“You don’t know what you don’t know.” The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve found this insight to be true. That’s why continuing education is so important for coaches. To master your craft, you must evolve.
That evolution often looks like fresh programming certifications and keeping up with new recovery techniques and training methodologies to maximize client potential.
While these are all important, there’s often a missing, necessary element to personal and professional evolution—understanding the business side of the coaching industry. I know, because I was missing this very piece. That’s why Mike Bledsoe created The Strong Coach, a 90-day program to get coaches out of survival mode and into running a successful fitness business. I completed Class 7 of The Strong Coach in August of 2019, and I’m excited to share with you what I’ve learned and why you should adopt this as your next level of coaching development. I also had a chance to interview Mike Bledsoe and gain insight into why he created the program and the value he’s providing coaches
My “Strong Coach” Story
I’ve been in the strength and conditioning field for 10 years. During that time, I found myself in a place where I was broke, burned out, and confounded as to how to make coaching a sustainable career. Over the course of nine months, I had lived in three different states, four different cities, five different apartments, and had worked four different jobs.
After grinding away for years with little payoff, I was on the verge of quitting coaching. I didn’t know how to turn my dream of becoming an online coach into a reality. In 2018, however, I began a journey to transform coaching from one dead-end job among many into a successful career. I was fortunate enough to find The Strong Coach program.
I’ll never forget my initial discovery call with Danny Rios, lead coach of The Strong Coach. When I asked him about the program, he said it helps you figure out what kind of lifestyle you want to live, how much money you want to make, how many hours you want to work, and what type of clients you want to work with. From there the program guides you in creating a life and business in alignment with these goals. I’ll be honest: I had no idea how this was going to happen, but I was sold on at least giving the program a try. Spoiler alert: Danny was right. My life and career did a complete 180 after completing this program
The Business Side of Coaching
“In order to help someone, you only need to know more than they do.” I bring this quote to mind often because it encourages me every time I find myself battling “imposter syndrome” thinking—you know, that feeling you get when you’re overcome by self-doubt, believing suddenly that you don’t really have enough knowledge or experience to coach someone else or help them reach their goals. That you’re an imposter, a phony.
The truth of the matter is that most coaches are tried-and-true experts when compared to their clients. Which means that many of the problems coaches face are not about programming or experience, but instead about how to run a business, get more clients, retain those clients, and take care of yourself as a coach.
During those 10 years of experience, I had been to numerous certifications, bought many e-books, and read endless articles. Yet I was still looking for someone to teach me how to grow an online business to do what I love while supporting myself financially in the process. When I signed up for The Strong Coach, I viewed it as a business course for fitness coaches, but soon found it to be so much more. In short, I would now describe the program as a personal- development and business-mentorship program for fitness coaches.
So What Is The Strong Coach?
The program takes 12 weeks and is broken up into two main sections. The first six weeks is focused on personal development and deep-dives into mindset, language, goal setting, and vision casting. The second six weeks gets more specifically into the business of running a business, by touching on such topics as marketing, social media, how to create an offer, and, finally, sales.
The basic setup of the course look like this:
- 12 weeks of online modules led by Mike Bledsoe, with weekly assignments
- Weekly group-coaching call with classmates via Zoom
- Weekly coaching call with your one-on-one mentor
- Support via private Slack channel
The course is online, so it can be completed anywhere. Each week you’ll get access to the assignments and course content. You’ll follow up the weekly course material with a group Zoom call with everyone in the program, led by a Strong Coach lead coach.
Each person on the call gets an opportunity to share what issues have come up for them and receive further coaching. Frankly, this isn’t the time to put on a brave “everything’s under control!” face. The more vulnerable you get with the group, the more you get out of the program. This aspect of The Strong Coach is unique because you learn just as much from hearing what the other coaches in the program are going through as you do from the coaching you receive directly. And by the end of those 12 weeks, these people have become family.
The next level of support is from a one-on-one mentor you get assigned during the program. Each mentor is also someone who has gone through The Strong Coach program, and so was once in your shoes. My weekly call with my mentor was one of the most transformative parts of the program. He became my friend, business coach, life coach, and pushed me out of my comfort zone each week to propel my growth.
The third major level of support is access to a Slack channel where you can post and share with your classmates. The sharing extends beyond just the assignments and course material. You become part of an ecosystem of coaches who all want to support each other and share in success.
Section 1: Personal Development
Everyone who goes through the program gets something a little different out of it, but for me the most powerful part of The Strong Coach was the first six weeks. I’ve never been through such an in-depth goal-setting process, nor have I ever had so much support from other coaches.
