Do you know why your clients hired you as a coach? They need your guidance, they need direction on how to do something they know is important (working out) but don’t know how to do themselves. Guidance doesn’t come in the form of a spreadsheet or an app with a list of exercises. They know that already. And they didn’t hire you to invent new exercises. They hired you to:
- Tell them WHAT exercises they should be doing
- Show them HOW to do these exercises the right way
- Educate them on WHY these exercises are valuable
- Point out to them WHERE they should feel these exercises in their body
- Guide them on WHEN or how often they should do these exercises
In this article, I want to focus on the HOW, the WHY, and the WHERE. These are three of the five core needs of every client of a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach. Whether you coach clients online or in person, you need to have a coaching checklist. This is your way of ensuring that you provide your clients with what they hired you for, and that you do it without fail. If you aren’t giving your clients the HOW, the WHY, and the WHERE as you coach them, then you will lose those clients.
Let’s look at how to create a coaching checklist that includes the HOW, the WHY, and the WHERE. At TD Athletes Edge, we have a coaching checklist that we stick to whenever we’re working with our members. Our list contains subtle differences depending on whether we’re coaching a member in person or online, but the foundation remains the same. Here’s our checklist:
- Set up
- Demonstrate and Instruct
- Explain target areas, benefits, and translations
- Observe them doing it
- Provide feedback
Typically in an online format, the setup of the exercise is completely up to the client, so let’s move right to the “Demonstrate and Instruct” checkpoint. Here is where you provide a video-based demonstration of the exercise. We recommend that you lean heavily on full instructional videos for your online members. This is your chance to give them the HOW. During a full instructional video, you can teach clients the keys and nuances to doing the exercise with proper form, and you can also point out the common errors to avoid. This clearly provides them with everything they need to learn about HOW to do the exercise properly.
Before handing the exercise over to clients to go and do, I recommend explaining the target areas, benefits, and translations. Think about it: It’s much more likely they’ll get the most out of an exercise if they know WHY they’re doing it, WHY it is valuable, and WHERE they should feel it. If you provide that information, they suddenly have purpose for the exercise besides “doing it because my coach told me to.” This doesn’t have to be a five-minute diatribe on why this exercise is awesome. All you need to provide is a brief rundown of the primary location—WHERE they’ll feel the exercise, in other words, the 1–2 body areas this exercise targets primarily. Then point out whether the exercise is designed to help them with strength or flexibility in those areas. Finally, provide a quick statement that ties this exercise and its effects to their overall goals or performance requirements.
An example of how we would provide a member with a short and sweet explanation of the WHY and WHERE:
- Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (DB RDL)
- This exercise strengthens your hamstrings and glutes
- Strength in these areas will increase durability as you run, protect your low back, and even help you jump and land better.
In an online format, you can often provide the WHY and WHERE within the written caption of your instructional exercise videos. Creating a coaching checklist that provides your clients with the HOW, the WHY, and the WHERE will set you apart from other coaches who think it’s good enough just to provide the WHAT and the WHEN. Anyone can give a program (WHAT) to a person and tell them WHEN to do it. High-level coaches, on the other hand, focus on the HOW, the WHY, and the WHERE. Make sure your coaching checklist includes those emphases if you want to stand out from the pack of fitness professionals. Give your clients exactly what they want and need, even if they don’t know what they want and need until you give it to them!