After more than 20 years in fitness, I've noticed the term "coach" has become an industry buzz word. I know many fitness professionals who have simply added the word "coach" to their title to keep in-line with this trend; however, coaching can move far beyond a word. When done effectively, you can provide a highly valuable service that drastically improves your clients' results while increasing your revenue.

In order to offer truly effective coaching, you must first invest in some sort of training for yourself as a fitness professional, or choose to partner with someone who is a trained coach. If you would like the skillset yourself, similar to becoming certified as a personal trainer, there are a number of ways to receive coach training. Wellcoaches is a highly recognized coach training organization, accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). You can also begin by taking a self-paced home study course such as Spencer Institute, an online group training program or an in-person adult learning program at a university, such as New York University.

If you are already aligned with a trained coach, forming a partnership may be the way to go. A word of caution -- whenever you partner with another professional, check their references, understand their philosophy and be confident that you are fully aligned with the individual. You do not want to send mixed messages to your clients, because this will leave them confused and highly frustrated. Alliances work best when the service is done together, as opposed to during separate sessions, to avoid confusion if something is misconstrued.

In my case, I partnered with my sister, Jennifer Tuma-Young, author of Balance Your Life, Balance the Scale. Jennifer has been coaching for 10 years, and she has created a B.A.L.A.N.C.E program to help busy people redefine their own meaning and method for balance to decreases stress and release weight. We offer Lunch 'n Learns together where (over a healthy lunch) I speak about fitness, exercise physiology, digestion, nutrition, all about how the body works and Jennifer speaks about the mindset and how to overcome excuses, obstacles and challenges using coaching tools.

Here are 6 strategies to add coaching to your repertoire:

1. Include Coaching with Sessions and Increase Your Rate. If you've been trained as a coach, you will naturally begin to incorporate questioning, listening and the techniques you learned into your training sessions. As you invest in yourself as a fitness professional, it's important that your rate reflects your increase in value and knowledge. Even if it's just $10 per session, this will signal to your clients that you are not only investing in yourself, but also in their health. The more you learn as a fitness professional, the more your clients will benefit. Do not undervalue yourself.

2. Create a Robust Package. We all know when a client wants to train, they may talk during the workout, but they are there to work their body. You don't want to spend the entire session talking without paying attention to the quality of the workout. You can create a robust package that includes an additional weekly coaching session for you to spend the entire session talking and coaching. Offer this package to all of your clients; explain the benefits and why there is a separate coaching session.

Run a Promotion! Don't underestimate the power of testimonials. If this is something completely new for you and your training business, run a fun contest or promotion to your clients, and as a giveaway, offer three free coaching sessions for two or three winners. Having the clients explain the benefits firsthand of this new service by sharing their testimonials will speak volumes.

3. Offer Group Coaching. Offering group coaching not only creates a sense of community among your individual clients, it will allow you to scale the classes, freeing up your time and increasing revenue. For group coaching to be effective, make sure you are properly prepared, handouts are available and participants know what to expect from the sessions.

Group coaching should be done over a period of time; I suggest four or six weeks. Again, if this is something new, you may want to offer the first session free as a way for your clients to experience the program.

Your group coaching programs are an investment in your future! Over time, as you coach more and more groups and continue your own training and education, you will hone your program, and it can then be packaged into an offering such as an e-book, a published book or an online offering.

4. Offer Lunch 'n Learn Programs. Lunch 'n Learns are a way to add value for your current clients, and also present an offering that could potentially recruit new clients. You can market the Lunch 'n Learns within your community; once they hear you speak, they will want to know more ways to work with you.

Resist the urge to include everything you know into one Lunch 'n Learn. This can be overwhelming for the participants, and you may rush through material trying to get through everything you prepared. Instead, create a Lunch 'n Learn centered around one specific topic and provide an in-depth, focused learning experience for the group.

To expand the offering and the audience, you can partner with a team of people to provide 15-minute 'talks' and cross-promote the event amongst all of your individual audiences. For example, you can include a local nutritionist, a doctor or chiropractor, maybe even a stylist or beauty expert. Be creative and have fun with it! Participants will too, and they will definitely want to come back for more. Hosting monthly or even weekly Lunch 'n Learns is a great way to increase visibility, value, results and revenue.

5. Corporate Wellness Programs. Visit corporations in your community and introduce yourself as a fitness professional. You can offer a special group discount rate for employees of their company to utilize your services. This can drastically increase your business simply by letting them know who you are and what you offer and giving them a special group discount.

Also, many coach training programs have a corporate wellness component, and for an additional fee, you are able to license the program and offer it to corporations as a value-add for their employees with the potential of decreasing the company's insurance premiums.

6. Create a Referral Service. If coaching isn't something that excites you, but you recognize its value to your clients, consider creating a referral service with a coach that you trust. Agree upon a referral rate that works for both of you, and begin to present the opportunity to clients as you see fit.

Wellness coaching can be a perfect complement to your current training services. In many ways, fitness professionals are inherently already serving as coaches to their clients. The opportunities to formalize your training as a wellness coach continue to increase; take advantage of the potential you have to add wellness coaching to your repertoire, enhance your business and, most important, to exceed your clients' results and expectations.

Rich Tuma has been in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years and has become one of the most diversely trained fitness/wellness professionals globally. He is a certified personal trainer through ACE, AFAA and NESTA. He has more than 30 wellness-related certifications, and has helped thousands of people achieve their goals. You can learn more about Rich on his websites and


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