This month, the masses will sign up for gym memberships that they will rarely use. They’ll start off on the right foot, and then life will get in the way and they’ll miss a day, and then another, and another, until spring arrives and they realize that they haven’t gotten off the couch in months. Then, they’ll decide to find help.
They’ll quickly note that there are many different types of fitness professionals, from group fitness instructors to strength coaches, and everything in between. What’s the difference between an fitness instructor and a coach and how can you know who is best suited to help you reach your goals?
A fitness instructor guides a group through a predetermined workout. He or she is there to deliver the workout. A coach on the other hand, may take a more holistic approach, starting with assessing your strengths and weaknesses, discussing your goals and working with you in all aspects of your life, both inside and outside the gym, to ensure that you reach those goals. Where the instructor’s job is to implement the workout, the coach’s job is far reaching, and will address the full body, including nutrition, stress management, goal setting, sleep, metabolism and conditioning, both mental and physical.
When it really comes down to it, the difference between an instructor and a coach is that an instructor provides general information whereas a coach provides specific guidance. A coach’s guidance can include instruction as well, but most of us need direction and motivation more than we need information. In a world of unlimited choices, the coach determines the first step, and the next step, and the next step, until you reach that goal. The coach eliminates the need to expend resources on decision making so that we can focus on doing and being. If what you want is information, a fitness instructor can help. However, if you want someone to guide you through the day to day process of transformation, look for a coach.
What should you look for in a fitness and wellness coach? Look for someone who is dedicated to health, someone who practices what they preach and clearly demonstrates a passion for what they do. These professionals will often dedicate their lives to coaching full time, and will be continually upgrading their skills and credentials.
Look for someone who is willing to work with you on all aspects of your health, fitness and performance, both inside and outside the gym. If your fitness coach only addresses your training session and seems indifferent about your nutritional habits, it might be an indication of lack of knowledge or lack of interest. If your coach doesn’t ask you about your goals, about your home life, about stress at work, about how you sleep, it’s time to re-evaluate the situation.
Tania Tetrault Vrga
(Head Coach Agatsu Winnipeg)