coach and client entity.at . The coach more appropriately works to a client’s strengths while managing his weaknesses. well beyond their current position or goals. This has little to do with the client’s physical goals and more to do with appropriately engaging the client during the process of application of protocol. 57 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. And the answer is because the role of “coach” is never properly addressed. and walk before you run” within the coach and client interaction. from the client’s level of awareness it also means the coach not assume too much regarding that awareness. than to throw too much at a client at one time. One of the most effective means of implementing advice and instruction in this way is via example. then clarity and learning is more likely.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. If the coach can aptly take a concept a client does not understand.at the position of the client. The goal is to enhance the client’s subjective experience and level of personal awareness. this type of engagement is more likely to secure ongoing commitment and a positive experience. Once again this serves to make the process more challenging and enjoyable. It’s better always to go too slow. However. This takes tremendous skill and competence in the role of coach.scottabel. the true coaching focus is about guiding the client to move on. Client interaction and more importantly client instruction should proceed in a one step at a time teaching environment. But it also.scottabel. To understand the job beyond the job. Since effective coaching is all about dealing with the client. Analogy and metaphor.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The coach and client entity works with the client from here. but present it in a form or story or example from the client’s own sphere of influence. baby‐steps application. illustrates the difference between high end coaching compared to mediocre trainer application. considering the client’s perspective and not the coach’s knowledge base. knows this to be counter‐intuitive. This also reinforces that the relationship focus must be properly centred on the client’s level of awareness. the Fitness Industry has coaches and trainers mistakenly embracing the notion that they work with clients from some advanced knowledge base. Downloaded from http://www. a coaching mentality of crawl before you walk. makes good sense. there is a stark difference in the nature of the process. What is old hat.com .com .
This is certainly true in competitive sports. how and when praise and criticism are delivered can mean the difference in client progress or client stagnation and failure. This part of application should be expected. Rewards must vary according to the levels of performance capabilities of a client. It must have meaning and context. it is not true in other coaching.scottabel. All clients are different. However. (We will address client empowerment later) A client should always be encouraged toward a sense of mastery of performance and protocol. The long term requirement of a child to “do” homework means the child must internalize the necessity to do so. However this is different from client encouragement and empowerment. on the coach’s part. Downloaded from http://www. The caveat here is that if praise is a consistent application or given just for following instruction.at Praise and Criticism Praise and criticism are part of any real coaching environment. And both will vary in every single client relationship. allows the child to find his way to this expectation. teaching.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. a parent should always encourage a child to do their homework. 58 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The same reality exists in the coach and client entity. To institute praise as a structured component to client feedback is a fake and phoney implementation. delivering client praise or criticism is all about understanding and being adept at nuance.com . My own early background in high level performance competitive sports led me to believe at a young age that high praise and harsh criticism were part and parcel of performance coaching. Praise cannot be a structured consideration to approaching client feedback. and they will be sceptical of receiving it as well.at . Often how clients accept and handle praise and criticism will give the coach a great deal of pertinent information about the client. good athletes do not seek consistent praise. It should not elicit praise. And clients following instruction should be expected from a coach. Not all clients will have this level of comprehension.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This will also be true of any client who has realistic goals and a realistic understanding of what will be required to achieve them.com . In this sense. then over time said praise will have far less impact and meaning to its recipient. and guidance environments. Encouragement.scottabel. encouragement is praise. But encouragement in the process should not be confused with praising a client merely for following instruction. Once again. A client should always be encouraged toward that sense mastery of defined tasks and disciplines required for goal acquisition. and want to do so. Rewarding someone merely for following instruction sends the wrong message. However. on his own. but not offer material rewards or pats on the back for doing so. A good coach must consider the long term consequences for client receiving praise that is unearned. For example. But rewarding a child for performing a requirement of being a student will not lead to the child internalizing the necessity and value of its pursuit. For example. and see the need to do so.
it all leads to self‐doubt. This leads to a result of a pressure to perform rather than an understanding and mastery of the prescribed protocol and its experience. Over‐instruction and presentation of protocol as some kind of absolute alienate a client from even being able to feel or sense their own level of improvement or performance.com . Too much instruction is faulty and unnecessary. At the same time the client can be praised for how far they’ve come by committing so far to the diet in an uncompromising manner. fancy exercises and complicated equipment can be overwhelming. in this case the client can be engaged to recognize for all actions there are results and consequences. the opposite of performance mastery. so to speak. All these external cue emphasis of dogmatic application and prescription of protocol only incite a perception of right and wrong for the trainee. Crazy training tempos. and the diet indulgence has definitely sabotaged the end goal. such an emphasis makes the process cold and meaningless. This is usually at the expense of passion. interaction also needs to be supportive of how well a client has done up to that point. Overtime.com .at This expectation from the coach to the client needs to be acknowledged right from the beginning. And yet this has been the status quo of the industry for decades. rather than alive and interactive in consideration of a client’s own performance awareness.at . These are the things the coach ‘should be’ encouraging. When put into a client protocol application. this is a current vogue mistake in the Fitness Industry. leads to situations where praise exempts encouragement. For instance. Too much instruction. But praise and critique need also be balanced as well in order to be constructive. Once again. So.scottabel. One such situation which tends to frequently present itself is in the diet application. like we see on all these industry websites sends the wrong message to trainees. either implicitly or delicately. So while interaction needs to address and critique how and why the slip happened. Downloaded from http://www. This encouragement toward performance mastery can be destroyed by too much coaching interference and instruction. Because of the confusion and unnecessary complication of protocol.scottabel. Then they end up seeking coaching confirmation for whether what they are doing is “right” or not. A client may warrant critique but be in need of praise at critical times during the application of process and within the interactive learning environment. commitment and self‐expression. The 59 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. too much emphasis on the protocol rather than the client. and once again concentrates too much emphasis in the physical realm at the expense of the triangle of awareness in coaching.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. They can be necessary both at the same time.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. A coaching emphasis based on ‘demands and commands’ engender a sense of obsession and often even desperation among clients. mathematical formula’s. A client can often be coasting along swimmingly well at dieting and then fall off the wagon. Yet praise and criticism are also not mutually exclusive either. clients end up seeking validation or praise rather than being encouraged to test themselves within the application.
at client can be reminded they are indeed human. but not false confidence. Specifically for yourself. Popularity or likeability is less important than respect and leadership within the coach and client entity. So a sense of praise and encouragement in this case is also balanced with a rational element of critique. If you had to score yourself somewhere between each category. the requisite interaction has little to do with the physical realm other than the behaviour itself. As hinted at previously regarding praise: it’s important to build client‐confidence.com . When coaching is properly and dutifully placed within the coach and client entity as it should be. yes. not a robot. Notes for Mentoring Students • • Address the two columns regarding the difference between trainer and coach at the beginning of this chapter. Anything less than dealing head on with difficult issues that necessitate critique is ineffective and impotent coaching.com . advising. then the diplomacy for proper balance of critique and praise is easier to come by. Address and discuss the coach and client entity. what points are most relevant as teaching tools? 60 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. A coach needs to be a strong enough leader to be able to deal with such issues as soon as they present themselves. There is no punishment or embarrassment to assume. And notice in this example. Often when critique is called for. For a coach to avoid or refuse dealing with a difficult issue requiring critique. To reiterate the lesson in the above example: The coaching client may require critique for mistakes or misapplication at the exact same time he may require praise or encouragement to have a proper sense of competence and confidence to continue even while addressing whatever mistake is being addressed. a coach’s silence on such matters means he either doesn’t care or he endorses the actual circumstances by not addressing them. or addressing poor performance or other elements of client self‐sabotage not only allows these issues to fester and grow.Downloaded from http://www. but they can become patterns as well.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. there is a tendency for some coach to develop and exercise what are known as “avoidance tactics”. Again. only delays a situation which will certainly be more pronounced by the time it is addressed. Then mark where along this line your current focus and abilities lie.scottabel. The expression in legal parlance is “silence construes consent”. How and where could you more effectively improve your coaching focus? Come back to this column especially when evaluating your own performance and emphasis with specific clients. Not correcting.scottabel. where would you fall? Draw a line connecting each point across of trainer to coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is an important axiom for a coach to embrace within the coach and client entity.at . commenting.
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What element of ‘expertise’ does every single client bring into the coach and client
relationship, regardless of knowledge or ability? Explore how this helps you as a coach.
Why is ‘mastery of process’ so important for the coach in terms of coaching his clients?
What lessons are learned from the pro sports arenas in this regard?
Explore and compare the coaching example of the ‘New Year’s Resolution’ type of
client, to the pro sports example. Discuss the difference regarding the elements of
focus. What common mistakes are made by those who fit the former category? What
lessons does this offer you as a coach in terms of client evaluation and instruction?
Think of an actual example where you could employ the use of metaphor or analogy or
storytelling to help a client relate to a relevant teaching point.
Why is it more important to work to a client’s strengths in terms of coaching focus and
process? What is the added value for the client?
Consider the differences between praise and encouragement. Think of a real‐life
example where you could demonstrate the difference.
©2010 Scott Abel
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Coach as Teacher
As I’ve stated throughout the text thus far the most important factor for a coach to address is
that the nature of his job is one that is relationship‐oriented and client‐focused. Within this
context, the role of coach is a composite of many different relationships coming together.
Sometimes I use the analogy of parent and child to illustrate the coach/client relationship. Yet,
even within the parent and child context, the parent also plays an obvious role as teacher. So,
while I make comparisons by analogy of the coaching relationship; these comparisons are not
literal, but rather instructive. The coach is a component element of many relationships, which
we may use to better understand the job of coach. However, the job of coach is one which is
also unique unto itself; so these comparisons are illustrative for sure. Examining the various
roles or obvious comparisons to other leadership roles is a very useful tool for understanding
not only the role of a coach, but the person who is coach. And this is extremely important for
So, while the parent/child relationship yields some useful means of understanding the
coach/client relationship, the teacher/student relationship is a more apt representation of
“context”. We can all recall good or bad, exciting or boring teachers from our past. When we do
so, we realize that it wasn’t so much the material being taught that made the learning
experience what it was. No, what lent to our learning experience being either exciting or
boring, meaningful or meaningless, was more often than not entirely about the teacher.
Teachers who connect to their students have more impact on them and enhance the learning
environment for the student. The take home message here, regarding effective teaching is that
it has far less to do with domain knowledge than it does with teaching skills and elements of
personality. Teaching goes beyond instruction. All teachers instruct. The difference between a
truly effective teacher and a non effective teacher, then, has little to do with the curriculum
and everything to do with the teacher himself. Ironically most of us will also recall, not by
coincidence, that our favourite teachers were also the ones from whom we learned the most
“material”. For the potential coach in the Fitness Industry, these lessons need to be explored.
Coaches need to realize that a simple or deep knowledge of the job has little to do with an
expertise to being able to teach it effectively. While trainers run around looking for what’s
new, and seeking more information, the coach focuses on what is relevant. And for the coach
as teacher, the most relevant question to ask, is “who is my client?” Teaching begins from this
point of relevance. Once the coach answers the question “who is my student”, the nature of
the relationship is different. Effective teaching is about fully embracing and understanding that
the coach is not teaching a “what” here; he is teaching a “who”. This doesn’t negate the need
©2010 Scott Abel
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for a working mastery of the subject matter. But it does put it in its proper perspective. If the
goal is to be a great coach/teacher, then subject matter is secondary to establishing an effective
relationship with the client/student. The truth to embrace here is that the coach as a teacher
teaches CLIENTS, not MATERIAL. This is a fundamental difference from the “trainer mentality”
so heavily endorsed in the Fitness Industry.
The first consideration for most coaches in the Fitness Industry is that coaching people has
everything to do with respect. Effective teachers never consider their students “stupid” just
because they may be ignorant of the subject matter. To patronize adults with an attitude of
superiority is not coaching. Lecturing, if you will, is as non‐effective for the coach/client as it is
for the parent/child relationship. It is seldom effective because it is one way discourse. And
when coaching adults as most coaches in the Fitness Industry will be doing; lecturing them from
a position of elitism portrays disrespect. Most potential students will turn off and tune out to
this approach to teaching. We hear of this example a lot as well in the medical field. All of us
know someone who was frustrated by a Doctor talking way over their heads with a patronizing
attitude toward their own medical care. The same mistake exists in the coaching relationship in
the fitness industry as well.
The most elementary mistake made in the role of teacher is forgetting it is the student who is
the focus and not the teacher. Incompetence is often displayed by coaches who focus on their
own intellectual prowess, their own mastery of the subject matter, and their own
implementation of industry jargon and buzz words. When teachers do this, they simply build a
wall to understanding. More often than not they do this deliberately to intimidate students in
order to avoid confrontation and create dependence. Speaking in jargon and buzzwords does
not illustrate mastery. Mastery is not something that is “shown off” but is instead illustrated in
the capacity for the student to learn and make consistent progress. This mistake is one of the
hallmark faults of the coaches in the Fitness Industry. This mistake only serves to delay true
learning and competence of the student. Incompetent coaches continue to focus on the
minutia of “stuff” at the expense of understanding the importance of making client willingness
and compliance fit well into their own personal lifestyle and sense of well‐being. Far too many
coaches in the Fitness Industry continually memorize dogma without an understanding of
nuance or context. They never ask the question “who is my client?”
For example I have a colleague, who like many is a seminar junkie. He is off getting certified at
something within the industry almost every weekend. His goal for some 20 years now is to be
an influential and productive coach in the Fitness Industry. Yet, he has failed. He has few clients,
and very few who stay with him for any length of time. He continues to “gather information” at
the expense of never asking “who is my client?” He employs industry buzz words and vogue
training trends, without ever sharpening his teaching and coaching skills. The result has been
©2010 Scott Abel
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He forgets the central focus of the relationship is the client. the next step is to guide the client to both absorb and apply this guidance quickly and effectively.scottabel. get too overwhelmed when presented with either too much information or information which is over their heads. the wannabe teacher/coach actually nullifies his own effectiveness. my colleague has been misled to think information is knowledge. As a teacher. The coach must acknowledge and embrace that learning and personal progress varies for each client/student. How a client will apply and can apply protocol within their own lifestyle demands and environment must be adequately assessed by the coach. Client goal‐acquisition is actually secondary for the coach as a teacher. From there. This fundamental mistake. the essential question for the coach to answer after “who is my client?” is “what is the appropriate ‘curriculum’ for this individual”. Progress takes place at the pace of what the student can understand and apply not what a coach knows and dictates. The coach is not superior. like any student. This is coaching success.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. By focusing instead on gathering information. the ‘curriculum’ for any given client goes beyond just the prescription of training and diet protocol. only his role of teacher is so.scottabel. not the knowledge base.at .com . so heavily reinforced in the Fitness Industry via certification and accreditation. The crucial mistake of my wannabe colleague and so many others in the Fitness Industry is they are focused on themselves and what they know. is one of the main reasons so few people with good skills and domain knowledge. The coach must understand that his role is essentially to be a catalyst in the process of growth and application of the client. not success. The analogy I use in seminars is that a good teacher certainly wouldn’t give a grade 6 student a grade 9 math text. Clients. Like many in the Fitness Industry. vs. In its proper context. but not being able to effectively teach acquired knowledge is the difference between successful coaches in this business. In the end the coach is actually frustrating his clients by trying to impress upon them what he knows. Downloaded from http://www. he also makes the mistake of trying to teach too much at once to his students/clients. and what this client needs to know right now to move forward. Not only is information not knowledge.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. or to admit information overload. Yet this is exactly what keeps playing out in the modern Fitness arena. the coach never pretends or acts to be any better or smarter or more important than their client. like myself. At the same time these students end up being too intimidated to ask for more complete explanations from the teacher. the case of my frustrated colleague.com . Because my colleague is so focused on continually gathering information. rather than focusing on that individual client. actually make it and survive in the industry. Real‐world applicability and client expectations are usually not simply compatible with text book knowledge or the implementation of vogue training and 64 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The Homework Analogy So in the relationship aspect of being a teacher within the coaching relationship.at failure.
because what she really needed was “oversight”. Earlier I referred to the parent as also being in a teaching role. And a “diet” prescription was not likely to change her behaviour long term. There are vast numbers of studies that show that parents who take an active role in their children’s learning. but her environment and rationalizations she makes regarding her current circumstances. they are essentially giving them ‘homework’ to do and accomplish. Downloaded from http://www. Her assessment and evaluation led me to advise her as to what the appropriate “curriculum” would be for her. To this end. have children who achieve higher levels of education and academic performance. or frustration: the parent who engages the child fully in the process of ‘doing’ their homework. I needed to focus on not only the “One Time Custom Diet” and her current dieting mistakes. Indeed.at . interacts with the child when there are problems. The person is also a personal trainer and an overweight one at that. the triangle of awareness) I instructed that her consistent rationalizing of why she eats junk only defends that behaviour which makes it more likely to continue. For a parent to say “do your homework” to a child but totally leave them alone for a semester and just review their grades at the end of that semester is an entirely different qualitative experience for the child/student.scottabel. and that her husband lives on junk food. But this is not the manner of coaching currently taught in the Fitness Industry.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This serves as a great example. Too many coaches assign “12 week programs” with no 65 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. but does not. is in fact coaching/teaching and creating a qualitatively different experience for the child/student. In her initial assessment. (Again. in the fitness industry the process of the teaching role becomes qualitatively different. For me as a “teacher”. there was always junk food around. For example. a coach indeed has valued knowledge and instruction to share within the coaching relationship. She further rationalized that with young kids in the house. yesterday I had a person order a “One Time Custom Diet” from me. than the parent who actively oversees the process of the child ‘being’ a student! The parent who helps the child with homework.com . When a client hires a coach. A diet from me does not alter the “circumstances” which she currently lives under and cannot solve. I suggested. that she put the money paid for the One Time Custom Diet toward coaching. An effective coach as a teacher has to be willing to invest time and energy and savvy into the coaching relationship. Coaching in the fitness industry “should” work the same. issues.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . what passes for coaching currently in the Fitness Industry is the wishy‐washy equivalent command of “just do your homework”. And this is where effective coaching must be emphasized for its qualitative distinction and effectiveness. she included commentary that she has a “raging sweet tooth”. Think of a parent raising a child.scottabel.at dieting trends. I was quick to point out that a diet regimen from me does not change that she will always be around junk food. instead. When a fitness coach assigns a client a training program and a diet. not a trainer. AND the client. And this role of leadership can exist beyond mere protocol.
Effective coaching requires the coach to not only qualitatively engage the client during the process of diet and training. He can act accordingly and more appropriately assess and evaluate how to proceed with the client/student. All of this coaching attention for a client during the process qualitatively enhances the client’s own experience.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. It’s a fundamentally and profound black hole of this industry to miss the importance of the role of ‘coach as teacher’ in regards to actively engaging and supporting clients during the client’s undertaking of the process. For the real coach this means the client is the element of focus. When the coach takes on the responsibility of support and guidance of a client’s undertaking.scottabel. “try my guaranteed program” knowing full well that most consumers will not see the process through to the end. the industry reinforces a dictatorial attitude for assigning protocol to clients. consumers. They simply fail to dialogue “with” clients. This is where the “curriculum” far exceeds the protocol. with what expectations. As the coach engages the client as they ‘do their homework’. Elements of individual personality will reveal themselves to the coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www. but to consciously engage the client as a student as well. In fact the modern internet marketer counts on this lack of interaction for earning lots of income. attitudes. the same is true of the coach in the fitness industry. Fitness coaches tend to talk “at” clients and talk “down to” clients. Whether purposely or subtly. the client’s physical goals are secondary to the coach enhancing the client’s qualitative experience during the process. but be able to look beyond those goals on the client’s behalf at the same time.scottabel. and at what speed. And within the ‘coach as teacher’ role. This gives the coach the added awareness to not only consider the client’s goals. The coach who merely “assigns homework” cannot possibly be this effective for the client. especially toward overcoming areas of weakness or doubt. and with what style of communication. Clients. teaching opportunities reveal themselves more apparently. As the process unfolds.com . client’s specific aptitudes. This also serves to build those areas of confidence and competence for the client. the good coach continues to learn more and more about the individual client. Coaches become too concerned with volume of clientele because it represents income.at active engagement of the client offered. no matter how appropriate the diet or training may be for that client. And this can only come from actively engaging and interacting with the client during their application of assigned protocol: Just like good teachers and parents who actively engage students during their learning process can come to see a student’s aptitudes long before the student/child can even 66 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. strengths and weaknesses reveal themselves to the coach to capitalize on. and potential clients suffer across the board as the industry continually reinforces this attitude of ‘just do your homework’ without any consideration for the client/student being enhanced and supported during the actual process.com . They offer. Just as a parent would notice certain aptitudes of a child if they actively participated with the child doing their homework.at .
Think about it. is also a verb and not a noun. As counter‐intuitive as this may sound. This may or may not be warranted but it is not a measuring stick for coaching or teaching competence. This kind of coaching in the teacher and student context represents teaching more than just instruction of protocol. The goal is to teach and instruct toward a student’s competence. And this is true for students in any undertaking or industry. especially in the short term. and at the pace the client can currently handle. but instilling and teaching the student to acquire this mastery as well. Just by consistent and aware interaction with clients.at . And this also explains why most coaching clients I procure average a 5 year business relationship with me. Downloaded from http://www.com . The goal is always client progression in the real sense of the term.com . and observing the client. This explains why even though information becomes more widely available. the client becomes empowered as a student to their own self‐awareness. Mastery for a coach is not only regarding his own role. And clients who truly value this aspect of coaching will stay with a coach as long as they continue to learn and grow. then the reality is that having a student have the same level of understanding year after year represents failure. the curriculum exceeds the protocol) The client ends up determining for themselves that the goal to compete is either unrealistic or not truly what they want. Coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Learning mastery can take years. So the coach who truly understands the teacher/student relationship is always one giant leap ahead of the coach or trainer who 67 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. confidence.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com. This is especially true now of the modern media and internet. In the real world of teaching. my own coaching business is now entering its fourth decade. And while this seems counter‐intuitive to sustaining a coach’s livelihood. By engaging client aptitudes and attitudes during the undertaking. For example. instructing. And it need not be some concerted effort to do so. If there is a teacher/student element to the coaching relationship. (Hence. And this can only occur by engaging. as teacher then. and mastery of the material at hand. clients become their own teachers as well. So I employ the same process such a goal would require.at embrace them on their own. Upon their initial evaluation and assessment I often conclude that such a goal is deleterious for them. not success. The goal is to “graduate” the client from one sense of mastery to a greater one. The goal for a teacher and for a coach is the same. many times clients hire me with an initial goal to compete in the cosmetic world of physique display. The coach merely has to acknowledge that this level of teaching toward mastery takes place from where the client currently is at. as they ‘do their homework’. Too often competency in the Fitness industry is measured by some sort of popularity base. but I implement different teaching options along the way. And although this level of mastery may take years. the goal for a sincere coach is to put himself out of a job with any given client. this NOT success for a teacher no matter how loved and popular he may be. if a student stays in grade 6 for three years.scottabel. fostering this kind of coaching environment is far more efficient than a focus merely on protocol instruction and physical goals. it is not.
com . This role is often complicated by myths. Mistakes of application are expected. However. to read someone’s personal bent of information that seems important but has no integral value. We see this in the modern ‘fear of carbs’ dogma. if they continually have to unlearn something wrong. they are mistakes of information. What occurs is what we see being played out as ‘expertise’ on the internet and popular marketing strategies representing themselves as knowledge and information. The numbing truth here is that the devil is in the details. and other training and dieting nuances that end up being misrepresented as ‘principles’ and ‘rules’ which are anything but these. As Einstein once put it. Downloaded from http://www. what they “think” they know. information becomes re‐packaged as part of an identity emphasis for so called experts. within the teacher and student coaching relationship. indeed. They are good and efficient learning and teaching tools. With a more concerted study focus on methods over principles. And this truth perpetuates itself because of a mistaken focus on dogma and detail within the focus of study material. They get the consumer/student to take their eye off the ball.at insists on believing that expertise is all about information gathering and domain knowledge. It is tremendously difficult to engage people that they do not know. There is now a focus on indoctrination toward study material at the expense of true mastery of understanding basic principles. The real truth of the coach as teacher relationship is that coaching is a skill. But mistakes of information are truly hard to break. especially when the dogmatic interpretation of this information becomes widely perceived as being true.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. However. Because the industry focuses on information as study material. Once again the industry focus is upside down in terms of material and instruction. And these types of mistakes are not mistakes of application.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . Mistakes based on faulty intelligence are hard to break. And this can of course lead to teacher/student debate as widely held beliefs become sacrosanct and defended. there is one piercing obstacle for the ‘coach as teacher’ role. nuance and context are neglected. and domain knowledge is merely but one component part of that skill‐set. The actual potential student becomes secondary to the pursuit of information. Because the industry focuses on information rather than competence. In fact they are tactical. unlearning is often the most essential force of learning. half‐truths. the coach has to spend a great deal of energy of focus for engaging a client to unlearn what they think they know to be true. and subsequently for the 68 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. so to speak. creating an atmosphere of debate is a losing proposition for the coach. Even more egregious to this end. And the industry is partly to blame for this. It is far more difficult for a student or even a wannabe teacher to learn something right.com . and disinformation among consumers in the Fitness Industry.scottabel. This is a disappointing truth especially in the modern Fitness Industry. misinformation. and because of the competitive on‐line nature of the internet business. the actual principles are getting lost in the shuffle.
at . this can bring up all kinds of scenarios for negative interaction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. especially if a coach seeks to do right over a necessity of being right. By example. Examine what was/is so unique about this teacher that influences you in such a positive way.at client/student as well. Leadership.Downloaded from http://www. this has nothing to do with a coaching needing to be right in regards to the coach/client. Obviously. The environment this created was conducive to neither teaching nor learning. but just in general. When and if a coach forgets this or never even considers the question. Once I realized this. my engagement in this sort of atmosphere would have delivered and contributed to the wrong message. The coach as a teacher needs only engage willing students. But the environment there was overwhelmingly confrontational. teacher/student interaction. even should he win the argument. The client is not a tool for the coach’s expertise or bottom line. and digression in the relationship etc. Otherwise. as teacher. is an integral element of focus for effective coaching.scottabel. So to reiterate the message of this chapter: even within the context of teaching a student to unlearn what they think they know: if the coach embraces the question. “who is my client” then the process of helping them learn and achieve unfolds appropriately. Situations which require a client’s unlearning still must fall within a mutually accepted and cooperative. In regards to information. not to me. There is no blame to assign on either end. not a cop. If a teacher/student relationship takes on this level of interaction. What qualities of character portray this teacher? For example.com . even in the context of teaching. But the coach also must always accept their own role as merely a catalyst for students to use and employ toward their own progression. The coach always needs to refocus on an attitude to ‘do’ right. not confrontational interaction. If the coach does find himself in an atmosphere of having to prove himself right. and supplies the client with options for various corrective applications for unlearning.com . it creates a sense of pressure to perform for both client and coach. The effective coach needs to perceive himself as a tool for the client for moving forward. confrontation. I knew as a coach it was best to remove myself from the environment. even when the environment of debate steers itself to a focus on ‘being right’. being right is secondary to that all important element of the teacher creating an atmosphere of client engagement. Be a coach.scottabel. the fact there was an argument at all is a loss for the coach as far as the teacher and student relationship goes. Everyone wanted to argue with each other and ‘be’ right. recently I had to go on to a very popular web board to interact regarding one of my articles. Engaging client compliance is not done from defensive posturing or policing tactics. points a direction to follow. is it leadership? Humour? Personal attention? Story telling? What makes this teacher stand out for you is the connection 69 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Notes for Mentoring Students • Recall an influential teacher from your own past or present. Coach.
