Personal trainers often times operate on a boundary between many other coaching disciplines. By definition, personal trainers are professionals who’s focus areas are purely in personalized fitness programming and nutrition counseling. However, we all know most personal trainers don’t offer just their fitness services. Many will act as a health coach as well. Why not just dive in and offer health coaching with personal training?
In this article we will go over what distinguishes health coaching and personal training and how you can offer it to your clients.
Health Coaching vs Personal Training
While there are some parallels in the two, lets create a clear distinction. Health coaches primary focus lies in developing a well rounded lifestyle that promotes health. While their primary focus isn’t on fitness, they do promote increasing activity.
Health Coach Primary Focus Areas
- Changing behavior
- Increasing activity
- Developing healthy lifestyle practices
Health coaches, like personal trainers, connect the dots between the current habits of their clients and the habits that will help their clients get to their goals. A health coach is not necessarily a personal trainer by trade. These are different disciplines with different certifications and licencing.
For example, ACE offers an accredited personal training certification program while they also offer an accredited health coaching certification as well.
Personal Trainer Core Focus Areas
While these (mentioned above) are the focus areas of a health coach, some of them may sound familiar to personal trainers. The core focus areas of personal trainers are:
- Assessing and creating a baseline health and fitness level for clients (taking into account medical history, lifestyle, and habits).
- Understanding how their clients lifestyles/habits impact their health and fitness.
- Creating fitness programs that best suite their clients health and fitness goals while taking into account their health/fitness levels.
- Consistently tracking client progress and making adjustments to fitness programs as needed.
- Giving and receiving feedback from the client.
- Additional specializations allowing trainers to expand scope of services or to narrow down their services into a niche.
While these are some of the core focus areas of personal trainers, many personal trainers will go on to get additional specializations and certifications in other areas that help them enhance the depth of their services.
Examples of popular specializations may include:
In assessing the core focus areas of personal trainers, their primary expertise lies in fitness training and basic nutrition advice (excluding additional specializations). However, they can expand the scope of their services into areas that relate to health coaching through specializations.
The same goes for health coaches. Their core expertise lies in helping people develop healthy habits in their life to promote a healthier lifestyle. However, they can expand the scope of their services as well through getting additional certifications/specializations in fitness.
Behavioral Change in Personal Training
One of the core challenges in personal training is helping clients shift their mindset. Some clients may be killing it in the gym but their lifestyles don’t support their goals in the gym.
A common route a lot of personal trainers take is studying behavioral change or getting a specialization related to behavioral change.
The reason why this is an excellent path to take is because it helps trainers better understand the psychology of behavior and what it takes to create sustainable change.
Many successful trainers will take into account current lifestyle habits of their clients and their goals to create a realistic, digestible game plan for success that extends outside of the gym.
The Value of Behavioral Change in Personal Training
Now, many trainers will suggest better habits for clients outside of the gym when they are given the opportunity. However, where a behavioral change specialization helps out is giving trainers the tools to identify parts of their clients personality, what they struggle with and why, and gives trainers the ability to better suggest small change in their clients lives that culminate into major change over time.
For example, lets say your client takes a cynical, negative mentality towards themselves and their potential. One thing a trainer can do immediately is continuously remind them of how good they are doing by just taking the initiative to get into a gym.
Additionally, some trainers will take it a step further and create a Facebook/social media group that is exclusive to their clients. This is great for a couple reasons:
- It gives clients a platform to go for positive support.
- Trainers have the opportunity to spotlight clients in a semi-public atmosphere that promotes positive reinforcement.
- Clients have a sense of belonging to a group.
- The group introduces incentive to do better because now they are a part of a group that is collectively striving to live a health lifestyle.
Furthermore, many trainers will introduce a make-shift rewards program that introduces rewards for positive behaviors or less rewards for negative behaviors. Rewards can be in the form of compliments, shout outs, or even small gift cards to Starbucks or stores of the clients interests.
The example above is only a singular example. As a trainer focusing on behavioral change, the initiatives you take to support positive change for you clients may change and take different forms.
Really, what behavior change teaches you is to assess the needs of the client and find what works for them. Going off of this, this may come in the form of introducing positive habit tracking.
Related content: 8 Challenges of Personal Training
Offering Health Coaching with Personal Training
After dissecting the health coaching and personal training disciplines, it becomes clear the service that both of the coaching disciplines offer services that overlap.
As a personal trainer, you may get naturally get sucked into coaching services that more so encompass that of a health coach. While trainers do have the skills to do so, it may help to study and understand common methodology in health coaching to get better feel.
This can be beneficial to you as it allows you to advance the scope of your services and ensure better results to your clients.
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