What does the word “coach” mean to you?

Coaching doesn’t mean what it did back when I was a kid (yeah…I know…I sound incredibly old when I say stuff like that!).   My coaches were for volleyball, basketball, and forensics.  But these days you’ve got health, life, business, fitness….and my personal favorite…”use-this-magic-powder” coaches.  It would seem everyone is “coaching” some thing or other.

meaningofcoachTo me, a coach is someone who evaluates your skills and weaknesses, someone who gets to know and understand your psyche, figures out when to push you and when to leave you to struggle a bit.

To me, a coach helps you get better…helps you believe in yourself.

To me, a coach has experience AND training in the modality they aim to teach.  Not only have they “played the sport” themselves, but they’ve dug deeper into the strategy of the sport, into the psychology of performance and how to draw out the best in their protege.

Because that’s what a coach means to me AND because I want to BE that for someone else and help them shape their health and mind for the better long-term, I get pretty pissy about the term “coach.”

Did you know anyone can give themselves the title of coach?  There is no standard or regulating body or minimum educational requirement in order to be a coach, specifically in the fitness/wellness industry.  (Same goes for calling yourself a personal trainer…you don’t have to hold any certification or education to call yourself one or be one.)

There ARE many different certification and education programs available.  Lots of people take it upon themselves to do these and acquire foundational knowledge…of which I am one.  Often times, once you achieve the professional certification, you are required to take continuing education credits or the like to maintain that certification.  In other words, you have to stay current and continue to build your skills and expand your knowledge.

I’ve got lots of reasons why I dislike supplements (a post for another day!!), but one of the biggest reasons is that anyone can sell them.  The marketing that goes with these supplements, including the term “coach,” makes it all seem like this stuff is being dispensed by folks who have training in nutrition and/or fitness.  Very often the people selling this stuff  have no formal education/training in nutrition or kinesiology.

Here’s an article from James Fell that conveys in a much more visceral and entertaining way how I feel about all this stuff.  While this article speaks specifically about BeachBody and Shakeology, I don’t discriminate…I dislike all the big supplement companies and how their products are marketed.

I often wonder….

Are the people who sell these supplements/programs having commentary with their buyers that include things like:

  • What prescriptions are you on?  I need to know so we can make sure nothing in these products will interact with your medications.
  • Do you have food reactions or allergies?  I need to know so we can make sure nothing in these products will have an adverse affect.
  • What are you struggling with nutritionally?  Cravings?  Not feeling satisfied?  Late night eating?
  • What is your goal other than weight loss?
  • Are you training for any event or something in particular?
  • Do you have medical clearance for any/all exercise?  Do you have any movement restrictions?
  • Do you want to build muscle endurance or hypertrophy?
  • Do you have muscle imbalances or weaknesses you need addressed?
  • When do you lose motivation?  How do you stay motivated?
  • What has worked for you in the past?  What has not?
  • Are you currently exercising?
  • What do you like to eat?  What foods do you dislike?
  • What equipment do you have access to?  Do you prefer to workout in a gym or at home?


I’ve had so many requests to check out supplement/program lines…Arbonne, Advocare, Isagenix, Beachbody.   The people selling have been a mix…some with nutritional/fitness background, others not at all.

Here’s an interesting pattern I’ve noted:  the certified fitness professionals I know who also sell these supplements/programs often don’t even title themselves as “XYZ company representative” or “123 independent coach.” You know they sell the stuff because they talk about it peripherally, but it’s only a small piece of what they do.

To me, that is really telling.  The folks who HAVE an industry cert, choose to list and emphasize that credential in their experience/background…rather than use the title available to them as a seller of the supplement/program.


I’ll even play devil’s advocate here…

Oh Carrie, you’re just pissed because those people are your competition and are taking away your potential clients!

Well, yes and no.

I’ve got A LOT of competition out there.  I’m currently in an online group with close to 70 women who are all fitness professionals.  I guess they would be my competition…some of these women even sell the supplements I vehemently oppose.  But here’s the thing…these women also have training and expertise in the fitness/nutrition field!

They know what to ask and what to look for.  They know what to suggest to you when something really hurts…or what exercise to have you do instead.  They know what exercises you should avoid when you tell him/her that your chiro said no exercises that aggravate the lumbar spine.  They know how to fuel your body using REAL food alongside a supplement and how to help you incorporate habits that will help you be successful long term…not merely sell you the program or supplement that is on special that month!

So yeah, supplement sellers are my competition…but only when they also have the education and professional skills in addition to what they are selling.  More power to them!  That is what they believe in (I don’t!) AND they can effectively support their clients with movement and nutrition knowledge.

