20 Tips Online Coaches Use to Solve Your Fitness Problems
Whether you struggle with diet or exercise, it’s rarely the actual diet or exercise part that’s the problem.
The real problems are things like a hectic schedule, losing motivation, getting sick, not knowing what to do… all the real-life stuff that gets in the way.
A coach can help with these things.
Whether you hire a coach or not isn’t the point. You may not be ready or able to take that step. That’s ok. Although I believe it’s something everyone should do at some point.
Even I hire other coaches to help me with my workout programs (and Megan always helps me with nutrition).
Having an outsider’s perspective (a qualified one) is just more effective than trying to do it yourself.
While the following tips are natural benefits of online coaching, there’s no reason you couldn’t start working on them now on your own. Take a look…
1. A Positive Relationship
Going to the gym shouldn’t feel like going to the dentist. Learning to eat better shouldn’t feel like memorizing your employer’s HR handbook.
The way we see it, when we work with you, you’re not just an appointment on the calendar and then you’re out of our lives until the next week. It’s an opportunity to get to know you personally as an individual, so we can determine the best route for making you feel good about diet and exercise.
If you don’t have someone helping you with that, be sure you aren’t approaching getting fit in a way that will cause you to resent it in the long run. It needs to be a positive relationship.
2. Being Held Accountable
One cool thing about an online coach is, because it’s not just a “half hour a week” relationship, we’ll call you out on it when you skip a workout or don’t stick to your diet, in a way that offers both counsel and grace.
You need someone in your life who knows, or cares, when you miss your mark. It can be a friend, a Facebook group, a coach, whoever you trust to hold you accountable.
3. Staying Motivated
There will come a time when you aren’t overly excited about your nutrition and exercise routine.
What you need are the right goals to help you stay the course. That’s one of the first things we work on with you. Then the benefit of coaching is we can help you stay motivated.
If you’re doing things on your own, and haven’t spent time making clear, measurable goals, it’s all the more important that you do it now before you lose motivation.
4. Unbiased Guidance
Once you have your goals in place, you still need to determine the best process for achieving them.
This is one of those things where a qualified outsider’s perspective (i.e. a coach) is invaluable. It’s especially helpful having online coaching (outside of a commercial gym) with an expertise in both fitness and nutrition, so you can get an unbiased opinion on where to start.
Short of having professional guidance, my advice is to start with what interests you the most. Sure, it may end up not being the most ideal path, but it’ll get you going, and that’s what’s most important.
5. Learning to Adapt
No matter how great your goals are, or how ideal the path you’re on, when you’re really struggling to stay motivated, sometimes the right thing to do is adapt those goals to your more current situation.
Obviously, as coaches, we can walk you through this and make it easier. But the important thing to remember is that reevaluating and making changes to a plan doesn’t mean you failed. It’s a way to stay consistent, which is exactly what you need to be successful.
6. Deliberate Attention to Your Needs
if you’ve ever worked with a trainer before who’d rather stare at his phone than pay attention to your workout, know that online coaching is inherently the opposite of that.
We may not physically be there, but that means we specialize in effective communication to determine your needs and how to meet them. Because if we didn’t, we literally wouldn’t be doing anything, and what’s the point of that?
If you don’t have a coach, make sure you yourself are laser focused on what you’ll need to be successful. Write down your plan on paper. Put things like workouts and meal planning on your calendar. Be meticulous about it.
You can’t just wing it.
7. Work Around Schedule Changes
No matter how consistent (or consistently inconsistent) your schedule is, you need to know what to do with major changes in your routine, like vacations, holidays, or when you’re sick.
With an online coach, you can get specific advice on how to mitigate any negative effects of not being able to follow your normal regimen.
That said, my general advice is to cut yourself some slack in times like these. If you’ve been consistent with your eating habits and workouts, a little time off won’t hurt anything.
8. Work Around “Mess-Ups”
Aside from vacations and sick days, sometimes your routine gets derailed just because you have “one of those days,” where you skip your workout and down a pack of Oreos.
A coach who is accessible more than just 30 minutes a week can guide you on how to handle a slip-up like that.
While I can’t give you specific advice for every possible hypothetical scenario, what I can say is that most often the best advice is to not make any drastic changes. Pick up where you left off with your diet and your next workout. Or, if you need to, skip that workout and move on.
Whatever you do, don’t spend the next week living miserably as an attempt to make up for your “mess-up.”
9. Guarantee Your Results
Many online coaches offer a guarantee (we do) that If you follow the coaching and stick with your program, you’ll be happy with your results.
You can do this for yourself, too.
While you might not know exactly what you’re doing, and it may take longer to figure things out, if you keep working at it, you WILL get where you want to be eventually. The key is to keep experimenting on yourself — never give up — until you get the results you want.