• Now think of two different clients with two different levels of ability who have the same goals. “who is my client?” how would you approach instruction differently for each of them. Examine what you can learn from this to enhance your own teaching awareness.com . how could hone your own skills as a student to help you as a teacher? • Summary: Contemplate all the above within the context of “coach as teacher”.com . how would your “curriculum” differ for each one? Remember that ‘protocol prescription’ is only part of the ‘curriculum’.scottabel. • Make notes on what the above reveals to you in regards to the statement “the curriculum exceeds the protocol”. Think of an example of two different clients who need to learn the exact same lesson or principle.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. As a teacher. Beyond information gathering. Make two columns. not material”.scottabel. As a teacher.Downloaded from http://www. implementation etc? • To be a good teacher you must first be a good student.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . What are your own strengths and weaknesses? How could you further develop your capacity of your role as teacher? 70 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. • Point: “the coach teaches clients. Make notes. point by point. Based on the question. what do you learn yourself. one for each client side by side and examine just how different this can be.at the teacher created. in terms of style. Make notes.
is far more relevant than mere exposure to the 71 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. However.com . but the appearance of expertise.scottabel. and then be able to coach within that framework of knowledge. “How to” communicate with clients extends from common sense to specific strategies and tactics related to dictating protocol and interacting effectively with clients. their way.scottabel. And specifically. true expertise is more diluted than ever before. To be an effective coach in the fitness industry and to have a sustained career is all about coaching skills. and interaction. But the easy route for marketing and accreditation is to teach the appearance of science. Downloaded from http://www. But they cannot be taught. To know the principles that will benefit 90% of the potential clients.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The goal to generate income supersedes the time and energy available for effecting change at the grass roots level. They can be studied.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. are experts competing among each other with ‘versions’ of my way vs. Certification courses and accreditation workshops and seminars within the fitness industry are currently based on business models. And either the industry knows this and chooses to ignore it. The melding of the more general elements of coaching talent with the specific characteristics of the Fitness arena needs to be addressed in further detail.at Chapter 7 ‘How to’: Communicating Effectively As a Coach and On‐line Coach There are certain elements to coaching which are endemic regardless of industry and common to all forms of coaching. talent. or one methodology or another. Before proceeding further. We have already explored some of these in general. ‘How to’ communicate effectively as a coach is far more important than more and more detailed scientific information and study. this must change. What we have now. The point is. 90% of the time.at . The industry model is no longer marketing expertise so much. This is made even worse by the affiliate marketing of programs and diets now so common on the internet. The truth is some coaching skills simply cannot be taught. As this market expands to the internet and real expertise continues to be confused with marketing hype. this merits another look at the “expert‐base” within the current fitness industry. the real expertise exhibited by a talent for being able to deliver this information to the client is ignored. However there are other aspects of effective coaching which are unique to the fitness industry in particular. the new on‐line element for coaches in the fitness industry presents particular challenges and these must be met with relevant skills and talents when communicating with clients. As accreditation continues to be married to the marketing of information. They can be emulated. or it is simply missed under the facade that the scientific principles involved are somehow always changing. industry wide. They can be practiced. because of all this confusion and hype there is more need for coaching now than ever before: and there is a wider consumer base willing to embrace it.com .
(Answer the question. how do I most effectively respond to this interaction?) As an example. (Answer the question. She is confused about all the advice she reads on the internet and has worked with personal trainers with little to no success.at . answering the question. 4) Discuss and advise in ways and means that are manageable.scottabel.com . and applicable for the client. There is no ‘optimum’ time in her 72 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Downloaded from http://www. my response needs to keep in mind that consistency is more important for this client in losing weight than either of these specifics she is concerned about. busy. the issue related to her question is one of minutia. The starting point to effective communication between coach and client needs to always keep four relevant points of context in mind: 1) Address the client’s perspective and knowledge base (Answer the question ‘who is my client?’). She is asking about the ‘physical’ not the mental or emotional. These qualitative and deeper elements of coaching need to be addressed. She has questions as to what time of day she should train and what supplements she should take. Explaining a bunch of science to her does not serve that end.scottabel. It works from a communication where information is secondary to the client‐centred relationship reality. In addressing the ‘who is my client’. the central focus of the interaction is one of mistaken assumption. I have a new client who is an overweight. Therefore ‘how to’ communicate for effective coaching should be the next wave of accreditation and certification in the fitness industry. Remember.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. a specialist is ‘someone who knows more and more about less and less’. the first goal is to not confuse her more but to initiate a sense of confidence for both the interaction and the application of prescribed protocol. this represents the failure of the industry and not its success. 2) Define the issue (Answer the question of why is the client interacting with me in terms of situation and circumstance? As in the triangle of awareness). they have not yet had to be because of the high turnover rate of coaches/trainers/and consumers in the fitness industry. She has heard she should train early in the morning and that she needs protein powder after her workouts. Furthermore. The optimum time of day for this client to train is the time she can do so regularly because of her schedule: Thus. To properly ‘define the issue’. addressing ‘keeping the subject matter in relevant context’. (keeping this reference example very general. Sound effective coaching works from the opposite of this premise. Next. This industry currently suffers from the dogma of specialization. meaningful. and has a goal to have more energy and to lose about 30lbs of excess weight. A knowledge of ‘how to’ communicate as a coach requires a shift in thinking beyond information and knowledge to the actual interaction between coach and client. expressed by her stated “confusion”. As stated earlier.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. And to reiterate. working mother of two young tots.at ideas of one thousand internet experts.com . 3) Keep the subject matter in relevant context. what is the central focus of this interaction?).) So my interaction in terms of how to respond is to consider my client has little understanding of the principles or the knowledge base.
2) The coaching must be practical and purposeful. And any good coach seeking to truly help a client reach their goals. effective coaching must always be personal because a coach coaches people.scottabel. As previously discussed.com . and influences individuals on a one to one basis. real coaching is well 73 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. These priorities for interaction are as follows: 1) The coaching must be personal. Therefore. The coach provides the initial accurate information. meaningful.scottabel. first seeks to establish such a productive coaching environment. Of course I used a very simple one‐dimensional example above. All 4 of these points may often be either mutually inclusive or mutually exclusive or weigh heavily toward one point over another. The job within the job for coach lies here. guidance and structure regarding protocol application (i.at . Upon examining these points. The coach keeps in mind the client’s physical goals while also nudging and hinting and instructing as to the coach’s expectations for the client while moving forward in the process. guides. the whole element of the relationship should be personal to be effective. consistent. diet and training). Within this context the coach must take care of specific priorities to make that happen. So once I engage her for information regarding the structure of her day as well as her current eating regimen. But ‘how to’ communicate effective coaching is all about addressing these four points until it becomes habitual. What is optimum for her is what is realistic for her. and manageable and get her to confirm and sign off on that. Otherwise. It would be a good idea for any coach to post these 4 points somewhere visible for a quick reference check to employ as a check list when interacting with clients. To be clear.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. it’s a mere regression to the fall back position of the industry to be a “trainer” and slot people into programs and diets. I explain to her the relevance of supplements and that for her. and institute a one size fits all approach to interaction. not programs. The example above is simple to illustrate the application of the 4 points of ‘how to’ communicate effectively with any client.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. 3) The coaching must be professional. and applicable’. Downloaded from http://www. and 4) the coaching must be proactive. This is not a competitor I am dealing with. the protein powder is less an issue than a good multi vitamin and a whole food approach to wellness. that job is to establish an environment of interaction for the progressive development of the coach/client relationship as the process unfolds. regardless of the client. But within these 4 points of relevance lies the key to enhancing the progression of the coach and client relationship. I make recommendations for a window of time to train so that training can be regular. And these four points become even more imperative with more problematic clientele.at case. Therefore. natural. I give her some choices as to post‐ workout foods that are easy and convenient and serve her particular needs. my interaction ‘discusses and advises in ways and means that are manageable. and automatic for the coach.com . a common question often emerges: ‘How can the coaching be personal and professional at the same time?’ First of all. The effective coach instructs.
Whenever any aspect of the coaching relationship becomes about the coach’s ego instead of the client’s progression.at beyond this one dimensional approach and application. especially among coaches and clients in the competitive arena (Bodybuilding and Figure). the corporate world or Team approach in professional and amateur athletics. then the coach will always be professional within a personal application and interaction. instructor. This line is crossed all too often in the fitness industry. it tends beyond the physical realm. The nature of the relationship implies the coach possesses a higher level of knowledge or competence than the client. And within this element of service and the professionalism it demands. A coach needs to communicate accordingly.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The coaching must be personal because it is interactive. The coach works ‘for’ the client. the coaching is always professional when the communication of the coach is always properly focused on the client process and development. 74 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The ‘service’ nature of the relationship means the coach understands a level of responsibility to the client. and compass. But it is not a power‐ relationship like a boss/employer.com . This is one difference in the Fitness Industry from say. The coach in the Fitness Industry is employed by the client. True coaching must be personal because it is individually based and client‐centered. smarter. Keeping the service nature of the relationship in mind is helpful for establishing a professional level of decorum as well. The coach is not better. mirror. When the coach embraces and internalizes the job to be guiding light. However. The coach is the authority figure in regards to the client’s fitness goals. The attitude of the coach should always be something akin to “what can I do for you?” or “How can I help you?” This attitude keeps the coach properly focused on his actual role in providing a “service” to clients. All these elements and more dictate ‘how’ coaching must be personal. as well as what style of communication best suits this client. Clients are not friends and they are not family. but a good coach is never involved in a client’s personal affairs. Downloaded from http://www. An effective and worthy coach stays uninvolved and unattached to a client’s personal life. all coaching interaction necessitates a mutually understood set of ground rules. And because coaching is client‐centred and not protocol based. It is a classic mistake of coaches in the Fitness Industry. or more important than the client. A good coach is capable of sympathizing and empathizing with a client and his circumstances. not the other way around.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The client is the actual ‘boss’ even though the coach is the leader and authority figure in the relationship.com . more is lost than gained. The coach embraces that he is the authority figure in the relationship. Too many coaches seek to be a client’s personal hero. and each client will be unique to what elements of protocol need most attention. This is a common mistake made by coaches in the Fitness Industry.at . Acknowledging this level of service within the authority of the coaching relationship is another way to insure the coaching always maintains a level of professionalism.
This is the other side of ineffective 75 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The effective coach communicates clearly.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. There is no need for pretention. Communication needs to stay on point. A good coach does not ‘use five dollar words when a ten cent phrase will suffice’. not barriers.scottabel. says what he means. NHL. And this becomes automatic. and it creates an air of charade which is never a strong base for positive and meaningful interaction. There should be a purpose behind all client feedback and interaction. instead of ego‐centred ensures a good coach stays focused on the topic at hand during communication. teachers.at Communication and interaction from this understood level of professional decorum is the responsibility of the coach. But the best and most effective mode of interaction and communication for the coach is to relate from his own real and honest personality and communication structure. Professional coaches are usually at least two to three decades older than their athletes. Great coaches also should develop the same automatic sense of purpose of interaction with clients as well. By example. There is no better and more efficient way to model appropriate feedback than by being real and sincere. Part of the coach’s skill and tactic toward communication. Being client‐centred. We see the ‘charade’ of communication also in the industry by those who hide behind pseudo‐science.scottabel. Effective coaches need not communicate in industry or scientific jargon either. means what he says. Setting the tone of the ground rules mentioned above should always have honesty and sincerity as first priorities. from the client’s perspective. Words should be well‐chosen by coaches to create bridges. The “purposeful” part of communication is the benefit for the client. There is far too much scientific and personal phoniness within the coaching arena of the modern Fitness Industry. Purposeful communication and interaction is easier to facilitate from this established level of professionalism. albeit without the emotional attachments.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Part of true honesty for any coach is to just be who they are when dealing with client interaction and feedback. The coach sets the tone for this from the beginning. and coaches are the ones who are just being themselves in the leadership environment. or NBA coach trying to talk with his players by employing their own urban speak and vogue levels of discourse or popular slang. Over time. The most effective leaders. and feedback then is “unattached sincerity”. We will discuss this further in later chapters.at . and be as brief as possible while still being explanatory and providing valuable feedback. Being pretentious this way is easy to see through. remaining unattached to a client’s personal circumstances establishes a deep level of respect for the ongoing relationship.com . Effective coaching is all about communication of both meaning and message. Communicating both message and meaning requires the coach to be clear and concise.com . a coach needs to understand the client. the purpose of any interaction is easier to find and maintain. Yes. and does so sincerely and honestly from his own style of coaching. interaction. No good parent approaches communicating message and meaning with their child from their own standpoint of selfish purpose. not the coach. Downloaded from http://www. Again the parent/child example comes to mind in terms of “purpose”. Imagine an NFL. imagine a situation like we have in professional sports. Once the coach’s ego is effectively removed from the equation.
you are not trying to prove a point to a client. More often than not. But nuance in communication and interaction is a particularly advanced coaching communication skill. This is especially true of internet non face to face interaction. effective feedback should be ‘prepared’. From the beginning. let alone can they embrace just being themselves within it. Again. being proactive means. so much as leading the way.com . as a coach. Downloaded from http://www. the feedback is always for the benefit of the client. the professional emphasis prevents the personal attention from becoming interpersonal stimulation. this may indeed seem like a worthy accomplishment. I advise all on‐line coaches to digest on‐line correspondence at least twice before responding.scottabel. whether that is represented by trying to communicate in ‘industry speak’ nor by trying to fit into modern ‘styles’ of slang. The difference may be a matter of nuance. it is a coach’s responsibility to 76 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. whether his feedback is considered positive. This is not served by ‘acting’ as someone you are not. But a coach who rewards what should be expected behaviour is not being sincerely proactive in his interaction. not on style or form. So while effective communication is personal. When deciding how to respond to a client communication. it is just as imperative to develop interaction in a manner that develops the client’s understanding of you. If the client understands from early in the coaching relationship that coaching is always meant to be purposeful and proactive. as well.at coaching in the Fitness Industry where coaches clearly do not even understand their actual role.) A coach who reacts to client feedback is not being “unattached”. he should always evaluate feedback before offering it. A coach who ‘reacts’ to client feedback or interaction can miss a lot of pertinent information or opportunity for teaching and instruction.com . As I do myself. effective coaching avoids any and all “just between you and me” type of interaction or innuendo. as coach. and especially when communicating on‐line or long distance. is that the interaction must be ‘proactive’. (Not reactive. The coach sets a tone from the beginning of the relationship that. As much as effective communication is in knowing and understanding your client.at . one of the focused elements of ‘how to’ communicate with clients. The mandate of effective coaching is to always be able to communicate feedback the client ‘needs to’ embrace. From their perspective. negative. Although coaching is personal. I will often get clients who are uninitiated to the relevant scope of commitment and discipline involved in reaching a cosmetic fitness goal. For instance. he is more likely to embrace even the most difficult criticism. not the easy road of what the client may ‘want to hear’. Being purposeful within client communication means focusing on substance. And even though a coach should communicate and interact in a natural style. hence it is proactive in intent. Excited clients will often report in that they have “stuck to their diet and training for almost a whole week now”.scottabel. instructional or advisory. this type of interaction serves no purpose and effective ‘how to’ coaching is all about purposeful communication for the benefit of the client. Again.
fear. the coach must lead the client to understand that the coach communicates what needs to be stated: nothing more. or judgment. especially over time. For instance. The coach’s goal for communication is to create an interactive environment of momentum and results in process. It also has a limited response variance. Effective. then all coaching communication will be received with similar impact. An even better way to pose the question would be for the coach to inject himself into the process. And the client’s opinion of whether or not he likes the diet may have little to do with the necessity of the implementation of the diet. “tell me more about the diet process we are undertaking?” This leaves the question open‐ended for more sincere and honest client 77 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. rather than mere literal interpretations. Simply. proactive communication doesn’t just happen. It is far more important. for the coach and client to establish an understanding of their mutual interaction. What the question doesn’t do is invite the client to comment on an evaluation of the actual diet protocol.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. level of compliance. “how is the diet going that you are on?” This question allows for more possibilities for the client to expand and explain the diet application in many modes.com . This is ‘how to’ communicate effectively. To encourage open‐ended communication requires the coach to invite the same. nothing less. but it can also entail advisement. So the structure of correspondence is important. not an environment that coddles and entertains excuses. etc. more so than literally interpreted. Open‐ended communication and interaction requires choosing words more carefully to be sure. there is a difference in the level of interpretation for the following coaching interaction: Asking a client.at prepare a client to be able to assimilate coach’s feedback without intimidation. as in on‐line written interaction.com . If the client is properly prepared as to the ongoing nature of interaction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. So the question would now be more like.at . as in yes or no etc.scottabel.scottabel. so that the teacher and student ‘understand’ how the appropriate process of interaction will unfold. This means that a good coach encourages a client to be expressive. The effective coach ‘prepares’ a client as to how the ongoing interaction may take place. even when seemingly so. This is much akin to how a teacher would set up his style of teaching early in the school year. To reiterate. Toward the end of establishing an ongoing positive interaction experience. whether praise or critique. the purpose is to be understood. This is most important when a coach knows his feedback will have some sort of emotional impact. the coach needs to encourage open‐ended correspondence. Downloaded from http://www. “do you like the diet I gave you?” is a close‐ended question that dangerously invites opinion and evaluation from the client. Again. hunger and appetite. proactive communication is about properly preparing a client for the most effective way of getting them to be able to deal with all forms of relevant communication from the coach. But the coach must also acknowledge this will not be a linear process. A better way to elicit open ended perspective from the client would be to pose the question this way. This can often entail words of encouragement for a job well‐done. that the client application is incomplete or not good enough. degree of difficulty. Effective communication will seldom be one‐dimensional.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. And by the coach posing the question this way.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. by being proactive and preparing clients to how the process unfolds. have an open‐ended style based on biofeedback and qualitative interaction.com . But sometime it may not. While the coach has to make relevant who the client is and what the client’s perspective may be. We see this example in professional sports all the time.scottabel. There have been numerous examples where a player on one team is disgruntled and his ‘performance’ was less than it could be. Notes for Mentoring Students • • Within the industry’s current emphasis on ‘information’ or the ‘appearance of knowledge’ how does the definition of ‘specialist’ help you to reframe your perspective in terms of ‘how to’ effectively communicate as a coach? Use Scott’s 4 points of relevant communication and address this scenario. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in formulating questions for evaluation of players entering the professional draft. Having explored in a very general sense the idea of ‘how to’ communicate effectively as a coach in the on‐line Fitness arena does not mean all coaching relationships will work. Many who come to me from a deep influence of internet expertise often have a difficult time relating to such open‐ended emphasis where shades of grey are more emphasized than a black and white application and analysis.at . Many clients will look for answers where answers do not exist in this industry. The same exists with on‐line coaching. or maybe even years. Yet. I myself. Teams spend a great deal of time and energy in the interview process even after having scouted a player’s talent for months. Joe. He was not a ‘good fit’ for the organization.at response. He admits he seems to be able to help others 78 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. The wider a coach’s perspective and exposure can be. To this end.com . only perspective does. Even with sustained efforts there will be clients and coaches who are just not a ‘good fit’ for each other. the coach also must maintain his own style and emphasis of ‘how to’ communicate and interact during the coaching process.Downloaded from http://www. How is this relevant? Well the interview process has the organization assessing and evaluating how a player may or may not fit their system or be able to handle the organization’s coaching and management style. when the player moves to another team he fits right in and his performance improves substantially. the more likely he will be able to assimilate and communicate and interact effectively with a wide variety client base. “Chemistry” is an important word in assessing professional talent beyond physical skills. the client assumes a greater level of the coach’s involvement as well as the coach’s desire to explore the answer. a personal trainer signs on with you. this can be overcome. More often than not. we’ll explore ‘how to’ interact and communicate more effectively in the next chapter.
This is a strength. Use the 4 pts of effective communication to answer the information presented to you. examine the manner of communication and how you make it personal and yet professional at the same time.scottabel.Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Using the above scenario. How does this influence your style of “how to” communicate with clients. Examine what this means for you in terms of ‘how to’ better communicate message and meaning with clients. but not himself. not a weakness. He works 10‐12 hours per day.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and looks like he has never been in a gym in his life.at • • • • • accomplish goals. Examine how you interpret the term “purposeful client communication”. like an actual email to “Joe”. His goal is to be a Fitness model and appear in magazines or at least look like he could do so.com . and ‘eats on the run. Write it. He can train 3‐4 days per week. Think of a Fitness goal you had say 5 years ago. He is heavily influenced by on‐line websites for his information and knowledge.com . 79 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Instruct yourself in a written communication as to how to accomplish it. 25 years old. What does being proactive and not reactive mean to you for communicating as a coach? Discuss the responsibility of the coach to ‘prepare the client for purposeful feedback’. This exercise should help reveal to you your own style for effective communication as well as ‘how to’ communicate from your own perspective. He is 5 ft 10 inches.’ He wants to know what you can do for him in regards to his goals.at .scottabel. Examine how an emphasis on information may fail to do this.
And even within the realm of instruction. this chapter will illustrate some widely known strategies and tactics for delivering instruction. To my mind. I see this as a failure of the industry that falsely weighs information at the expense of the talent involved in being able to deliver and apply it. And these tactics need not be mutually exclusive. Once again. Real coaching and the consideration of the ‘triangle of awareness’ necessitates developing communication skills far beyond mere instruction. 6) Alternative choices. 1) Factual In the fitness industry fact and opinion are exchanged as being the same on a frequent basis. As the last chapter outlined a thinking process for ‘how to’ communicate and interact with clients. almost all effective coaching communication for instruction can be broken down to one of these 7 elements below. The 7 categories for effective coaching communication and interaction for instruction are as follows: 1) factual. A single correspondence with a client may necessitate using one or more of these tactics for instructional purposes when engaging a coaching client.com .com . 1999. in Effective Coaching. Many lacked neither knowledge nor official qualifications. Many wannabe coaches are limited. I have known many whose walls are lined with one certification after another framed on their walls. So the strategies and tactics discussed below are taken directly from the related chapter in his book. Downloaded from http://www. many coaches are limited because they do not understand this fundamental coaching prerequisite. 7) Summarizing. changing behaviour and engaging clients to be actively involved in their own process of goal acquisition. 4) leading. As I will state often. I prefer the categories set out by Marshall Cook. This chapter gives the wannabe coach some tactics to use and apply when engaging client instruction and advice. 3) justifying. 5) Hypothetical.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com Chapter 8 Strategies and Tactics for Communicating Coaching Instruction Many coaches reading this do not realize that they are currently little more than advanced exercise instructors.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. As the industry continues to certify and ‘qualify’ individuals with minimal study. 2) explanatory.at . but because they cannot deliver it in a helpful and meaningful way to the client. Yet they are now no longer in the industry after investing thousands of dollars and a number of labour intensive years becoming certified and qualified as a fitness professional. This is yet another of the limitations of an industry which continues to foster the dogma of ‘information = knowledge’. the line between opinion and fact is continually blurred. Although many coaching books employ variations of these tactics and strategies under different names. I point to dozens of ‘qualified’ instructors who no longer are able to earn a living in the Fitness Industry. Within a coaching 80 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. not because they lack a working knowledge of the subject matter.scottabel.scottabel.
What is important for the coach to keep in mind is the truth that facts can be verified while opinions cannot. asking a client. If you want factual feedback. For a coach. To be able to offer effective instruction. misleading. coaches also often make the same mistakes as well. then you need to ask factual questions. Worse yet. I will often receive a question posed to me this way regarding feedback: “Is this normal?” Specific client feedback can often lead to this type of assessment question. In fact. However. and unsubstantiated. Confusing opinion and fact within assessing and evaluating client feedback is a coach killer. If we address the example used above where the client reports my ‘strength has decreased on this program’.scottabel.com . a client may report an overall drop in strength during his current program undertaking. I’ll use an example of common feedback I receive from clients. and relevant opinion. “my strength has decreased on this program” is a measureable and observable fact.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Many times factual indicators lead clients to draw conclusions that are not true. For ‘certified’ trainers (instead of qualified coaches) not being able to distinguish between the two can present ongoing difficulties within the coach/client relationship. the coach’s explanatory feedback based on this serves as a great tool to use to not only build client competence and confidence but to explain to them the wider purpose beyond the reported ‘fact’’ For instance.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. a coach must be able to differentiate between the two. The coach needs to be clear. This is especially true of advising a client based on their biofeedback. Downloaded from http://www. 2) Explanatory It is very helpful for clients if coaching instruction also has some kind of explanatory element to it. However. this 81 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. However.at context this can be particularly problematic. For a client to report. arguing with clients regarding opinions represented as facts is a waste of time and energy. (Questions that are verifiable. it is not surprising that your lifting loads have decreased. replacing opinion with fact. This may be a fact that is verifiable. This opinion requires evaluation from the qualified coach. my explanatory response to this client’s feedback of decreased strength would be something akin to the following: “Because you have never done this kind of volume of training before. there is only general and specific. A good coach makes clear in his mind the difference between fact.) For instance.scottabel.at . There is a qualitative difference between a clients reporting a ‘fact’ from his training vs. There is no normal or abnormal. And it can also lead to disrupting an effective authority‐based communication style within the relationship. an opinion drawn based on this fact. This is true of both parts of the two‐way interactive nature of the coach/client relationship. this program is not working for me” is merely an opinion based on this fact. to conclude “therefore. the question is irrelevant. For instance. this does not lead to a fact regarding a program’s effectiveness.com . ‘how long are your workouts taking you’ is a question which elicits factual and verifiable information.
And the explanation serves the client in further understanding the rationale for the program implementation. Note that the instruction and explanatory feedback offered here is aimed at the client’s understanding. then you wouldn’t need me to find a diet solution for you. and not some scientific rationale. Instead the explanatory nature of the 82 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. It becomes an emotional issue for them beyond rationality.com . By employing the triangle of awareness. I have to meet them at the emotional level as well. On the one hand it can be a viable backbone of the explanatory tactic used above. It may look something like this: “You hired me for my expertise.at program is not designed to increase load strength. How much you are lifting is relatively unimportant at this point. My expertise also tells me that if your carb‐free diet was actually working long term. Justifying tactics should not be confused with ‘negotiating’. However. One of the most common mistakes coaches make when trying to communicate explanatory instruction.scottabel. Negotiating instruction with clients is a losing proposition for coaches. is that they reduce instruction to some scientific jargon of program design rather than using the interaction as an opportunity to employ explanatory feedback to further engage the client in the motivation of application of protocol.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Explanatory feedback once again must consider coaching the client.scottabel. even if a little too black and white and absolute. it is designed to develop your physique.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the nature of the feedback here is not ‘explanatory’ in terms of why she has carbs in her diet. or the client can reset his confidence in the coach.” So. This can sometimes entail a justifying engagement of feedback on my part. It is incomplete and power‐oriented. the client has a better understanding for utilizing and engaging the protocol with more confidence in the process. as a backbone for tactical interaction with clients. Instruction and advice may sometimes require ‘justifying’ so the client can either rethink a commonly held belief. Justifying can be used appropriately when a coach can effectively choose words that are less provocative and more explanatory in purpose. By effectively arming the client with explanatory instruction. Explanatory feedback should be aimed at serving the client within the application of the process.com . I often have female new clients who balk at me including ‘carbs’ in their diets. My expertise tells me to tell you that your fear of carbs is unfounded.” The coaching instruction employed ‘explains’ to a client his biofeedback in a relevant and important context.at . is a type of quick but ineffective ‘justifying’ when engaging instruction or advice. sometimes ‘justifying’ is imperative. It should not serve as a mere ‘defence’ for the prescription of protocol. On the other hand it can sometimes be reduced to nothing more than an advanced rationalization. “Because I said so”. not the program. Downloaded from http://www. 3) Justifying The justifying tactic can be a two‐edged sword. By example.
The tactics mentioned above can be used in this overall strategy of leading clients in creating their own arrowhead of direction and purpose. but also to further deepen the coach/client relationship and interaction potential.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. In the case of negative 83 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. An arrowhead points a specific direction and has two sides with straight lines which create and embrace the desired direction. In legal parlance. Other tactics of communication and instruction will show an overall strategy of leading a client within interaction and advisement. Once again.at . Most enthusiastic people will focus on ‘results’ and choose to look away from the consequences. I use hypothetical examples all the time when trying to engage clients. They are only hypothetical to the client. Although justifying may be an absolute. Leading can either be a direct situational tactic of instruction. Often a hypothetical example is really just the coach engaging the client to look further down the road. or it can be an overall strategy of effective coaching interaction as well. In such a case ‘explanatory’ tactical communication can often fall on deaf ears. leading a client as a tactic and strategy for coaching interaction is very effective. it can often be a necessity of tactical interaction.scottabel. And some hypothetical examples are actually real world examples. A good coach will weigh the cost/benefit of the specific path any client may be taking and then employ a hypothetical situation to illustrate the foreseeable consequences. often we hear lawyers object on the grounds of ‘leading the witness’. The goal for the strategy of leading is to not only engage the client in their ownership of protocol application.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Instead.com . Downloaded from http://www. it can represent a coaching insecurity.scottabel. Leading is all about creating what I like to call the ‘arrowhead of awareness’ for the client.com . And while this may be a no‐no in legal cases. The reason this may be a necessary tactic for advice is that sometimes ‘doubt’ is created in a client’s headspace which has nothing to do with ‘facts’. 4) Leading The element of leading in the instruction of a client is not about leadership per se. the tactic of a hypothetical example serves the overall strategy of ‘leading’ mentioned above.at communication is a subtext. serves as a means to nudge them in the direction toward their own consistency of application of protocol. what I am really doing in this interaction is ‘justifying’ my expertise. The strategy of leading a client in terms of advisement and instruction. It negates potential outside interference and confusion as well. The tactic of ‘leading’ is a more general approach and strategy to effective client interaction and instruction. Engaging a specific path has both results and consequences. If used too often however. 5) Hypothetical Hypothetical examples and situations are fantastic communication and interactive tactics.
