Coaching is a part of life. Parents, teachers, siblings and friends help guide us daily to make good decisions. They provide support, encouragement and direction.


    As trainers, we are only as successful as our clients. With that being said, wouldn't it be nice if we had the ability to be with our clients 24 hours a day, reminding them to stay away from the French fries or to choose water instead of soda? Phone coaching works in the same sense; it's always there in the back of your clients' minds, giving them a friendly reminder that if they go for the soda or fries, they're going to have to explain it to you. Your clients don't want to have to explain, nor do they want to disappoint you. This is how phone coaching will play a vital role in the success of your business.


    Telephonic coaching has recently been making its way into the public eye. Large corporations offer it as part of their employee wellness programs, in an effort to reduce overall insurance costs. They have spent thousands of advertising dollars researching the effectiveness of providing this service. Phone coaching is a highly effective tool in helping with everything from smoking cessation to weight loss.


    Stanford University conducted a study on phone-based coaching over a 20-year period, which found that after six months of phone coaching, up to 90% of the subjects were still exercising on their own. Those people who had a coach to guide them and to hold them accountable were more successful and exercised independently, while working with their coach by phone.


    Phone coaching offers many benefits:

    1.     It makes your client accountable for their own actions.

    2.     It allows your client to stay focused on the small goals you set for them.

    3.     It makes your client feel personally connected to you.

    4.     It is ideal for all clients, from the dedicated athlete to the here-and-there fitness dabbler.


    Our job as trainers is to help keep our clients' eyes focused on the task at hand, rather than always looking to the top of the proverbial hill they are climbing. It is crucial for trainers to keep in the forefront of our minds that working out and eating right is a personal commitment and a promise that our clients are making to themselves. For some, it's the hardest thing they've ever done. Phone coaching gives our valuable clients the additional resources needed to be successful and also adds an important personal touch, which individuals are looking for.


    The Transtheoretical Model of Change

    The most effective way to conduct your phone coaching sessions is to follow the Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTC). The TTC explains or predicts a person's success or failure in achieving a proposed behavior change in developing different habits. Just like the stages of loss, studies have found that there are stages of change. Following the stages of change guarantees successful completion though behavior modification. Skipping stages, or moving too quickly through stages, will inevitably cause a relapse in the behavior.


    The Stages of Change:

    1.     Pre-Contemplation - An individual has no intent to change and is resistant and unmotivated (measured as six months or more).

    2.     Contemplation - Individuals state their intent to change and are aware of the benefits of doing so (up to six months).

    3.     Preparation - Individuals intend to take steps to change (within 30 days).

    4.     Action - An individual has made overt, perceptible lifestyle modifications (less than six months).

    5.     Maintenance - Individuals working to prevent relapse and consolidate gains (six months or more).


    Keep It Simple

    Save the complicated weighted exercises for your in-person sessions and instead suggest they try simple daily activities. For example, encourage them to try to walk to the mailbox twice during the week instead of drive every day. Save the goals of increasing weight on the bench press for your one-on-one time. This both ensures the safety of your clients as well as sustains the need for your in-person services.


    It's important to note that a typical phone coaching session will only last between five and 15 minutes. Avoid overwhelming your client with too much information during these calls. Keep it simple, stay on point, listen and remain in control over the conversation. Begin by asking how the prior week went, and discuss the goals that were set during the previous call. Did they accomplish them? If so, congratulate them. If not, ask them to tell you about the challenges that kept them from completing the goal. Then be sure to re-adjust for the following week. Ask what challenges they face during the week ahead. Allow them time to set one or two small, attainable goals.


    Recap their goals, and end the call. Be sure to take detailed notes upon call completion to keep track of each client's progress.


    Offering telephonic coaching to your members can increase revenues between $600 to $3,000 per month. Your clients already pay for your time and expertise. You will be amazed by how many will pay the additional fee for the increased insurance in the success of their program. Even more, phone coaching can be done anywhere. You don't have to be at the gym to make your calls. Why not work with your clients while sitting in traffic?


    Jackie Szatkowski, BS, CPT, is the owner and head trainer of The AZ 360 Fitness Corporation (, a company that offers one-on-one training, phone coaching, online training and nutrition. She has her degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and has been in the health and fitness industry for over 16 years. She is also a freelance writer in health and fitness field. You can contact Jackie at