How to Choose a Great Online Coach

Following on from yesterday’s post about online coaching, I am going to take a deep dive into what makes a good online coach to help you to make a more informed choice in the veritable sea of sweaty, bulging options.

Where to look?

If you search for ‘online coach’ on Google you get well over a million results, so trying to narrow down your choices means you have your work cut out. Now you might get lucky and spot a site that floats your boat, meets your criteria, and is a perfect fit for you. But you might not. Sometimes you just have to take a chance.

There are also countless directories online that list online coaches, some of which carry reviews.

A far better option is to seek a referral, someone who has already forked out the money, done the programme, and seen the results (or lack there of). This can be as simple as asking around your own personal network, putting up the enquiry on social media, or asking to see testimonials, or actually speaking to past/current clients of said coach.

If you go this route, I’d suggest getting more than one review. What is great for one person may be a living hell for another.

Which brings me to my next point.

Know what you are looking for.

What is your goal? Is it fat loss? Is it muscle gain? Is it increased endurance? Better mobility? Stress reduction? Are you wanting to compete in a physique contest? Are you looking to improve your golf swing?

Many coaches will specialise in specific aspect of health, or a particular age range or population demographic. Get as specific as you can on your needs and desires and aim for a coach who specialises in these areas. The last thing you want is to end up on some kind of crazy physique programme and diet designed for 20 year old males, when in fact you are a 63 year old lady wanting to increase range of motion. So get specific.

Fish and a rice cake

Look for credentials.

Massive biceps – check. Constantly alternating swigs between a gallon water bottle and a green protein smoothie – check. Kitted out the latest muscle vest or MoMo Mango lycra leggings – check.

Just because someone looks the part does not mean that they are a fully qualified personal trainer. Even if they are working from a gym or have a website stating it, they may not have done the training. Check that they have the basic training certs. For the UK that would be the Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training. They would also need Public Liability Insurance as a personal trainer and a first aid award.

Many coaches will also be part of professional organisations such as CIMSPA or NRPT.

There are a whole host of other qualifications that a coach or PT can get to give them the specific knowledge to help you. But as with all things, quantity does not always equal quality.

The qualifications for a personal trainer are like passing your driving test. It means you have minimum amount of knowledge and capability to do the job. The real learning comes with the doing. Don’t be bedazzled by a seemingly endless list of qualifications.

Look for experience.

Here is a little secret from world of personal training. The average career life-span of a PT/coach is incredibly short. With most PTs lasting for less than 3 years in the industry your chances of getting someone with experience is fairly low. So do your research. If they are a long established brand, have had a long running presence online, or have obvious detailed fitness heritage and proven results, then you are probably onto a good thing.

Also, look at the coach’s lived experiences. Are they a former athlete? Have they made all the mistakes in their own development so that you don’t have to? Are they living the lifestyle that they recommend for others?

By virtue of having been around the block a few times, they have seen most of the problems, concerns, sticking points, and excuses that many new clients have, and can therefore deal with them.

It doesn’t have to be all bells and whistles.

That promo video with explosions, special effects, ripped and sweaty fitness models, fast cars, and high octane dance music looks sooo cool. The reality is that this PT may be over compensating for lack of experience and results. There is nothing wrong with a good promo video, but it should relate what they are offering. You will not get a fast car or a semi-naked heart-throb included in your programme costs. DON’T BE SEDUCED MY SHINY THINGS.

Whilst I agree that you want a coach to walk their talk, don’t instantly dismiss them for not looking like a fitness cover model. Many are former athletes that may have retired due to injury/age and have a tonne of knowledge. Others understand the difference between being ‘shredded’ and being healthy. Yes, if they are clearly unhealthy due to poor lifestyle choices, jog on.

A good online platform on which to share online programmes is great. We have a handy app that uploads your daily workout to your phone or PC, but it’s not everything. Don’t be put off by the fact that an online coach isn’t utilising the latest hi-tech virtual reality simulator, or whatever. Some of the best training programmes I have used myself came in the form of an emailed Excel document. Again, not all that glitters is gold.

A good coach will use tried and tested methods, not just the new thing that’s trending on TikTok. Why? Because it works. It’s the results that count.

Do they have real world experience?

This is one caveat that I always insist on. The coach must have had some good experience training real people in real life. Why? If they haven’t worked directly with an actual human bean, they will find it very difficult to give decent cues and corrections to help a client’s form. Reading out of the textbook rarely relates to the real world, this again only really comes with experience.

When you work with real people, in the flesh, you understand their difficulties, foibles and oddities much more, and can better relate to them, thereby creating greater rapport. Which takes us to…

Do you like the coach?

They can tick every box mentioned above, but if you don’t like them it will be very hard to stick with them. It’s hard to feel accountable to someone you don’t want to be around, or that you don’t trust. This can be a hard one to gauge when only working online, so again do some research. Look them up on social media, read their blog (just don’t get creepy with it). Does it vibe with you or get your hackles up? This is one of the reasons we schedule in a consultation call before taking on new clients, to see if we are a good fit to work with each other. If I don’t think we are, I’ll suggest anther coach.

Understand that we are not miracle workers.

Coaching is very much a two way street; it requires both of us. Great results are always achievable, but they don’t just appear because you’ve paid your money. You have to show up repeatedly and do the work. The coach is just the guide pointing you in the right direction, YOU have to travel the road yourself.

If you’d like to learn more about the online coaching that we offer or to schedule a no obligation consultation call, click on the button below.

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