We all know great fitness coaches. Most of us ARE great fitness coaches.
When bringing on a nutrition program, we typically lean to those incredible fitness coaches taking over the role of nutrition coaching. It makes sense – coaching is coaching, right?
Fitness and nutrition coaching are very different and as such, those coaches should have distinct personalities and characteristics. Client needs differ significantly and our coaching staff should be able to attend to those needs in an appropriate manner.
First let’s imagine a great fitness coach.
Typically they are extroverted, highly energized, eager to push their members to limits unknown, and have great empathy for a member’s journey because, let’s face it, we all aren’t born ready to do muscle-ups and bodyweight snatches. There is a learning curve with most fitness movements and this is something we can both empathize and sympathize with.
Fitness coaches set the bar high and push members to their limits – many show the ‘tough love’ approach and most members respond well to this! Most fitness coaches can perform well and demo movements – they are a role model to their membership and often hear “I want to do what you can do!” when class wraps up.
Let’s take the same characteristics and put them on a nutrition coach.
Anna O is a 42-year old mother of three. She is new to working out and is also looking for nutrition coaching. Her goal is to lose 30lbs and has had the same weight loss goal for 12 years since having her first child. She has tried numerous fad diets, often losing weight in a short amount of time but always, inevitably, gaining it back even faster.
Digging deeper, Anna no longer feels her husband is physically attracted to her and is terrified of falling short of her goals. She is homeschooling her three kids and is responsible for cooking all meals and grocery shopping. Needless to say, she is overwhelmed and has a lot on her plate.
She meets with her nutrition coach who is extroverted, highly energized, and eager to push Anna to limits unknown. The coach sets the bar high from day one and uses tough love when listening to Anna’s typical day and assigning action steps.
The coach is sympathetic to Anna’s struggle, but not empathetic because they have never experienced something similar.
Some of the action steps seem out of reach, in Anna’s opinion, but she is hesitant to speak up. Throughout the month, the coach continues to touch base with “you can do it! It’s so easy!” messages that leave Anna feeling like a failure.
What are the odds Anna sticks with the program?
What if, instead, Anna has a nutrition coach that is softer, calmer, has realistic expectations, recognizes that Anna has a lot on her plate and gives her one action step per week instead of many?
What if that coach checks in and asks “how are you doing? Tell me something awesome….how can I best support you?”
What if that coach also lost a substantial amount of weight years ago? Or felt unattractive to a partner? Or has children, other family members, other roles and tasks on their plate that limit their ability to spend hours on meal prep?
Do you think Anna might feel more supported?
The truth is that nutrition coaching is (not always, but often) more emotionally based, more personal, private and thrives when a client feels supported and trusted.
Sympathy goes a long way, but the real piece is empathy.
So what if you are a nutrition coach and feel your personality doesn’t work with all of your clients?
This is the reality! Nutrition coaching isn’t a one size fits all situation. If you feel your personality is best suited for a specific clientele, then go forward with that and make that your niche. Just make sure the remainder of clients are cared for. Is there another coach better suited for the audience group you don’t necessarily mesh best with?
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