Even though several competitions have resulted in further and further off‐season weight gain. They employ me to help remedy the situation.com . Tell someone the truth and they will believe it. (Choosing a different path. Whenever possible in employing the tactic of the hypothetical.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and they will remember it forever!” The tactic of the hypothetical mini story telling model of instruction has potential profound impact for clients who truly desire results and who actively embrace coaching. by choosing instead. Hypothetical examples are great tactics to employ to get clients to think in different terms than they are used to.scottabel. Downloaded from http://www. Many coaches also use past experience as a real‐world example of employing hypothetical situations to lead their athletes toward desired results. they choose to remain blind that their competition diet and training strategy has been the real contributor to their undesired weight gain.at consequences. a trainer is the ongoing nature of the process. People’s attitudes and emotions are also influenced by their every day environment and real life outside the gym and away from the 84 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Clichés aside.scottabel. yet the first goal they have is that. “I still want to compete”. I recently heard one professional coach put it this way: “Tell someone a fact and they will learn it. hypothetical situations merely point to the reality of a situation in more clear terms. Mini story telling in the form of presenting hypothetical situations is one of the greatest instructional interactive tactics a coach can use. By example. then you will always get what you’ve always got. not to compete. Situations and circumstances change. 6) Alternative Choices As discussed.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. It’s the old adage of pointing out. The hypothetical tactic tends to objectify the interaction in a manner that reduces potential negative or defensive reactions in the client as well.com . the main emphasis for the coach vs. Employing hypothetical situations and consequences which can ‘futurize’ the expected consequences can go a long way to ‘leading’ clients from repeating the same mistakes again. that “if you always do. I like to use a client’s own words or scenario within the actual example. But tell someone both in the context of a story.at . what you’ve always done. Most effective coaches in the professional sports industry use hypothetical situations as a means of getting their players to prognosticate current strategy to desired ends or consequences of actions.” Insanity is repeating the same behaviour and expecting a different result.) Think of the tactic of employing hypothetical situations as mini story telling. often clients are blind to the creation of their own negative consequences to selected behavioural paths. And the tactic of the hypothetical example also allows for the coach to remain unattached to what may otherwise be sensitive interaction. and away from undesired consequences. each year I get many female Figure competitors suffering from metabolic burnout or metabolic damage.
Suggesting alternative choices means the implementation is up to the client. For example. my way vs. Advising someone ‘how to think’ can be very problematic. I often get clients with various food addictions and eating disorders etc. which is what effective coaching is all about. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. how and why certain thought patterns and emotional cues may be destructive to their own goals. when making and choosing alternatives to current circumstances or behaviours. the client is never challenged to change their own destructive or faulty thinking patterns and behaviours. your way. But this is much trickier when considering the mental and emotional elements of coaching people and not programs. Providing alternative choices for clients must be communicated in the form of ‘suggestions’ and not dictation.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. if a client develops pain in the shoulder girdle from doing overhead presses. reflecting back on to them that their current thinking patterns are faulty or destructive can serve as a reasonable segue to affecting necessary change. The coach considers also the triangle of awareness in client interaction. To engage anyone to rethink or readjust current thinking patterns only works in a cooperative interactive communication environment. Attitude adjustment or change can be a difficult and tricky area for coaching interaction. The better tactic for communication is to nudge clients toward coming to their own conclusions about negative or destructive habits and behaviours. However. The client should always be involved. Situations and circumstances arise that may dictate a change in protocol or an alternative to current protocol. One of the most effective tactics for accomplishing this is to put the onus and ownership and responsibility back on the client where it rightfully belongs. as well as many clients with some early degree of these. when it comes to alternative thinking strategies only invites more problems than it solves.at dinner table. Clearly assigning a ‘diet’ will not remedy the issue. Any interactive situation which instead suggests.com . emotional. It’s a beginning toward a mutual approach to suggesting alternative choices for client consideration. This is why it is so important for the coach to make suggestions and not dictate imperatives or solutions. Suggesting alternative choices is easy on the physical front. The old Dr. or attitudinal adjustments need to be suggested in terms of alternate choices for thought or behaviour. If the coach merely gives alternatives as solutions each time a problem presents itself. A good coach is capable of presenting options but the coach also knows these options are limited within the coach’s realm of advice. Once again.at . Forcing opinions on clients usually only heightens their defensiveness. rather than rationalize. it’s easy enough for a coach to remove these movements from the program and introduce some rehab or prehab work for the area.scottabel. or at least perceive that they are. Phil line. “how’s that workin for ya?” can be a useful introduction for getting a client to truly examine. Sometimes mental. Advice for alternative options is useless if the client is 85 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com . the talent for nuance is imperative in the more difficult cases.scottabel. In fact another diet may just trigger the unwanted behaviours and thought patterns.
7) Summarizing: Often a client may interact with a coach in a myriad of ways reflecting all the elements of the triangle of awareness. For instance. It takes work. Downloaded from http://www.at never going to embrace or implement the suggested options. rationalization. Once again.scottabel. And a client may lack effective communication skills themselves. but also share personal emotional issues or struggles as well. To prod the client to actively seek their own solutions within present alternatives is an interactive communication tactic beyond a dictation of diet and program. simply.com . The goal is secondary to the awareness gained within the process of securing it. It gets the client to actively engage and learn during their process of the application of assigned protocol.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The good coach always keeps in mind that the client’s process is more important than the actual goal. some clients may report and communicate with long text that seem scattered and disconnected. “how’s that workin for ya?” can lead them to connect the dots of their own creation of negative situations. the coach is a catalyst in the process. Too many coaches just can’t be bothered with this extra feedback. Life happens. This kind of trust in a coach should not be ignored. not something a coach merely dictates. There may be added in some mental stressors to the feedback. their pursuit actually illustrates a lack of developed awareness within their own process for doing so. This is coaching laziness. What is important is that the decision and action is one the client makes. Engaging the client to be a part of their own journey to uncovering alternative choices is another major difference between a coach and a trainer. not a client problem. the initial question. It can be a great help for the coach to merely. Yet. In regards to presenting alternative choices to a client regarding changing negative situations or circumstances.com . and real life circumstances that necessitate commentary. most consumers are still out there trying to find the right training and right diet program to fit their goals. This is why after so many years in the Fitness Industry. Unfortunately the trainer mentality reinforced by the industry concentrates on physical goals at the expense of any true awareness during the process of achieving them. To ignore this kind of feedback is to imply it is irrelevant. This work is all about communication. The coach is not ‘the answer’. Helping a client to continue to grow and progress within the coaching environment means engaging the client to be an active participant in finding their own solutions.at . This is a coaching problem for interaction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is why the coaching presence is so important. A good coach can differentiate between excuses. A client may check in with the biofeedback from training protocol.scottabel. and skilfully just reiterate 86 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. the client is more likely to be willing to embrace any suggestions for alternative choices. During interaction if a coach can ‘lead’ a client this way and also employ the client’s own words in the interaction as well as present a hypothetical situation by example.
how they process information. The tactic to do so can be as simple as just stating back to the client. “So what you seem to be saying is. the coach. what they just reported. The strategy and tactic of summarizing client communication is especially effective for new coaches.scottabel. It is the coach’s responsibility to rephrase and categorize thoughts and ideas from the client into a coherent whole. these types of coaches who focus only in the physical realm dismiss these types of relevant feedback. As well. Summarizing a client’s communication is a great way to consider a response beforehand.” or even better. it expresses to the client that the coach is actively engaged and takes the client’s communication seriously. He is only part of it. This leads to more purposeful and proactive communication from the coach. But because they are ill‐equipped to deal with it. they usually summate their own conclusions along the lines of “Wow. what kind of life stressors are affecting them etc.. A summary of dialogue is a simple but often ignored tactic for effective coaching communication strategy. Downloaded from http://www. what I gather from your feedback is the following. just summarizing a client communication and presenting it back to them can serve as a means for clarity for the client. then ‘answers’ are provided in the role of coach being a catalyst for the client to engage more and greater accountability and responsibility in the coaching relationship.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. summarizing also helps the coach define the relevant context of the communication. Usually this is a mistake of context that coaches make. The good coach is focused on the client and the awareness of the interaction at hand.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This also further develops the coach/client relationship on a deeper level.at back to the client... Coaches too often perceive their role as providing the answers to client communication and dialogue. 87 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Summarizing client communication takes the coach well beyond the mere consideration of what physical protocol a client is undertaking. too many coaches are ill‐equipped to deal with such feedback so they leave it alone. Summarizing client communication helps the coach on a continual basis to answer that question. Unfortunately. The coach is not ‘the answer’. Coaching communication should be purposeful and proactive. Instead.com . Joe is really scattered” or “what am I supposed to say to that?” By negating the feedback of the client this way.scottabel.. More often than not these types of coaches do a mental summary of such communication.” More often than not. “Overall. the summary strategy leads the coach to more effectively be able to deliver message and meaning to the client. ‘who is my client?’ It helps the coach to consider how the client thinks. The idea of summarizing client communication as a strategy for interaction also serves elements of ‘how to’ communicate discussed in the previous chapter. As a communication strategy. This can help the client make connections to the meaning he was trying to convey. But if the coach is properly focused on the client and the process. And in so doing.at . It leads to proper interactive preparation. and more importantly the shared interactive process. this kind of coach violates some the prescripts of ‘how to’ interact addressed in the previous chapter.com . It leads away from the tendency of re‐action from the coach.
And this instruction is client‐ centred. It indicates the client is paying attention and taking coaching feedback seriously.com . This kind of open‐ended exchange builds rapport with the client as well. And this type of rapport leads to trust which is so essential for ongoing coaching effectiveness and impact. The focus for interaction is not only an exchange of information. And this is true in terms of the client’s own goals as well as the competence and confidence within the coaching relationship. Coaching communication and interaction is all about engaging the client and leading them to the means to seek and find their own solutions to workable issues. In truth. This is far more effective than just handing them answers to every perceived dilemma.at The tactics and strategies for effective coaching communication are for serious coaches.scottabel. This style of communication may often seem counter‐intuitive to clients. It’s a mutually profitable and purposeful engagement.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. A great coach understands the engagement involved in this process.com .at . It is qualitatively distinct and deeper than the mere ‘trainer mentality’ of most coaches and experts in the fitness industry. The tactics and strategies for effective qualitative coaching are all about receiving useful information from your client and about your client. This is the most productive mode for effective coaching. it can be an exhausting reality that engaging client interaction this way can create even more demand for communication and interaction with clients. engaging the client with effective interaction also serves the grander purpose of building client confidence and competence moving forward as well. It also expresses an engagement in the two‐way communication process for building the client from where they are. Engaging and entertaining the client during this process also serves to inform the coach with everything he needs to know to guide the client moving forward.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. this serves the client in being able to handle and absorb more in the long term process of coaching.scottabel. This is a good sign actually. Downloaded from http://www. It should not surprise a coach if his engagement of qualitative interaction brings more dialogue and questions in response. But when a coach can unveil a client’s working aptitudes and attitudes during the application of process. The coach wins short term and long term by ‘inviting’ client interaction. but proper and purposeful instruction as well. 88 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Perceiving client interaction as a burden negates the actual purpose of a coach. This is why the central element of focus for real coaching is that it is client‐centred. Moreover. One‐way styles of communication and dictation of coach to client are more appropriate for the trainer mentality. not protocol based. To engage the client to forge the resolve to solve their own issues and clearly being there for them during that process expresses respect for the client. They assume they hire the coach to give them the answers. the coach merely assigns protocol and serves as a guide and mirror along the way. With all the above tactics and strategies for coaching. This type of qualitative interaction can engage clients in a way which leads to more questions than answers.
I will lead them to where they can do so for themselves. She is 34 yrs old. She writes: “Hey.scottabel.com . It’s the day after New Years. and only having carbs before and after my workouts. my name is Joe Smith. In your response. then the coach should instruct them to do so. What does it mean? How would it vary from client to client? Real World Example 1: A potential new client writes to inquire about your services. Notes for Mentoring Students • • Early in the chapter the phrase ‘effective coaching for communication of instruction’ is used. My goal is to look like I could compete someday. 5 ft 2.at However. I have been eating exactly right. I was either going to give this up and try a 10k 89 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. and 170 lbs. once again. illustrated the difference between the trainer and the coach. I’ve been training for about 5 years now. Often clients will write me to ask me how many calories are in this or that food item. I would like to gain about 15 lbs of muscle and get down to about 8% body fat.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Happy New Year. But I have that skinny‐fat look. And this distinction is reflective also of the old adage. What could you do for me?” Answer the above scenario for a potential new client. I’ve made a decision over the holidays.at . Teaching and instruction on an individual basis by engaging client interaction is the most viable hands‐on form of learning a coach can be involved in. “catch a man a fish and he eats for a day. The good coach knows the difference in instruction and communication. and 135 lbs with about 20% body fat. This is the communication provided: “Hi.Downloaded from http://www. • Real World Example 2: Jane Smith has been a client of yours now for 18 months. Make a list. I am 26 yrs old. teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. I am currently training my whole body 3 days per week and I run on the weekends. She sometimes goes long periods without any relevant contact at all. when a client is seeking answers in the form of information which they could easily access themselves. 5 ft 9. Purposeful instruction for a coach should know the difference between showing off knowledge and leading a client to finding their own answers when situations allow. However.com . address as many of the tactics and strategies mentioned above.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This. She has been inconsistent with her assigned diet and training from the beginning. These strategies and tactics for communication are some of the best tools to employ toward this end. How does it help inform and elevate your level of communication? Where are you strong? Where are you weak? How do respond differently as a coach instead of a trainer. I do not answer such questions. And the most effective coaches also know that engaging client interaction is the most effective means for coaches themselves to learn.scottabel.
” Again.at race or I was going to get really serious.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. what is your impression? What is the goal of your communication? What is the message and meaning you want to get across? How do the tactics and strategies help you to do so? 90 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.at . I’m so excited to hear back from you.scottabel. I’ve put on about 10 lbs over the holidays. since I’ve never even seen one before. but I’m finally serious about getting in shape.Downloaded from http://www. I’ve decided to compete in a Figure contest.scottabel. Where do we start? I’ve been searching on‐line for how to train for a competition.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I’m ready to go! I want to compete in April. As you answer. answer the above communication from this client using as many of the strategies and tactics for effective coaching as you can. then I will have to stick to everything you give me. I know if I am going to get on stage where people will see me in a bikini. So.com .com .
com . regressive.scottabel. The most unfortunate mistake of the information myth this industry perpetuates is that wannabe coaches and trainers continue to pursue new information or someone else’s interpretation of information at the expense of developing and honing their own coaching communication skills and awareness.scottabel. Only when the coach rightfully understands this as the base and structure of his job can he appropriately develop his own 91 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www. being part of the more common statistic of being gone from the industry within an 18‐24 months period. Hence the entity of the coaching relationship should be perceived as being ‘alive’. And this is entity is always changing. would be akin to communicating with a child the same way at age 16 as you would at age 6. It’s about having an intuitive knowledge for employing the strategies and tactics discussed in the previous chapter. For many coaches. But such strategies and tactics necessitate developing keen awareness and skilled communication for knowing when and how to employ them. passionate. to be able to be occupationally vertically mobile within this industry also demands developing acute communication skills and communication awareness from coach to client. Adequate coaching communication skills and awareness embraces the notion that coaching can be progressive.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Once again this is a fundamental reality mentioned so often in this project. communication skills and communication awareness can be the difference between earning a comfortable living in the Fitness Industry. The effective communication skill is person‐oriented. dispassionate. All the domain knowledge in the world is useless if a coach cannot effectively communicate and impart this knowledge to a willing client. And this is true whether you are a coach or a trainer. The coach must understand the relationship as an entity in and of itself. that the coaching relationship is one‐dimensional. Again. Effective coaching is all about non‐linear interactive communication. For many others it is what separates adequate expertise from the ability to make a living applying it. This chapter will explore coaching communication skills and awareness in greater detail. prescriptive and descriptive as well as all elements in between. To my mind the difference between success and failure for a wannabe professional in this industry is not ‘how much you know’ but ‘how well you communicate’.at Chapter 9 Developing Coaching Communication Skills and Awareness Chapter 8 addressed actual strategies and tactics for effective coaching communication. Furthermore. counselling and guiding is qualitatively different than dictating and prescribing. This is the first reality to develop in terms of coaching skill and awareness.com . or instead. The interactive nature of this relationship must be internalized as a real entity. Make no mistake. This is an entity that when properly nourished will continue to change and grow. as the industry does. just like teachers and leaders. this communication skill and awareness seems to come naturally. To pretend. The communication skill and awareness is all about knowing when and how to employ specific feedback. not protocol based.
92 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com . This is never as black and white and one‐dimensional as the industry likes to project. And still communicating in the same manner with that previous 6 yrs old. The coach sets the tone for interaction. and times when communication necessitates being emotionally emphatic. ‘Keeping it alive’ means knowing when and how to guide and when and how to critique as well. and the circumstance. their circumstance. often doing both at the same time. To think all coaching communication is a matter of “instruction” only is a coaching set back.) Developing coaching communication skill and awareness works the same way for coaches. when they are 16 yrs old obviously represents a lack of communication skills and awareness for any parent. not a coaching enhancement. It is only by employing this communication skill and awareness that effective coaching can provide clients with ongoing options within the client’s own experience of protocol and its application. Downloaded from http://www. and their interaction will be affected by their situation.com . it may be about critique or clarification. Developing adequate coaching communication skills and awareness means keeping communication on point.at effective communication skills and awareness. the client. For any leader to think that any interaction is somehow reducible to only one realm (the physical) is to miss the “entity” that is the coaching relationship. There is nothing less effective than a coach who only has a one‐dimensional dogmatic approach to any and all interaction with a client. What positive relationship ever is? There will be times when coaching direction must be emotionally neutral.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . The coach must be able to bend but not break within the delivery of any correspondence.scottabel. Sometimes a coaching communication may be about motivation. All these elements go beyond mere dictation and instruction of applied knowledge. it’s also mistaken. All of these components of their communication may also be changed or altered at any given time. the subject.scottabel. And within the coach’s own frame of reference he needs to be clear about his purpose and honest about his motives. Embracing the coaching relationship as a live entity means recognizing the client’s needs and tone of communication at any given time. The communication skills and awareness are the coach’s responsibility for the most part. (Hence the example mentioned above: a parent communicating with a 6 years old having a tantrum is much different than a parent communicating with a 6 years old at peace.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and their knowledge base. the situation. It allows for the coach to ‘keep it alive’ guidance‐wise. the tone. For any coach or expert to think in such myopic terms is not only near‐sighted and limited. But the client is a live component as well. on the subject and with a targeted and specific relevance. This mandate of communication allows for the effective coach to be flexible but still maintain a framework of communication consistency which a client relates to. it may be about consistency. Not every client communication and interaction is reducible to some physiological component of diet or training. Coaching communication skills and awareness mean entertaining the whole of a client interaction.
Skilled and aware communication is direct and as immediate (timely) as possible always.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. communication must be delivered with similar timing and consistency. And yet this is but one more aspect of the information bias the industry seems to have upside down. Often a communication may be to engage the client to consider an alternative choice to the application of their ongoing process. Instructing clients as to various options even within coaching interaction can also mean having an awareness to give a client time to assimilate this instruction. And this will vary from individual to individual. a coach needs to address the relationship entity. But this is not to imply that communication is somehow “conversational”. Whether the context of interaction is supportive or critical. It does little good for a coach to show off his own knowledge base within an interaction if the communication does not somehow serve the client. and not “what” the specific information may be he is trying to impart. And this is reinforced by an industry which continues to dictate that knowledge as information is the key to advancement in the industry.at The establishment of communication skill and awareness for any given coach means always knowing that a coach’s message is only as effective as the result it garners. Instead. And he can only be so.com . And any given interaction can also serve the purpose of just enhancing or reinforcing the coaching relationship as well. It is qualitative and variant. I often have to give clients new or different options for presenting their feedback. nor client compliance.com . Downloaded from http://www. Too many coaches often 93 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. They communicate in a manner to impress more so than to guide the client. No. information. Not every single communication will necessitate an instruction or information response in the physical realm. Communication coaching skill and awareness means a coach is clear and concise in terms of interaction and purpose of communication. Too often coaches interact based on their own level of knowledge. Sometimes purposeful coaching communication is not about instruction. And this is to make their feedback more efficient and organized so that my response can be so as well. The coach needs to establish why and how to involve the client to actively and properly be engaged in feedback and interaction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The awareness element informs the coach ‘how’ to communicate with this particular client and not just ‘what’ to communicate within the interaction. This is a common mistake. Coaching communication with awareness can often mean not only employing client feedback but seeing beyond it as well.scottabel. This is especially true when communicating critique. Only by developing coaching communication skill and awareness can the coach effectively use various nuance of interaction to further establish this entity of the coaching relationship. This is why mere communication of information or instruction is so limited if it does not consider the actual client and the atmosphere of the interaction.scottabel. Attempting subtleties and indirect posturing is ineffective. This would not reflect the entity of the coaching relationship. Coaching skill and awareness can go well beyond the content of a client interaction. not fixed and one‐dimensional. Effective communication must always be direct. if his interaction is based on who the client is as an individual. It’s best to get right to the heart of the matter and the tone of an interaction always.
And the timeliness is important when delivering these types of communication. This does not translate into the personal. This is a coaching nemesis.com . Understanding the Exchange Value of Coaching Communication There is an exchange value to coaching interaction that is seldom recognized or paid due attention. skilled communication. And this is what he should act on.com . This is a mistake. Coaching delayed is coaching denied. Both client and coach can get lost in a sea of information in this industry. the skilled and aware coach always communicates constructive message and meaning. The coach who always responds and interacts in a timely manner is less likely to have a message be taken out of context within interaction. Too often coaches delay decision making and therefore client interaction while they seek to gather “more information”. For a truly qualified coach. Usually people who want to talk the most. And this is especially relevant when interaction is on‐line coaching. professional. The coach must work to insure that this level of interaction is nurtured and sustained. and everything to do with effective and aware. It is the coach’s role to manage and guide in a manner and means which instils an attitude of client consistency and discipline in their application of protocol. Downloaded from http://www. This exchange value is all about message and meaning for the coach. even if the context is critical or correctional. The client’s accountability to the coach is in actuality accountability to themselves. Relaying relevant instruction or guidance to the client is about action. practical.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. information is not knowledge. as a coach. And this has little to do with protocols of diets and training. The coach’s interaction with the client plays a role in the client’s actual experience and atmosphere of working toward their own goals. As I’ve already stated.scottabel. If. A coach needs to 94 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. not delayed action.at . The skilled and aware coach meets the client at his/her own level of ability and progression. you find yourself doing most of the communicating. the coach is responsible for the interactive tone of their communication. And no matter what tone of context may be necessary. Consistency of response is a coaching skill.at delay feedback which may be critical in nature or potentially provocative. have the least to say. information is not knowledge about the client. But more importantly. then there is a problem. seldom is it necessary to gather ‘more information’. Skilled and aware communication is always consistent with timing and delivery of message. regardless of message or context. and proactive mandate of effective coaching interaction.scottabel. And while clients are responsible for the consequences and results of their actions. But the interaction must be mutual and not dictatorial. Only the skilled and aware coach has that particular insight.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and this is especially true in the coaching relationship.
but also hear what is being communicated from the client. For instance. the coach has to be able to shape and reshape client interaction and feedback.at communicate message and meaning. the best coaches are the ones who not only listen. This increases the exchange value of coaching input. So. This actually increases the exchange value of a coaching communication. no less. are not in the ‘convincing’ business. The aware coach communicates just enough that the client is always engaged and interested. If a coach explains too much or micro analyzes every detail. Downloaded from http://www. then often what is truly important can get lost in the length of the communication exchange. does the client communicate and 95 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The best coaches.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This relationship is process‐ based. The skilled and aware coach focuses always on the guidance aspect of coaching. The coach is more than an information dispatcher. as previously mentioned in Chapter 3. but about being understood. Allowing clients to also give books of information (too much information) during interaction is over‐indulging the client’s ego needs as well.scottabel. the client understands the coach will not waste time with rhetoric or conversation. unique to him and each client. Usually coaches who feel a need to dominate an interaction are doing so because they are trying to convince the client of some point or another. But the skilled coach does not need to dominate this interaction. The exchange value of the interaction of coach and client is increased when the coach sets the tone for ongoing interaction based on this relationship entity. The fitness industry seems to have this backwards. The skilled and aware coach will realize that some clients are seeking something beyond “coaching” within the coaching relationship entity. non‐linear. no more. but context of any client interaction. The coach needs to also engage feedback to make sure the message is understood. And the exchange value between coach and client appreciates when a coach coaches people instead of only imparting information. Good coaches know how to effectively and diplomatically reshape interaction in an ongoing process to get only the information they need and nothing extraneous to the coaching relationship. the coach can actually devalue the impact of his own communication.scottabel. and the less exchange value the communication will have. Communication is not about being right. not protocol based. What bears repeating is that skilled and aware coaching is about an interactive. The coach considers not only content. Clients can ‘find information’ anywhere these days. Over time.at . however. To be an effective coach. progressive relationship between coach and client.com . Sound communication stays on point and is as brief as possible. By saying too much.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . Targeted communication should be easily absorbed and understood by a client. Communication exchanges may necessitate some long interaction at times. The coach is always mindful of seeking and accumulating appropriate information only. the less effective he is. A client will value and respect skilled and aware coaching interaction based in the professional interactive environment created by the coach. The more a coach feels the need to dominate the interactive experience. This is part of the professional coaching communication environment.
the role of coach should always be one that is emotionally unattached.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. However. This is limited.scottabel. ability. Often. Being emotionally neutral in a coaching strategy of communication does not mean being uninterested. As much as a coach must communicate message and meaning. Skilled and aware coaching is about valuing and engaging client feedback. they do not react based on emotion. And the exchange value remains in tact for the client. emotional. a client will willingly receive a provocative communication from the coach 96 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.at interact with clarity. The aware coach “depersonalizes” the communication before responding.scottabel. (physical. (Most of them. By disconnecting the message from the messenger.com . When a coach does find himself in a predicament where his first impulse is to ‘react’ to a client engagement. etc. a provocative message can be very motivating for a client to receive. The important matter for the coach’s consideration is that his own feeling regarding any client does not turn into a judgement of the client. The best coaches interact based on awareness. And such a one‐dimensional approach only devalues the interactive exchange with clients. circumstance. And well he should.) A coach can often have his own feelings about any given client. supportive. confidence. coaches are human too. he needs to step back from the interactive exchange. and personality. The important thing is that the communication is reconsidered by the coach so that it is rendered emotionally neutral. the aware coach’s mind can more freely render appropriate commentary. attitude. There will be critical periods of interaction in the coach/client relationship that must be met with the warmth of human interaction and not the cold sterile environment of scientific pretentiousness. This helps the aware coach and it prevents him from presenting any preconceived biases toward the client. An effective means of communication at this point is for the coach to just consciously disconnect the message from the messenger. This way the coach can be more confident in re‐initiating the ongoing exchange. So although the coach must consider a client’s knowledge. In other words. And acting or interacting based on these feelings is just ego run amuck. Skilled and aware coaching means acknowledging this subjective awareness. Downloaded from http://www. Skilled coaches do not pretend their feelings are not there when they are. advisory. The aware coach must be flexible and not robotic for effective and valued communication to continue. The aware coach communicates in a manner where he can bend but not break in terms of client interaction.at . and competence? Skilled and aware coaching considers clients needs. whether it needs to be critical. And it does not mean the coach cannot be provocative if a situation dictates. situation. And even though it is an interactive relationship entity. At any given time the triangle of awareness will weigh a communication more heavily in one area than another. the skilled coach can still remain emotionally neutral to them.com . mental) Too often coaches in this industry can only communicate from an ivory tower of scientific expertise. it is equally often just as important for a client to know that his communication has been ‘felt’ and not just ‘received’ by the coach. Coaching in the Fitness Industry is still just a job.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. More often than not. the aware coach just reconsiders the provocative communication but with no name attached to it.
