So you are a gym owner that started a nutrition coaching program in your gym! Welcome to the exclusive club full of other gym owners just like you dedicated to nutrition and fitness to enhance lives, and promote longevity around the world. It’s hard work being at the forefront of the change necessary to make an impact on the daunting statistics related to obesity, and chronic disease.
You may feel like a small fish in a big sea, but hopefully that can begin to change one person at a time, starting with your staff. It’s no question that the nutrition coach we hire for our gym is passionate about their role consistently spreading the good word, and being an advocate for the program.
But what about the “other staff”? Are all the coaches, and admin staff in your facility aware of the nutrition coaching program in your gym? Do the understand the philosophy of the program, and understand how clients can benefit by taking part in it?
What if a gym member asks one of your CrossFit coaching staff members how to find out more information about proper nutrition, and the gyms nutrition coaching program? Would that staff member know anything about the gyms nutrition services? Would they know how to refer the client to the nutrition program or nutrition coach?
We hope so!
But if not, we have you! In this blog post we will provide some simple tips on how to get your fitness staff on board with the nutrition coaching program in your gym!
What Is A Nutrition Coaching Program?
A nutrition coaching program is a structured, personalized approach to helping individuals or groups make healthier food, and lifestyle choices in order to improve their overall quality of life and longevity. These programs should be led by certified nutrition coaches, and/or registered dietitians who have expertise in nutrition science, and healthy habit implementation.
At Healthy Steps Nutrition and HSN Mentoring, we teach our nutrition coaches to follow a habit based holistic approach when helping their clients. So many things play into nutrition choices other than just deciding what to eat. Factors such as sleep, stress, support systems, and exercise all play an equal part. Our holistic framework has helped hundreds of clients live their best life.
If you know someone needing a nutrition coach, share the link below! We are not ashamed to promote the amazing gyms running our nutrition coaching program, and the link will provide a connection to a coach in almost every stated in our country, plus several “across the pond!”
A well rounded effective nutrition coaching program will help people with:
Accountability & Personalization: Nutrition coaching programs are tailored to the specific needs, and goals of each participant. Coaches assess the behavior of individuals, and are able to suggest accountability levels they feel the clients will most likely need. Participants meet with their nutrition coach regularly, either in person or virtually, to track progress, discuss challenges, and adjust their nutrition habits as needed. This accountability helps with habit formation leading to sustainable change over time.
Education: Clients should receive information about nutrition principles, including what macronutrients are, (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), and what they do for the body. Additionally we teach the importance of balanced eating. They should also learn about other misc nutrition related topics such as portion control, reading food labels, and learning the skill of making informed food choices.
Goal Setting: Coaches work with participants to set SMART goals. These goals could range from weight management, to improving athletic performance. If your nutrition coach is a registered dietitian, they are able to help clients control chronic illnesses such as heart disease, and diabetes.
Habit Change: Nutrition coaching programs focus on changing behaviors, and habits related to lifestyle. Coaches help participants identify, triggers related to the pillars we discussed above that can impact dietary choices.
Meal Planning: Coaches assist in helping clients create balanced meals for themselves that align with their goals, and preferences. This may include meal prep tips, recipes, and guidance on making healthier choices when dining out.
Long-Term Sustainability: The goal of these programs is not just short-term changes but the development of lifelong healthy eating habits that individuals can at some point maintain independently.
Why Is It Important To Get The Fitness Coaches On Board With The Nutrition Program?
Sometimes fitness coaches take a hands off approach when it comes to the nutrition program because they don’t actively coach it. It is important for the fitness staff to be on board, and understand the program for a couple reasons.
Fitness members look up to the fitness coaches. If their fitness coach endorses, and promotes the program, it’s much more likely the fitness members will buy in too.
If a gym is truly trying to change its overall culture to include nutrition, all staff members need to understand the nutrition program, how it works, and how to refer someone, not just the certified nutrition coach. Consistency across all employees molds the brand, and it’s message. It ensures that the gyms image, and messaging align across all touch points strengthening its brand identity, and reputation.
Imagine a situation where Jimmy the CrossFit coach gets asked from a fitness member with fitness and nutrition goals how to get more info about the nutrition program.
Jimmy says “Ummm well I think you need to talk to Coach Jenny. She’s not here that much but I know she’s the nutrition coach, I’m just not sure how to get ahold of her. I bet if you come back on Friday she will be here. I see her sometimes on Fridays.”
Chances are that potential client isn’t going to stick around on Friday to see if nutrition coach Jenny shows up. The situation would be much different if Coach Jimmy were to answer like this…
“Coach Jenny is our nutrition coach. The program is amazing, it’s helped so many people. Jenny keeps her own office hours, and would love to do a free intro with you. Come over here to this IPad with me. I”ll help you book a free intro with her, it’s free, painless, and will help you understand if the program is right for you.”
