Find Your Coaching Style

by Pamela Light on Oct 28, 2016

You look across the hall at Popular Instructor’s class and marvel at how she packs the house day after day, week after week. You’ve studied her style and tried your best to emulate her music, cuing, choreography—even the way she dresses—but your numbers are shrinking instead of growing. What are you doing wrong?

There are many reasons people come to your class, but number one on the list is you. Think about it: You are a leader, a motivator, an educator and a role model. If you try to be someone other than yourself, it’s like teaching a high-impact class in a pair of shoes that are five sizes too big. You fall flat on your face.

The best way to clinch your coaching style and shine like the star you are is to capitalize on your personal strengths and neutralize your weaknesses.

Find Your Coaching Style

To get started on the path to professional authenticity, first see which of these coaching personas rings most true to you:

The Drill Sergeant: You expect a lot from your classes and you’re not afraid to let people know when they’re coming up short. Your cues are short and to the point, and you call out individuals who need to work harder. Praise is rare and must be earned.

Your strength: tough love

Your loyal followers are “people pleasers” who like to meet high expectations.

The Mentor: You know everyone’s name, who’s training for an event, who’s injured and who has a reunion coming up. People seek you out for advice, and you often find yourself talking in the locker room an hour after class.

Your strength: interpersonal relationships

Your loyal followers are people who love attention.

The Cheerleader: You bounce into the gym and infect every class with energy and positivity. You believe a can-do attitude can overcome any obstacle.

Your strength: optimism

Your loyal followers drag themselves into class and rely on you to wake them up and light a fire beneath them.

The Academic: You’re a voracious reader who is up to date on the science behind the workout, and you love educating the masses. You provide a reason-based approach, believing people will perform better if they know why and how they are working so hard.

Your strength: curiosity

Your loyal followers love to be “in the know.”

The Zen Master: When you enter the room, everything calms down. Your voice is measured and even. You ease into the workout and launch an intense and strategic “sneak attack.” The result: People work harder than they thought they could.

Your strength: mental clarity

Your loyal followers use exercise as an escape from their harried lives.

We all have talents that develop early in life, explain Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, First Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (Gallup 2000). These talents are deeply ingrained in our personalities during childhood and cannot be learned. You can’t teach someone to be high-energy, organized, calming, outgoing or able to forge strong relationships quickly. This explains why some things are impossibly difficult for some people and easy for others.

Should a Cheerleader try to be more Zen? Should a Mentor study so she can answer questions with data and empirical evidence the way an Academic would? Either of these strategies would crash and burn, waste time and leave a scar of failure. It’s better to spend your time developing your talents.

To read more about how to focus on your strengths rather than trying to be all things to all students, please see "Clinch Your Coaching Style" in the online IDEA Library or in the April 2016 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

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About the Author

Pamela Light

Pamela Light IDEA Author/Presenter