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How to Make the Most of Your Online Fitness Coach (Avoid Wasting Your Time AND Money)

So you’ve taken the leap and hired an online coach, or maybe you’re considering it. You’re getting coaching butterflies in your stomach (if you didn’t before, I’m sure you do now), wondering, “How can I make the most of it?”


As a new client this can be challenging, even if you had a thorough consultation, because you only have a vague idea of what to expect.


I’m an online coach myself, and yet, when I hired my current coach (yes, coaches need coaching, too!), I still spent several weeks wrapping my head around his methods.

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If you’re feeling a bit lost, like I did, then read on.


This article will answer three main questions:

  1. What is online coaching?

  2. What’s usually included?

  3. How can you make the most of it?


What is online coaching?


Even though online coaching doesn’t have the word “personal” in it (like “personal training”), it’s still a very individualised service. So you can expect slight variations, not only from client to client, but also from coach to coach.

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However, there’s one common element underpinning all the highest-quality online coaching services: The team aspect.


Online coaching is a partnership, in which the coach is the fitness expert and you’re the “you” expert. And, like any successful

partnership, communication is vital.


With the right communication strategy in place, you’ll get not only the results you want, but also a unique service that’s tailored to your own needs and preferences.


What’s included?


Most online coaching services include three features:

  • A personalised training program

  • A nutrition plan

  • Regular check-ins

The first two are self-explanatory, but what the fitness is a check-in?


It’s usually a scheduled time for you to reflect on what you’ve done since the last time you checked in: How were your workouts? How was your nutrition? What else was going on in your life that might have helped you towards your goals, or hindered you?


Depending on the coach’s preferred method, you may check in with them via email, video log, or audio message, and your coach will respond in the same format, giving you their feedback, tweaking your program if needed, and covering your questions and concerns.


The check-in is one of the most important components to make online coaching effective, and communication is once again at the core of this process.


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How can you make the most of it?


I might have used the word “communication” one time or thirty so far, so it won’t come as a surprise that the key to making the most of an online coach is indeed communication.


The next four tips will all be about communicating with your coach, so that they can provide you with the exact service you need to smash your goals.


Let’s get into them:


1. Always check in, not just when everything is great.


Here’s why:

  • A day gone wrong isn’t failure; it’s a learning experience. By reflecting together on what happened and why, you and your coach can anticipate and prevent similar issues in the future.

  • Having helped other clients with a similar struggle, your coach can provide you with tried and true solutions that save you having to look for one on your own.

  • Your coach is on your team whether things are groovy or you’re struggling. Knowing that someone is always in your corner can have a hugely positive impact on your ability to get right back on track after a “meh” day.


If your coach’s response to “I’m sorry, I couldn’t stick to the plan this week,” is, “You don’t want it bad enough, you lazy sod!”… You need to hire another coach.


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2. Make coaching a two-way relationship.


Although part of a coach’s job is to provide strategies to overcome the barriers between you and your goals, coaching is most effective when it’s a two-way relationship. So don’t hesitate to share an approach that you believe can work for you.


Using their own expertise, your coach can help you refine that strategy so that it’s based on sound training and nutrition principles.

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What’s more, you may not have a coach for the rest of your life, so coming up with your own approach will empower you to continue your fitness journey, even if you have to leave your coach. (Please don’t; we love you.)


Lastly, think about it this way: Are you more likely to follow through with a decision that you made, or with one that was made for you?


If your plan is a collaborative effort, you’ll be more motivated to stick with it.


But, if your coach demands you follow their every command, and berates you for having a proactive approach to your own fitness goals… You need to hire another one.


3. Remember context and reasons.


A complete check-in doesn’t only tell the coach what happened, but also the context and your reasons for acting the way you did.


For example, you could check in to say, “I missed my workout at 5 pm on Monday.”


This is useful information, but it only covers the what. To add context and reasons, you could expand the check-in by answering the following questions:


  • What happened during the day that prevented you from getting the workout in?

  • What can you do next time to avoid this issue, if you can think of anything?


A more detailed check-in would include information like what your original plan was; what threw a spanner in the works; and why you couldn’t find an alternative solution to skipping the workout.


Here’s why the extra details pay off: Without enough information, your coach will be forced to make assumptions about you. For example, they might think you were too lazy to work out on Monday.


In addition, without the right context, they can only offer generic tips, which read more like an inspirational Instagram post than personalised advice.


By explaining what’s going on in more detail, you can get feedback that’s more personal, specific and, as a result, more effective by far.


4. Ask questions.


Your coach is there to guide and teach you. You have their expertise at your fingertips, so don’t be shy about using it! Even when you think your question might sound silly, bring it up in a check-in.


Online coaching isn’t just about getting you amazing results in 12 weeks. It’s about giving you the tools to maintain those results and to continue pursuing your fitness goals with the utmost confidence long after you’ve left the proverbial nest. (Again, don’t do this; you’ll break our heart.)


If you have a judgemental coach that makes fun of you for being curious and willing to learn… You know the drill. Hire a new one.

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To recap…


  1. Online coaching is a partnership, with communication at its core.

  2. Bad news isn’t failure, but an opportunity to reflect and learn.

  3. Coaching is teamwork: Come up with your own strategy, and your coach will help you refine it with their expertise.

  4. The what is great, but don’t forget context and reasons when you check in.

  5. Ask as many questions as you need to empower yourself to one day leave the online coaching nest.


Now that you know what online coaching is, what you can expect, and how to make the most of it, you have all the tools you need to achieve lifelong results. If you haven’t hired your online coach yet, and you’re not quite sure how to find the right one for you, why not sign up for Bel? You’ll be matched with carefully selected online coaches, including yours truly.


Get after it!


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