Why do you need a coach?

This week I've read two different articles on why every trainer needs to hire a coach of his or her own. One from FrankDuffyFitness.com* and the other one from Lou Schuler, author of the book that literally changed by life, The New Rules of Lifting. (Lou just released Strong, an excellent addition to your holiday list).

In Lou's article, there was a quote from his co-author who writes all of the programming for Lou's books. 

When I started taking tae kwon do, I had a coach. When I went to college, I had professors. I’ve never felt that training should be any different.
— Alwyn Cosgrove

I don't know why, but I had a mind-blown moment.

I love to take classes. When I wanted to learn how to meditate, I bought books and listened to podcasts, but in the end I pursued a meditation teacher. Because the one thing I can't do with books and podcasts is ask questions. 

And with training, there are so many questions, but we're left on our own to make all of these decisions. 

Should I try crossfit? What about the kettle bell class that's being offered at the local YMCA? And yoga, maybe I'll try yoga? Should I lift weights if I can't do it three times a week? I heard about this Beachbody program that my friend tried, so maybe I'll do that. What if I just want to tone? What if I want to lose 50 pounds? Why is Captain America the best super hero of all time?*

The options in fitness are endless and I'm certainly not going to suggest one avenue is better than another because no one method fits all people. But figuring out what might be best for you can be a struggle, especially in an age where decision fatigue haunts us from dusk til' dawn. We can research these questions on our own, and many of us do. I largely taught myself how to deadlift. But I didn't make much progress until I paid someone to teach me the basics in person.

I also taught myself about fat loss and intermittent fasting. But I didn't drop the 15 pounds I wanted to lose until I hired a coach to write out my nutrition plan. These are reasons I hired coaches for myself. But why should you hire a coach?

Challenge

I'm currently using a traditional powerlifting program, which means twice a week, I'm humbled by the bench press. I have yet to lift over 100 pounds. I suck at it. And the only way to get better is to do it more often, but left to my own devices, I'd skip straight to the deadlift, where I'm most comfortable and have made quick gains. Same with chin ups. A good coach will create new programs for you on a monthly basis, and those programs will continue to challenge you and push out out of your comfort zone. 

Accountability

 Would you like to tell this guy that you've been skipping workouts? Me neither. Full disclosure; he's a teddy bear and I was thrilled to do a photo shoot for him over the summer. 

Would you like to tell this guy that you've been skipping workouts? Me neither. Full disclosure; he's a teddy bear and I was thrilled to do a photo shoot for him over the summer. 

This is my coach, Tony Bonvechio. Don't be intimidated by the bald head and goatee. He's one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet. But when Tony writes me a program, I do the work; in part because he puts the time in to write a customized program for me. But there is also something very motivating about spending money on exercise. And it's good to have someone checking in on my progress. When Tony asks how it's going, the last thing I want to tell him is.

".........um....well."

Variety

Lou mentions getting stuck in a training rut and “sticking with a routine long past the point when it stopped being effective.” This happened for me with the New Rules of Lifting. I used the book for a year and a half because I wasn’t sure where to look next. A good coach will keep things fresh in your workouts, collecting your feedback to add more of what you like. Maybe it’s medicine ball slams to help you get the stress out, or box jumps and slide board work; either way, a coach can help shake things up.

Technique

This could be number one. Plenty of clients express concern over deadlifting because it can be a technically advanced lift. Deadlifts are part of the original New Rules of Lifting and I know I didn’t do it right for months. I learned what I could from the book, but it took a coaching session to learn how to properly hip hinge. Coaches don’t just give you the exercises, they teach you how to do them, and more importantly, how to modify or progress them to you as an individual. 

Overall health and movement

When you get to be 39, it’s not hard to get bitten by the injury bug. Good coaches will do full posture and health assessments, and many will do a version of the Functional Movement Screen to determine your stability and mobility in certain joints. In short, a coach can help with more than just losing weight or gaining strength. A good coach can also help you improve your posture and overall health, and move better.