How to Start Coaching the SEMM Model

First, let’s quickly recap what the SEMM Model is and where it came from. SEMM is an acronym for ‘Sleep, Eat, Move, Manage’ and is actually a founding principle here at Two-Brain Coaching. You can read more about that right here. The basic idea is that as fitness coaches, we don’t want to be one-dimensional in our coaching with our clients. Put another way: it’s no longer enough to say ‘knees out, chest up, feet flat.’ If you spend all your time being a movement nazi, things quickly get stale. Then your clients leave.

Enter the SEMM Model.

Two-Brain Coaching believes that the most effective coaches do far more than program movement. They learn, design, and deliver a plan that best supports a clients goals, no matter the circumstances; gym closures, lack of access to equipment, travel, and other real and perceived barriers to improved health and fitness disappear. Each plan includes elements of helping clients sleep, eat, move, and manage their stress.

So how do you do it?

Step 1: This is not a shortcut

Recognize that this is a long tail approach, so you must have a relationship of trust with your client. What comes before trust? Well, they have to know you and like you. Working on the soft skills, what we call the social side of coaching in our First Degree Program, is a great place to start. Not ready for that? Then just remember to smile and use their name!

Step 2: Talk about all four pillars

You have to start talking about SEMM! How will it benefit the client? Why should they care about managing their stress and their sleep in addition to their eating and movement? As a coach, you should understand the interconnectedness of these four pillars. Here’s a basic primer: If you sleep better, you wake up in a better mood and begin the day with less stress. Chances are your exercise goes better and you feel more motivated to nourish your body with good food. The opposite is also true – if you go to bed stressed, then you likely don’t sleep well. You wake up stressed, find excuses not to exercise and nutrient dense food becomes an afterthought.

Step 3: Discuss anything besides movement

Talk less, far less, about movement. Go out of your way to discuss sleep and stress management while tying that back to their primary goal. Use the example above, said 10 different ways, to one client. When you find something that causes a lightbulb moment, keep coming back to that. You’ve found something that resonates with your client. Use that.

Step 4: Measure their baseline

After you establish someone’s goal(s), you need to know the first step for them to take. In order to do that, you have to meet them where they are, and this happens in the ‘Learn’ phase. Find our guide to do that here.

Step 5: Refine their prescription

Principle 1 at TBC is ‘Enjoy the Process.’ In order to do that, three ingredients are needed – focus, effort, and time. As your client takes steps towards their goals, your job as coach is to check in on them daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. The nature of these check ins differs with each client. Novices need more hand-holding and guidance, while veterans need minor course correction. Over time, and in a formal setting that call ‘Goal Reviews’, you will tweak each pillar to fit where your client is at that point in time. Perhaps step 1 to improve their sleep was to have them lower the temperature in their bedroom by a couple degrees. Step 2 might be to reduce ambient light. Similarly, the first step in stress management is establishing personal values and priorities. After that, you might look to have them delay their screen time upon waking by 5 or 10 minutes. While these changes may seem small and insignificant at first glance, establishing habits like this are the most effective building blocks of the life your client truly wants to live. And it’s the best way towards a lifestyle that is sustainable long term.

Hopefully this has given you a great primer on how to start coaching the SEMM model. If you have questions or want to discuss this more in depth, post a comment below or visit our website for other ways to get in touch with us.

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