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  • Writer's pictureWill Green

What is 'online' coaching?

Firstly, let’s make a clear distinction between coaching and instructing.

Instructing is simply sending out a list of things to do - instructions. Turn up, do the work, tick it off and leave until next time. You don’t really get a say in what goes down when being instructed and there’s often little to no flexibility in how things are conducted It’s a matter of ‘This is the session, these are the goals, ‘X’ is the outcome if you follow it.’ Instructing is not wrong, it’s just a different way of doing things. I’m biased of course but I believe coaching to be way more powerful.

Coaching is more about guidance. You have complete creative freedom in a coaching program - you take the reins, the coach just helps steer you in the right direction. In practical terms this means coach and client periodically review how the training program is going. This review (or consultation) gives both parties a chance to discuss the experiences and sensations felt from training in order to maintain alignment to what the client sees as success. For the coach these conversations are a great chance to harvest data about the program:

Is it enjoyable for the client?

How much of the training is being done each session?

Is it logistically manageable?

Is it too easy or difficult?

How are lifestyle factors affecting things?

Gradually from these conversationally driven collaborations, the client’s ideal version of fitness is crafted and realised. It’s not an overnight process though and quite often the road to alignment is laced with wrong turns.

Getting to what’s truly right for the client takes time.

If framed correctly, experiencing wrong turns with a coach can be very powerful though. In the past I’ve coached people who thought they wanted to pursue ‘X’ goal but in the pursuit of it have found something else that means way more to them, rendering the initial goal (X) a stepping stone towards the right path. This process of taking a wrong step in order to take a right one is far more common and important than people think. However, viewing the pursuit of the wrong goal as a stepping stone rather than a failure is what makes this a valuable experience.

Flipping the perspective is key and in my view this is yet another thing coaching teaches that instructing doesn’t. Instructing doesn’t delve this deep.

Through coaching the goal evolves and takes a new shape rather than grinding to a halt. The insight gained from working towards misaligned goals serves as a lesson in knowing how to move forward and find the true goal.

As stated, there’s a flowing rhythm of dialogue when you are coached, you’ll hear the words “we” a lot instead of “I” and questions come from both sides. As a result, the idea is to help educate you so that one day you can do fitness by yourself no matter what life throws at you - Autonomy. Powerful stuff eh?

Instructing isn’t ‘bad’ though, it’s not the enemy of coaching. Sometimes just turning up to a class or buying a pre-written program and smashing it is fine but as I said earlier, you have no say in what’s going on. It’s not flexible. It’s not designed with you in mind and you won’t be helped if at all how to adapt it when you hit roadblocks.

It comes down to what you want...

If done correctly, coaching will have a greater impact and serve you MUCH longer down the line.

In my mind the idea behind coaching is to ensure you are not dependent on others in order to get to where you want to be if you have been successfully coached. Being instructed then becomes an option rather than a necessity.

So what is online coaching then?

Pardon my long winded explanation about the difference between coaching and instructing, however I felt it was necessary to make the distinction and highlight what coaching in general is before defying online coaching. To me, had I not done this, I felt it would have been like trying to explain to someone who has no knowledge of climbing what bouldering is - You’d miss out a vital step!

Online coaching then, simply means the coaching element is done via conversations that don’t take place in person (usually done via video call with me). Unlike in person coaching the 1 to 1 time isn’t split between conducting the session, cueing movements and answering questions. Conversations are essentially consultations, they have their own dedicated space and as a result can be deeper and more focussed. WIth me such consultations usually last 45mins (sometimes longer) and are conducted on a monthly basis. Some clients going through difficult times or new clients sometimes need more than just a monthly call though, however I always accommodate for this!

The online element prevents you from being tied down to a time or place training wise but it does require a bit more confidence with exercises and gym environments. Generally speaking a greater degree of motivation is needed to get the work done.

So as you can see it’s an acquired taste. It’s super powerful when executed consistently but it’s not for everyone especially if you’re at the very beginning of your fitness journey. If you want more information on it in order to see if it’s right for you, just drop me a line, I’d be more than happy to help.

Thanks for reading!


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