10. Learn How to Get Lasting Results
A good coach won’t just give you a workout program or meal plan. They’ll teach you the habits that will be sustainable once you’ve met your goals. That way you won’t end up right back where you started.
So when I say don’t give up, that admonishment doesn’t end once you get results.
You need to make sure you can keep up with your diet and exercise in the long-term. If what you’re doing is too tough, dial it back until you’ve found a way to sustain your achievements without feeling like you have to kill yourself in the process.
11. Let Your Workout Schedule Be Flexible
Another benefit that’s unique to online coaching is that your workout schedule can be completely flexible. Don’t have time to get to the gym this morning like you planned? You won’t miss a session. Just do it later.
Even without a coach, you need to allow yourself this flexibility. If your plans for the day change, change your workout plans with them rather than letting them go completely.
12. Let Your Workout Fit Your Time Constraints
Also, with online coaching, exercise can be as long or short as is best for you. No need to force an hour, or even 30 minute session.
However you do it, it’s important to consider your individual situation.
If that means short workouts, that’s great. If you prefer longer workouts, that’s good, too. Do what works, rather than what you think you “should” do.
13. Let Your Diet Fit Your Lifestyle
You might think you want a meal plan, and it’s not that they’re all terrible, but they are near impossible to stick with for any extended period of time. Eventually life gets in the way.
On the other hand, if you have a coach who teaches you good habits instead of just telling you what to eat, you can learn to eat better in a way that adapts to your lifestyle, no matter how much your schedule fluctuates.
Taking a habit based approach instead of a specific diet is something you should consider on your own, too. Pick one habit to work on (e.g. cooking more, planning meals, getting more protein, etc.) and build on it until you’re ready for more.
14.You Can Do It Anywhere
Your location shouldn’t hold you back from getting in shape. You may not have the best gym (or any gym close by at all), but you can still work out at home.
You may not have a home gym or any gym equipment, but you still have your body and the great outdoors.
You may not have a nutrition coach who lives in the area, but online coaching can reach you no matter where you live.
All of these things are just convenient excuses for not getting shape.
15. Respect Your Privacy
One of the more specific benefits of an online coach helping you from a distance is the privacy.
If going to a crowded gym (or right now, just leaving the house in general) is something that intimidates you — either because of germs or because you don’t want people watching you — don’t use that as an excuse to do nothing.
You can get in shape in the privacy of your own home whether you have a coach or not.
16. Children Welcome
Kids don’t make getting in shape easy.
We’re all too familiar with having to watch our kids while trying to work out, or make meal plans. Sometimes you just have to let the screens win out. Other times, get your kids involved.
It’s a great opportunity to educate your children on a healthier lifestyle, and is a motivating reminder of why you’re doing it.
This is just another area where being able to work out from home with an online coach excels.
Believe me, I know it’s tough getting it done with the kids around, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.
17. Travel Isn’t the Enemy
Travel can make your diet and exercise routine as inconvenient as kids can.
I’ve traveled extensively. This is something else I understand and can coach you through. One tip I’d give you though is to use the variety of locations to your advantage.
You can adapt any good exercise program to whatever gym you have at your disposal. It’s a good way to keep a routine, while including enough variety to keep you from getting bored.
With your diet, take the opportunity to experience unique cuisines. Branch out from your norms and expand the list of healthy foods you enjoy and can fall back on when cooking for yourself at home.
18. No Square Pegs in Round Holes
As you can see, online coaching is flexible to your environment. That means there’s no reason for us to force a program on you because “it’s what we have everyone do.”
Just because something worked for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. Don’t force yourself to copy someone else’s success story (see 5 reasons why). Find your own path based on your goals and what you’re ready for.
19. You Don’t Have to Wear Pants
Since we’ve been talking about some of the benefits of not having to meet your coach at a specific location, I just thought I’d mention this one.
There are no studies showing that wearing pants makes you more fit.
20. Work at Your Skill Level
You can buy a workout program or meal plan anywhere. That doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. A good coach will be sure to meet you at your level.
If you want to be a good coach to yourself, you need to do the same.
Don’t push yourself to where you burn out too quickly. But also don’t go so easy on yourself that you never improve.
If, after a week, you’ve already given up on your diet or your workouts, you probably went too hard and should take a few steps back when trying again. If, after a couple months, you don’t see any improvements, it’s time to start challenging yourself more.
(I talk more about this concept with exercise in “Are Your Workouts Hard Enough?”)
BONUS — 21. Remove the Guesswork
To sum up all the benefits of online coaching… we remove the guesswork for you.
This is something you may not be able to do for yourself, but there’s still a workaround:
You’ll still be guessing at what you’re doing, but the action itself can show you what’s working and what isn’t, making the next step — or the next guess — more clear.
If you’d still rather have it all spelled out for you so you don’t have to guess at all, read about our online coaching here and how it works.