Be like elite coaches and take your career to the next level — fast. How? Read outside the box.
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If you’re like me, you’re hungry for great ideas that’ll make your inspiration skyrocket and help you take your coaching career to the next level.
You want to make your mark on the health and fitness world, give your clients more than they even asked for, and deliver results that make their friends do a double-take and say, “Wow, who’s your trainer?”
As a fitness and nutrition coach, I’m always looking for ways to educate and inspire myself to be better (and better, and better) at what I do.
But I’m not always down for a pricey weekend course that requires rubbing elbows at some swanky hotel. Okay, I’m never down for that.
Which is why I look for inspiration and wisdom — plus killer, get-you-to-the-top ideas — in different places. And, most often, I find them in books.
As a follow-up to our previous article on top practices of elite coaches, here I share six more next-level coaching ideas, and the books that gave them to me.
Buy, borrow, or steal one of these books today. Put what you learn into practice. And, one year from now, you’ll be amazed at the progress.
6 (more) things elite coaches do
1. Elite coaches really connect with their clients.
It takes a ton of skill to properly assess clients’ diet and fitness levels, develop customized workouts and nutrition plans, track behaviors, and measure clients’ progress.
And it takes practice to motivate a client to do another push-up — without making them want to kill you.
But you know what takes the most skill? Getting them to talk to you.
Elite coaches don’t limit conversations to “here’s what you have to do” (after all, lack of knowledge is rarely the main barrier to behavior change). They know how to talk to clients in a way that nurtures real human connection.
Why? Well it’s not just to be fancy or different.
By asking sincere questions, elite coaches develop an understanding of why their clients want to change in the first place. What you start to realize: The best, most effective answers in health coaching are the ones clients arrive at themselves.
Read: Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, by Edgar H. Schein
As a culture that emphasizes telling, we’ve lost the art of asking. This book will help you recover it to improve your coaching business by deepening your relationships with clients.
Written by a social and organizational psychologist, Humble Inquiry teaches you not just to ask questions, but how to ask good ones — those based on sincere curiosity and the desire to help.
By creating a climate of openness, you’ll be better equipped to help clients through the most challenging moments so they can keep going rather than burn out and quit.
2. Elite coaches make their clients want it.
Here’s a hideous but undeniable truth: A lot of times, people just starting down the health and fitness path only think they want it.
You’ve probably seen it a million times. New clients get a taste for how hard it’ll be to change their eating habits, do the extra 10 squats, run another mile, and rearrange their lives for all of it… and it turns out that maybe they didn’t want it so badly, after all.
Elite coaches have a way of inspiring their clients — in every single session — to want the hard work. They know how to draw out hopes, dreams, fears, and disappointments so clients will “discover” for themselves — as many times as necessary — whatever pain they’re trying to stamp out by getting healthy.
Sound like therapy? It kind of is. That’s why elite coaches’ clients often feel better after a session, and it’s how top-tier trainers keep clients coming back and deliver unparalleled results.
Read: How to Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
One of the most popular and effective self-improvement books ever written, this 80-year-old gem will help you polish your interpersonal skills to the point that your clients will follow you anywhere (yes, even through another horrendous set of squats).
The book offers tons of actionable ideas for inspiring and influencing people simply by becoming slick in conversation. The essence: To make someone open up, you have to come from a place of honest appreciation, praise, and sympathy.
To influence and motivate, you have to make the client realize why she wants to do it for herself.
3. Elite coaches help the “competition.”
Want to know a secret? To an elite coach, there’s no such thing as competition.
I love this Dr. Seuss quote that’s been going around:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
Elite coaches don’t feel insecure about what other coaches are doing, because they understand that we’re all unique. They know how to use their individuality as an advantage in their careers.
Rather than competing, and hiding, and hoarding their knowledge, elite coaches create a trusted tribe of other professionals in the wellness field, sharing new ideas and helping each other improve.
With the power of a tribe behind you, you’re bound to get further up the career ladder than you would have otherwise.
Why? Because rather than chipping away at ways to improve as a coach, you’ve got dozens of friends and colleagues out in the field testing innovative concepts and figuring out what works best.
Help make those in your tribe successful, and then you’re more likely to be successful, too.
Read: Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi
Forget “networking” and all the cheesy hand shaking and business card delving that comes with it. This book shows you how to use true, no-bullshit relationship building to get your coaching career to soar to amazing heights.
It’s not about keeping score (and settle in, because it can be months or years of relationship building before you see tangible rewards). It’s about constant communication, remaining visible, and doing things for people even when you need nothing in return.
4. Elite coaches develop trademarks.
Sure, elite coaches are good at what they do.
But being good is no longer enough. You have to be remarkable.
Elite coaches are creative and innovative with their ideas and teaching techniques, and they’ve got the agility required to be super-responsive to their clients’ individual needs.
The result: Elite coaches do things that make them stand out. They build a reputation for being different, becoming worthy of mention — and getting that word-of-mouth marketing train rolling.
When a friend asks your client, “How’s your coach?”, do you want her to say, “Oh, he’s pretty good!” or, “Oh my god, you’ve GOT to meet him. He’s amazing!”?
Read: Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable, by Seth Godin
I was so inspired reading this, and I think you will be, too.
The book points out how important it is to draw attention to your product by being different from the rest. Stand out like a purple cow, and clients will come.
Whether you make yourself the cheapest, the most expensive, the biggest, the smallest, the fastest, the slowest — the point is to explore the limits of what’s possible, to experiment and see what breaks.
Sounds risky? It is. But not as risky as being ordinary.
5. Elite coaches find a focus (and stick with it).
“Doing it all” is a myth.
Elite coaches have no interest in “doing it all” — providing every coaching service under the sun, knowing everything about every hot diet trend, reading every health column, attending every seminar. They know it’s futile and counter-productive.
Spreading yourself too thin is a first-class ticket to disappointment and failure. Instead, top-notch coaches figure out what’s truly crucial among their particular market and clientele, and they go do that.
Read: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown
How do you know if something is worth doing?
I love this: “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”
This book will teach you how to be more discerning with options and find your focus, your “essentials.” You’ll learn to develop the discipline and strategy elite coaches use to cut the fat in their careers and put time toward only things that are truly important.
If you can figure out how to “do less, but better,” you’ll have more control over your career and your coaching business should flourish.
6. Elite coaches have a response for everything.
“How did your food diary go this week?”
“You want to start with weights or cardio?
“How are you feeling today?”
It can be torture to empower and motivate a client in the depths of an I-don’t-wanna mentality.
Elite coaches have seen it all, and they know how to get past even the toughest client pushbacks in order to get the most out of each session.
Read: Effective Techniques for Dealing with Highly Resistant Clients, by Clifton W. Mitchell
This super-practical text offers ready-to-go strategies for handling even your most challenging clients. You’ll learn what coaching pitfalls to avoid (and you’ll be surprised — it turns out that certain habits most coaches have can be big mistakes).
Once you read this, there won’t be a single client pushback or prolonged silence you can’t answer (and beat).
If you’re a coach, or you want to be…
You can help people build nutrition and lifestyle habits that improve their physical and mental health, bolster their immunity, help them better manage stress, and get sustainable results. We'll show you how.
If you’d like to learn more, consider the PN Level 1 Nutrition Coaching Certification.