Coaching Versus Personal Training

personal trainer bangor maineIn the fitness business there are a couple of terms that are thrown around interchangeably and I strongly feel that doing so is a mistake:  The terms I’m thinking of are:  “Trainer” and “Coach”

Trainers and coaches both work with clients in order to achieve a physical goal, that much is true.  However, I think the mindset behind their respective actions are very, very different.

To me, the term “trainer” conjures images of horse and dog trainers.  In the human version, they teach people how to perform exercises (tricks) and change behaviors, just like in the animal version.

“Bad athlete, no cookie!”

With training, there’s little involvement by the client in the process, other than simply doing what they’re told.  Again, this is similar to animal training.  Yes, I know many animals love going through the exercises of their training, just like many clients like just being told what to do, but it doesn’t change the one-sided nature of the relationship.  This encourages a one-size-fits-all mentality and a very rigid, this-is-the-way-we-do-it type of process.  That certainly has its place, but dealing in absolutes always makes me nervous.

fitness coach bangor maineOn the other hand you have a coach.  I’ve talked about this in other writings, but the term “Coach” comes from the term “Stagecoach”, which was a vehicle designed to take people on journeys to where they want to go.  This is important because , just like the stagecoach of old, the coach helps transport the athlete, but the coach ISN’T the athlete.  The coach is able to look at the journey with more objectivity and also has a map of the direction to go.

A coach is someone who assists an athlete on a journey to a mutually agreed upon goal.  The coach takes into effect that a journey like this is a process and a lot of things can change on the way.  The athlete’s motivations can change.  The athlete’s physical skills, abilities, and challenges can change.  A coach isn’t there to just teach an athlete how to do a squat, shoot a ball, or run on a treadmill.  A coach is there to use their education, experience, and outside perspective to guide the athlete on the smoothest, safest, and fastest path to their goals while adjusting the plan as necessary to maximize results.

I long ago stopped being a trainer and decided to focus my abilities and education on being a coach.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t still study the human body, exercise programming, and so on, as that gives me the tools to do my job that much better.  I can certainly still teach you how to do a squat.

However, I spend more time now focusing on meeting athletes (and every member of the Relentless Family should be considered an athlete) where they’re at, figuring out where they want to go, and developing the best plan with them to get them there.  We then take the journey together.  This has brought about far better results and far happier athletes, as well as been far more satisfying for myself and the Relentless Team.

At Relentless, we don’t train, we coach.

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