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Why we all need a coach to get off the couch!

Written by Ben Camara on 8th July 2020.

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If you read my previous article surrounding the ever-growing problem of physical inactivity plaguing us then the following question may have arisen, ‘so how do we battle this? With more fitness offerings available than ever before in the history of general fitness, surely things are getting better — right? Well, unfortunately, the answer is no. From on-demand workouts, to Peloton bikes costing over $2,000 USD and quick fix fitness regimes popping up all over the place, the stats clearly show that we aren’t moving in the right direction.

Making a change…

“Change comes from education through motivation — on a HUMAN level!”

Are you one of those people who may not have been an exercise lover naturally in your life, you may use the words “I hate the gym” a lot? Or have you ever reached a plateau when you don’t see results any more no matter how hard you try, and you not only want that to change but also to figure out why. Or are you like a lot people need, help just getting started? Well not surprisingly you are in the norm and in most cases in need of some sort of external help, but more importantly external ‘comfortable’ and motivational help.

Every week there seems to be another Ai driven app or fitness wearable claiming to have all the answers in creating the ‘right workout for you’ on the answers to questions you’ve been asked about your goals. However, never in 15 years have I had a client on day one walk in and truly understand the questions, know definitively the answer or lastly know what kind of activity they would need. Why? Because there are so many facets that take part in creating the right program and planning for a specific individual.

Man and machine…

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Part of being human is the need to be understood. And who can better understand us than another human being? Yes AI can be task-driven and complete complex tasks, but we are way off AGI (artificial general intelligence) being close to understanding an emotional human looking to make a difficult change. We need another person that understands, cares and more importantly can adapt accordingly to split-second changes in you, the client’s needs.

Scenario:

‘Your gym session is booked for 6pm and all is fine, on your end and your trainer will have planned the workout for you for the day.

Later in the afternoon however it turns out you’ve had nothing but a stressful time, headache kicked in and the excitement about working out has well and truly died.

End result — The workout that was planned will most likely be changed by your trainer!’

Working with a professional

Whether it be having a consultant on your business, seeing a dermatologist or seeking out life coaching, more and more people understand the value of gaining education before trying to make changes and that should be no different to your physical activity on a daily or weekly basis.

A personal trainer or health coach works over a spectrum of roles as a fitness instructor, supervisor, and coach combined into one person who provides exercise counselling, prescription, advice, and instructs to clients on a one-to-one basis. More importantly is a sounding board manager, managing the project that is your fitness goals.

Why do we need a coach?

A recent study evaluating the perspectives of personal trainers reported that clients were more likely to stay with trainers who exhibited the attributes of empathy, listening skills, and motivation skills. It suggested that the majority of fitness professionals’ practical skills were learned on the job2. For me, the part of interest was the empathy, listening, and motivation which all combined are something your fitness app on your phone will not be able to give you.

Another study also when looking at the effectiveness of personal training on changing attitudes towards physical activity showed, there was a significant upward movement of clients towards engaging and increasing physical activity. None of them moved down a stage when they were trained with personal trainer / coach3. Now this information I am sure is not a surprise, but we find ourselves here at Remote Coach why not every single person struggling to gain the recommended activity levels for just general well-being doesn’t have a trainer, a coach or helper. Further research also did show that a health trainer-led intervention in terms of weight loss, blood pressure, and behaviour change is always effective4.

What these research papers don’t tell you though is how data also plays a huge role. Good fitness professionals will always use data, whether that be on asking “how are you feeling today” or the amount of weight you last pulled on a deadlift. This is where AI can come in as data is crucial to make progress and as Tony Robbins says — happiness comes through progress.

“Empower more coaches and trainers to empower more clients to make a healthy significant change”

The Business of Behaviour Change — Behind the curtain!

Being a health and fitness professional does not just require us to deliver an exercise session; we are managing our clients’ decisions to change and be a better version of themselves. We might always hear that getting and staying in shape is 90% motivation and the rest being hard work and nutrition. And that is where we, as the personal trainers, can mould our client’s journey to achieve their goals — we motivate.