Yet the client was also quick to engage interactions regarding effective drug use etc. I explained to him why he didn’t need a new program when he had not even completed this one.com .scottabel. I was able to be emotionally neutral in my response to the client while also being provocative in terms of delivering a much needed reality check for him. The counter‐intuitive point here is that it may often be necessary to depersonalize a message to render it emotionally neutral so that the coach can actually be personal in his response.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. uninterrupted for more than a week or two. By concentrating on explaining how these three words applied to him. but at the same time the aware coach may still lack in skilled communication techniques and strategies. By resetting his mental focus on three key words the coach is less likely to present unwarranted commentary. ‘uncommitted’ and ‘inconsistent’. (See previous chapter. practical and proactive. It can also work for the coach within his own preparation for interaction and client engagement. But first I disconnected the message from the messenger.com . I had a client who considered himself a high level competitor. with the same history. ‘how would I respond to any other client with a similar history who made this request?’ So I just engaged the client by saying in no uncertain terms that although he considered himself a high level competitor. Then I just imagine a “hypothetical” Joe Smith.at because it does illustrate the coach’s interest in the client. This tactic also helps to reset the communication to being about the message and not about the client. And I was able to do so by first disconnecting his original request from the person himself. Then I just asked myself. And then the coach interacts based on these three words he wants to convey in the interactive exchange. but personal in a manner that is professional.scottabel. the aware coach effectively removes any emotional influence as well. By narrowing his mental focus in this way. (See previous chapter on the hypothetical tactic of communication.) I find it helpful in such situations for a coach to reduce what he wants to say to three key words.at . For instance. he was actually probably the least consistent and least committed competitor I had trained to date.) The aware coach may effectively disconnect the message from the messenger.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the client heeded the provocative message and meaning with the positive intent of the interaction. I used the request as a way to engage the client in a reality based interaction that justified some provocation. Downloaded from http://www. and I responded accordingly. The client hadn’t put together even three consistent weeks of training and dieting and always had an excuse. I set my key three words that I needed to convey to the client to be ‘undisciplined’. This helps him to reshape his own communication strategy if circumstances dictate. In the above example. After a few months of this the client asked for a “new program”. But he made one excuse after another for never ever sticking to diet or program application. 97 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. the message was effectively emotionally neutral. And instead of reacting defensively.
Downloaded from http://www. lawyers. This is why it is so important for the coach to form boundaries within the ongoing interactive environment of exchange. And while this uniqueness is for sure a coaching asset. This is why the word “aware” is so important when discussing the coaching communication focus. forming opinions about clients is inevitable. teachers. various neuroses. And the same imperative is true for aware coaching as well. and most other relationship‐oriented professions. But because of the totally subjective element of the coaching relationship. This is true for doctors. there needs to be even more emphasis placed on setting boundaries. coaching is all about making decisions. coaching awareness is like putting on a coaching hat when engaging client interaction. A coach does not “fix” personality disorders.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. as they must be because of the unique and individual reality of each coaching situation. or other psychological problems. whether conscious or subconscious. These boundaries are relative and not absolute. Because there is so much to consider with client assessment. it does not reduce the need for always having a background set of boundaries in place for the duration of the relationship.com . Coaches are not therapists.scottabel. But the boundaries are always first and foremost about maintaining a professional and yet still personal relationship with the client. there are many clients in the Fitness Industry who suffer many industry‐related neuroses.scottabel. evaluating performances. And to be sure. Yet this element of coaching and boundaries of appropriate communication is totally ignored in the industry. And because the coaching is all about a non‐linear interactive experience. But this is a fine line for interactive exchange.at In essence. The coach has a responsibility to interact as a coach. troubleshooting. coaching is still more about the role. 98 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. and less about the coach’s own personality and feelings. Developing the coaching relationship will take on its own uniqueness with each individual client. and not as an individual separate from the role. very similar to the professions mentioned above. any more than are teachers or lawyers etc.com . The aware coach does not allow his opinions of the client outside of the coaching relationship to influence his thinking or guidance and instruction. Coaching awareness means paying attention to always being “in” the coaching relationship. Communication Boundaries Like many of these professions.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The aware coach minds a specific role as coach. obsessive/compulsive tendencies and the like. And this is a serious responsibility for the aware coach. and often coaching is even about counselling to some degree or another. boundaries can also float back and forth as the relationship grows and develops. And while he acknowledges and depends on his own personality to influence this role. such as eating disorders. This is the coach’s task and duty to set the tone for professional interaction.
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The coaching relationship is all about accountability and responsibility on both sides. And the
coach not only sets the example but he is the example for the relationship. This is why his
coaching and communication awareness is an imperative skill to develop and hone. The goal is
always to facilitate an ongoing interaction in a context that is effective, understood, practical
and engaging. This doesn’t mean that problems never arise. What it does mean is that a coach
who is aware, and who has set professional boundaries, is the better equipped coach for
handling problems or miscommunications when they occur. (And they will, as they do in any
strong and effective relationship.) But any miscommunication or disagreement is the
responsibility of the coach. He must be willing to own that. Great coaches never seek to assign
“blame” even if they could be right to do so. Aware coaches know that assigning “blame” on a
client really serves no purpose. Once again, the aware coach emphasizes the quality of
communication ahead of the message it imparts. Being right, for the coach, is not nearly as
impactful as doing right, on the client’s behalf. All aware coaches avoid creating any
circumstance or situation where the word “blame” is even applicable. This emphasizes, once
again, how creating a professional interactive communication context, with boundaries, can
serve to prevent problems from manifesting right from the beginning. And the professions
mentioned above also flourish in the exact same manner.
Developing coaching communication skills and awareness is a lot like preventative medicine for
forging a potential long term relationship. As this chapter demonstrates, all or most of this has
little to do with domain knowledge of fitness; and everything to do with enhanced people skills.
Notes for Mentoring Students
This chapter refers to the coaching relationship as an “entity”. What does this mean
exactly? How does thinking of your relationship with clients in this way enhance your
own coaching skills and awareness? Think and illustrate an example of such a
relationship entity in your own life.
Why is consistency of response and timeliness of response such an important element in
the coach/client entity? How is this an awareness and a skill for communication?
What is meant by the phrase, the ‘exchange value of communication’? What are the
relevant points of consideration here? How does thinking about your relationship with
your clients in terms of this ‘exchange value’ enhance your coaching communication
skills and awareness?
©2010 Scott Abel
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Why is setting boundaries for the interactive coaching experience a responsibility for
the coach to actively exercise? What would be your own personal and professional
boundaries for communication?
A fairly new client keeps giving you biofeedback that his/her training and diet is
continual being interrupted because of relationship issues. He/she tells you how much
he/she trusts your opinion and wants to know what you think he/she should do about
the relationship. Use the outlines above to formulate a response to the situation.
A fairly new client keeps contracting you about what he hears on other websites, web‐
boards, and other social media. He even considers T.V. talk show advice on training and
diet and compares it with your own guidance. The constant asking of ‘what about this,
what about that?’ is interfering with your coaching progress and undermining your
authority as well. Using the tools of this chapter, respond to this client in a meaningful
You have made a name for yourself as an on‐line coach. A new client has found you
after ‘surfing’ the net and liking what she thinks you have to say. Yet she keeps
confronting you with the negative comments about you on the web, and asking you to
defend against them. Based on this chapter, how do you handle this interaction?
After reviewing these mentoring notes and addressing these scenario sample interactions, what
have you learned about your own coaching skills and awareness for effective interaction? What
areas do you need to work on? Notice how much of real interaction with clients goes well
beyond a discussion of training and diet etc.
©2010 Scott Abel
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Advancing Coaching Awareness
Chapter 9 discussed communication skills and awareness for effective coaching. This chapter
goes a little deeper in terms of skills for coaching awareness and interaction with clients. The
discussion in this chapter is one that should shape initial and ongoing coaching preparation for
client interaction. Too often the industry dogma of systems, science, and programs, replaces
just common interaction between the coach and potential and existing clients. This is a huge
mistake. Even with my own mentoring students, this mistake is common. Most coaches want to
quickly jump to an “agenda” when answering potential new client inquiries or existing client
inquiries. Often the backbone of this agenda is a desire to illustrate expertise and mastery of
diet or training methodology. Whether this is called for or not, it is a mistake for any coach to
respond to an inquiry with an automatic and assumed agenda. And yet this is exactly the kind if
incorrect communication bias which exists in the Fitness Industry.
I call the kind of effective initial and ongoing client communication involved in coaching
“attention skills”. And these attention skills take work. Again, while they cannot be taught, they
can be practiced consistently until they become a manner for addressing all coaching clients
and potential clients. As a starting point, whenever possible, pay attention to client interaction.
We will explore this further below. But at the very beginning, attention skills mean the coach
addresses communication with the following priorities: 1) dialogue “at” clients as little as
possible, and never if possible; 2) dialogue “to” clients by paying attention to each point of
engagement, whether in response or initiating interaction; 3) as often as possible dialogue
“with” clients in terms of ongoing interaction. If the coach sets his agenda first, as most do in
this industry, he is reducing himself and reducing his client/potential client as well. Interaction
with clients should set the agenda, and not be an agenda! Yet, most wannabe coaches in this
industry assume the “job” is always to answer interaction with an illustration of domain
knowledge. This usually leads directly to slotting people into diets and programs without true
attention to the interaction and client assessment involved in forging the coaching relationship.
The proper attention involved in client interaction is always attentive to the triangle of
awareness discussed in earlier chapters. Too often coaches are quick to want to just “assign”
answers and programs to potential clients without much attention paid directly to the client
and the importance of interaction with him. When a client or potential new client initiates an
interaction with a coach, the coach should address each point the client/potential client
presents. If the coach is responding honestly, this can often have little to do with his expertise
and everything to do with forging an understanding toward ongoing communication. The coach
“invites” correspondence as a first priority. But instead, when a coach responds to inquiry with
©2010 Scott Abel
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Make note that it is people and communication skills first and specific domain knowledge second that will lend to a sustainable career as a coach or on‐line coach in the fitness industry. This is limiting in so many ways.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . unfortunately. especially an on‐line coach. Furthermore. Properly developed communication skills can be an exhausting skill acquisition.at the agenda always toward illustrating his own expertise. Downloaded from http://www. especially in terms of accumulating information. Industry knowledge will only take a coaching intern so far. bodybuilders coaching bodybuilders. This just reinforces that domain knowledge. Knowledge and domain expertise.scottabel. The information myth. We see this all the time in the industry: Background tends to dictate clientele.com . The key to sustaining a career as an on‐line coach in the Fitness Industry is to not limit oneself to niche markets. he risks talking “at” the person. Domain knowledge accumulation in the fitness industry has segmented expertise in a manner that negates the coach’s potential. how to market to them. power lifters coaching power lifters. This means developing effective communication skills to be able to address clients and potential clients regarding their own area of interest. you have to be able to deal with potential clients from all walks of life and levels of understanding.com . Many modern internet “experts” lack even a working knowledge of the principles. And in the modern internet age we witness the opposing truth as well. only those at the top or with a very specific reputation within such niche markets make a serious income or can forge a lasting career in such narrowly defined markets. rather than engaging talking “to” or “with” the person. 102 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. in my opinion. But in actuality in terms of long term career sustainability it is these skills for client attention that will make or break a sustainable career as an on‐line coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. is currently blind to the requisite skills needed to be an effective on‐line coach in the fitness industry. Usually. is NOT the determining factor for a career as a coach in the Fitness Industry. They go to symposiums designed to show them how to manipulate the consumer in the Fitness Industry.scottabel. To only be able to coach clients you relate to is a vocation killer. the coach needs to properly devote attention appropriately to and on the client and not his own interest bias. So we have strong‐men coaching strong‐men. functional coaches training functional athletes etc. But this is the truth. So the “attention” factor for clients and potential clients tends to be lost in specific bias of coaches themselves and their pursuit of their own interests. No one is going to find any of these skills being addressed at certification presentations or at industry symposiums. how to get them to buy a product or service etc. are secondary to knowing how to engage clients and potential clients by devoting due attention on them. If you are attempting to be a coach in this industry. And it tends to also be why most wannabe on‐line coaches find themselves out of work and out of the industry in short stay. But in the Fitness Industry this tends to be the norm.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. A potential coach should underline his own personal style and work to these strengths. Coaching is a service industry and this is often left on the floor in the fitness industry.at The first place to start is in acknowledgement that everyone is born and raised with at least some interaction skills that come naturally: A personal style. Being genuine also applies to the action of coaching. This is our nature and our personality. This kind of self‐interest will always reveal itself eventually. is a coach prone to incompetence over time. Either of these latter points of emphasis will take the coach away from being genuine when it comes to proper and focused client attention. But the starting point to this is that the coach has to genuinely care about the progress. And within the interaction of just being genuinely oneself. if you will. And this is a career killer. who continues to measure effectiveness by how a client makes them look. When the coach puts his own needs first he incorrectly assumes the client is there to service him. or how much income clients are generating.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This will be felt within the coaching relationship at some point.com . first and foremost. Being genuine will lend itself greatly over time to being competent. Too often. Previous chapters have made attempts to identify and work on just such communication skills and implement exercises to address. This makes them more attached to wanting to be right about everything. Too many wannabe coaches set out by trying to assume a role that is not authentically reflective of who they are. the coach should find these weaknesses and set out to strengthen them. The reason is because the coach is not being genuine about his job as being ‘service‐oriented’. Effective coaching is all about being yourself. But this also means being your higher genuine self. Downloaded from http://www. time coaches will find themselves lacking in some area of communication and interactive ability. Be yourself: Coach with a style that reflects who you are as a person. and not the other way around. And this is a strength and marks a good place to start. and goals of the clients. the coach must also be prepared. Too often coaches are struggling to make a reputation for themselves or to make ends meet early in their coaching development. 103 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Without enhancing skills and abilities for interaction.scottabel. So what skill does someone need to initiate an experience toward a mastery of coaching? The answer at first is very basic. The coach. as previously discussed.at . coaches attach needless levels of pride to their role.scottabel. Instead of ignoring these. This leads them to be more self‐interested in their bottom line than genuinely giving devoted attention to clientele. identify and work on these various strategies and techniques for effective coaching communication.com . And this has little to do with proper attention skills which are all about the client. At the same. process. be focused. the fledgling coach will find himself only able to communicate effectively with like minded individuals. and make his attention client‐oriented and not information‐based or knowledge‐ centred. Coaching is a service industry. A coach has to have his attention properly place as will be discussed below. fitness knowledge is merely the vehicle that drives it.
The Science of the non‐Science: Developing Coaching Intuition Yes. This is not only a mandate but a responsibility for good coaching.com . Yet also after so many years.scottabel. The intention for any good coach should be client‐focused first. being genuine means attention for the client takes precedence. and protocol discussion. Attention/Intention It is amazing to me after so many years that I even have to discuss the nature of client “attention”. So. building attention skills is a 104 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. But this intuition must go beyond the coach’s “opinion” of his own conclusions. Mastery of coaching means being genuine in client interest. This usually leads wannabe coaches to adapting anything and everything that comes down the pike. A good coach uses intuition as a means to inform his decisions and his awareness within client interaction and communication.at Another part of the action of being genuine as a coach also regards the implementation of methodology. It sounds counter‐intuitive and almost blasphemous based on the current industry standard of accreditation.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. doesn’t mean it helps you as a coach to do so for your own client. read this heading again a few times to let it sink in. the mandate of client attention that I seem to take for granted is one of the most ignored elements of coaching awareness that I have continued to witness my whole career. and a working confidence in your own knowledge base beyond what may be new or vogue in the industry. advice take place within this context.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Just because another expert interprets something a certain way.com . Client attention necessitates that interaction and communication come first. Just because another coach uses “this” diet approach or “that” training strategy does not mean a coach adapts it just because it is current or popular.scottabel. Again the mistake in the Fitness Industry is too much emphasis on information = knowledge. But within methodology and application. For effective coaching. Downloaded from http://www. client application. This means each client is attended to individually according to the triangle of awareness discussed in earlier chapters. intuition is an important skill to nurture and trust. Coaching intuition can only be developed by keeping close attention on client interaction and communication progression of the coaching relationship. Once a certain level of expertise is acquired. and especially within the interactive role of coach. (See my discussion of the term “vogueing”) Being genuine means developing a confidence in the application of your own methodology within the individuality of client attention.at . Building attention skills takes work. coaches need to weigh information against their own methodology and application. How to develop effective intuition and trustworthy intuition begins with focused and appropriate client attention.
Many new clients report to me how impressed they are with the length of my responses and the speed with which I respond to inquiry or communication. there is no way you can effectively correct that behaviour hours later when you return home. by example. How do you put yourself in the client’s position? Just by being human within the context of interaction. because it is a relationship. This is even more important for on‐line coaching.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. And the simplest place to start is the most general.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. not just your expertise. but what is not said. works the same way. I like to break down the term ‘paying’ and ‘attention’. as well as the timeliness of service.at preventative requisite for troubleshooting as the relationship progresses. It usually also suggests that coaches incorrectly assume their “expertise” is the driving nature of the relationship which tends to neglect productive client attention.com . Coaching clients pay for your attention. and to recognize his own role of providing a service within that context. All the domain knowledge in the world cannot be effective for a coach who is not paying attention to the context of client feedback and interaction. talking on a cell phone while serving you in a retail purchase etc. A client must be a priority in terms of receiving interactive attention in terms of response and timeliness of response. he should not enter into the coaching relationship to begin with. and developing them goes way beyond dictating protocol or delivering information. It’s like telling the client he is not a priority. This lack of attention rests squarely on the shoulders of the coach. For the coach. This is just as true for coaching clients. And really. Hence. not only for what is said.scottabel.at . Any good dog trainer will teach that the time to correct or reinforce behaviour is while it is occurring. If a coach feels from the onset that he cannot be patient enough to give a specific client due attention for whatever reason. developing intuition requires a 105 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. This attention goes well beyond the coach’s domain expertise. It requires the coach to be responsible beyond protocol to a level of effective coaching style unique to the specific client. not with people. We measure how effective a waiter or waitress is based on the undivided attention they give. Context is everything within a message of communication content. Downloaded from http://www. It is essential for the coach to be able to put himself in the client’s position. How good do you feel when someone gives you their undivided attention? It’s easy to recall situations where someone was serving you with divided attention. Attention skills take work. Coaching. If a dog empties his bowels on your living room carpet while you are at work. they also pay for your undivided attention as well. Paying attention to client feedback and interaction is imperative. Time management is something you do with material tasks and assignments.com . this lack of timely communication is also a coaching failure. Dealing with clients in a coaching relationship should live outside the lines of time management. The payment/cost of attention for coaches is the time invested to learning about a client via ongoing interaction.scottabel. A coach who responds to a client communication days later is an ineffective coach. The time for proper ‘attention’ has come and gone. And in terms of coaching advice. Many report this has not been their experience with other on‐line coaches.
he should have it. Acute observations skills cannot be developed this way. Being observant of clients requires and leads to greater and more enhanced communication skills and intuition for the coach. I have never seen a single coach on his cell phone during a practice or a game.) Coaches in other industries get paid a lot of money beyond their expertise. Coaches in the fitness industry need to heed this lesson as well. For the coach in the fitness industry. too cold.at . The coach’s intention should be two‐ fold: it should be focused on client attention.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. then client observation is much easier to develop. Developing acute observation skills for communication and coaching can only be accomplished with an undivided and focused client‐attention.com .(The relationship will be too stale. if a client is paying you for your attention. engaging other people while working with clients. By example. This is a coaching skill developed over time by paying attention. Some of them are even on the internet or Facebook or other social media while interacting or answering client communication. So the coach serves his own interest by serving his client with undivided attention. and all kinds of other means and manners illustrating divided attention. a coach will never develop the intuition and contextual awarness for good coaching that can sustain a career. They also get paid for their intuitive understanding of their role and their job. and it should be focused on process. Coaching intuition is properly developed within this context of client interaction.at client‐focused undivided attention anyway. I witness so called “coaches” rushing to answer cell‐phones.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www. It also lends for the coach to have greater appreciation and understanding of nuance to every specific interaction. This kind of divided attention not only is unfair to the client but hurts the coach in the long run.scottabel. Coaches who think clients only pay them for their expertise will be ineffective coaches in the long haul. Undivided Client Attention Leads to Enhanced Observation Skills If you coach in person. 106 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. His players are subject to his undivided attention. and too impersonal. I witness wannabe coaches in this industry answering cell phones or personal texting while also answering client email. And for on‐line coaches. And the best coaches develop their coaching instincts from this attention‐base. Yet even here.scottabel. I have studied and observed coaches for years. By interacting with clients with a divided attention. developing observation skills for client interaction is even more important.com . Divided coaching attention is akin to the coach shooting himself in the foot career‐wise. Observation skills beyond just communication context helps coaches read between the lines of communication and often help clients more clearly understand their own thinking as well. Each and every client interaction requires its own style of undivided attention.
In terms of developing observation skills. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the observant coach gains insight and depth as well. Only the laziest coaches entertain unilateral one‐way interaction. When a coach makes assumptions regarding client interactions. From there I make notes of points I need to address and the most effective context of the correspondence as well. To think of these elements as nouns or something to be “studied” misses the point. and with many different clients. Then I read the client communication again.com . Better observation skills further enhance effective client‐attention and focus. it’s ok for the coach to ask relevant questions as well as answer them. The two continue to feed each other and in this way. the aware coach is much further ahead than coaches who continue to chase information as an enhanced knowledge base. he tends to then interact with his own agenda. There is just as much “knowledge” for effective coaching awareness to be gained from enhancing the coaching entity. Coaches too often think in one‐dimensional. Each and every one element of coaching attention requires coaching consideration. I read the client’s communication once consciously from my own perspective as coach and expert. Notice also that these elements of coaching awareness are verbs. And when a client answers coaching questions. The coach learns to be patient with himself and his preparation. Observation and reflection are component parts of ‘paying attention’ in a client‐focused relationship.at Observation skills are also developed by engaging and encouraging client interaction as well. as if from their position of interaction or inquiry. This is a mistake. Paying attention. being observant. The client is not just an extension of protocol. This can often be very inefficient if a coach is truly paying attention. Undivided attention lends to developing better observation skills. client ‘communication and response’ context. His coaching skills are enhanced by paying attention. These 107 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Real coaching with this type of awareness requires real patience as well. This client engagement lets the client know he has the coach’s undivided attention and interest. Overzealous coaches often anticipate interaction. not passive elements of the coaching process.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com. the real coach learns to be patient with clients and client interaction. with an industry knowledge‐based only focus. in email correspondence I read each client email twice before engaging response. Developing the capacity for informed intuition within the coaching relationship necessitates client focused undivided attention. this practice of reflection also enhances observation and awareness skills for the coach. The individual client is treated as an individual. This then is balanced with industry knowledge in the coaching relationship. (Using the triangle of awareness) Only when I consider a communication twice from these vantage points do I respond. This can be time consuming.com . especially with on‐line coaching is to practice communication “reflection”. One of the ways to avoid this mistake.at . This is difficult to do if not impossible.scottabel. But over time. and being reflective are all active. For instance. And more importantly. not nouns.
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elements must be practiced and strengthened. Coaching is an ongoing active and changing
process. These tools are used to sharpen the coach’s awareness within this unique process.
Empowerment in Process
If the coach properly develops these skills of paying attention ,then he can also grow the
coaching relationship as the process unfolds. A great coach goes beyond protocol and inspires a
client to take on more and more responsibility for their own goals and awareness. The better
the coach, the more effective the coach, the less control he needs over the interactive nature of
the process of coaching. This is a lot like parenting as previously discussed. Over time, parents
who ‘hover’ only exhaust themselves. Research also shows that this sort of hovering also
creates dependence in their kids, rather than fostering independence. Well the same is true in
coaching. This also represents a qualitative gradation between trainer and coach. The trainer
(mentality) wants consistent control. The great coach knows the advantage of being able to let
go of control when the timing is right. However, the good coach can only know this by paying
attention, being observant, and practicing reflection. Coaching well should mean that the
coach does not experience the same type of client dependence as the coaching process
continues. Even the nature of trouble‐shooting and problem solving should change over time if
the coach is empowering the client with responsibility they can handle.
Client maturation should be a goal for the aware and effective coach. The coach should
empower clients to make certain decisions and answer specific questions themselves. The
coach is still there for reference and support. This reflects the coach’s role of going from guiding
light to mirror over time. (Gambetta) This can only be accomplished in a coaching relationship
that is client‐focused and client‐aware. As the coach builds client’s confidence and competence,
he reinforces this by inviting them to make decisions and answer questions as well. And while
the client will still make many mistakes, by this point he has come to learn he has a place to go
for correction without judgement. This is another reason getting away from measuring and
testing everything can actually be a tremendous boon for empowering clients, beyond numbers
to the level of learning during their experience of process and application of protocol. This is
what coaching ‘should be’ and is much different than the trainer mentality so overly reinforced
in the industry.
Problems will always present themselves for the client trying to learn and accomplish specific
goals. When these problems do arise, the difference between the coach and trainer is that the
coach thinks in terms of possibilities, not just solutions, and not personalities. A good coach will
use the powers of observation to know when and how to include the client in actively solving
their own issues. For problems that are less difficult, it is empowering for the client to be
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included as part of the solution. This should be what coaching is all about; always moving the
client forward and advancing and enhancing his own understanding. When a coach can take a
‘hands off’ approach to a client issue, he may advise a ‘try this or try that’ option for the client.
This is much different than just dictating solutions, especially to issues where there is no one
solution, but a myriad of possibilities. I will often get clients asking me simple questions they
can solve themselves. They just lack the confidence to do so. A client may want a reasonable
food substitution for one food over another. Another client who is on a 5 days program, just
had his shifts changed at work and is starting night school. He can no longer train 5 Days per
week. Both ask “what should I do?” Because these questions have rudimentary answers,
instead of just dictating the answer to the client, I invite them to be part of solving the
question. I am still there for them. I present them with options. I invite them to choose, and I
may even inquire why they make the choice they make, just to insure it is based on sound
rationale and illustrates a working knowledge for the circumstance at hand.
True and relevant coaching is more than just providing answers. That is but a part of coaching.
Coaching, like teaching and parenting, is about engaging an interactive process for learning.
Coaching empowers clients to be their own problem solver as their capacity and understanding
improve in time. It’s not about passing the buck, but investing the energy in the client, not the
protocol. Protocol assignment is just part of this investment.
This industry reinforces this notion of looking for the right answer all the time. This is limiting
and confusing. And the reason is because more often than not, there is no one answer, no one
right answer. There is, as I stated, a myriad of possibilities based on expertise and perspective.
Given this reality, client self‐expression should be nurtured within the problem solving
process of coaching. With this insight, as the client’s competence, confidence, and
understanding progresses, he can be challenged and included in greater levels of decision
making. When the timing is right, clients tend to find this most invigorating, and it adds to their
Too many wannabe coaches approach their client relationship like a math equation. They
always seek right or wrong answers. And they pass this mentality on to the client with less
emphasis on efficient communication. By using measurements and right/wrong implications,
the wannabe coach is just putting pressure on a client to perform and abide in narrow ranges of
application that suits the coach. Once again, this mentality makes it all about the coach, and
less about the client. For coaching, this is a mistake born the information = knowledge myth.
The truth is; any and all applications and protocols within the Fitness Industry are a lot more
like scoring music rather than some mathematical right/wrong equation. Protocol design, and
more importantly, coaching are art forms, more like music than math. There are less often
right/wrong, and more often than not, limitless possibilities ‐ just like in music. Think about that
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for a while because it is one of the most difficult biases to break in the mentality of the Fitness
Industry. Music is collaboration between creator and receiver. Coaching works the same way.
By analogy, the coach’s job, then, is collaboration. The coach is conductor or maestro. He keeps
the beat in sequence and in harmony while the client plays the notes, learns the scales, and
makes the music as well. With this mentality, the client learns a program is much more than
what is written on it: Just like music is much more than the notes that compose it. The client is
coached to learn that what the program brings to him must be met equally with what he
brings to the program. Music is subject to interpretation. And music can be good or bad; but
seldom right or wrong.
Coaching skills reflect a mentality that should be process‐based and not correction‐based. The
current industry bias assumes the latter over the former. This industry dogma that rides
research has been internalized by wannabe coaches and trainers to suggest their job is to ‘fix’
clients; and that they somehow do this through assignment of “correct” diet and training
strategy. At best, this is misleading. For coaching, interaction such a mentality can be perceived
by the client as very patronizing over time. In my experience, this mentality leads coaches to
being less effective in their true role. The coaching role and skills of patience, time, client
focused undivided attention, should serve as tools for coaches to be leaders. And this
leadership over time should be targeted for clients to eventually “fix” problems themselves.
The short term ‘fix the client’ mentality is not the real world of coaching experience regardless
of classroom certification dictates. The ‘fix the client’ mentality assumes all clients or potential
clients need ‘fixing.’ This is an emphasis in entirely the opposite direction of client
empowerment. This mentality is also one reason so many clients of the fitness industry seldom
even reach their goals. Or, if they do reach their goals, they do not sustain the acquisition long
term and fall back into old habits later on. This coaching mentality is misplaced. Just like
protocol in the industry seems short sited, so it lends to short‐sighted coaching as well.
