In his book, Change Maker, John Berardi outlines two of the most common approaches to the coaching relationship: coach-centered and client-centered. While a coach-centered approach leans heavily on the coach’s expertise and knowledge, often putting them on a pedestal, a client-centered approach integrates the coach’s knowledge with the client’s goals and preferences.
In many of the standard relationships in the fitness industry, a coach-centered approach takes precedence, usually out of necessity based on the model. For example, a CrossFit group class is designed, explained, and led by a coach for a large group of individuals. The coach may be able to help an individual scale the workout, but that can only do so much for building a client’s autonomy and self-confidence in the long run.
A somewhat less coach-centered approach occurs in typical personal training situations. Though they are preparing workouts specifically for one person, they often can’t take much into consideration other than the client’s physical capabilities. (Read more about the pitfalls of personal training here.) This leaves a lot in the coach’s control and as a result of working together for every workout, also stunts the client’s growth towards self-sufficiency.
On the more client-centered end of the spectrum is personalized fitness. In this way, the coach and the client work together to come up with a holistic program that is appropriate for the individual based on their fitness goals, lifestyle, preferences, and individual needs. A good coach will talk with the client about making updates to the program or trying to make nutritional changes and will gauge their confidence in success before setting the goal. They ask questions and build the program around the client’s answers.
This approach benefits not only the client but the coach as well. It is much more gratifying to help someone build confidence in their abilities vs. the dependence that often results from a coach-centered relationship. Additionally, a coach is pushed to develop more empathy, listening skills, and motivational interviewing skills.
If you’re a coach who is passionate about helping people and ready to take a more client-centered approach to your career, apply for Central Athlete’s On-Site Coach position here.