If you ever check your Facebook feed, or hit up a yoga class or the gym, you are bound to find a coach of some kind. There are health coaches who focus on fitness and nutrition via supplements, shakes, and workout programs; there are life coaches who help you figure out where you can realign your lifestyle to meet your goals, and there are career and business coaches who can help you figure out how to get your dream job or build your dream business. There are Certified and Integrative Health Coaches, who have studied and trained with the best in the biz to look at nutrition, fitness, and all the other factors of your individual healthy lifestyle.
While all of these coaches come from different background, different levels of training, and focus on different things, they all have one thing in common: they are there to coach you to the next level in your life/health/career/fitness.
What exactly does a "coach" do?
1. A coach coaches you:
A coach doesn't tell you what to do or force you to live their lifestyle. A coach coaches you to meet your needs, whatever they may be. If you are seeing a business coach, they'd be coaching you towards your business and career goals, as they fit into your lifestyle needs. If you are seeing a Health Coach, they are coaching you through your health goals, while setting up your individual healthy lifestyle. Think of your coach as a person that helps you sort through your goals and questions about your lifestyle, while offering guidance along the way.
2. A coach gives options, not "shoulds":
A coach, of any kind, will give you recommendations or advice, but will never tell you what you "should" do, even if they think it would be 100% beneficial. If that seems a little counterintuitive, think about this: When was the last time you actually did something someone pushed you to do? Your doctor told you to go on a diet, your Mom told you to clean your house more, your best friend told you to ditch your boyfriend. While all of these things may have been true and needed, you probably did the opposite, because you felt forced to do them. A coach doesn't force you, they simply encourage you with some helpful advice. You get to decide what to do with it.
3. A coach listens more than they talk:
If you coach talks more than they listen, it is time for a new one. When you are one on one, your coach should take the back burner, asking your questions only when you have had time to talk first. A coach is there to listen and then give some guidance and feedback according to your lifestyle and personal goals. They might ask you a questions, share an idea, or give you a book/recipe/routine to help you, but they don't dominate the conversation.
*In an online program, this differs of course, because you aren't always on the phone or face-to-face with your coach
What should you look for in your coach?
1. Coaching Type:
Figuring out what type of coach you need is the first step. If you are looking for career advice, a fitness coach might not make sense. If you are looking to overhaul your lifestyle, as well as your health, a Health Coach might be more effective than a Life Coach. Look for a coach that addresses and works with your specific needs. If you find a coach and realize they might not be right for you, as them if they can refer you to someone, or if they know of someone who might. *Most coaches use a coach or mentor (whether in person or online), so they are well versed in who can work with you or what programs might work for you on a variety or levels.
2. Education and Training:
Coaching is still a relatively new field, so there are many people using similar titles that have gone through dramatically different training and experiences. Life and health coaches may have extensive training from yearlong programs (or more), or they may have signed up with a program and started building a "team" of coaches and clients right away. Not all programs and coaches are equal, which is a good thing. This means you have a variety of options to choose from and can find the coach that fits your style best. Decide what it important to you (online, one-one, accredited program) and do your research, so you know your coach is educated in what you need (this is super important!) and trained to help fit your needs.
Some coaches offer one-time sessions, others have one-on-one coaching packages, and others offer coaching exclusively through online groups. These all have their pros and cons. One time sessions are great if you just need a follow-up or teak to your current program, but lack the support and continued guidance of longer programs. One-on-one sessions are often more expensive, but give you a chance to work on exactly what you need. Group programs offer the same level of coaching as one-on-one coaching, but in a preset group program, which means you don't get the personalized attention necessarily, but you so get the energy and support of a group. Decide what fits your budget, schedule and goals, and find a coach that fits those needs.
Now that you know what they are for and what to look for, have fun finding your next coach. Use online resources, such as Yelp, Google and even (Health) Coach School Directories to find a coach near you. Look for one-on-one of group programs as need, with as much or as little support, and make sure your coach has gone through training so your program is safe and effective with proper guidance.
To help you make the best choice, for you, here is a downloadable guidebook with everything you need to determine if the coach you have found is right for you. This guidebook is filled with tons of info, questions, and useful checklists that you will love to turn to when making your decision. If you are ready to take the next step and join a program, you can check out my one-on-one coaching, free sessions and online programs.