All this emphasis on the immediate aspects of assessment and assignment negates the ongoing
process. Just like with protocol, coaching should emphasize the immediate, the residual, and
the cumulative aspects of the ongoing process. Yet seldom is this addressed anywhere in the
industry. Again the comparison can be made with teaching and parenting. If the client never
works to learn and value the experience of problem solving their issues during the process of
application, they are likely to remain dependant. This dependency leads to their own
frustration over time. What I have witnessed is that coaching without attention to these
residual and cumulative elements of process, leads to easy sacrifice of a goal once it is attained.
This is also one reason 90% of weight loss clients regain all the weight. Without the learning and
value of the process, the meaning of achieving the goal cannot be retained long term.
Therefore, neither can the goal. The client does not build up and acquire the requisite
psychological value for the experience of achieving the goal. There is no growth in the process.
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com .) Remember. a coach will find himself in the position of trying to get a client to ‘unlearn’ ideas that have been marketed to them as truth. And this is most perplexing to witness among clients who have been invested in the industry for several years. It is not. Competitors are coached by other competitors with no knowledge of what coaching is or should be. adapting to each coaches dictation of right/wrong recipes.com . But they do not develop a deep enough understanding of the principles to even differentiate commonalities or distinctions among coaches. this represents a failure of the mentality in the industry: just as it would represent failure for teachers or parents who do the same. So where does the worthy coach begin? First. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Years later. I see this all the time. Science is the new “vogue” marketing strategy to hide behind. they have not developed any kind of systematic competence in their experience along the way. Competence and confidence cannot be built up this way. Constantly working to ‘fix’ clients only in the immediate element of application just reinforces client dependency.at And this is as much an industry fault which focuses only on immediate elements of evaluation and assessment. coaching is guidance and over‐sight. They tend to pinball between coaches. There should be some discussion also as to short term. only for the promises of oversight and guidance. So. So the coach begins with sound and real discussion with the client regarding what is achievable. At the other end of this scale from marketing hype is the marketing science. To my mind.at . And this reinforces the faulty mindset most clients have to begin with. while still communicating his own message. these same competitors are just as helpless and dependant as they were years earlier. In terms of communication. but it should inform. Research is great. deal in reality. and a lot of soft science. So although they become more schooled in calories/grams/set/reps.scottabel. the coach needs to interact with clients in their own comprehension zone.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. not dictate protocol and application. and long term probabilities. There are no “promises” to be made in terms of results. More often than not. not stagnate it by creating client dependency. In the competitive side of the industry. This industry pushes the envelope of marketing to people unrealistic results. mid‐term. Far too many experts in the new modern age ‘hide behind’ science as ‘proof’ of expertise. (Not promises. Clients need to be able to acknowledge the fact that progress is seldom linear. But this industry has little hard science. From the beginning. this acknowledgement relieves perceived pressure that the client thinks he should and can improve 111 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. This illustrates a lack of understanding of how the human body really works and adapts over time. Coaching at the bare minimum should foster progress. Clients should be engaged right from the beginning as to what fitness goals are attainable and realistic for them. coaching based on industry knowledge misses the point of holistic coaching based in fundamental communication skills and personal growth.
Identify your interest bias. Building a trusted communicative relationship with a client. from a client’s cosmetic or fitness goals? What does it serve to build for coaching purposes? 112 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. How does abiding in the “triangle of awareness” serve to develop your client attention skills and focus? As an expert in the fitness industry you will more than likely have an ‘interest bias’. if at all.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . from the beginning. Identify your interest bias.at in a visible ongoing basis. Maybe it’s pure fitness and conditioning. How can you better use and employ your interest bias to guide your client attention instead of dictating it? What is the difference? Why is intuition an important skill to develop? How does it enhance coaching awareness? How does it benefit the client? Worthy coaching is more akin to scoring music than it is to some mathematical consistency. What is meant by this statement? How does it influence your conception for client awareness and interaction? What is wrong with the “fix the client” mentality in the fitness industry? How does the above analogy of music help distinguish the differences? Why is client empowerment important? How is it separate. This is not how the body works and adapts.com . Notes for Mentoring Students • • • • • • • This chapter begins with a mention of “attention skills”. and then look at examples from your own coaching/training roster to see how it influences your client‐focused‐attention. the reality of adaptive response.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. ‘client interaction should set the agenda. Maybe it’s bodybuilding and competition.scottabel. This kind of empowerment is a mandate for the worthy coach. It’s how people in the industry market themselves or their products. The worthy coach begins with the essential understanding that dealing in reality is far more effective in the long term than just shooting for false promises or goals that are set up to fail. it should not be an agenda’? Explore and expand this idea. Worthy coaches need to step away from these tactics and teach.Downloaded from http://www. What does this mean? What is meant by the phrase. Maybe it’s a dependency on research. will lead them to pursue and be content with their own level of progress.
my name is Jane Smith. You come highly recommended.at .” Other than changing the names. I’m currently being coached by ‘Fannie Fitness Champion’. then examine your response. I’d be up for purchasing them as well.scottabel. She promises to get me in shape for this show.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Answer this email using the tools of this chapter. I have had several coaches before. this is not an uncommon inquiry in the coaching business.scottabel. I am following the no carbs diet to a T. Start with focused client awareness. My last two coaches would just give me a diet and a program and tell me to contact them again in 4 weeks. I want to buy a one‐time program from you to help me get in peak shape. On my days off. And then things would come up and I would write them and they wouldn’t write me back for days. even on the low calories and carbs. But if you have some interval cardio programs. Do it again. So what do we do next? I’m excited to hear back from you. I train 4‐5 days per week. using the mentoring notes for this chapter. I haven’t been able to get my body in good enough shape in my last few attempts. sometime even a couple weeks would go by. or at least I want to. Fannie takes care of my diet and cardio. 113 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. I do Yoga or Fitness Classes or go for a run.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I’ve been satisfied with their help but never my finished physique. Note any differences in content or context. off the top of your head. I do everything right.at • Exercise: Answer the following email inquiry not uncommon for coaches to receive “Hi. I compete in Fitness. Still. I have 4 months till my next contest. I can’t seem to get my body fat down. Remember to answer without a pre‐conceived agenda. Focus specifically on the “how” and “why” in terms of interactive engagement.com . once.Downloaded from http://www. What would you say in response? How and why would you say it? Do this exercise. so I really just need a killer program.
the heading titles can serve as quick reminders for the coach to check himself within his interaction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. From this chapter. it creates an add‐on effect and ends up either cramping or crippling the coaching environment. are as follows. A coach always has a specific background which will influence his methodology.at . which are mistakes. They are like “cousins”. I’ve put these various mistakes under brief headings although there are certainly cross‐over effects for each. And doing things with the client merely because “that’s the way they’ve always been done”. and post them somewhere handy. So with this bias. This way. they tend to assign protocol to clients based on what they do 114 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Once again. and the bias of tradition. working with the client. If more than one of these mistakes is employed at a time. Downloaded from http://www. in no particular order.scottabel. The two specific common coaching biases.com . the coaching student should be able to make brief notes of their own for these common coaching mistakes. Both ends of this continuum tend to negate or objectify the actual client. These mistakes exist not only as single entities. if you will. instruction. 1) The Coaching Biases I have discussed the coaching biases many times in various articles I’ve written. and within the coach and client relationship as a whole.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. many coaches seem to perceive clients as extension of themselves. one of these common errors can be easily linked to another. This should become more obvious below. is also a mistake of bias.at Chapter 11 Common Coaching Mistakes Many of the issues discussed in this chapter have been mention before either directly or in various contexts. one is also linked to another. but more often than not. the more likely these common mistakes are to occur. is what the central focus of coaching really is. As will become obvious. The point to reinforce. once again. the most common coaching mistakes in the Fitness Industry and for on‐line coaching. Adapting everything new that comes out of the industry is a mistake. This chapter looks at the more fundamental and common coaching mistakes in terms of application of domain knowledge. This is not necessarily a bad thing unless it blinds him to one‐dimensional approaches. So what starts as a coaching tactical mistake often ends up becoming a strategical one. Along these lines. are the biases of vogueing trends. Making these mistakes is often about trying to forge a coaching ‘style’ within the information bias discussed throughout this book thus far. in particular.com . The more the coach veers away from his client focus. and application with his clients.scottabel.
I had a morbidly obese female hire me for coaching. This cannot be accomplished with a pre‐conceived bias toward any training or diet methodology. However. Recently. The important thing is to not let the coach’s bias overtake his assessment of client’s needs for the immediate and long term. if this same lady signed with an on‐line coach who is renowned for training triathletes. The coach should be always properly focused on process and not results. there needs to be a foundation to the relationship. The carrot/stick tactic seems like a great way to convey meaning.at themselves.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Results are mere snap‐shots of the process unfolding for good or bad. 2) The Carrot and Stick Tactic Another common mistake for coaches in the Fitness Industry is the neophyte approach of using reward and punishment as proposed motivators to action. It is naive to say the least. This is where the “myriad of possibilities” presents itself. the effective coach instructs himself as much as he does the specific client during the unfolding of the client process of application. also negates or objectifies the actual client. For example. This is often a tactic of trainers.com . Downloaded from http://www. but a common one. The coaching relationship needs to be founded on a much more mature interactive process. it would be just as big a mistake to put this same client under the rigors of that method of training. Effective coaching means understanding context and nuance always. This has nothing to do with properly addressing a client’s ‘needs state’. These biases lead to slotting clients into programs and diets. Having specific biases toward information or methodology can keep the coach from properly seeing all the relevant variables. my background is coaching physique competitors. This necessitates understanding the “immediate” needs of the client. and as such. but it is a weak approach for coaches. Results are merely information for the coach. Her joints would not be able to take the running for long. both coaches should have a solid background which can inform their approach for this client. Yet this is what continuously unfolds in the coaching arena. Not true. but also being able to see beyond the immediate as well. It tends to create a power relationship where the power is not based on trust and expertise. As such. This will never serve a coaching relationship well. And this is a big mistake. I cannot let my bias influence how and why I formulate her training and diet. 115 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. This client would not benefit from “body part” training with cardio or a competition diet. but more a sequence of confrontations or judgements.at . rather than more properly formulating diets and programs that “fit” the client and his particular circumstances. This means the coach has a purpose not only for what he should do with the client.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com. but for what he hopes to accomplish in doing it. and motivate a client.scottabel. For the coach as well as the client. Similarly.
at This foundation is on one side the coach’s expertise. It confounds it. “results not typical” when models are used as ‘social proof’ of a supplement’s efficacy. supplement companies use spurious claims to consciously manipulate consumers. Reward and punish has no place in a mature relationship that is based on honest interaction. 116 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . The first that comes to mind is one where the coach confuses the activity with the results. This is much different than the mandate that the coach is always on the side of his client and his goals.scottabel. So the carrot and stick tactic used to “motivate” clients usually will have the opposite effect over time. even when critique and correction is necessary. and on the other side the process of client‐ focus moving forward. And this type of spurious connection of variables is often used to sell bogus products or inane services. creates scenarios where the client will tell the coach only what he thinks the coach ‘wants to hear’. these types of correlations are labelled as spurious. for example. along with claims. and like I said. this cannot serve the client or the coach for very long. Examples of this are overwhelming in the fitness industry as a whole. This is an erroneous assumption of causality where mere correlation exists. And that tactic of control is always doomed to fail. This type of mentality leads to several related issues. So the carrot and stick tactic creates an environment of anticipating and provoking interaction which will influence it away from sincerity. serves to confuse the activity with the results. it is more to do with trying to control clients. In terms of statistical analysis.scottabel. Some of these “Quick‐Slim” products. Between the two. To do so. And it is a classic but common coaching mistake. Downloaded from http://www. here and there and very sporadically. This is on purpose.com . His purpose is in creating client momentum toward the client’s goals. the results of committed dieting are interpreted as somehow being sped up or enhanced by the consumption of the fat burner. By getting people to buy their “fat burners”. It is especially likely among new coaches and those excessively influenced by education and accreditation over relevant experience. The coach never wants to set up a reward/punish. The carrot and stick tactic for client compliance does not deliver this message of client support. (Meaning unauthentic) And yet the information myth feeds these types of assumptions in the coaching environment on a consistent basis. approve/disapprove atmosphere within interaction with his clients. The carrot and stick tactic does not communicate the mutuality so necessary for a positive experience for the client.at . 3) Over‐Coaching Probably THE most common coaching mistake is over‐coaching. Whether intentional or not. if clients are always under some external sense of either reward or punish it creates an environment of emotional weariness over time. For instance.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Moreover. The carrot and stick tactic may have uses. The coach is captain and coordinator. have ultra low calories diets contained within their own packaging. but as a regular approach. the coach and client establish a personal and relative and understood level of accountability and responsibility.
Coaches who heavily obsess over their prescribed protocol do so at the client’s expense. And a coaching obsession over controlling details of client application is just as inept.scottabel. tends to objectify the client as an individual. On the surface. Over‐coaching in this sense is an obsession of coaches who think any leeway in application on the part of the client is somehow a crack or break in the foundation of his reaching his goals. The “cardio” was in actuality not influential. But a coach needs to be able to distinguish between obsession and attention to detail. This is the mistake made. Downloaded from http://www. Doing so would lead to a lot less mistakes of confusing the activity with the result. In the actual coaching environment. By example. Constantly introducing new variables to a client’s regimen gives the coach less reliable assessment information. And this has less to do with the actual results of this tweaking than it does the coach’s need to feel a sense of control over protocol application. but incidental to the desired result.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and how much information and instruction is too much at any given time. The application of cardio becomes confused with the actual result of the whole process. A client may check in tenaciously with all types and means of information and feedback. Hence. It is the consistent application of the diet and training over time which actually induced the specified result. Good coaches need to relax and let the process unfold. This over‐emphasis on preparation and therefore instruction.com .at This same mistaken mentality exists in the application of ‘cardio’ for fat loss among competitors.at . It negates him. And this assessment over‐emphasis once again just leads to slotting clients into programs instead of relevantly leading to formulating protocol which fits 117 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. it is not about the protocol. If the coach is constantly changing the client’s stimulus and protocol. Too much preparation and interruption by the coach fails to acknowledge where the client is at. Yet every single one of these elements was focused in the physical realm. then it becomes much more difficult to appropriately evaluate and assess client feedback.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. this seems very detailed and informative. So the coach who constantly tweaks and changes client protocol usually confuses his activity of the tweaking and changing with the result of the process itself. Obsession is not representative of progress and can often be detrimental toward it. once again.scottabel. I just witnessed a “program design course” where the requirements dictated some 18‐20 considerations involved in client assessment for program design. this mistake of over‐coaching leads naive coaches to believe that busy means productive. This is mistaken and only reinforces the mentality for over‐coaching. Inept coaches mask their lack of know‐how with a follow the leader mentality of confusing the activity with the results. My MET workshop workbook shows many studies that illustrate the futility of cardio for fat loss. Furthermore. coaches make similar spurious connections all the time. This is untrue on both ends of the coaching equation. It is always about the client. This doesn’t serve the client. This is often represented with an insecure coach’s need to be constantly tweaking and altering protocol.com . The “triangle of awareness” so important to effective coaching is not even remotely addressed.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. As a coach. This means. Coaching is over‐ sight. The industry in its current form of information = knowledge has led to this “trainer mentality” of believing that client micromanagement is imperative. then the coach who obsesses over details will create that same sense and atmosphere of pressure for his clients as well. All these assessments and evaluations are almost entirely for an illustration of the appearance of knowledge. sometimes such assessment tools are relevant. over‐analysis. and over‐assuming. but a service‐provider. and the effectiveness of their relationship.com . “the devil is in the details”. The coach needs to remind himself. More often than not. Furthermore. “the devil is in the details”. the formal models of the industry have symposiums and certification upgrades etc every single year. which should be the goal. the client is the priority: not the agenda. Downloaded from http://www. coach. Instead.scottabel. you are not a classroom. This relationship integrity must be seen and felt. It is a presence! It may not be measurable. In order to perpetuate itself. This leads to the mistake for newbies to focus on what’s new 118 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. It is not to over‐control. this is an illusion.com .scottabel. and not the application. or micro manage. the operating imperative for coaching is the integrity established in the actual relationship as well as the momentum gained within the application and process of the client undertaking. The point is as they say. Over‐coaching is common and prevalent because of the overall approach of testing and measuring and trying to micromanage details. but it is observable. they come at the expense of time and energy. not the protocol. it creates the tendency for what I have labelled “vogueing” among professionals. The coach then needs to focus his role. And this is a coach killer on both sides of the equation for client. A coaching perspective is all about maintaining priorities. Not every little detail matters. From the coaching perspective. Once again. over‐whelm. Testing and measuring all the time can destroy this process since progress is seldom linear. instead of strengthening it. Too often this over‐emphasis on details of assessment and evaluation in the physical realm really testifies to the truth. if the coach’s role is to be that of reflection and mirror. and it is subject to experience. These things are NOT absolutes to coaching effectiveness. It is the client’s subjective experience of protocol and the coach’s over‐sight of it that properly sets the coaching agenda. Yet. sometimes not. the coach should be reminded his goal is to work to establish client confidence and competence in their experience of protocol. And it usually leads to over‐coaching.at the client.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . 4) Vogueing Because this industry is so heavily focused on teaching “information” and neglecting coaching skill. It’s imperative to halt this obvious “trainer mentality” when working within the context of the coaching relationship. over‐emphasis on such details serves to fracture the ‘presence’ mentioned above.
Following these vogue trends does not represent coaching skill.scottabel. or corrective exercises.scottabel. which is perplexing to say the least. And this is not because of the actual client. client’s goals get reorganized and revamped.at . Both tendencies are mistakes. it is based on some new found piece of information. More often than not.com . But adapting everything new. Then it is VMO activation that is all the rage. the next year it’s “core work” and all its related buzz words. The wise and informed coach is the coach who seeks to learn what is new and filter it through his own understanding of the 119 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Unfortunately. is that what is new and presented as relevant often fades almost immediately. relevance. Just in the past three years alone. and the client needs and goals precede whether adapting anything new is useful or not useful in the individual client case. wannabe coaches are endeavouring to apply the concepts well before they even have a real grasp of them. I have witnessed the lecture circuit go from presenting “advanced” courses in the Bosu Ball to articles catering to the same demographic that have been titled “Death to the Bosu Ball”. But another group of coaches are just as likely and quick to dismiss anything new. Again. the client assessment and evaluation. It is better to have a working knowledge that is an inch wide and a mile deep. It is the principles which ‘should be’ the prevalent influence of a coach’s knowledge base. over the current industry illusion of acquiring information that is an inch deep but a mile wide. and illustrates a true lack of real understanding of the operating principles. One year the new central focus is hip and glute activation. What is relevant (the principles) does not come and go. This leaves those who are ‘vogueing’ bouncing back and forth to industry fads. Professionals susceptible to “vogueing” trends tend to be the ones who are led to believe that the applications of methodology are based in magical formulas that are somehow always changing.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. But what I have witnessed. All of a sudden. A perspective based on the principles is what is relevant. regardless of context. even when ‘what is new’ seem to have a lot of potential. because it is new. One group is quick to embrace and adapt everything new. If ‘what is new’ is truly relevant then it will have staying power and be around for a long time. but instead. It may be relevant. or pelvic tucking or prehab work.com . This is not to say what is new is NOT relevant. The two need not be mutually exclusive. It is a far better idea for coaches to use what they know well and apply it with confidence. Information in the Fitness Industry has become almost “fad‐like”. And when it comes to vogueing and new information there seems to be two active tendencies of coaches. is a mistake. but actually it’s opposite. or nuance. These are the “voguers”. how effective will this be for the client? What is new will come and go.at rather than what is relevant. nothing is really “new” so much as it is newly interpreted. And this is just not true.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. which is fine. Downloaded from http://www. This begs the question then.
Moreover. But often coaches create barriers in communication without even realizing they are doing so. the focus must be turned right side up and be client‐centred. Just because experts use and employ jargon to talk with each other doesn’t mean it is an effective mode of communication between coach and client.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. It is up to the coach to set both the boundaries and the tone for interaction. But. “who is my client” while engaging interaction. The coach thinks he is illustrating his knowledge. If the new information stands up to scrutiny. But this is a common tendency for coaches in the Fitness Industry. and this should influence the language and style the coach employs. 5) Jargonizing The language‐style the coach uses also needs to be addressed here. The coach’s number one aim for the language he employs is to be understood. at any given time. Too often. not knowledge centred. Downloaded from http://www. It would be ludicrous. And it is a mistake. Seldom is industry jargon necessary. The coach must always focus in a manner of communication that is on behalf of the client.scottabel. not his own ego. the coach’s goal is to serve the client.com . terms and concepts. but he often fails to address.scottabel. Jargonizing as a trend is a fault of the industry that is overly focused on the importance of useless information. Again. This is what should inform proper coaching communication and interaction: “coach‐speak” if you will. one of the most common means to making this type of mistake is what I refer to as “jargonizing”. speak a style and dialect of coaching “English” that is suitable for both you. the coach will embrace the information without necessarily rushing to implement it. imagine a professional lawyer who constructs and litigates legal contracts all day long coming home from work and using the same professional jargon at home with his family as he does at work. By example. To coach effectively. it must be practical. “Jargonizing” at clients can create obvious coaching barriers.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. In the Fitness Industry.com . And it leads to the problem of talking “at” clients rather than talking “to” them or with them. also known as industry‐speak. the client’s learning. the coach employing industry jargon when engaging clients can seem condescending. Coaching is still a relationship. coaching clients will NOT be other Fitness professionals. This tone is one that must be both professional and appropriate for any given client. and the client’s progress. more often than not. ‘jargonizing’ often becomes a tactic for coaches to retreat to when they do not have adequate answers for client questions or issues.at . Recall that coaching must be personal. as a 120 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. it must be professional and it must be proactive. Remember. This misplaced focus on minutia often comes at the expense of developing sound communication skills and a style commensurate with being in the “service” industry. To speak to clients in industry jargon can create problems in effective client communication. It is in fact a form of coaching blindness. The trend is to use professional jargon as if talking with other professionals or coaches. the client’s experience.at operating principles.
For application and instruction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. In truth.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This just feeds the paralysis by analysis. just to move through the first one. It can leave a client dizzy and confused. Trusting in the knowledge of the principles and confidence in the task at hand of being client‐focused are two ways to preventing a coaching paralysis by analysis. Remember the coaching emphasis is on the process itself.scottabel. Part of the timeliness of coaching is action.at . This is the appropriate means for being personal. Action must always precede understanding and outcome. “Jargonizing” with clients unfamiliar with the terms and phrases substantially reduces the exchange value of coaching communication. This will sometimes require explaining terms or concepts. This leads coaches looking for elements of right and wrong interaction. Action has little to do with certainty. It is about being understood. The coach who focuses on what is simple and simply being understood is way ahead of the coach who ponders every move like some chess equation. when and how he needs it. Certainty in coaching application is a myth. And as such. It’s important to reemphasize that there is seldom absolute right and wrong. Those who look for it usually suffer this paralysis by analysis. and the consideration of the client as well. As I’ve 121 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. There has been an industry trend to trying to create more and more complication to application. simple is always best regarding client interaction. Coaching is not based on formulas and mathematical equations or even assessing statistics from clients.at coach. is a paralysis by analysis. Clients usually need things simplified. Downloaded from http://www. Moreover. Coaching is about being clear and concise. professional. These things may inform the coach’s knowledge base. The latter is not coaching.com . 6) Paralysis by Analysis This can indeed be a major coach killer.com . it is the exchange value that will matter most. but a receptive one. not made even more complicated. Coaches who feel vulnerable will often explain too much detail for protocol process and application. but they should not interfere. Being professional is not illustrated by a command of industry jargon. This is like travelling down a busy street. The goal is not to have a “captive” audience. The good coach is all about simplicity. the information myth leads many coaches to over‐analyzing every element client feedback or information.scottabel. Just as often it will not require such explication. Once again. Coaches who buy into the whole knowledge aspect of application will tend to speak at clients instead of with them. proactive and practical. complicated does not mean advanced. but rather being understood by the client. It’s important to remind coaches once again that interaction and communication is their currency of exchange: just like money. this common coaching mistake stems from forgetting that the number one emphasis for coaches is not the knowledge domain but the client‐focus. The good and effective coach provides relative feedback the client needs. interrupt or needlessly insinuate themselves in the coaching relationship. a myriad of possibilities. There are though. Trying to anticipate when all the lights will be green ahead.
However. the coach should focus on being professional. Coaches are human. But the coach also needs to recognize that unattached does not mean uninvolved.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Clients will often observe. In such cases and situations. It would be silly for a coach to deny a feeling of anger or frustration toward a client or a current interaction with a client. Good coaching requires restraint. Experience usually teaches coaches a level of intuition of whether or not they may be overanalyzing some client related issue. Downloaded from http://www. 122 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. It is up to the coach to explain to the client. A coach cannot notice and observe this if the coach is susceptible to it himself.com . In such situations the coach needs to remind himself that his own mandate is to be understood first. It’s important for the coach to remind himself to be unattached to any interactions which stir negative emotion. It is unprofessional for a coach to do so. and consider all kinds of things irrelevant to the coaching process and the protocol application. A coach who constantly emphasizes ‘being right’ will at some point make the mistake of paralysis by analysis. it is important to be message‐ centred to reduce reactive tendencies. 7) Emotional Reactions Coaches are people too and there are circumstances with clients that can elicit negative emotional reactions in the coach. Keen clients can also suffer paralysis of analysis by trying to absorb and learn from other sources. It is foolish for any coach to pretend he is beyond emotion. in these types of situations it can be helpful to the coach to objectively remove the message from the messenger.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is an over analysis on the client’s part and a coach needs to address it. And the coach should not always need to be in control. This helps the coach to keep the situation less personal and more focused on the message. Being right should not require emphasis in coaching interaction.scottabel. Almost everyone does it at some point in their career. the client’s own paralysis of analysis. Emotional reaction is more about needing to be in control of communication and interaction. As discussed in previous chapters. Paralysis by analysis is a common coaching mistake. reacting to such provocation is a huge mistake. not robots.com . Clients will try to learn too much too fast. and/or learn concepts well beyond their level of understanding and experience. Paralysis by analysis also exists on the other side of the coaching equation. This can often lead them to bouncing all their confusion off you the coach. So the coach must acknowledge to himself if and when his emotions have been provoked. But acting on such emotion is an entirely other issue. report. And it is so common and often so subtle that it can easily be missed.at . This serves as a means to still be effectively personal while negating potential ‘reaction’ to the client. Within the context of potential heightened or escalating emotion.scottabel.at stated here many times doing right is more important than being right.
If we look to pro sports. They have all not only been there and done that. When negative emotions present themselves for the coach. It will sooner or later be exposed for what it is.com . Yes. once acted upon. The coach should expect there will be times where his emotions may be piqued. if not physically. he needs to be prepared to act professionally. There is far too much coaching hypocrisy in the fitness industry. 123 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Books titled “Huge in a Hurry” and articles along the same vein. Coaches understand the game beyond the talent level of the players and their positions.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. It is the coach’s place to stop any such circumstances from gaining momentum. It is a matter. and sickly‐looking ‘how to build muscle’ experts. The expression “the map is not the territory” is important here. and nowhere is this tested more than when circumstances create negative emotion in the coach. It is not a matter that a coach “can” get away with not being someone who can walk their talk. The players respect and are motivated by those who have been where they are. The best coaches can walk their talk. 8) Walk the Talk Coaches who do not walk their own talk will not be taken seriously for long. Downloaded from http://www. But they study and teach the game from within the game itself. act respectfully. Maturity is a coaching responsibility. And he needs to remind himself always that he undermines himself if he reacts emotionally to negative circumstances. However.at Reacting to negative emotions usually only serves to heighten the emotions all around. Some even get away with this. There are far too many overweight diet experts. The modern internet contributes to this mistake. This is walking the talk. The same should be true for Coaches in the fitness industry. The coach can still deliver a clear message within a sensitive environment. not as I do” arrogant attitude. not react immaturely. But as a coach. discipline. they are students of the game. then at least in terms of commitment. The coach is the leader in the relationship.at .scottabel. can create more harmful situations than the circumstances that created them to begin with. Far too many experts these days hide behind dogma of research or tradition to do their teaching. And negative emotions. consistency and all the other characteristics they expect to model for their clients.com . Wannabe coaches need to understand that studying and learning are not the same as knowing and doing. and still do that. we can observe a similar pattern. and act professionally. Things and situations are not always going to proceed without issue.scottabel. This is why coaches get the respect of the players. instead. This has nothing to do with domain knowledge or application. But doing so requires diplomacy and delicate communication skills. He needs to prepare himself as a professional for this possibility. Maturity is a component part of the coaching anatomy. but are there. of integrity.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Too many wannabe experts in the Fitness Industry have a “do as I say. and examine career coaches. Coaching is a human relationship service after all. but beyond their position as well. be prepared for these possibilities and act accordingly. at some point it boils down to integrity. for instance.