The client books a free intro right then because Fitness Coach Jimmy knew what to do. Love scenario number two and that is where all gyms with nutrition programs need to be!
Hopefully this example helps you understand why getting your fitness staff on board with the nutrition coaching program is important.
3 Tips To Help Gym Owners Get Their Fitness Coaches Engaged With The Nutrition Program
Now that we have a better understanding of why we need the help of our fitness coaches too, let’s talk about how we get them on our side!
Tip #1 – Hold An All Staff Meeting About Your Nutrition Program
The purpose of this all staff meeting is to introduce the program to the gym staff, and outline their role in supporting the program. We want ensure a consistent message across the team regarding how the program is presented to members.
This meeting will cover the following topics:
Helping staff understand the philosophy, and purpose of the program in addition to helping them understand what problems the program is trying to solve for members.
Educate the fitness coaches on how the nutrition coaching program can help clients.
Educate the fitness staff on how they will play a role in supporting the program and driving clients to it.
We highly recommend you come up with an SOP for fitness training coaches so the expectations are clear.
What is the elevator pitch for the program? (What do they say when members ask about the program, or what do they say to a member they think could benefit from having a nutrition coach help them.)
Where do they send members who ask for more info regarding the program?
Typically an IPad at the front desk to book a free intro with the nutrition coach is a great idea.
If a member were to ask about the program, but not go to the IPad to book that intro appointment, adding that clients name to a SLACK or communication channel for staff so the nutrition coach knows to message that person, is the second best option.
Tip #2 – Require Fitness Coaches To Take Part In A Nutrition Challenge Or At Least 1 Month Of Nutrition Coaching
Your fitness coaches will understand the program even better if they actually take part in it. At my gym, we require all fitness staff to take part in one nutrition challenge. This has been great because our fitness coaches now completely understand how the program is facilitated, and what to expect from a clients perspective.
The other great thing that comes from staff participation is the fact that our entire gym membership gets to see the coaches going through the nutrition coaching process. We have been very diligent about sharing every step on social media, and in our private Facebook group. Coaches success stories are also shared on social media.
Participating in challenges or a month of the program is a great experience for coaches because they learn the foundational healthy habits that regular nutrition clients begin to understand. And, their nutrition knowledge increases which provides them with a deeper understanding of how to apply this knowledge to their lives which they can then share with members.
Coaches are 100% bought into our program after they have gone through the experience of participation.
We made our last nutrition challenge really fun by creating a little friendly competition amongst the coaches. We awarded a pair of fitness shoes to the overall “coach” winner. Having coaches win the actual challenge our members participated in wasn’t fair in our eyes, so we developed a little coaches prize to entice some real engagement from them!
Tip #3 – Outline How You Will Be Integrating A Nutrition Presence Into The Gym & What Staff Support Will Look Like
After your coaches have experienced the program, they will have a deeper understanding, and feel confident when discussing the program. It’s now time to have them help bring nutrition to the forefront of members minds.
In order for this support to happen, it’s imperative that the SOP we discussed initially is clear so everyone is on the same page. We have a few more ways a coach can support the nutrition program that we need to add to this SOP.
Ask Nutrition questions of the day or week
Nutrition questions of the day or week are great! Nutrition questions of the day are questions asked by the nutrition coach or the fitness coaching staff in a gym directly related to nutrition. Questions are used to spark engagement from fitness members around nutrition. By asking them nutrition is brought to the forefront of a fitness class which lets clients know that nutrition is important to the facility, and that in addition to their fitness membership, they also have the option of nutrition coaching.
To learn about the behind the scenes of these questions and how they can be facilitated by gyms, check out this article!
Drive members to the nutrition talks the nutrition coach hosts
Driving members to the nutrition events the gym hosts is a great way to support the program, and should definitely be added to the SOP. Many times a fitness coach is the first to hear about a member being unhappy with their nutrition or overall health. Because of this, it’s important that the nutrition coaching staff keep the fitness coaching staff aware of program events such as nutrition talks.
If the nutrition coach does a good job of keeping these dates available to the fitness staff, then the fitness coaches will be able to refer clients to these free events to learn more about nutrition, and the nutrition program.
We want your facility to run like a well oiled machine!
If all cylinders are firing correctly, both nutrition coaches, and fitness coaches will work seamlessly together to create a referral system to all prgrams the gym runs. Keeping the nutrition coaching staff informed about the fitness things is just as important as the other way around.
Many times gyms will have a coach that is a nutrition and fitness coach or certified personal trainer, which is what I have in my facility. This makes it really easy, however even when that is not the case, communication, and regular meetings including all staff will make a world of difference.
If you feel like you are struggling with staff alignment across any of the programs in your gym, start by implementing one of these tips at a time. Our suggestion is to start with a staff meeting first.
Simply opening up the line of communication will make a world of difference!