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Coaching Comes of Age

In the late 1990s IDEA broke new ground by offering lifestyle coaching as part of our fitness conference curriculum and by covering this specialty in our publications. Back then, no one was really certain where lifestyle coaching would lead, but it seemed to make sense as a complementary skill to personal training.

Time has borne out the potential of this profession, which clearly has not yet hit its stride. Over the past 6 years or so, scores of fitness professionals have recognized the logic of connecting coaching to the array of fitness services they already offer. Some have made a complete switch from fitness to coaching, whereas others have added it to their tool bags and expanded their offerings.

“Personally, I have found coaching very rewarding and refreshingly challenging,” says Kay Cross, MEd, IDEA presenter, author, and owner of Cross Coaching and Wellness in Fort Worth, Texas. “It brings back memories of the start of my personal training practice in 1987. That practice grew slowly but steadily, and I believe coaching will experience the same slow but steady growth.” Cross’s own working definition of the professionally trained coach’s role is to “act as a motivator, an educator and an accountability partner to support individuals in making lasting lifestyle changes that improve their physical and mental well-being.” A tall order, to be sure!

As always, education is paramount if success is to be the outcome of the equation for you and your client. We pledge to support your interest in this burgeoning field by continuing to cover lifestyle coaching at our fitness conferences and in these pages. For example, if you’re attending the IDEA Personal Trainer®—NYC fitness event this month in Manhattan, you may have already signed up for the full track devoted to coaching. You can expand your mind with presentations that will address integrating wellness coaching and personal training; leveraging your personal training business by adding coaching services; and coaching a client’s mindset to initiate behavior change.

Also, be sure to read “Personal Fitness Training or Lifestyle Fitness Coaching?” by Jim Gavin, PhD, and Madeleine Mcbrearty, MA (pp. 44–50). As they explain, the advent of life coaching provided personal fitness trainers with access to methods for working with clients on life agendas separate from their fitness goals. But then the question became: Which works better for which clients—personal training, life coaching or a blend of the two? Making the right decision requires understanding how each model works and what each can do for clients. The authors have outlined both and formulated a decision matrix you are sure to find useful.

In the meantime, we are looking forward to seeing many of you at the Trainer—NYC fitness conference this month. We encourage you to introduce yourself and tell us about your challenges and inspirational accomplishments over the past year. Let us know what IDEA can do to help you hurdle the obstacles and celebrate the victories.

Blazing New Trails in Fitness, page 25. Get inspired by IDEA member William Malmskog, whose joyous energy and passion for helping others are contagious.

Information Products for Fitness Pros, page 32. Create a new revenue stream by developing products for colleagues.

Personal Fitness Training or Lifestyle Fitness Coaching? page 44. Learn to discern which approach your client needs more.

What Happens In Vegas . . . ! page 62. Read a full recap of the action at this year’s IDEA World Fitness Convention® in Las Vegas.

How to Integrate Biomechanics in a Group Setting, page 90. With so many special populations trying group classes, it’s time to revisit the science and safety of movement.

Understanding Health Savings Accounts, page 116. Discover how HSAs can help you stretch dollars as well as pay for medical expenses.

yours in good health,

Kathie and Peter Davis


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

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