In the health and fitness space, even through to elite sport, there tends to be a mentality or assumption that when it comes to coaching and the delivery of programmed sessions, that the coach dictates and client responds. That holds true to some degree for a variety of valid reasons:
- it ensures the client becomes educated
- it simplifies the grounds of the working relationship as the client becomes familiar to the environment, so as not too overwhelm
- it controls for safety when movements and exercises are new
- it moderates loading and exercise prescription to match the client needs analysis and goals
On the gym floor, there is no doubt that this type of model can be successful and yield desired results in the short term. However, for training to be successful over the long term, it is important to look at the process holistically. As the relationship progresses and the client becomes more advanced, we must ensure that the client provides a significant input into future planning, not just in terms of goal setting and wish listing, but also with regards to the program design itself.
Personally speaking, unless the client is strictly opposed to providing feedback, and simply wants me to create the program for them with no questions asked, I would much prefer to engage the client’s thoughts and opinions on recent programs, coaching styles and cues which have benefitted them. Furthermore, one thing I love to hear is constructive feedback on what could be better. At the end of the day, coaching is about helping the client and educating them through the process, so if there are things that could be done better, then I feel that we as coaches would be silly not to take this on board, further developing our coaching expertise by learning from our clients. Whatever the profession, when there is human interaction there is constant learning and progression for all parties, if we remain open to it of course.
There are a number of clear benefits from a collaborative approach when coaching and programming:
- We gain (mostly) honest and up-to-date feedback on how things are tracking with training from a client’s perspective, not just the quantitative numbers on the bar
- We can eliminate any disconnect between what the coach is thinking and what the client is experiencing and expecting
- It provides us with an opportunity to discuss a number of finer details which may otherwise be overlooked
- We provide the client with a voice and sense of ownership for their own well-being/performance development (creating autonomy is key to long-term health)
- We can work together to achieve the best possible outcomes
- It (most often) reinforces much of the great work that we are doing
- We are kept honest about our own performance and professional development.
Much of the time, clients begin with rather general health and performance goals, and in many cases, the simplest programs reign supreme. As clients develop physically, as they build a strong strength & conditioning foundation, and as they grow as individuals within an exercise setting, more specific movements and concepts are necessary for continual development. In these moments, there can be great value in utilising the client to be a part of this process, and to meet you halfway in terms of what is wanted and what is needed. Undoubtedly, as coaches here at Absolute, we are experts in our field of exercise prescription and the many aspects of training, through both our experience and education, however, in any field even the experts can benefit from learning from their clients.
Come down to Absolute Health & Performance today to collaborate with one of our experienced coaches for your own health and performance benefits.
Written by Performance Coach Jonny Stahl
Title Image source – https://www.eurosport.co.uk/tennis/australian-open/2017/carlos-moya-brings-positivity-to-rafael-nadals-game-on-and-off-the-court_sto6017199/story.shtml
Image 1 source – https://www.theptdc.com/2012/12/selling-personal-training-in-5-steps/
Image 2 source – https://www.irishmirror.ie/sport/soccer/soccer-news/steven-gerrard-admits-coaching-position-6421647