Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How To Find A Good Online Coach For Bikini Competitions

Hiring a coach to help you prepare for a competition online has become the new norm. There are tons of coaches who extend their services online. But how can you find the best one for you?

Meeting my online client and now friend, Dawn for a workout.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself while searching the web for an online coach: 

What is their story? Many online coaches will have an “About” page on their site. This normally includes their personal story and why they’ve made fitness such a big part of their life. Does their story inspire you? Can you relate to their story? 

Are they qualified? Always look for their credentials. If they are not listed…run. Being a PRO is not a valid credential to coach others. They may have proven that they can train themselves or follow another coaches program but this by no means qualifies them to train others. Make sure that they have accredited certifications, degrees, and a couple of years’ experience. 

Likewise, make sure that they actually have experience with bodybuilding. I would not hire a coach who specializes in long distance running or TRX suspension training if your goal is to step on stage at a bodybuilding competition. You need a coach who understands the process of building/cutting or gaining/losing and how to avoid a nasty rebound post competition. 

What is their style? Some coaches will provide a meal plan that is very restrictive with little to no flexibility. Although a set meal plan may sound ideal to those who just want to be "told" what to eat, this strict way of eating can put a damper on your sanity and overall experience. Look for coaches who offer a variety of foods, flexible eating, and do not give you a plan with only 1400 calories 6 months out from your competition. Ask them what their approach is on nutrition. I always recommend working with someone who will happily answer your “why” questions. Or any questions for that matter. A coach should educate you about healthy eating and sustainable food habits.

What is your budget? Online coaches can charge anywhere from $99-$500 per month. Make sure you understand what is included (ex: nutrition and training program, phone/Skype consults, email support, etc). It’s worthwhile to spend the extra money on a coach who will provide personalized programs and have an open line of communication. Coaches who are more expensive tend to work with fewer clients at a time and can therefore give more quality time with each one. These coaches will not likely have a big team. Big teams will be less expensive but be prepared to get lost in the mix of potentially hundreds of other online clients. Their programming will be less personalized and it might be more difficult to communicate with them. 

Is online coaching for you? In my opinion and experience online coaching is best suited for the moderate to advanced trainee who is already very self-motivated. Beginners will have a difficult time in the gym because they will lack the knowledge of proper form. If you are a beginner I recommend hiring a local coach who is well qualified to teach you how to properly progress in the gym and build a strong foundation. 

If it is your first time competing look for a coach who is going to spend the right amount of time that is necessary for you to successfully compete. Some coaches will push a short prep like 8-12 weeks and over train you while underfeed you for a specific competition. 

 A good coach will be able to assess your starting point by gathering information from you to help determine how much time you will need. They will not hesitate to tell you that you will need more time than you had originally anticipated. This is a good coach. He/she has your best interest at heart and  has your health as their number one priority. If they have a reputation of getting their clients rapid results for the sake of placings or team awards then they will not put your health first which puts you in great risk of destroying your body, wasting your time, and your money. 

Take your time finding the coach who is the best fit for you! I have been fortunate enough to have clients I've worked with in the past become lifelong friends. This isn't about winning or losing a competition, its about bettering your life and having someone whom you respect in your corner. This isn't just preparing for a competition, its a lifestyle and the beginning of a healthier, more confident you.

My client  Michelle and I in Arizona at Miraval. We spent an amazing weekend together hiking, yoga, working out, and enjoying some much needed pampering time at the spa.



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