Because of my background in running, cycling, and bodybuilding, I am often asked if I only coach fitness competitors or competitive athletes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although I have worked with competitors and athletes, the majority of my business is women who want to look better, be active, and improve their overall health. Together we design a lifelong approach to fitness.
Over the past several weeks I have been asking women about their number one struggle with fitness, how they feel about exercise and food, and their main health goals. One of my clients, Becky Thompson, came to me last summer wanting to increase muscle conditioning and improve her overall eating habits. She has come a long way in a short period of time, and I wanted to get her unique perspective on living a fit lifestyle. As Becky and I were talking, three things came immediately to the surface.
- First, her spiritual faith plays a primary role in her health. She approaches everything through a heart of gratitude.
- Secondly, Becky emphasized the need for accountability. Whether you workout with a trainer, Skype with a coach, or head to the gym with a workout buddy, be accountable.
- Third, she explained the specific traits that she wanted in a fitness coach or trainer. They are different than what you might be envisioning.
Becky is a 61 years old retired occupational therapist, married 37 years, with 2 adult children, and 1 grandchild. The first thing that I noticed about Becky was her kind heart and strong faith in God. She grew up in a Christian family where both parents encouraged physical activity as a path to protecting and preserving the life that God has given. Becky combines her spiritual beliefs with her fitness journey and sees eating well and exercising as a way to live in gratitude for this precious gift of life.
Although Becky exercised some through her twenties, it was not until her thirties that she received a big wake up call to the importance of fitness. She was a busy mom caring for her young son, when she was suddenly struck down with a severe illness similar to hepatitis that lasted for several months. She became so sick, that her husband had to drive her and their young son to her parent’s home in Texas. Thankfully they were only living two hours away at the time. Her parents were then able to help care for Becky and her son during this difficult time. Over time her health was restored, and Becky embarked on a more serious lifelong path to staying fit. Rather than being bitter over her illness, Becky looked on this time with gratitude and saw it as an opportunity to move forward in faith.
Because Becky was an occupational therapist, she had a keen understanding of muscles and anatomy which helped her when she went to the gym. However, she pointed out to me that everything fitness related (from workout clothing to exercise) has changed for women. Years ago there really wasn’t much for women to choose from, and it was primarily all cardio or aerobic based. There were some running tracks at local schools, Jazzercise classes, and Richard Simmons. Women were not really lifting weights, and if they did pick up dumbbells, the weight was extremely light. No one was talking about women gaining muscle or eating for fat loss. Rather everything was based around the scale and weight loss.
When Becky reached her 60s she realized that she wanted more accountability and to make some changes. This was the point where we met. I asked her why she chose me to be her coach, and she gave me some important insights. The truth is there are lots of trainers who can write meal plans or give exercise prescriptions. However, coaching someone to achieve a healthier lifestyle or to meet their fitness goals is an entirely different process.
Becky said her biggest struggles with fitness were nutrition, breaking a sugar addiction, and pushing herself to achieve her best. She told me that was the very point where I came into the picture. So, I asked her what were the specific things she wanted from a fitness coach/trainer. Becky gave me 3 solid qualities:
- Someone who understands the effects of aging on the body.
- A trainer who safely works within physical limitations to achieve real results.
- A coach who would encourage her and show her change is a very real possibility at any age.
I loved this! If I were to write out qualities to look for in a trainer, I would most likely have listed some more general, common traits. This was a bit of a wake up call for me and made me realize the importance of asking your client what they want from a trainer. Through that process you can learn if that coach is in line with your expectations. So I would add one simple quality to Becky’s list. Choose someone who asks you the important questions and who has traits that are in harmony with your goals.
Each time I write these blogs featuring women, I am continually blessed, pleasantly surprised, and gain new insights that I can take with me and apply to my own life.