Change comes from building a relationship with our client, empathy, listening and motivation all leading to another key factor being trust! We should be able to process practical recommendations with the people’s preferences along with our professional judgment. Through trust, we can create that social contract (I’ll be writing more on this soon) and ask the hard questions that need to be asked and praise and celebrate the client even when they’re too humble to do so.

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Establishing a support system that allows a margin of failure and providing the right way to support is essential for a sustainable change to help any person succeed. There are possible slip-ups that can occur but that’s okay, just as long as someone says — that’s ok!

Nudging in the Right Direction.

Richard H. Thaler, father of the “nudge theory,” shed light on how human weaknesses such as lack of rationality and self-control affects things. It says that a nudge is how one encourages people to make decisions that are in their self-interest and making it easier for them to make a certain decision5, The theory is accepted as a flexible concept of understanding how people think, decide, and behave. It helps people improve their thinking and decisions, how they manage changes, and modifying unhelpful influences on people.

Conventional styles of changing people’s behavior use direction and imposition, sometimes coercion. Whereas nudge theory calls for changing people’s environment and options, so they are more likely to make decisions that are helpful and positive for themselves.6

Good fitness professionals are adapting the nudge theory and the science of behaviour change in training and coaching alongside the complementary models of motivation, communications, leadership, and others — and trainers using the Remote Coach platform will also have aid from nudges for not only their clients but also themselves to create an even better robust plan to progress. What we must understand is that change doesn’t “just happen” but the decision of the client to change is already a trigger that could happen.

The answer to creating a healthier for active life we believe is not going to be just be Alexa from Amazon or the latest ‘life coaching app’ , it will involve man and machine combined to work in synergy to help you get better results.

“For us here at Remote Coach our mission is to battle the problem I speak about above by doing one thing, and that is, enabling the fitness professionals and to give them a platform that removes geographical barriers so they can coach more people — that person may be YOU”

 

References

1. Rupp, Jeffrey C; Campbell, Kathy; Thompson, Walter R; Terbizan D. Professional preparation of personal trainers. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance. https://search.proquest.com/docview/215772868/5E5BC3EADD044C60PQ/5?accountid=167112. Published 1994. Accessed November 8, 2019.

2. Melton DI, Dail TK, Katula JA, Mustian KM. The current state of personal training: Managers’ perspectives. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(11):3173–3179. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e381f5

3. McClaran SR. The Effectiveness of Personal Training on Changing Attitudes Towards Physical Activity — ProQuest. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. Vol. 2, Iss. 1, (Mar 2003): 10–14. https://search.proquest.com/docview/2295651174/7E43147F191D4EE6PQ/2?accountid=167112. Published 2003. Accessed November 8, 2019.

4. Jennings, Amy; Barnes, Sarah; Okereke, Uju; Welch A. Successful weight management and health behaviour change using a health trainer model — ProQuest. Perspectives in Public Health; London Vol. 133, Iss. 4, (Jul 2013): 221–6. https://search.proquest.com/docview/1437954355/7E43147F191D4EE6PQ/5?accountid=167112. Accessed November 8, 2019.

5. Côté M. Nudge theory — ProQuest. CA Magazine; Toronto Vol. 143, Iss. 3, (Apr 2010): 56. https://search.proquest.com/docview/203947822/4EE87C75AB9B4035PQ/8?accountid=167112. Accessed November 8, 2019.

6. Nudge Theory: A Complete Overview — BusinessBalls.comhttps://www.businessballs.com/improving-workplace-performance/nudge-theory/. Accessed November 8, 2019.

7. North C. A Different Approach to Changing Health Behaviour. J Patient Compliance. Volume 2(Issue 4). http://cloud.presspage.com/files/587/90ten-carolenorth-adifferentapproachtochange.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1BH_4RCv8AkoRnKN6CcbNbu2txttncswOM-4e_bWLKgcmB8eJXtwmWh7Y.