This does not mean a coach in the fitness industry has to have had a background of championship trophies. It should be obvious to anyone when a coach is one who walks his talk.scottabel. Integrity to following their own instruction is the highest form of competency. This is by comparison. But it does mean he practices the same disciplined lifestyle to which he prescribes to so many others. One of the most common mistakes in the fitness industry is that so many aspire to the leadership role of coach.at .com . as the saying goes. And it’s the real work that leads to relevant experience which can be passed along to clients. from the real work. And it also means he cannot become a worthy coach by attending symposiums and updating his accreditations. Notes for Mentoring Students • • Make a list of these 8 common coaching mistakes.at should have some kernel of truth from the author himself. They have. But they cannot “walk the talk” of their profession.scottabel. Which ones are you most prone to and why? How can you overcome implementing these mistakes? What tactics can you use as insurance against employing the mistakes you seem most prone to? 124 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. if the claims are going to be so grand. Coaches are people who model their own behaviour.Downloaded from http://www. As such.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Expecting clients to follow advice the coach does not follow himself is foolish. Coaches in professional realms have earned respect from decades of in the trenches activity and experience. keeping the hands clean. Coaching is a relationship.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . it should be beyond marketing manipulation. “got their hands dirty” and have earned their stripes.
scottabel.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com .scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www.at SECTION 3 About the Client 125 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com .
We have effectively asked and answered. So section 3 is now “all about the client” and chapter 12 starts at the beginning. 126 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. it was in terms of enlightening the theme of coach. This section now does the reverse. enthusiasm and stress. especially qualitatively. So up to now. This is true physically. It is the coach who must be flexible and amenable. up to now. One thing we know about coaching is that everyone is certainly different. Coaches must prepare themselves for both the predictable and the unpredictable aspects of dealing with people within an ongoing structured relationship. And indeed a part of being prepared is having a rudimentary understanding of the operating principles of training and diet. But coaches must adequately also prepare for the clients as well.com . “the client” consideration has thus far been brought along in reference to understanding the coach’s role and the coaching relationship. This is something I inherited from social work.at Chapter 12 Where to Start? Thus far we have been addressing the concept of coaching in the fitness industry in a direct format. not the client. but also true in terms of discipline. Effective coaching is all about mandating being prepared.Downloaded from http://www. If it stops there. It should be understood by now that the two roles are worlds apart. consistency. then coaching becomes the classic mistake of thinking that coaching is something you do “to” the client. but as I’ve already illustrated.at . but the coach’s qualitative observations as well. we have been exploring what coaching really is. but limited.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. Even though two clients may receive the same protocol of exercise program or even diet. (Since that is what coaching really is. And as much as this delineation included discussion of the client. As a coach. But now section 3 of this project needs to delve a little deeper. The industry has ignored the distinction between coach and client. how they respond will be unique to each person as an individual.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. physiologically. The industry has also quantified clients in terms of a general clientele.scottabel. I have written to try to lay bare all the critical elements important to understanding the concept of “coach” in complete terms and detail. and what the coaching role and skill set entails. both “who is the coach?” and “how is the coach?” Because the client is so interwoven into that discussion.) Preparation begins then by starting and keeping a client‐file that involves not just a physical assessment of needs. This much has already been established. We have addressed the lack of any real discussion in the fitness industry as to what coaching and on‐line coaching even is. “where do I start?” In one word ‐preparation. Most people and experts are satisfied to use the term trainer and coach interchangeably. Having knowledge of training and diet is good. Competent coaching is all about understanding the client as an individual and moving forward “with” the client from that vantage point.com . To this end. effective coaching is something you do “with” the client.
emotional. another may be verbally abusive etc. it must be practical. And this kind of file keeping was also essential for staff to know subtle and obvious differences in clientele. anything that had an effect on the client profile. Therefore. These types of generalizations based on the person and not the application of 127 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The nature of file keeping must reflect the nature of coaching as well. Preparing a client’s file that contains more than vital stats makes all the difference in ‘how to’ coach the client with the kind of attention they will respond to best. demeanour. for quick access. behaviour. Client file keeping serves the coach in the fitness industry as well. but a qualitative assessment and evaluation tool. even ones with the same goals will respond differently to coaching and to protocol. formulating a client file is part of client preparation and current and ongoing assessment as well. This prepares me for my ongoing interaction with the client as an individual. One benefit of keeping a file is that as coach.at . It is an invaluable tool in the process of coaching. Remember coaching is a relationship.at In social work. and mental frames. From there I assess things like client’s current industry knowledge. It can also be a good idea to make a general template for keeping client files. and mental and emotional capacities. The question then begs for effective coaching. which supply a synopsis of the client’s case and situation. the file would also summarize the client’s ongoing interaction. I need to not only be prepared in terms of what to expect. client’s communication skills and style. But it must go beyond just recording programs and diets. The fitness industry even acknowledges this.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This is a lot like a psychiatrist and a patient in terms of file keeping. I employ the “triangle of awareness” discussed in previous chapters. But at the same time the industry seems to completely avoid this reality of individuality as well. Downloaded from http://www. Basically.scottabel. It is not personal in terms of other relationships by comparison. But personal means it must be personal in terms of the client and his relationship to your role as coach.com . each “client” had a file for staff members to refer to. but I can also know when the client is making real progress based on my own file keeping and not some silly and arbitrary physical testing. Keeping a client file is not a means to judgement of a client. as a person.com . how can a coach effectively do his job with a client if so much of the equation of who that client is. etc. File keeping that reflects the coach’s personal input leads to generalizations that may not serve the relationship well. Then. One client may be prone to violent outbursts. It must be personal. case and situation was included in file notes. I make headings for physical.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Generalizations we make as individuals with friends and family are not appropriate in the coach/client relationship or its file maintenance. Every individual.scottabel. you will be the only one viewing the file. is not only a relevant consideration. it must professional and it must be proactive. but perhaps the most relevant one. are client’s goals are realistic. is just neglected as irrelevant? The client. It is more qualitative and communicative and interactive in nature than it is physical prescription.
Has she not considered that “she” is the problem.at . Yet. This is why. doctors do not treat family.at behaviour within the coaching relationship will eventually erode a coach’s ability to appropriately influence. inspire. 128 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. a client file may have something like the following within it: “Jane Doe really seems to want and need physical transformation. This biases the coach in a personal way. and that she has failed these programs.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. or sustain that particular client. motivate. yet has never achieved her goal.scottabel. It may be difficult to get her to understand that being overweight for her is really a symbol of something else going on. she has admittedly failed at every diet and every program and coach she has ever tried. Anyone in the Fitness Industry who has tried to coach a friend or a family member eventually hits a brick wall because the relationship begins from an intimate place.scottabel. but in suspicion of the client. And this is precisely so it can be “personal” but not so intimate as to create biases of perception. when the first example is ‘about the client’. She is overweight because she is depressed. I don’t have time for people who continue to pretend to be serious when their results show they are anything but serious. I’ll just end the relationship.” Notice this latter file entry has a lot of generalizations from the coach attached to it. The same example is illustrated below as the wrong kind of file keeping: “Jane Doe hires me to help her lose weight and be happy with herself.com . not on behalf of the client. keeping a client file even though you as coach are the only one who sees it. This is personal. these programs have not failed her? I’ll try to help her for a while. She is not depressed because she is overweight.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the coach should not engage the relationship further. in the professional service industries. the coach has pretty much injected his own expectations into the file. for example.” Notice this file entry is not judgmental but is instead evaluative. She seems committed. professional. The coach also makes it about himself in this example. into the relationship. If this cannot be established. Downloaded from http://www. So keeping a file that is “personal” means it must be professionally personal. This is very important for a coach to acknowledge.com . If she starts wasting my time. In this example. The “incorrect” personal kind of file keeping is one that is personal because it reflects the coach injecting his own opinion and bias into the file like many do when generalizing about friends or family. and therefore. Therefore. but I am not going to listen to more excuses. She has been overweight and depressed for a long time. This is totally unfair to the client. So for instance. still must maintain this level of professional distance. not a professional one. practical and proactive.
regardless of coach’s motivational tactics. from the outset. The coach can be catalyst or crusher of client momentum. The coach’s goal is never to create training robots.scottabel. it should be part of the ongoing interaction and relationship. And people in need of finding their own motivation will not last long with such a limited “trainer mentality” as their guiding influence. the client must have an outlet and safe means for expressing feelings. the aware coach should note where the client’s stated need for motivation lies in the triangle of awareness. A client.at Understanding Motivation Clients and potential clients will often enter into the coaching relationship by claiming the initial appeal of personal coaching services is all about “motivation” for them.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. So. but within the coaching relationship? The answer is all about building client momentum. Right away. attitudes and sentiments. The vital aspects of coaching are not limited to simple application and feedback of protocol. The coach helps to forge the path for the 129 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Many coaches are flattered by a statement that the client “needs him” for motivation. Without this rich coaching environment.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. but a trainer at best. not negated. Motivation should never be a means to achieve or elicit client compliance to consistency of application of prescribed protocol. Anyone who needs consistent motivational coaching will not endure for long in real terms anyway. the interactive nature of coaching must be non‐threatening and non‐intimidating. Within the coaching relationship. who claims motivation as one of the central reasons for procuring the coaching service. This should be encouraged. the aware coach will implement client‐specific methods and means of interaction well beyond prescribed protocol. By working from the client’s file. is a client looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place. People who want to initiate coaching with a stated need for motivation are asking for advanced cheerleading at the very least. how would motivation take hold within the process and relationship of coaching? How does motivation become about the client. To serve a client motivation.at . Physique transformation of any kind when broken down to its core is all about personal growth.com .com . any client claiming to need motivation from coaching should serve as a flag sign to the aware coach. And this is especially true regarding mental and emotional feedback from a client. The motivation for that personal growth as well as sustaining that motivation must come from and grow within the client himself. but it is unproductive in the long‐term coaching relationship. Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. While a coach can indeed provide motivation to the client. Wrong! But first things first. The coach must pay due attention to this and make client momentum a serviceable goal to accomplish. Remember the importance of the triangle of awareness within the relationship focus and within the client file emphasis as well. But then. All clients will express themselves in different ways. but rather to engage client expression as a means to personal growth. Motivation is a mental/emotional construct. This is not something a coach lends or gives to the prospective client. you are not a coach. Situational motivation may be a type of motivation employed by trainers. Notice that motivation has little to do with physical training protocol or diet.
the coach’s goal should be to focus and notice and take advantage of any opportunities that let the client shine. So the coach builds motivation by guiding the client to a process to finding that motivation within himself. not his weaknesses. The goal of the coach is well beyond that of the trainer. These are usually “moments” that cannot be prescribed in protocol nor dictated as expectation either. Since all physique goals truly boil down to a desire for personal growth. the coach should make a heading and acknowledge “reasonable expectations” for each client.scottabel. but is disciplined and committed. and subjective level. The coach must file and emphasize a client’s strengths.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Each client must be evaluated and assessed on an individual. This type of heading once again makes it all about the client. It is entirely about the client’s current abilities and undiscovered potential. personal. The aware coach serves the clients in their own experience within the process of applying protocol. Within each client’s file. and a great coach is aware enough to capitalize on these opportunities on behalf of the client. is a coach who realizes there is a lot more to the job than the actual job. And reasonable expectations from this working attitude are easier for the coach 130 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Downloaded from http://www. A focus on a client’s strengths has a positive influence on the client. (physical. often direct. And the only way to formulate reasonable expectations is for the coach to immediately focus on the client’s presented strengths. In the coaching realm. will result in failure eventually. mental. the coach can act and interact fairly and subjectively while still sustaining a desired direction. but is inconsistent in application. The coach nudges the client ahead by working and emphasizing whatever skill set the client presents. this lack of specificity represents just another failure of the industry. Another client may have physical gifts he is not aware of. Another client may have a stressful and hectic lifestyle.scottabel. The coach must facilitate the engagement of the clients to be able to seize and apply protocol in a way that shapes and enhances their own experience. This tends to be the exact opposite of what industry dictates. isolate these strengths to whatever angle of the triangle they belong. One client may be organized and motivated. and just as often by neglect. A client and coach focus on absolute end results only. mental.com . the less likely he is to even realize his own significant breakthrough.at . This is especially true when such breakthroughs have nothing to do with percent body fat or anthropometric measurements etc. It’s not about the coach’s expectations. These moments often occur spontaneously.com .at client to more clearly delineate their goals in their own terms and understanding. Within this personal postulation of reasonable expectations. he can also seek to develop new ones as well. the coach who recognizes and exercises this reality. but lack physical conditioning. This is the means by which the coach serves as “guiding light”. And these skills can be in either realm of physical. Then the coach can genuinely reward the client for “shining” in ways the client may be unaware of.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. To do this efficiently the coach should take advantage of the client’s existing skills within the application process. emotional. As that light. This is why the coach must always make notes in the client’s file of any significant client breakthrough. emotional) And while the coach engages and works to these strengths. The less experienced the client.
tell me. illustrate to me. One size does not fit all.) Clients should be given challenges they can reach and attain. anatomical leverage. not arbitrary standards that do not take into account vital stats. Being able to do a chin up or a specific number of chin ups is not a qualitative evaluation tool in coaching. Instruction is useless when it is based in assumptions of performance. For instance.at .com . and genetics to another.scottabel. common. issues. Too often coaches try to correct clients by assuming the client “won’t” initiate change when the fact is the client “can’t” initiate change and is afraid to say so. Coaching is a relationship. Downloaded from http://www. abilities. Such arbitrary fitness standards do not measure true progress. and need for coaching intervention in terms of correction and critique.com . Mastery of the program for any client is truly a reasonable expectation instead of an arbitrary standard. and the test can be the workout. then it does not serve the relationship either.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com. (Whether it is for a trainer is another separate issue. There will be problems. This is mistaken. Certain programs dictate a 131 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. then it is the coach’s assumption that is faulty. A common coaching mistake is forgetting the client emphasis. And it is not reasonable. but if a client simply cannot ‘do’ what is expected. And the instruction and expectations for me to do so doesn’t help me if I simple cannot do it. And by comparison. offer incentives for performance etc. Reasonable Expectations in Corrective Situations Not all aspects of coaching or client application will be just smooth sailing from working to a client’s strengths. The coach should always recognize that if his agenda does not serve the client.) The point is that the coach can instruct. and even perform in front of me back flips all day long. Peak performance will vary from one client’s talents. It’s not the client that needs ‘correction’ in this example but the coach. The workout can be the test. and quantitative. And yet we see these arbitrary expectations all through the industry.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. constantly reminding a client of what they cannot do. (And a client being afraid to share anything is a consequence that lies squarely on the shoulders of the coach. These are not comparatives. a coach can show me. experience etc. The aware coach should design programs and assign diets that are themselves modes of testing. or focusing on their weaknesses only increases negative energy in the coaching relationship. It is also an ongoing process.at to foster and for the client to embrace. This is a much more empowering mindset for the client to adapt and nurture than is mere dictation of protocol. But it must always be about the client. Once momentum is gathered in this way. illustrate by example. clients will tend to work on weaknesses on their own. this can also crush the coach’s goal of building client competence and confidence moving forward. And as a tactic. And yet the industry suggests that many or all variables of progress are universal.
Even though all interaction is client‐ centred. any client can do a pulldown. yet fail to understand their eating disorder is not solved or appropriated by yet another diet. rather than adding another 132 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. It is not a matter of client‐character that requires correcting. or to be able to perform a pistol squat etc. They mistakenly first want to hire me for a diet. Therefore. And when he did chins. or they should work to be able to do so many chin ups. The above scenario is a common occurrence. Reasonable expectations must also include the coach’s approach to corrective and critical situations.com . Again. The coach needs to control as much as possible. It is not a diet issue. I work this example many times per year with clients who come to me with eating disorders of varying types and degree. This does not serve the trainee or the coach.scottabel. even unconsciously. coaching itself can be an intimidating environment for trainees. start with what the client can do in terms of ability.at person should be able to increase a percentage of their 1RM max weekly.at . All or most of this is nonsense. and create challenge and compliance from there. It is naive of the fitness industry to assume so. Industry dictates change each year and everyone scrambles to adapt them without the rational question whether such dictates are relevant to their client’s situation. problematic issues must focus on the action required and the mistake being made. He was reading an article that “dictated” he should be able to do so many chin ups as an illustration of balanced upper body strength. not create an environment of client reaction. I asked him if he was in a sport that required any form or type of movement pulling similar to the chin up. Yet he was desperate because of this certification article to ‘improve his chins’. not what is fashionable. but rather an understanding of relevance and practicality. He was in need of direction. This is especially true for the coach. they must be properly contextually placed. the trainee needed to be educated to focus on what is relevant. If the client cannot do a chin up. Whether he could do one chin up or 100 had no real bearing on his own self‐ improvement. It is quite possibly the implementation of certain behaviour or thinking that requires correction. He could only do one at the current time. not on the client.com . he felt pain in his shoulder and biceps tendon. Downloaded from http://www. But solving this requires correction and critique in an ongoing basis. and deceitful to expect so. He wasn’t in need of “correction”.scottabel. especially one like the example of desperation above. When specific critique and corrective instruction are necessary. In such situations (and there are many) it is best if the coach can alter himself to fit the client within the interaction. No. It’s important for the coach to always be proactive in communication. In situations which require ongoing correction and critique. desperate and irrational. it can indeed be as much about the client character as well as the behaviour that requires correcting. I once had a trainee contact me in desperation. Moreover. In the above example. The above chin‐up scenario made an otherwise rational trainee. it was irrelevant. And the chin up became an exercise of intimidation rather than challenge. What required correction wasn’t a program for better chin up performance.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. His goals had nothing to do with his ability to perform chin ups.
or what a client’s capabilities and understanding may be. for the coach.at .) If a coach merely assumes the client ‘should be able’ to correct what is wrong.scottabel. This is what I refer to as “interactive diplomacy” in the 133 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. It is not enough for the coach to just notice. be the way. critique and instruction also require coaching sophistication and nuance.) Remember. the coach needs to be cognizant of this element of the relationship. yes. who just barks solutions and expects the client to self‐remedy. is a lazy and ineffectual coach. but simply doesn’t know any better. This doesn’t help the client. the aware coach needs to know that showing concern for the client in corrective situations is often enough to get them moving forward. The coach is an active part of the process. The coach is the leader and the client wants to acquire the coach’s recognition and approval on top of his input.at expectation on the client. This is the means by which coach is also the true guiding light. This may require some advanced coaching experience and skill. Situations requiring correction. The coach.scottabel. regardless of industry.com . This nuance should not be overlooked. Everyone falls back to positions they know and are secure in. (Although these become much clearer to a coach as the relationship progresses. the consequences of such actions. Treading lightly. Dictating correction and critique without dialogue can just exacerbate a tendency for client intimidation and/or knee jerk reaction. (Which would be to expect the client to be able to adapt to the coach’s style of discourse.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. this assumption can surely lead to ineffective communication on both sides of the coaching interaction. As such. Downloaded from http://www. is good advice at this early stage in the coaching relationship or in corrective situations. The coach must focus on the tone of interaction in such situations. When correction/critique is involved. Because of the power nature of the relationship. but it is becoming increasingly needed in the world of the on‐line coach. show the way. observe. but tends to create defensiveness in him. Coaching is a relationship. To be effective in client corrective situations and circumstances. A client who senses either or both needs reassurance this is not the case.com . Correction and critique has nothing to do with blame or punishment. whether in corrective situations and circumstances or not. the opportunity for client learning and growth can be greatly diminished. The client will often be doing his best. This has everything to do with strategies and tactics of communication (see previous chapters) and less to do with the actual situation which needs correcting. the coach should narrow the focus on specific client actions or non‐actions. The coach is careful to avoid assuming too much about what a client does or does not know. but it is a power‐oriented relationship. instead of any corrections taking place. whether these positions serve them or not. not a bystander to its observance merely offering commentary. the accentuation for the coach must be on reasonable expectations. and then an explanation of how and why these mistakes need changing. This is the modelling discussed in previous chapters. not embarrass them to do so. It is up to the coach to lead the way. He must motivate the clients to embrace correction. and be about the client. and point out mistakes and just leave it at that.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis.
regress. The focus for correction is more toward the corrective process involved. At some point in the coaching process. A good coach must lead clients to finding for themselves where their own perceptions were false. not judgement. Downloaded from http://www. Since coaching is knowing about the client. While this can be frustrating for the coach. not the program. Lecturing the clients on these subjects risks creating distance between coach and client or worse.com . A client isn’t going to “get it” instantly just because you tell them to. Coaches must always remember that most people are resistant to change. coaches need to acknowledge most people hold on to their own assumptions as facts. Ironically. The coach must serve ‘as part’ of the client unlearning process as it may be required. For example. “Unlearning” can be the hardest part of learning for a client. Coaching awareness allows the coach to make working assumptions as long as he keeps them to himself. And it is normal and human for clients to stagnate. Certain client demeanours and attitudes will present themselves to the coach. Most people simply resist change. A good coach shouldn’t just expect “correction” merely because he instructs an expectation for it to be so. should allow for the coach to gain insight into problems that can stem beyond application issues. This is the type of coaching sophistication and nuance involved in knowing how to make a situation more personal and motivating. Coaching the person.scottabel. “Measuring” can be a faulty application tool at this point.at . This is not unusual. Sometimes the road blocks to consistency or progress are more mental and emotional than physical. And the coach must acknowledge these things. the focus must remain about the client. they may resist the 134 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Changing a habit or false perception requires repeated efforts of the same message over and over again. The weight scale means something different to this type of client than it does for the coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The coach offers direction that is meaningful but less personal. even ones which may be sabotaging their own progress. by removing the personal elements from the corrective situation.scottabel. clients with eating disorders should not be assessed by the weight scale. A good coach cannot just always dictate protocol and instruction and leave it at that.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org coaching environment. physical or mental can feel awkward to a client merely because it is different for them. not the client and not the coach. some behavioural issues that require correcting do not stem from the physical application realm. Evaluation and assessment can take on more qualitative emphasis and often should. However.com . and even be intimidated by trying to change current thinking patterns. clients will be resistant to necessary change. Guiding the client in these mental corrective situations which require client unlearning demand the coach employ the tactics and strategies of coaching discussed in earlier chapters. Changing any kind of behaviour. Coaching in the mental and emotional focuses means assessments and evaluations are more effective than ‘measuring’. albeit the message can take many forms. Solutions to corrective situations need to offer direction.
but eventually return to former habits.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. But one of the most common elements is a fear of intimidation of the coach. The question itself reflects a level of client intimidation. The coach tries to guide forward to corrective thinking so as to prevent the client from falling back into previous patterns and habits that are destructive or stagnating. There are too many to discuss for the purposes of this book. One the one hand. Combine this desire for improvement with the cosmetic elements of body image and fitness and it’s easy to understand how and why the coaching environment can be so intimidating for clients and potential clients. The trainer mentality applied to the clients has not corrected or coached a change in client mindset. Results for corrective instruction are never linear. This need not even be a conscious acknowledgement. The Abel Approach). often without him even being aware of it.scottabel. The coach cannot force this type of corrective thinking on the client. a coach with a reputation for being really good can intensify that sense of client intimidation. Clients and new clients present and begin with many singular issues of their own.) An intimidated client will often infer that a coach is implying something 135 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Adults will not want to feel like obligated children for long.at exact change they set out to accomplish. the client has heard of you and your expertise and that is why he wants the best help.com . Too many coaches revel in this sense of perceived power in the relationship.scottabel.at . The coach must guide and present alternatives while still allowing the client to establish his own changes in a comfortable pace. I often receive inquiries from people asking me if I deal with “regular” people or “someone like me”. reacting to coaching instruction defensively. They tend to revert back to what they know diet and lifestyle wise. The aware coach needs to realize that this initial client intimidation can take many forms. The coach who embraces the status element of power in the relationship is already setting a very weak position for moving forward. but it is often present in the beginnings of the coaching relationship.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. People trying to better themselves in a certain area often feel vulnerable and conspicuous. Downloaded from http://www. But this is not power. (Hence another reason that communication must be clear and concise as argued in previous chapters. it is in actuality a responsibility on the coach. excessive deference to the coach’s authority. This is because no real coaching. Moreover. The Fitness Industry is a good representation of this. and perceiving or reading connotations into the coaching interaction that are just not there. your reputation as being so good reinforces to the client their own lack of self‐esteem. no real guiding light. There are actually many common elements of client issues that present themselves. Long term change is so often unsustainable by clients of the fitness industry. This until now represents a failure of coaching across the industry. But on the other hand. Many of them maintain adherence to a program or a diet for a while. The goal of the coach is to keep the client focused and concentrating on these elements of change. such as ‘honeymooning’ (discussed in my book. Client intimidation of the power structure of the relationship is an issue about the client which an aware coach needs to deal with. has been provided to them to correct faulty thinking.
but it is also reasonable for the coach to expect clients to meet him half‐way in their desire to move on. (For example. The new coach needs to realize this can effect the new relationship as well. by engaging the process. or misconceptions regarding your role as a coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This will not help form an accurate opinion or position with the client. Notice that a previous bad experience or unfruitful experience with a previous coach can be just as easily substituted with any personal past failed situation which brings the client to you.) Bad or unrewarding previous coaching experiences can effect the client well after the situation has expired. Whatever the client has to say about a previous coaching experience should only be taken at face value. many clients come to me after a messy divorce or separation. For you as the coach. offering an opinion of the previous coach or situation is not helpful. Indulge the client in how they got to you. But many cannot or will not. and want to finally focus on themselves.at other than the actual message.) For the coach. Downloaded from http://www. No matter.com . The coach is guide. particularly at the beginning. No matter how thinly something is sliced. Another type of illustration of client issues is how some clients may interact aggressively or too personally for what is appropriate in a coaching environment. the reality is many clients will also seek you out as a coach after previous coaching relationships that were not positive experiences.com . These are things that matter. (We will discuss this further in the 136 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. So it is just as tempting for them to inject the story of the relationship into the coaching realm. Refocus on the present. You. you must proceed to the job at hand. Like anything else. distrust. It is not on you the coach to get the client to abandon carrying around negative baggage and experience. A one‐sided version of past scenarios that led the client to you is more or less irrelevant. Confounding this modern internet on‐line coaching environment is that now. The clients must be willing to leave the past in the past where it belongs. it has two sides. (This represents how fast the industry on the internet is changing and establishing itself. As a coach. The coach can only acknowledge that the previous situation may cloud the client’s current perception of you as coach.scottabel. then you don’t know. Refocus on the protocol at hand. the past experience of the client is not part of the equation. the best way to rid the client of a past bad experience is to get them invigorated and passionately involved in the new one. and understand the previous coaching relationship only in so much as it informs you about the client. The aware coach must not indulge or assess too much of the client’s previous coaching experience. The client’s previous experience ‘may be’ relevant if it leads to self‐doubt. These are all off‐shoots of clients negotiating their own fear and intimidation of the power structure in the coaching relationship. The coach engages the client. Passive resistance and acceptance can take many forms within the coaching relationship.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. to be sure. if you weren’t there.scottabel. Leave it in the past and focus on what is relevant.at . The former coach and the client’s experience with him is irrelevant.
The coach must first. they may be major. A good coach demands reality checks.) Here is where and how the coach can serve as “model” to the client as well. and always focus on and affect the things he can. The coach cannot be everything to a client. and be able to indentify within it where a client’s issues reside.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. What the coach can do is.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The point is ‐ the coach must lead the direction by example. invest in accountability and be willing to take the initiative in action and interaction. symposium.at chapter as well. Clients must take responsibility. The aware coach guards against creating or enabling victim status or any negative impact mindsets. but can still impact the long term results of the coaching relationship. But this can only be done according to the client’s current level of ability. He needs to focus also on the way and means by which he presents himself within the relationship as well. client accountability and responsibility. In all these situations and potentials.com . They may be minor. if and when the situation presents itself. Client issues mean knowing about the client! There are things about client’s personalities that are not changeable or coachable. The coach should never underestimate the need for a client to be their own victim. Downloaded from http://www. if he believes in you. In all these above scenarios. the accountability to the coach is really an accountability reflected back on to the client. last. the point is the client comes to the coach always with some “issues”. it is the coach’s leadership that must set the standards. These standards are the standards for coaches to use and understand and properly apply.at . When the client chooses coaching. or self‐help book ever can. For many it will be the first time they have been truly honest about being accountable. As the mirror. the client will more than likely follow suit as well.scottabel. and learn to understand the client issues that are beyond his influence. fancy programs or more “information”. the coach can involve the client in their own self‐assessment. If you as the coach move on from the client’s desire to engage past experience. he chooses accountability.com . the one thing the coach needs to focus on most is his own awareness. Client Accountability and Responsibility Effective coaching means attaching responsibility where it belongs. This qualitative 137 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. but they often insinuate themselves into the coaching relationship. These standards set in motion the most important elements of the coaching relationship. on the client. this will improve a client’s commitment to themselves and their goals in ways and means far beyond what any seminar. And this accountability to the program and the process will serve them far greater than new exercises.scottabel. Aware coaches must make full use of the triangle of awareness. pep talk. As an ongoing process. And within all the above elements and aspects of dealing with issues that necessitate knowing about the client. ever. and nor should he want to be.
