Remote coaching has gained popularity in recent years, popularity that only gained more momentum during the global pandemic, as more and more hopped on the fitness-from-home bandwagon.
Yes, the sky is the limit for the remote fitness coach these days. But it’s not as simple as just deciding you’re going to pivot overnight, or begin coaching remotely, as helping clients achieve their goals and retaining them long-term remotely comes with a number of challenges and considerations.
Helping aspiring remote coaches navigate these challenges—and put systems into place to set them and their clients up for success—is at the heart of the How to Coach Online component of the Two-Brain Group Coaching course, coached by Josh Martin.
Here’s a snapshot of the four steps to finding success as a remote coach:
Step 1: LEARN
LEARN, an acronym that stands for listen, empathize, ask, reflect and next steps, is all about best practices when it comes to bringing on a new client.
Listen: Many coaches make the mistake of talking too much, because they have so many things they want to say, and so much information to give the prospective client, that they forget to let the client do the talking.
- Bringing on a new client is all about listening to them, letting them tell you about them, and your job is to ask questions that encourage them to be as honest and vulnerable as they can.
Empathize: This is all about putting yourself in their shoes and relating to them. While the emphasis should still be on them, if you have a personal story you can share to help them relate and connect to you, don’t hesitate; however, keep it brief so the conversation can steer back to them.
Ask: Ask, ask, ask questions. This will help build a clear picture of who this person is, both as a person and the lifestyle they lead, as well as who they are athletically.
- Tip from Coach Martin: Start with easy questions, such as, What brought you here today, and more to more emotional ones as they feel more comfortable. Similarly, another great question is, What has worked for you in the past? And why did you stop doing this? That line of questioning will give you great insight into subconscious beliefs they hold about themselves and fitness.
Reflect: After your conversation, spend some time reflecting to help you gain insight into the person, and help you uncover possible barriers you think might be standing in their way. This isn’t meant to be judgmental, so much as it will help them see it through your eyes when you roll out their program. Essentially, this will help move the conversation into more of a two-way street.
Next Steps: This is all about explaining to your new client the next steps, where they’re going to go from here.
- Tip from Coach Martin: Keep this simple and digestible. You don’t want to make your client feel like they’re about to climb Mount Everest. You want them to see their next steps as unintimidating and do-able.
Step 2: Design
The second step is figuring out what the client’s training plan will look like, and it needs to consider, not just their physical fitness, but also their nutrition, their sleep, and how they manage stress (move, eat, sleep, manage).
This starts with an assessment of each to measure baseline metrics, which will allow you to gather as much information as possible.
- Movement assessment consideration: There are tons of ways to do a movement screening, and you might develop your own method over time for what works for you. That being said, one tried and true way to assess movement is the FMS (functional movement screen). It’s a quick and easy, established way to see how well someone moves, and what needs to be improved.
- Nutrition considerations: While it’s important to stay in your lane and remember you’re not a registered dietician, it’s also important to learn about your client’s nutritional habits. Things to consider are how much water they drink, how much processed foods versus whole foods they eat, how often they eat, and when they generally eat.
- Sleep considerations: Consider how much sleep the person gets each night, quality sleep, as well as things like whether they sleep in a dark room and whether they’re on their phone or watching a screen right before bed.
- Managing stress consideration: This is about gathering information about what types of stressors the person has in their life, and how they might affect their training. Essentially you want to uncover how well they’re managing their stress. Do they practice gratitude? Do they take personal responsibility for the things in their life? How organized are they? Do they take a proactive approach to how their day flows, or are they running around like a chicken with their head cut off?
Step 3: Delivery
Step 3 is about delivering the program that you have written for your client based on what you discovered in Step 1 and Step 2.
Tip from Coach Martin: One of the most important things here, and something that is often not done by inexperienced remote coaches, is setting clear expectations both about the service and communication expectations.
- Things to consider: Are you planning on communicating via Zoom or the phone, or via text or through an app? How often will you check in with the client? How quickly can they expect you to reply? Will you reply on weekends?
- There is no wrong way to do this, except to not do it at all. You need to establish clear expectations, both what they can expect from you and what you expect of them.
Worth noting: If you’re planning on coaching online group classes, the Two-Brain Group Coaching Course provides some great tips for online versus in-person group coaching.
Step 4: Refine
Step 4 is all about keeping your clients progressing forward. It’s about constantly reassessing, and is something that is often overlooked and under-utilized.
To do this, it’s important to continue to do regular goal review sessions with your clients to check in on their progress. Whether this is monthly, quarterly, or otherwise, you need to be consistently checking in on the progress, celebrating their bright spots, considering what’s working and what’s not, and ultimately what needs to be tweaked.
- Tip from Coach Martin: Don’t try to change everything all at once. Keep your clients making small, baby steps so they don’t become overwhelmed. Less is more. Consider giving them just one small thing to help in each area (move, sleep, nutrition, manage stress).