I know I’m not gonna be everyone’s cup of tea, but it bugs the shit outta me when the industry is flush with people selling workouts and powder who really don’t know the impacts of what they sell or even what to be aware of.  It’s the consumer who loses in the end!

So if you decide to purchase supplements and workout programs, please understand the onus is on you to investigate what you are purchasing and then ingesting/doing.  It’s really buyer beware!

Do some homework and find out if the person you are purchasing from has some credentials.  There are numerous personal training certifications (ACE, NASM, ACSM, ISSA, NSCA), or health/wellness/behavior coaching certifications (ACE, ACSM, NSHC), and nutritional certifications as well (Precision Nutrition).  See if they ask you some questions and probe a little more into what you want to achieve.  In terms of improving health, the answer is rarely cut-and-dried.


Back to devils advocate again…

Wow…just sounds like you’re being a bitch!

IMHO, coaching at its heart means bringing out the best in each person!  Finding the strengths and showcasing them.  Discovering the sore spots and nudging gently as to push someone out of their comfort zone.  Perhaps pushing a hot button and making someone angry enough to take action.  Asking questions and getting to know their behaviors.  THAT is coaching.  Doling out challenges, workout DVDs, and powders/drinks/bar/vitamins is not.  Sorry, but you’re not gonna ever convince me otherwise.

That is my very strong opinion.

People close to me have very strong opinions…they voice them and in some cases I am in very different camps than they are.  One of my dearest friends and I are polar opposites politically and while we share some commonalities with our fitness approaches we also have some very different ideas from one another in this area also.  We know this about one another.  We choose not to debate.  I respect her and love her and know she is the kind of person I want to be around:  honest, hard-working, genuine, not a gossip, funny.  Our differences in opinion don’t change the person she is.  Her opinions don’t define her…her actions do!

There are people I follow online who I agree with almost everything they have to say.  Although there are some opinions I cannot get behind.  Still I follow them and share their stuff and advocate for my followers to look at their content.  The fact that they put it all out there despite being controversial deepens my respect for them…even when I don’t agree.

I’m stating a very clear and strong opinion about what I think it means to be a coach…and sell supplements.  Something I’ve tiptoed around and stayed silent on for a long time, simply to avoid controversy and because I was afraid of being called a bitch.  You may think I’m one for stating my opinion…go ahead, think that.  I’m really posting this to prove to myself that I am allowed to have an opinion…a really strong one at that.  And my thoughts and ideas don’t change who I am…I’m a decent, honest, hard working, empathetic, genuine, shy, introverted, and simple life seeking person.

And I have opinions.  Don’t like ’em?  That’s okay.  It doesn’t change me or who I am.  Follow or don’t…that’s for you to decide.  I’ll be here anyway sharing more and more of the real me!

The silver bullet to lasting health


I’ve made no secret about my approach for health.  Slow and steady, work through things one piece at a time, do lots of self-discovery and reflection, and implement habits that make sense in your life.  All this supplement stuff doesn’t fit and play to the ideals I choose to teach and implement.  So yes, absolutely, I’m going to be an opponent to any products that position themselves as quick weight loss, as silver bullet solutions, or that claim to do things better than your body!

I’ve tried only one product of the companies/supplements I’ve listed and that was Shakeology.  I bought a total of two bags of the stuff–chocolate and strawberry.  I gave the strawberry away because I disliked the taste of it.  The chocolate was fine…quick, easy, filling, tasty…and not at all worth the $125 or so that I paid.  I get bored too easily with my food selection to want to drink a shake every day, nor will I pay that amount of money for “nutrition.”

As I told my HITGF crew in this past week’s email, the silver bullet to lasting health is this:

1) Eat and move in a way that works for you and your lifestyle.
2) Reframe your thinking.
3) Cultivate habits.
4) Do all these things consistently.

Supplements don’t promote you figuring out food on your own terms.  They don’t help you reframe how you view your body and what you put in it.  They don’t help you cultivate habits that will help you in your daily life…they provide conveniently accessible calories.  They don’t teach you how to develop consistency of choices for the long term.

To do those four things above…to find the silver bullet…you have to look inside yourself!

You’ve got the goods to change your health!  You do!!

I did not have some extra special gene that made me do it.  All the other folks I know who have made lasting and impactful changes on their personal health also did NOT have some x-factor that you do not.

Those products only work because the person using them decides to follow through!  Why not take all that drive and stick-to-it-tive-ness you already have and funnel it into the real deal…the one where YOU are in the drivers seat creating change!



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