The coach sets the tone as to the client’s responsibilities. Yet client accountability and responsibility is just as pertinent in the coach client relationship in the Fitness Industry. (This is how momentum is built and sustained.scottabel. And the client becomes accountable within the feedback of taking on the responsibility of working the process toward reaching his goals. The client responsibility should be assumed at this point. By example. in high level competitive athletics and the corporate world. who abides in this misrepresentation of his job. The goal for the coach is to engage clients to embrace that application of protocol. 138 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. The coach reinforces the process as it goes and his feedback should then reinforce the client’s commitment to that process as well. The coach’s leadership acquaints and enforces to clients that it is their actions that count. If need be. should have consistent and understood levels of commitment and expected results. the coach will have to coach client action and awareness. Many clients will come to coaches in the fitness industry with no real background of true applied discipline and commitment to something over the long term. And it’s one thing to conceive and imagine a goal. or take care of issues for them. Downloaded from http://www. The goal is always to nurture the client’s own embracing of responsibility and accountability in his role to take the action required to meet and sustain his goals. While it’s the responsibility of the client to maintain the enthusiasm and focus required to achieve their goals. and develops their confidence and competence as well. if a client is given a 5 days program.com . the trainee is more likely to stay in awareness of the process where he otherwise may get distracted or dissuaded. This kind of role playing can certainly serve a coach’s ego.) The coach helps the client keep their eyes on the ball.com . so to speak. New Year’s resolutions have people declaring goals each and every year. The coach. It is the building of these elements of responsibility and accountability of the client that forges. then it is expected the client will follow the program and implement it 5 days per week as prescribed.at element of coaching is vital and key to the process yet never discussed and understood except.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. This process can require a great deal of coaching patience within the process as well. Modern culture has led to an almost cultish expectation that “other people” solve issues for them.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. it’s quite another thing to remain invigorated and committed to it during the process of work required to achieve it. This is not the coach’s role at all.scottabel. the coach’s role in mirroring and nurturing this responsibility is a coaching imperative. but it thwarts the desired client responsibility and accountability for their own actions and application. By being accountable to the coach. The coach does this by implicitly coaching the client to be accountable and responsible to the coaching relationship first and foremost. It has everything to do with client accountability and responsibility. This should not be something that requires a coach’s evaluation. deepens. This doesn’t have anything to do with % of body fat or calorie counting. A goal is a very easy thing for a client to conceive. will create more and more an “excuses” mentality for the client. it seems.at .
scottabel. The coach needs to realize all of this. And they can usually handle a little more responsibility without coaching interference. As discussed earlier. For instance. For the housewife who has never had a coach.scottabel. She may not be able to handle too much individual responsibility either early in the relationship. helicopter coaches are disempowering to a client’s mastery of process. The coach needs to learn when to stand out of the way while encouraging the client in that process. The coach will get a feel for that pace and alter his expectations accordingly. Client empowerment is a delicate balance of timing with client responsibility and accountability being the central focus. Moreover most. I would give an exact and detailed diet. 139 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. From the beginning. And coaches who always insinuate themselves into the client’s process send a mixed message regarding client responsibility and accountability. For example. It is what fosters the client responsibility and accountability. The coach wants to build the client sense of accountability and responsibility. high level competitors in the physique world will more than likely have a more clear idea of how accountable they need to be to the coach and the process. But by contrast.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. will not be earning a living from their fitness endeavour.at But the coach must be flexible enough to let people learn and apply and develop at their own pace.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com . And clients themselves may lack the requisite understanding as to the required discipline and commitment required of them to meet and sustain their fitness goals.at . So the sense of pressure and absolutes need not be part of the fitness coach’s approach to client accountability and responsibility. own and contribute to.com . for the high level competitor I may just dictate a certain calories level and macro proportion for their diet and let them work out the actual meal to meal diet themselves. Downloaded from http://www. It means “knowing about the client”. if not all Fitness Coaching clients. This goes back to the previous discussion regarding knowing when and how to include a client in his/her own process and within his/her own self‐ assessment. balanced against how much responsibility the client can handle. the working housewife who has never been coached in anything may not have any idea of what type or intensity of accountability is involved with coaching. Clients “hire” coaches in the fitness industry. The client develops the sense that the process is his alone to master. It is what fosters client competence and confidence. Clients are not “subject” to coaches as in other industries such as professional athletics. The client’s experience is everything. the coach must evaluate how much accountability the client needs. The client needs to develop a sense of satisfaction from and during his own process. This is one element of coaching in the Fitness Industry which differs from the professional worlds of athletics or corporate structure.
And of course. there are those with the supplement mentality who “buy into” the ideas perpetrated by supplement hucksters at every level. They tend to be younger and impulsive. They are totally ends‐ oriented and usually caught up in the idea of Body Image more so than any true fitness pursuit. The more experience a coach has. knowing these types and identifying them can really add to the coach’s ability to coach effectively. are there “types” and “sub‐types” of clients in the fitness industry. there are various types of prevailing mindsets. They make easy targets for marketing scams of both supplements and expertise.at Character Types and Personality Traits Addressing character types and personality traits are tools for very advanced and experienced coaches.) Marketers use buzzwords like “cheap” “fast” “easy” or more direct and specific target buzzwords like “jacked” “ripped” “freaky”.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org. I will illustrate the thinking pattern of those with the supplement mentality.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. There are many coaches now in the Fitness industry who solely cater to this mindset. They are the types that are more likely to read long ad copy on a coach’s website and buy into promises of fast results etc. (This one is outlined in my book. Downloaded from http://www. Since this chapter’s focus knows about the client.com . The Other Side of the Mirror. Knowing certain people think a specific way about their fitness endeavour can be an excellent resource for coaches. Marketers will splash these enticements with some science and pseudo‐science to add to their appeal to this mindset. Marketers market specifically to this target demographic.) There is also a typical mindset led by the media and internet who buy into the infomercial mentality of gimmicks and promises.scottabel. There are 140 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. These are the people with industry ADD. and magic potions that lead them to their goals. All these groups and subgroups will think and process information from your coaching in a specific way. They are not ‘seekers’ who know or understand the process of fitness.at .com . And the more volume of clientele the coach must deal with. This group represents the truly uninitiated consumers in the Fitness Industry. The wise coach can use this to his advantage on behalf of his client. the greater this tool of evaluation becomes as part of the coach’s assessment arsenal. And the marketers are happy to capitalize on this mentality. As an example. MMA trainees and wannabe fighters have a specific mindset as do competitive bodybuilders and Figure competitors. (Showing clearly that they also recognize the mindset at this level as well. They believe there are short cuts. They are not likely to stay with a coach for very long. I submit the answer is a resounding yes. As an offshoot of this type of mindset. and they understand the need for a plan they can follow because the rest of their lives is so full of other distractions. For instance. the question begs. And while it may not be politically correct to say so. In the fitness industry where coaching is employed. secrets. the better he is at qualitatively evaluating various personality types. there are professional people who hire the coach because they value their time and want to do things right. They search and believe in products promoted to them which cater to their mentality of minimal time with minimal efforts.
at even now symposiums and conferences for internet marketing on how to specifically manipulate this mindset of the Fitness consumer. sophistication. Then he added in capital and bold italics. And this is about the client and the client mentality. (Right away this is an indicator to me as a coach. Contrast the above consumer mentality with say a professional hockey or football player who seeks off‐season coaching guidance for fitness. More than likely this type of client has had coaching for years. and weighs 150 lbs. This mentality is much different. His vital stats were that he is 6 ft 2in. from “my diet” would be that he not feel full.com . and more likely to invest himself first 141 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. I could easily access and evaluate this client in terms of “mentality”. ranging from herbs to even water. Everyone comes to the coach from his/her own unique background of experience.scottabel. This person will be less persuaded by promises and products. but his goal was to gain 40 lbs of muscle. and understands and respects the process. this merely illustrates that there will be times when coaching will not come naturally to either the coach or the client. we would be speaking a different language. The previous example illustrates that knowing the various categories of industry consumer mindsets can go a long way to helping the coach understand his client. Many clients and potential clients have their consumer mentality catered/marketed to at every level. enzymes etc. or a specific coach with a specific client. education. coaching can be problematic.scottabel. “WITH ABSOLUTELY NO FAT”. Clients from this mentality may not be able to differentiate between internet marketing hype and actual and effective applied coaching expertise.) I could have easily taken his money.com . For example. As an example.at . There are no one size fits all approaches to coaching.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The prospective client was investing about $500 per month (minimum) on these supplements. He wanted a “diet” from me which was vegetarian. And this mindset tends to seek expertise and service further down the line well after exhausting buying products to reach their goals. Downloaded from http://www. The ‘real’ coach must be cognizant that many clients will lack the essential communication and interaction skills to effectively receive real coaching. His goal. I knew that should I take him on as a client.) The client also ‘supplements’ the training program with all the products from this expert. And this is regardless of how effective the coach is in actuality. I instead refunded his credit card and simply stated I did not think that I could help him to reach his goals. He also. This is how to use categories to help guide “knowing about the client”. protein powder.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. I had a recent client inquiry along the following lines. (And you should be able to do so in such an obvious example as well. raw food only. The potential‐client was following a popular internet “expert” program to get “freaky naturally”. spends time seeking out appropriate and expert guidance. and perspective. perhaps better than they understand themselves. and that ‘coaching’ was not really what this person was seeking. With all this information. that he use the other “experts” powders for his protein. This is a consumer mindset. more than likely. For this group with this mindset.
at .scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. It merely becomes an effective tool to use for coaching. Being able to effectively categorize a personality type of a client helps the coach with ongoing evaluation. For instance. pep talks. The first thing to notice in this example is that neither the overachiever nor the underachiever has anything to do with physical elements. understanding the principles or education. Downloaded from http://www. It has little to do with gathering information. For the overachiever.com . not only by the protocol but the learning process within it as well. I will often give them leadership roles at my conferences and workshops. This would be a mistake. These two types of personalities could both hire a coach and present the exact same vital statistics and the exact same lifestyle demands. Once again. There is a fine line between the two. So what are some examples of personality types? How could a coach address them accordingly? Well.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The program application is incidental to that focus. for good or bad. the underachiever will 142 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. physique development.com . Here is how knowing about personality types can be a useful tool for coaching application. A good coach should be able to ‘categorize’ client’s personality type without forming judgment about it either way. At the same time that there are specific mindsets in the Fitness Industry who are likely to pursue coaching.at in the coach then in the coach’s program and application. The effective coach coaches the person in the process and through the process. this learning process is often a personal one. They are personality types. And because of these latter indices. Conversely. The overachiever needs to be challenged. understanding the job of coach means understanding that coaching is always “knowing about the client”. there are also specific personality types. The underachiever. two categories of client personality type come to mind. It is almost an opposite of the previous consumer sample mindset. most coaches would coach them the same way. but at the risk of burnout. But ‘categorize’ does not mean ‘stereotype’. and lectures or hovering. Since I can spot an overachiever easily. overachievers will seldom if ever require motivation. will require getting unstuck from consistent stagnation in the process of application. Most would be suspicious of any of that. And they exist across the board and at every point of fitness and level or prowess and ability. But knowing personality types and understanding how to deal with them are very different things. knowing this can be a precious tool for the coach in terms of really being able to reach a client. The overachiever and underachiever personality will not respond to the same communication and interaction strategy. Underachievers will be less consistent. Overachievers also tend to be potential leaders and coaches themselves. To do so shows a coaching faith in them that they excel at meeting. It helps the coach to be able to anticipate potential problems and often troubleshoot in advance. This would seem obvious. the overachiever and the underachiever. on the other hand. The effective coach coaches people ‐not programs. Once again. The overachiever will require challenge.
if you will. The coach needs to be realistic about what is a sustainable consistency for the client. 143 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. They look for the coach to put that vehicle in to the appropriate gear. mentally and the client’s actual mental discipline and capabilities. physically. Formulate a template for your own use. rather than moving them forward. insecurity. Overachievers move forward with foot on the gas pedal regardless of “traffic”. The best case scenario is the client embraces this attitude of consistency and runs with it during the application of protocol. Neither type of client wants to disappoint the coach. (Back to personality types and mindsets again) The coach needs to be realistic in client consideration. Both types want to be driving down the road of experiencing progress. Underachievers move forward with foot on the brake and always worried about the surrounding traffic.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and how the client is. From the above example. Effective coaching is all about creating an effective “attitude of consistency” where the client needs it. is what I refer to as the “attitude of consistency”.at . This is psychological leverage that the coach can use. But this confusion. overachievers will often overestimate their available time and energy.scottabel. And this means addressing the client by assessing and evaluating the client effectively within the triangle of awareness. The reality of doing the planning is much different than the idea of planning the doing.com . This effective attitude of consistency can require a different approach for the coach depending on who the client is.at often present signals of lack of self‐reliance. Lifestyle factors will also need to be addressed. Clients have to embrace and understand that consistency means showing up beyond when it is merely convenient to do so. both the overachiever and underachiever will often report a sense of stagnation.com . What kind of headings would you use? Why? As a sample exercise make “a client file” on yourself. One thing both personality types have in common is their investment in the coach. Effectively instituting this attitude of consistency is a delicate balance between what is required from the client.Downloaded from http://www. Notes for Mentoring Students: • Address the benefits of keeping a client file.scottabel. This ‘gear’. instead becomes a source of stagnation. while underachievers. will underestimate them. By analogy. The overachiever feels like he is neutral. The coach’s ongoing interaction is aimed at instilling this attitude in the client. not surprisingly. It further enhances a sense of confusion in them. The underachiever is most susceptible as well to marketing hype and innuendo discussed above. various levels of fear and intimidation toward process. The aware coach employs this leverage not for his own purposes but on behalf of the client. while the underachiever feels like he is in park.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Understanding character traits and personality types can serve as ‘cue cards’ for the coach to do so effectively.
I missed Tues and Wed workouts because of it. It wasn’t too bad till near the end of the day then I really lost it. But I can’t seem to stick to it. I know I am carbs intolerant. As a coach. But I really want this! I am starting fresh on Monday. My project at work has me stressed out and I’m rushing to finish it.” 144 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. I didn’t really have much choice but to eat what everyone else was eating. I ended up taking the day off. and ate everything. And also.at • In the sample file on yourself fill in some information on the various headings you decided to use. what would your “reasonable expectations” be moving forward? Scenario 1: “My name is John Smith. I need you to keep me on the diet. “This week was a bad week. Based on that information. as a coach. Sunday was my PMS time. I always end up binging on crap food after a few days. I need your help to keep me consistent in this. I don’t want to get fat. Monday I felt so guilty and hung-over.at .com . I seem to train all out and then lose my motivation because I never see any results. motivate me to stay hungry to achieve the results I’ve been after for so long. I look forward to working with you.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. and since I had to entertain I just said “screw it” to the diet. So needless to say my diet and training weren’t the best this week.Downloaded from http://www. but lean muscle. I’m looking at you to coach me and give me the right program. Thurs we had to go to a lunch meeting about the project. and I follow a no carb/low carb diet. Her most recent check in is much like her others since shortly after she started.com . how do you address it? How do you engage the ‘unlearning process’? What assumptions can you make based on the information? What “alternatives to the thinking process” could you present to this client? Scenario 2: A client has been with you now for a few months.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. so we ate in a restaurant.scottabel. I am 28 years old and 5 ft 9 in and 150 lbs.” The above scenario is not uncommon. I have been training a long time but never seem to get anywhere.scottabel. After careful consideration I want to hire you to reach my goals. I want to gain lots of muscle.
scottabel. How do you build client confidence and competence here while still getting across the message of responsibility and accountability? • In both examples above as well as your own sample file on yourself. but how to say it.scottabel.Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. What do you learn from this? 145 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. correspondence 2. Set them side by side: correspondence 1. and correspondence 3.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Within the client interaction. write a coaching correspondence aimed at forging an attitude of consistency based on the information provided.com .com .at Write a simulated coaching correspondence to the above client. how do you interject the elements of client accountability and responsibility? Concentrate not only on what to say.at . Note how they all differ.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com .scottabel.scottabel.com .at .at SECTION 4 Review of Common Themes and Concepts 146 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.
Any of us with a higher education know that college professors take dozens of courses in their area of expertise.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The problem is one of education focus. Getting a message across or answering a client’s need involves not just knowing the answer but delivering it in a meaningful way. not programs. Instead of communicating relevant “ideas”. “coaches coach people. In the coaching relationship. The “what” is an element of information. Some experts have referred to this black hole as “the curse of knowledge”. no one has properly addressed a significant study of the intricacies involved for the coach or on‐line coach in the fitness industry. coaches people. Here’s the problem with modern certification and industry expertise with its insistent focus on the “what” only. This has led to many of the common failures of other fledgling industries as well. The information myth and bias has led to many of the most common mistakes we witness in education as well. and as I have stated several times in this project. but none on how to teach it. And the problem with this accumulation of knowledge is that it can 147 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. not programs.” Unfortunately expertise in the Fitness Industry. Yet there is no focus on how to relate and communicate that knowledge to the client demographic. People invest inordinate amounts of time learning that becoming an “expert” is all about the accumulation of information and knowledge.” The two elements of coaching here are: “1) knowing answers. The “who” and the “why” are the coaching contexts and relevance and conduits for the implementation of that information. The Fitness Industry has made the same mistake. the modern Fitness Expert is lead to believe his expertise is a matter of sharing “information. with an almost total neglect of #2. like so many other industries. you cannot have the former without the latter as a context. Allow me to explain.com . Yet where is this element of focus being taught in the Fitness Industry? The modern internet has led to the reality of the on‐line coach. information is not knowledge. Coaching expertise entails two elements of relevance.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. has been mistakenly caught up in the pursuit of #1. The problem is one of disconnect. We see this all the time in other industries as well.scottabel. and usually at the expense of “who” and “why”. Downloaded from http://www.at . Both have been the subject of this project. To reiterate first then.at Chapter 13 Client Interaction The key element of focus to coaching in any industry or arena is that effective coaching is all about this reality: The coach. till now.scottabel. and 2) teaching others these answers. It’s a matter of fact that a person can graduate from medical school or with an MBA in business without ever having to take a class in effective communication and interaction.” This is the blind side of coaching. Yet. So while a person can accumulate several certifications and accreditations in the Fitness Industry.com . It is a particular element of paradigm blindness. they are left sorely lacking in the skills needed to apply this knowledge effectively.
But when it comes to effective coaching of a client. Wannabe coaches end up “sharing information” but not in a context of real teaching and learning for the client. effectiveness client interaction must motivate the client in five key ways. the coaching communication should be succinct enough for the client to act on the instruction in a way that they can internalize it in experience. The coaching instruction or feedback engages the client to: 1) Pay Attention 2) Understand and Remember the coach’s feedback 3) Agree and Believe in the coach’s communicated message 4) Care enough to engage and apply the coaching instruction 5) Have a clear direction to being able to act on the coaching advisement. Effective client interaction then must serve the client in the means of “lighting the fire. not programs. And then without the emphasis on #2 above. the process of client experience is what is most relevant. The coach is ineffective because the ideas don’t last are not useful as a long term resource. This leads the wannabe coach in the ineffective position of trying to interact with clients as if their audience was their own self. Coaching interaction must be effectual enough to empower the client to agree and believe in the coach’s instruction. you yourself cannot now remember what it was like to “not know” these things that qualify you as an expert. you now know things others do not know which is why they will seek you out. As an expert. you need expertise. but care about the process of coaching communication as a whole. not only about receiving the coach’s message. we have a black hole of communication. not filling the bucket”.com . For ongoing coaching. education is not like filling a bucket. The coaching interaction should motivate the client to care. However. The coach must communicate and interact in a way that motivates the client to pay attention to the coaching instruction and interaction. So the coaching communication structure is one with the mission of 5 relevant points to engaging the client to learn on their own. For instance. And most importantly. Instruction must be clear enough for a client to understand it and remember it long term. Within this mandate. The industry has failed by leading wannabe coaches to believe that education is like filling a bucket. This is ineffectual because an illustration of knowledge is not a communication of knowledge.scottabel.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. in order to have the answers. Downloaded from http://www. 148 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. But once you gain a level of expertise it’s hard to disassociate it from the level of knowledge of your potential client. but more like lighting a fire.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org .at render the “expert” even more useless in the application of sharing that knowledge with the coaching client. Coaching instruction and advice has to serve the mandate of coaching people.scottabel.
is that it is far more qualitative an experience. The above 5 points are more about the “who” the “how” and the “why” than they are about the “what”. The reality of the coaching environment.scottabel.scottabel. understand instruction. And simple. S = Strategy for client interaction U = Uncomplicated Communication. I like to get wannabe coaches to adapt the acronym of “SUCCESS” here. Downloaded from http://www. not phony cheerleading.at The above illustrates how and why coaching is above and beyond “sharing ideas” of accumulated information. merely teaching “experts” the right information can often fail when the job of coach is getting the client to relate to instruction.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. simple forms of communication. It is not about accumulating information after a certain point. A strategy is a guide to behaviour. So the overall strategy for coaching any client in the fitness industry is the reality of the mantra. Therefore. Interaction must first last and always be a two way mode of communication. In order to be relevant. Uncomplicated Communication (which should direct a client’s “understanding”). S = Simple instruction. even on‐line. often without context. not programs”. and benefit from the experience of instruction. or application. nuance. the coach needs to properly place the context of his job right‐side up. S =Short interactive exchanges. “Coaches coach people.at . apply instruction. For this dialogue to truly work. To that end.com . Success stands for Strategy. both the coach and the client must be able to understand and relate to each other’s feedback. Hence. short communication exchange. Client Understanding C = Clear Instruction C = Concise feedback E = Client Empowerment toward the task at hand or the interaction and feedback. and closer to a centre which involves meaning and substance for the client application of protocol. Brevity. This sets the 149 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The coach relies on the client to inform him how the game plan is unfolding in terms of the client’s own experience of the application of protocol.com . the focus must come back to being client‐centred and not information‐based. Yet current industry focus has this reality backwards to the point where expertise is now just an idea of collecting more and more information. Concise Feedback: Empowering the client whenever possible in real ways and means. Clear instruction. real coaches need to move further away from this total emphasis on facts and statistics. Clients rely on the coach to set the agenda and structure the game plan.
And no matter how complicated a client wants to make protocol seem. And although coaching is about two‐ way interaction. This is a huge mistake. Coaching is never so. Downloaded from http://www. this will be felt by the client. And this can only be actualized with an emphasis on process. whenever possible the coach empowers the client for the client’s own engagement of accountability and responsibility. short.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. But the current mode of accreditation in the industry is blind to the coaching role. It means not throwing useless concepts and explanations at the client which may only confuse him more. Coaching is a relationship built on two‐way interaction. not one‐way dictatorship. then.com .at strategy for interaction. The coach needs to keep feedback and interaction with the client simple and whenever possible. The best source of information for the coach. 150 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Client Feedback This dictates. is the client himself.com . A coach can only properly evaluate and assess how the client is doing by paying attention and valuing client feedback. mentally and emotionally. If the client’s feedback and input doesn’t matter to the coach. the coach’s goal in communication is to make interaction uncomplicated. Within that time period lots of things go on which can and will affect the process and the outcome.at . this does not imply that it is somehow a kind of negotiation. Coaches and experts are all too eager to dictate to clients but not just as eager to engage client feedback. The “SUCCESS” mode for client interaction should be a post‐it‐note for all coaches who need to practice communicating and interacting more effectively. The client looks to the coach for answers and insights. It is going to take a client a while to reach their goals. The coach needs the client feedback in order to be able to provide either in any worthy context. The best means of accomplishing this in communication is to always be clear and concise. the client’s feedback to the coach is the most valuable element in the coach’s coaching arsenal. The coach’s goal is to ensure the client understands his feedback and instruction and advisement.scottabel. not just outcomes. This does not mean disengaging the client. It also fails to meet the criteria of what coaching is supposed to be. And within that process of interaction. The coaching strategy is one where the program and diet are secondary focus in comparison to effective interaction and communication with the client. in regards to his client. He must have enhanced listening skills as well. And this is true physically. But the coach must keep to what is important within any client interaction. that the coach must value client‐feedback.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. So. The coach who truly values the client’s feedback must have flexible communication skills.scottabel. He must be succinct and focused.
The client is the source of that assessment. Effective coaching is about engaging client feedback for assessment. such as the weight scale or strength levels. After initial coaching instruction. the coach must weigh the specifics of the client’s feedback with the goals of the program and the experience of the client.at The coach should instruct and lead clients to know that client feedback is all about the experience and insights gained by them while following protocol. The client reports and narrates his own subjective feedback within a certain time period. who stresses “outcome” over process. But there are often many undetected results of client’s efforts that do not translate directly into measurable results. Outcome and results within a client report are only part of the assessment and coaching evaluation. with little to no interaction with the client during that time frame are not ‘coaches’ by any stretch of the definition of the term. physically and metaphysically speaking. can often mean missing a teaching opportunity with a feedback report. The client also should be given freedom and opportunity to report biofeedback in regular and frequent 151 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www.com . As the expert. timeliness is crucial for coaching feedback. and involving the client in their own subjective experience. But each reporting period will have some kind of “results” of application to assess.at . There will often be a back and forth emphasis of the coach between a focus on protocol results (the physical) and a focus on client experience of application (non‐physical). Client feedback must be valued if it is to be properly evaluated. it is often up to the coach to interpret a client’s feedback and illustrate back to him the results of process.scottabel. Client character is part of the assessment. Effective coaching is about knowing and honouring in the relationship that “not everything that counts can be counted. To focus only on “quantitative” elements of feedback. Within any assessment of client feedback. so his feedback is essential.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. As mentioned in a previous chapter. And the client feedback should be given at regular and frequent intervals. A reporting period need not be about goal‐acquisition or non‐acquisition.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Being processed‐based rather than just outcome‐based helps the coach to see things more deeply. Clients will more often than not focus on outcomes within a reporting period. the qualitative elements of feedback supersede the quantitative. For the client to be able to do so without emphasis on having “accomplished” something leads for a greater and more honest feedback environment. All clients progress at their own individual levels.scottabel. A coach. The outcome is secondary to the process. these on‐line coaches who give a client a protocol to follow for a specified number of calendar weeks. induces an environment of stress and pressure into the feedback equation. the coach’s feedback should take its cue from the client’s feedback within a reporting period. counts”. For the coach especially. And just as often client feedback necessitates the coach to engage a focus on both. even if it must sometimes be re‐interpreted by the coach. Outcome and results are not the purpose for the feedback report. Feedback should be a free flowing subjective interpretation from the client to the coach. Downloaded from http://www. And in contrast.com . and not everything that can be counted.
People who write and tell me their “coach” takes two or three weeks to get back to them reflect to me just how intensely real coaching is missing in the fitness industry accreditation programs. and in all honesty and truth. For the coach. It’s laziness.com . Downloaded from http://www. This is crucial for both the coaching process and the coaching relationship itself. and the less effective his feedback. or reinforcement of client feedback. I am saddened yearly by the number of on‐line contacts I receive who report being “so happy that you got back to me so quickly”. but it does not fall under the category of “coaching”. but with honesty. mirroring and guiding the client via the client’s own feedback.at intervals. clients just do not know any better. Over time. Engaging the client in this manner is all about communication and not about being right or wrong. The client’s experience during the reporting period should tell the coach all he needs to know for evaluation and assessment. This is not coaching. No two trainees will have the same experience or the same life stressors during an application of prescribed protocol. The longer a coach takes to respond to client feedback. As such. this teaches the client what kind of feedback is important and what elements of feedback are irrelevant.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Feedback is all about relaying appropriate information and instruction based on the client feedback. And the coach always centres on working “with” the client in terms of feedback and interaction. not a product.scottabel. If a coach is to give instruction. Feedback should never be a contest with a winner and loser. the coach needs to say so. and concurrent with the application of protocol. Often clients will rationalize or even be self‐ deluded about their levels of consistency and commitment. If the coach doesn’t have enough information or feedback for relevant commentary. But the client remains the source for the required information in coaching feedback. interactive. The coach must not meet such feedback with disdain. only to leave them alone in their application of it. Often. 152 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. But this truth must be delivered with tact. Simple. Coaching should be a service. This is why their feedback is so valuable an assessment tool. critique. the less effective the coach. Selling programs and diets is fine.at .scottabel. If not. he merely interacts with the client to get the feedback he needs.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. client feedback needs to be treated sincerely as well. the coach must instruct the client toward a better understanding. He should address client illusions or rationalizations by discussing ideas. When clients are being unrealistic. the coach can just solicit more information and feedback from the client. Coaching is active. These types of ‘coach’ direct the client to “contact me after 12 weeks” or whatever time frame. The coach needs to be able to assume that all client feedback is sincere. not personalities. Many report that previous or current coaches have provided them with a training program and/or diet. Employing client‐feedback gives the coach a starting point. the truth always has strength and a voice. If a client is being unrealistic in his thinking or application. Coaching honesty is about relaying.com . then this coaching needs to come in a timely manner.
Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. the fitness industry is reinforcing a one‐way instruction model of application which actually negates the client in their own process of achievement. The coach assesses this information and volleys back any commentary.S. It begins with the client giving the coach the obligatory start up information like vital stats. And it continues this way.U. lifestyle assessment.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The coach “volleys” this information to the client and the client begins to undertake the program. and review it.C.Downloaded from http://www.scottabel. Anyone thinking coaching is not a process but a dictation does not understand the concept of coaching. I liken the coaching interactive experience to a tennis match. pictures. Use the S.E.com . It does not ignore it.U. The Abel Approach. What have you learned? How can you use this knowledge and apply it effectively in the coaching environment? Make notes. his own feedback becomes essential. 153 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. regarding biofeedback) The client then volleys this subjective experience back into the coach’s court.C. Why is the emphasis on client feedback so important? What are the 5 elements for engaging the client in ongoing feedback? Make a post it of the acronym S. The coach then takes this information and designs the appropriate protocol for the client to implement. by consistently downplaying the role of coaching. instruction or advice back to the client.E.scottabel. And this mistake is the black hole of current industry accreditation and study. To conceive of anything less than this reality is a mistake. the process is negated and the methodology is incomplete.S.at .com .C.S. During the client’s implementation. Look at mock client examples from pervious chapters. (See my book. fitness goals etc. but within the context of client feedback. Like most industries that mistakenly follow this information model.C. Moreover. Notes for Mentoring Students • • • • This chapter repeats some common themes of the book. Notice this is an interactive approach which necessitates the client feedback. What do you learn about your coaching interactive skills? Make a bullet list of your own of any underlined or bold font of this chapter that stands out to you.S. points to review and redo client interaction exercises. Coaching requires attention to both the ongoing process and the client’s own feedback within the application of this process.at By analogy.
The truth is knowledge will come and go. Coaching. Certification has become a business and therefore the definition of ‘certified’ has certainly been diluted. This is a problem to be sure. These realities need to be addressed. with real operating principles and skills is not even under address in any real form in the industry. Right now someone can put on a “certification” for a TRX or for Cross‐Fit or even the Bosu Ball.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. My success in this industry is attributed to one word. 154 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Coaching needs to be understood for what it is and what it involves. Does a master craftsman learn how to be a craftsman by taking a course in “the screwdriver”? The business side of certification is replacing the competence element of what certification represents. Clearly we have a problem in this industry where “certified” does not equal “qualified”. is that 80% of people pursuing fitness as a vocation will no longer be in the industry in five years. as discussed in earlier chapters. This is true even of trainers.scottabel. this was a variable of influence.com . And while I certainly developed my knowledge of Fitness along the way. they have to work longer and longer hours. But the ongoing sad truth is that a large percentage of these individuals do not seem to know and recognize a good majority of what I would expect them to know based on their credentials. The truth. The era of the fitness coach and on‐line coach is here.at . The fitness industry has many components and certification reflects a lot of these components. And those who remain will only experience horizontal job mobility within a labour‐ intensive orientation to personal training. experienced. Think about it. And those questions were “How did I get here?” and “How am I still here?” I am now starting my 4th decade as a professional in the Fitness Industry. Coaching and leadership skills need to begin to be a part of a huge emphasis of these legitimate organizations.scottabel. The industry has not only become complacent in the turnstile nature of the business. Their credentials seem to claim “competence” loud and clear. Earlier chapters have addressed this. Certification is failing to be a measure of true competence in an industry with a global influence. some with advanced degrees etc. but is now capitalizing on it as well. Coaching competence is not. These are but tools. Coaching needs to be understood in order to be pursued as a viable means to a career path in the fitness industry. There are now certifications for the “tools” of the trade without any understanding of the “rules” of the trade. The coaching skill‐set was the constant. It’s amazing to me how many clients I get who come to me certified.at Chapter 14 Summary of Concepts and Conclusion I started this project by letting you in on two questions regarding my career success in the Fitness Industry.com . as a real vocation. Coaching. the same answer keeps coming up. And when I look back to the journey.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Downloaded from http://www. It has a vogue trend to it in the Fitness Industry. This tends to burn out even those who actually are qualified because in order to get ahead.
It leads the consumer and client at all these lectures left to merely gather information at the expense of understanding much of it. Coaching provides the smooth pavement of those roads. The operating principles need to be understood and practiced. Truth be told. It seems these advanced organizations are speaking past their audience and speak to a narrower and narrower target audience all the time. Now then. And they must be actively practiced not merely studied. Mastery of subject matter is imperative in any vocation. There are a million roads to access to get a client to reach their physical goals. Coaching is no exception. Downloaded from http://www. This is untrue and false. knowledge is better served by being an inch wide. in coaching as in many other fields. how is something so obvious missed and distorted in terms of relevance? All sorts of information and perspective on method and program application do not deal with the fundamental reality of the coaching relationship and the coaching environment. other experts. the principles are even harder to grasp.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Operating principles need to always be the focus for mastery and performance. Without a context of guiding principles. This is not accomplished by gathering information. emotional maturity and other elements of professional relationships must be understood and served in the coaching environment. symposiums continue to push agendas of “methods” without assessing whether the trainee understands the operating principles within them. these principles of coaching need to supersede this over‐focus on the information bias. It’s been argued ad nauseum in the Fitness Industry that “methods are many. let’s have them meet in the 155 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. or even worse. This is indeed a coaching dilemma in terms of a learning curve in being an effective coach or on‐line coach.at One of the main thrusts of this project has been elucidating an understanding of the information myth in the industry. both oral and written. It is akin to knowing the alphabet without knowing the rules of vowels and consonants. Leadership ability.at . how does someone get there? The current trend in industry certification and in industry marketing is that mastery exists in the accumulation of lots of information. The coach provides the map and the depiction of the territory. It is up to the client to traverse it.com . For coaching mastery. For instance “activation thresholds” and “macronutrient breakdown of a diet” have little to do with coaching efficiency. but a mile deep. However. if coaching is the job. The difference between the information myth of the knowledge and the actual working of the understanding of the principles is obvious. but principles are few”. (Aristotle) As true as this is. And that is a target audience of “people just like themselves”: In other words. Mastery for coach is all about knowing and practicing the subject matter and skill‐set of being a coach.scottabel.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. And yet a glimpse of any symposium or conference lecture docket usually illustrates the problem of methods over principles.com . The issue is.scottabel. Coaching skills entail communication and interaction skills. And yet. the information myth continues to perpetrate the illusion that knowledge is an inch deep but a mile wide. minutia over substance. Or at least. information is just stock‐piled and meaningless.
textbooks. A client reaching and sustaining their fitness goals will have just as much to do with aspects of character and lifestyle awareness than a mere application of information taught by a trainer. Particular and specific information a coach can acquire must be applied within the relevant context of client awareness and ability.at . The fact that the illusion of expertise is so readily apparent in the Fitness Industry and on the internet just underscores the need for the industry to truly address some kind of accreditation for the vocation of “Fitness Coach”. (This is at least a step up from the marketers. Other knowledge simply has nothing to do with effective coaching involved in helping a client get from point A to point B. I have seen the dismal results it brings professionally speaking. They are not. What looks great in studies. Coaching necessitates getting away from a one‐sided dogmatic approach of employing information bias as the building force of knowledge for coaching clients to reach their fitness goals. one look at professional athletics points out how stark this deviation of the fitness industry really is. I have been part of “gathering” knowledge and information for the better part of three decades. or even for wannabe trainers. All of this has led to a general misunderstanding as to the role of coach in the Fitness Industry. Downloaded from http://www. here today. I have left behind or forgotten more knowledge than most experts will ever acquire.Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com middle. This project has been an attempt to open the door to do so.com .scottabel. Scientific “research” and “studies” are not yielding better results for clients.) As an aside. Others are no more than advanced trainers. The Job of Coach or On‐Line Coach in the Fitness Industry What makes a good coach is often difficult to distinguish. address. No way would a ‘trainer’ or a ‘marketer’ ever have a job or title as a coach in any arena of modern sport. may have little bearing in terms of that particular specific client and what he will respond to best.scottabel. Some of these so‐ called coaches are nothing more than internet marketers. gone tomorrow. the “coach” is a tried and true respected role with clear delineations and requirements. The problem as I see it is that wrong answers are coming from asking wrong questions. Why? Because it wasn’t pertinent to me being better at my job as coach! The truth is ‐ some knowledge is a vogue trend.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. In professional athletics. Suffice it to say there are individuals in the Fitness World right now who have reputations as being “great coaches” who are in fact anything but. It is time to study. articles and symposiums may have little bearing on what works in the real world: or even more importantly. The question for the coach is not “what information that I know should I access for this client?” That question objectifies the client as a 156 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Indeed even the terms trainer and coach are used interchangeably as meaning the same thing. Previous chapters have addressed the Information Myth. It’s a combination of many factors we will address in this section. and enact the operating principles of true coaching and true on‐line coaching in the fitness industry.
and emotional energies. The coach. coaching provides both insight and inspiration to the client. And it certainly is not about receiving accolades for the coach either. A “trainer” may be a more appropriate fit for a client. Some clients have goals much grander than their current capabilities. The coach accesses all three elements of the triangle of awareness for client evaluation. The coach can reshape current unattainable goals into a process the client can own in real terms.scottabel. If that seems like a tall task to take on in the Fitness Industry. The coach’s role is in the client’s journey toward the destination.scottabel. A “program” cannot do this on its own. this classic mistake can be avoided. instead.at non‐entity in his own program. is the coach who is marred in his own ego needs.at . The coach should not be attached to any part of a role to want to be an inspiration to the client. The actual arrival at that destination (the goal) is entirely for the client to own and accomplish. The wannabe coach who approaches the job from the base of the information bias instead of the client will be wrongly focused on “his” program. A great coach may even have to be involved in re‐defining the client’s goals as well. regardless of the field of endeavour.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. well. then more is lost than is gained. But this should be accomplished in subtle and indirect means. It is not about creating robots or submissive slaves. I should think this mistake to be obvious when put this way. it is. Coaching is about re‐ asserting the priority of the nature of the experience for the client. long distance expertise to a client in the fitness industry is truly a role befitting a coach. If the structure of focus is. A program in and of itself serves no purpose within this context of client achievement. Again. But to apply on‐line. Downloaded from http://www. It’s all right for the coach to interact with a client in such a way and means to engage the client to understand and appreciate real and attainable goals in both short term and long term context. The information bias works against coaching when clients become perceived as mere objects “receiving” a program and/or diet. all about the client. Coaching is about appropriately leading and teaching the process. who pays attention to this part of his role. Some clients may not even be ready themselves to take on coaching. It is not about cheerleading the client. “Trainer” work cannot be accomplished long distance. Goal achievement is only part of a long process. “who is my client?” And the evaluation of the client from this key question unfolds from there. He can only do this in real terms if his process is nurtured in a way that builds competence and confidence along the way. This is not to suggest there exists “coaching 157 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. True coaching then is about the growth and development of the client. the coach is a vehicle for appropriately directing and addressing a client’s mental. In reality. This will have the tendency to try to create training robots and slaves. physical. this illustrates the reality of coaching the client. But it remains the accurate depiction of coaching nonetheless.com . The real coach leads and teaches the client as part of the process. Yes.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. If the client gains little to no understanding of himself or the process throughout that journey. This happens to me frequently. The more appropriate coaching question is instead.
but a reality to embrace. There is no clearer influence to effective non‐verbal coaching than modelling. To suggest so would be once again to over‐emphasize the physical side of the triangle of awareness. The coach is subjective with a bias of perspective. Being able to lead by example gives the coach a certain level of real‐world credibility.com . But this does not have to mean physical prowess. A great coach doesn’t hide from his biases or misrepresent them. He is not “objective” either.at . Any good and honest coach starts with this recognition within himself. The industry’s focus on “stuff” (information = knowledge) has led trainers and wannabe coaches to believe the client is mere object in the process. These are different entities. Beyond what the coach knows are the elements of the non‐verbal and non‐communicated aspects of coaching.at objectivity”. Let’s be clear here.scottabel. Responsibility and accountability is a two‐way street. Downloaded from http://www. The Fitness Industry in its blind attempt to quantify everything leads to a perception of an “objective basis” for client interaction. There is no objectivity in that. A great coach makes his biases an active and working part of his strength for coaching. His coaching role is also a subjective one. The client will have his own subjective perceptions of himself within the process. Coaching is something you engage “with” the client. better than he talks it. There is no such thing when dealing with people. The client is actor within his own process of application. He often walks it. The coaching bias should not affect his “fairness” within the evaluation. And this reality demands a certain level of maturity and awareness of the coach. the most valuable tool for the coach in terms of client influence would have to be “modelling”. The objectivity involved and what should be aimed for within the relationship is fairness. The point is the coach is not emotionally invested in the client. The client is not mere object. Coaching is relationship‐ based. So this emphasis on the research and science is misleading in regards to the coaching reality of coaching being an active and ongoing relationship. So coaches end up coaching within their own subjective interpretation of their “objectivity”. assessment. The industry has fostered a growing expertise based on knowing how to talk the talk. Being able to lead by example gives the client the 158 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. In this regard. The good coach can also walk the walk. The coach himself should model and demonstrate whatever behaviours and attitudes he expects from his client. It’s called “perspective”. but professionally invested in him. The perception of objectivity leads to a coaching and training perception of both of these being something you do “to” the client. The reality is many coaches and many experts go along preaching about objectivity. It is at best a rationalization of perspective.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. only fairness.Registered to Jürgen Reis / firstname.lastname@example.org . It must be because it is a relationship. Coaching Bias A coach will always have a perceptual bias. Coaching bias is not a weakness to avoid. and client‐interaction. when none exists.scottabel.
saying that coaching is a relationship gives a certain impression. Handing the client a program merely provides them with the “what” of application.at ‘how’ and the ‘why’ to follow. Insisting that coaching be personal in order to be professional is not a contradictory statement.scottabel. conducts himself in the coaching relationship. It is always different. The reality of coaching is that it is always changing.scottabel. Information‐based sourcing. even something like this book. Because the coach deal. This is the professionalism of coaching. Too many wannabe coaches take liberties within the relationship that cross the professional boundary. Again. Then adding to this by stating coaching must be personal also gives a certain impression.at . mental. The job is anything but.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. with the physical. Material is neutral and a non‐entity. Effective coaches are able to model themselves their own expectations. This is not what is meant by stating the coaching must be “personal”. It should just be how he. but there is also a boundary in place that cannot be crossed.com . than he can hardly be taken seriously. the relationship is not. the coach. The job beyond the job for the coach is to know. emotional. I know this statement will meet with incredulity and even hostility by some. There is a big difference between evaluating and assessing client feedback and performance vs. understand. Now. this may seem like a lot to expect of a Fitness Expert. The coaching client is never “friend” or “family member” type of relationship. Knowing this boundary should be automatic. The coaching role is all these things but it is also about being professional and fair. So the role of coach is a multi‐component role that is always changing and always different. So it is first about people. But context is everything to understanding the job of coach. Coaching in the fitness industry is like coaching in any other realm. and embrace the reality of the difference between the job description and the actual reality of doing the job. judging that client as a person. But effective coaching should go beyond whatever field within which it is applied. is one dimensional and linear. or prove” either. The coach can be interested in a client and interact in personal ways in order to be effective. So the reality is that while the coaching approach must always be personal.com .Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. If the coach cannot follow his own advice in terms of behaviour and attitude. Modelling should not be something the coach is “trying to do. and even cultural aspects of a client’s working perspective. there is always more to the job than just the job. Each coach/ client relationship is different and each coach/client relationship will change as it progresses. And the same goes within the spirit of client interaction as well. and second about fitness. I know this statement to be true. and it is. The coach needs to disassociate himself from client‐feedback. a live 159 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. Saying coaching is also subjective not objective is also suggestive. But I make this statement from having assessed my professional success in this industry now entering its fourth decade. Coaching is non‐neutral and a live entity. It is non‐linear and active. Downloaded from http://www. not passive. not when money is being exchanged for service. So as controversial as it may seem in this modern era of the information myth.
com . Rigid‐type coaches have their egos threatened by “different” when “different” can be elucidating and liberating for both client and coach. The reality is that the study of coaching may not prepare someone adequately for the “doing” of coaching. Such a one‐sided rigidity can risk losing a client’s enthusiasm. A coach needs to be able to allow and even encourage that a client’s experience and application can be “different” than expected. the effective coach needs to be flexible in style of interaction. This is true both in terms of application of protocol and interaction as well. The more viable and sustainable coach is the non‐rigid. Downloaded from http://www.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. The need of people for coaching will not. client creativity can be a source for coaching encouragement. As long as the client’s application complies with the coach’s prescribed protocol. marathon training. without being wrong. the clients continue to move forward as they gain competence and confidence in their application. Mutual goals explained clearly should leave room for a client’s potential creativity. Once again. The client plays an obvious and essential role in their own process of application. A coaching style which is flexible will more likely engage the client to embrace and own his part in the process more so than a rigid coaching style that dictates in one direction only. For a coach to insist on dogmatic interpretations of protocol is a risky professional approach.at . The coach’s flexibility in style and communication needs to be as varied as the personalities of the client’s who seek his service. bodybuilding training etc. The overall focus of client‐feedback should be one that engages subjective qualitative feedback from the client. Remember. How does the client think they are 160 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. If a coach can sway clients to employ and apply protocol creatively. No way around that for anyone who hopes to make a living as a coach for the long term. All communication tools of a coach can vary from coach to coach or client to client even. Because the role of coach is always different and changing. flexible style of coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. Niche markets like MMA training. This will not bode well for long term vocational success. the client is a live entity and the client will and should influence the nature of the relationship as well. The study of coaching and the doing of coaching are different worlds. Flexible coaching negates the emphasis on “authority”.com . There should not be a perceived apparent threat to the coach’s authority within the coach/client relationship. therefore they tend to negate and objectify the client. But the ultimate goal and end products are for client compliance and client understanding. such rigidity of style tends to negate and objectify the client. Rigid coaching approaches cannot tolerate this.at relationship. Rigid‐type coaches will cater to a very tiny niche market of similar thinking clients.scottabel. The client is not merely the “receiver of information and instruction”. It should now be established that the client is an active component and mutual participant in the coaching relationship. will come and go and change. understanding and long term compliance. So in the coaching relationship what kind of feedback and interaction will help the coach to help the client? In a word ‐ “qualitative”.scottabel.
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doing? How are they enjoying the process? How difficult does the process seem? This is what a
relationship‐focused style of feedback emphasizes. Any quantitative goals or evaluations should
be a mere part of the overall emphasis of the client’s own subjective feedback of experience of
application. In this sense, then, the training is the test and the test is the training. Quantitative
measures can be misleading at best. On their own, quantitative goals can be destructive as well.
Again, the coaching emphasis must go beyond the physical aspects of the triangle of awareness.
An eye toward long term positive client experience must be weighed against short term
quantitative measurements of “progress”. The real coach has an eye on the immediate, the
residual, and the cumulative elements of client protocol application. The “trainer mentality” is
stuck in the immediate. In and of themselves arbitrary measurements of progress can be
meaningless or misleading. I can make the weight scale change in days by subtracting carbs
from a diet or adding calories. Does either truly measure the client’s “progress”? No.
Quantitative measurements and evaluations should serve the coach/client relationship as
“indicators” only. They are part of the coaching protocol, not the reason for it.
Coaching communication and interaction is the vehicle for client expression. And client
expression should be encouraged. As such, coaching “skill” should have some obvious
components for interactive efficiency.
1) Follow‐through: A coach should always follow through and follow up with clients to make
sure a client fully grasps any coaching advice and is capable of implementing it. The coach does
not “assume” the client understands a communication, but follows through to ensure it.
2) On‐point communication: The effective coach is all about keeping communication on‐point
and focused. He does not use industry jargon if it is not needed.
3) The coach is never arrogant enough to think his job is to “fix people”. His interaction is client‐
centred and process‐oriented.
4) The coach encourages the client to embrace the idea that coaching is a two‐way axis. He
does not “assign” a protocol for a given number of weeks and then just dictate to the client to
“contact me after that time”. That is not coaching.
5) The coach’s emphasis is on communication, process, and interaction. This goes a long way to
preventing confusion and necessitating rehashing old information. The coach engages the client
to understand that coaching is a process they share. Coaching is not something done “to” the
client, but “with” the client. This requires ongoing interaction of the client relating his
experience to the coach.
6) Through communication, the coach establishes and encourages a real working relationship
where the client is free to bring up questions, issues, obstacles and progress within their
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biofeedback and experience of protocol. Coaching should be an open‐ended qualitative
experience unique to each coaching relationship.
All the above nuances to coaching are about working together not working “on”. A client’s
program is some‐thing you work “on” as a coach. You work on things, not on people. The client
application of process is something you both share together. The coach’s goal is to enhance
I would like to sum up the whole of this project as succinctly as possible. Many themes, words
and phrases have been repeated throughout this text, on purpose. So many elements of real
coaching necessitate them being repeated in different contexts. The coach’s role is always a
unique one. And with the proliferation of the modern internet, the Fitness Coach and the on‐
line Fitness Coach is now a reality. The job of Fitness Coach needs to be studied, discussed,
learned and taught. Having said that, the truth is that coaching is all about “doing” not just
“knowing”. And this is something the industry seems to have had upside down for some time.
Knowledge in the industry is now being reduced to some sort of trivia pursuit regardless of
context or relevance. The industry currently reminds me of the TV Game show “Jeopardy”.
Knowledge of information, often unrelated, becomes confused with wisdom and know‐how.
People log on to various websites to pick up catch‐phrases and industry jargon in order to
sound and come off as being “in the know”. It’s as easy game to win at. Unfortunately this does
a tremendous disservice to the consumer in the industry. Coaching is more difficult to fake
because it is about the “doing”. The more projects like this come to the surface to be studied,
the better the consumer and expert will be at discriminating a true coaching professional from
the many posers.
The truth is the coach can wear many hats at any given time. The coach can be trainer, trouble‐
shooter, innovator, guidance‐counsellor, parent, teacher, supervisor, confidant, servant, role‐
model etc. And often the coach can be a combination of these all at once. What all these
various contingency roles have in common is the element of a relationship! For the coach, the
whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Coaching is leadership and all the elements
contained within the broadest definition of that term. As we have studied in this project, what
the real coach actually is is far and away different than the way expertise is currently being
taught and accredited in the Fitness Industry. This is the blind‐spot or black hole which the
industry needs to address. The expertise involved in coaching is much different than the
expertise involved in being a “fitness expert”. For the coach, there is more to the job than just
the job. The job of coach never boils down to what you know about “fitness” but how well you
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can teach and influence others in a positive way. Why is this so difficult to grasp? In terms of
the coach/client relationship, Yeats makes my point best, when he said “education is not so
much filling a bucket, as lighting a fire.”
So how is coaching achievable as a long term vocation? What is the value of coaching? Well let
me speak personally on this. When I address my 3 plus decades of success in this industry, the
only word that comes to mind is “coaching”. My clients average a 5 year stay with me. Think
about that statistic. To last this long in a professional relationship must go beyond mere
programs and workouts, because any fitness consumer can get those anywhere. Again, the
importance to stress is the job beyond the job.
In the end great coaching can be explained with the acronym “I Care” or “I. C.A.R.E”. This stands
for “Integrity, Client‐Centred Focus, Accountability in the relationship, Respect for the role of
both coach and client, and Excellence.” This short acronym also explains how coaching is about
the “doing” more so than the knowing. As a job with expertise within any domain that requires
specific knowledge as well, the role of coach is unique unto itself. In the Fitness Industry, a
competitor can train themselves to be a physique champion. And yet, this does not mean or
equate to this person becoming an effective coach. Another person can accumulate degrees
and accreditations across the board; and yet, this also does not necessarily equate or translate
to being an effective coach. The role of coach is not so easily defined by such accomplishments.
Yes, science and research can indeed be a resource for know‐how. Talent can also be a resource
for know‐how. But the point is, COACHING ITSELF IS A TALENT! So how does a person serious
about helping others become an effective coach?
Grooming and Mentoring
After answering for myself at the beginning of this project those two pertinent questions, “How
did I get here?” “Why am I still here”? I was left with a dilemma. If “coaching” is the answer to
these questions, and coaching is not offered in any type of accreditation or study in the
industry, then how does anyone become an effective coach? How does someone build and
sustain a client‐base and establish a vocation as a coach in the industry? I looked at my own
experience as well as examining “Coach” in other industries, especially professional sports. No
one in pro sports comes out of a “study program” and is named to a team as a coach. Pro sports
recognize what I have been saying all along. “Coaching is a talent.” “Coaching talent is
separate from domain knowledge. Domain knowledge is just a part of coaching.” “Coaching is
about DOING, not knowing.” A study of coaching in pro sports reveals what I call “grooming
and mentoring”. All coaches start off as ‘assistant coaches’. And they often start out in the
junior leagues or farm teams as well. They gain a reputation from a team’s success as well as
©2010 Scott Abel
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in the past. the book remains incomplete. This project offers study and potential grooming and mentoring to the role as well. They moved from client to coach. But as just a study guide. Their industry knowledge is already assumed.” as well. They were effectively “groomed” to a more professional role. My hope is that this project is the first of many to properly educate people of the role of coach. write down any words or phrases highlighted in bold font or underlined. This book offers a guideline for those who seek to become and sustain a role as “Coach” in the Fitness Industry.scottabel. DO THE SAME FOR EACH CHAPTER. Trainers manage and oversee workouts. This project offers insight not only in to the job of “Coach”. Only in mentoring can someone go from the “knowing” to the “doing”.at both the mentor’s feedback. They have been able to sustain themselves for several years as well. WRITE DOWN ALL WORDS HIGHLIGHTED IN BOLD OR UNDERLINED. Within these highlighted words and phrases.com .scottabel. • NOW. What key words and phrases jump out at you as most meaningful? Address why that is. by observation from other coaches. Coaches.Downloaded from http://www. what do you learn that you didn’t know before? Look to empower yourself as a coach.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. For this chapter. They are mentored to take on greater responsibility and deeper understanding for the role of coach. There a few very few qualified coaches in the fitness industry who meet the definition and ability and talent requirements for “Coach”. WRITE DOWN ANY ACRONYMS OR POINT FORM 164 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. From here I hope other industry experts will take up the cause to begin to address a need for further study and discussion of the job of coach in the Fitness Industry. one whose approach fits with the definition of coach. as well as their player’s feedback.C. (Players in the Fitness Industry would equate to “clients”) Coaches then are “groomed” to be coaches. However.E.R.A. Notes for Mentoring Students • • Since this chapter is a redress of other themes and concepts throughout the book.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. There is no magic in “a” fitness program or “a” specific diet.com . I suggest the mentoring student do the following. In my own career. Study all of these. manage and oversee people.at . This project also offers insight to the Fitness Consumer so that they can more clearly find an expert to help them. this effect on my clients was less conscious. Mastery of process should be the goal. I implore anyone reading this to take on a mentorship for coaching. several of my clients and protégés have also gone on to establish themselves as trainers and coaches in the Fitness Industry. Write down the acronym “I.
scottabel. ADDRESS NOT ONLY WHAT YOU LEARN FROM DOING SO. ENGAGE. Downloaded from http://www. BUT ALSO WHERE YOU THINK YOUR OWN STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES LIE IN TERMS OF THESE NOTES.Registered to Jürgen Reis / info@juergenreis. 165 ©2010 Scott Abel Downloaded from http://www. RETURN TO THESE NOTES OVER AND OVER AGAIN AS WELL AS THE PRACTICE EXERCISES AT THE END OF EACH CHAPTER.at INSTRUCTIONS. INSPIRE AND PRACTICE YOUR ROLE OF COACH.scottabel. CHALLENGE.at .Registered to Jürgen Reis / email@example.com .com . FINALLY.