Week 1 is titled “Get Your House in Order” and begins with a vision-casting process. To be honest, prior to The Strong Coach, I didn’t know what I actually wanted to make out of my coaching career. I knew I loved coaching and fitness, but I mostly made career decisions based on what I thought I should be doing or by following someone else’s path.
The personal-development work will help you figure out what you want, why you want those things, and then help you shape your identity into the type of person who achieves those things. Until you get these things in order, you can’t show up completely for your clients and be the best version of yourself.
One of my favorite lessons in this section is the idea of “unlearning.” To live the life you always imagined, you have to unlearn many things, like self-limiting beliefs and common misconceptions in the fitness industry.
These lessons are important because you’ll discover that service does not have to include self-damaging sacrifice. And by prioritizing self-care and learning to fill your cup first, you’ll be in a better position to help others. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Section 2: Business Development
Once you do the deep work of setting a clear vision for your life and getting your house in order, you can then build and improve your business. In Section 2 of The Strong Coach, you’ll learn how to reach the right type of clients, charge what you want, and put systems in place to support yourself and your business. You’ll be given the tools to work less, play more, receive more money, and have a greater impact on your clients.
While there are endless resources to help you through this series of goals, I again must touch on the power of personal mentoring and weekly calls. Getting guidance for the implementation of each lesson is crucial to your success. This separates The Strong Coach program from other online courses.
One of the pieces that really stood out to me was how to structure a marketing message to clients. I’m an online coach and so get the majority of my clients from social media and referrals. Before The Strong Coach program, however, this was not the case. So what changed? I defined who my ideal clients were and learned how to speak to them.
I had to realize that marketing is first and foremost about clients, not me. This is something I continue to remind myself in every facet of my coaching. Prioritizing self before you sit down with a client is important, but once the personal care is done, you have to re-focus on the needs and goals of clients. And that includes how you market to gain new clients. Now I get the majority of new clients through social media.
The second section of The Strong Coach program will also help you realize that your identity spans beyond what most people think of when they hear the word coach. To be successful, you’ll need to become an entrepreneur, a salesperson, a marketer, etc. And this program will give you the building blocks and mindset to craft those identities.
The Power of Coaching
I’ve completed all kinds of certifications and continuing education courses and have never encountered something so in-depth. I asked Mike Bledsoe how he came up with the format for the program, and he said:
“I’ve sold a lot of coaching and seen online courses where if people complete 20% of the course, it’s considered great. And for me, that’s not good enough. I’m not interested in creating a program and people not getting results. I’m not selling a program, I’m not selling curriculum—I’m selling coaching. Because that’s what’s working. It was built to be a process, not education. And the process takes you so deep that you need support. We live in a world of too much information and not enough context. And coaching is what provides the context.”
As a student of the course, I am so grateful for this approach. The content is phenomenal, and the real magic is in the coaching. It takes you to the next level much more quickly. It’s kind of ironic that, as a coach, I had rarely sought out coaching for myself before signing up for The Strong Coach. Once I did, it made all the difference, because coaches need coaches too.
Why Sign Up?
Plain and simple: This program changed my life. Within the first three weeks, I doubled what I was charging and received many new clients at that rate. I had a one-year goal to quit my job and move to Denver, Colorado, while supporting myself solely through my online business. The Strong Coach helped me achieve this in three months. And now, six months after graduating from the program, I continue to get support from those currently in the program as well as from the amazing coaches who went through it by my side.
Why sign up for The Strong Coach? It rounded out my life and my career, filling in the missing pieces of my business and giving me new perspectives. As it turned out, I didn’t need another certification about programming or more letters after my name. I needed help getting more clients, retaining those clients, and building a business that supported my expertise as a coach.
Mike Bledsoe’s Vision
Mike Bledsoe has a mission to heal the fitness industry, and he’s doing that through The Strong Coach by empowering and guiding coaches to achieve greatness.
The last question I asked Mike in our interview was one I gave a personal answer to up top: “Why should coaches sign up for The Strong Coach?” His answer:
“Because they will learn what they don’t know, that they don’t know. And they will learn how to create a business that’s specific to them and their lifestyle, and supports their lifestyle while also being able to make the greatest impact with their clients.”
Mike’s statement is spot-on. I went into the program thinking I knew what types of things I needed still to learn to be successful. At the beginning, the program was just another box to check in my coaching journey. Instead I found there were so many things I didn’t even know that I had to learn (and unlearn) to create the business I wanted—and better yet, the life I wanted.
If you’re a coach who’s struggling to live the life you want and grow your business, then go book a free discovery call here to learn more. That one call changed my life and career. It just might change yours.