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To Coach, or Be Coached?

There are a variety of coaches and trainers (online and in person) available, and it took me 18 months to take the plunge and begin working with Jessi, but I am so glad I did!
Foreword: This blog was written by a long-term SoBoss client, Hannah Keyes who has since received her PT certification and undergone an intensive training program to become a highly skilled SoBoss coach! To learn more about Hannah, check out her bio here.

We have the world at our fingertips, and there is a plethora of good (and even more BAD) information available with the click of a mouse or rattling of a keyboard. Here is a little input – whys and hows  – on where to begin: I would absolutely recommend doing research online to learn about flexible dieting, macronutrients, the basics of training, and what is out there in terms of coaching. There are a variety of coaches and trainers (online and in person) available, and it took me 18 months to take the plunge and begin working with Jessi, but I am so glad I did! I completed my first 18 months of flexible dieting and weight lifting on my own, but hit a plateau and wanted some help to push me to the next level.


A coach will provide a new level of accountability that you may not be able to hold yourself to. I remember the first time I read that SoBoss check-ins were due Monday mornings, and I immediately thought to myself: “Monday? As in the day after Saturday and Sunday!?” These were the days I had always half ignored my macros or considered my “cheat days,” and it absolutely made progress nearly impossible and definitely not consistent. I was essentially starting over every Monday, not always physically, but definitely mentally. Having someone to check in with every week will increase the chances of staying consistent with your macros and training. Each week there is a reason as to why you should stick with your program…you must be transparent and honest every Monday, and you will want to have progress and changes to show for all of your hard work! Also, you get to hold your coach accountable! They are providing a service and you have expectations of them, just as they have of you. But there was a third component of accountability I did not realize this until I started with SoBoss – every week I was receiving detailed feedback, and all of my questions were addressed and answered. Also, the training program was diligently based around my goals, as well as my macros. With Jessi working hard to give me the tools to make changes, I wanted to work hard to apply them.  I had made more progress in the 6 months I had worked with Jessi than in the 18 months I did my macros and training on my own prior (and 3 of the 6 months had been spent on a reverse diet! More on that next…)

What is a Reasonable Goal?

What is reasonable goal? I came to Jessi with the intentions of “losing fat, gaining muscle, and getting stronger,” (sound familiar?!) The first thing she told me was I had to pick one of the three as my initial goal, and that I cannot accomplish all of these at once – but we could absolutely tackle the goals in phases. One of the most important qualities of a good coach is honesty. If you come to someone with those above goals and they tell you, “Absolutely, this is possible!” They are not being honest, and setting themselves, and most importantly YOU as clients, up for failure. After brainstorming with Jessi, she gave me long term goal consisting of a 12 week cut and reverse dieting phase with the (insane) intention of potentially competing in the spring of 2017, then prep. She absolutely listened to what I was asking for, and laid it out for me to understand that we accomplish all of my “wants”, but it would take a longer period of time, and occur in stages. With honesty comes reasonable expectations, and achievable goals. Of course we look to kill all birds with one stone in the easiest and fastest way possible, but these fitness and lifestyle goals are much more attainable if you see this journey as a book, and treat each phase as a chapter. You will only disappoint yourself if you set unreasonable goals from the start. Be patient. Be consistent!

Be Skeptical

We all know how challenging the weight loss/transformation journey is, and there are no quick fixes or immediate changes that will bring “dramatic results” overnight. The process requires patience and work. You are purchasing a service from a coach, so ask questions, investigate their methods, and inquire with past or present clients! Be wary of anyone marketing “guarantees” or “promising you will see results in X days.” Obviously that is the goal of any coach, but every person is different – we are individuals! And that means individualized training, different macros, and certain tweaks and adjustments in order to reach your goal. The only guarantees you should be looking for are the commitment of a coach to their client, the promise for open communication and honesty, and the commitment to yourself to work your hardest.

The Mental Effort

While I was doing my own programs, the majority of my mental energy was spent deciding how and when I should adjust my macros and training. “Do I drop 5g carbs this week, or increase my cardio? Should I increase my reps and decrease weight, or focus on strength and hypertrophy next?” My training became mentally draining, and rather than focusing on my lifts and the hour of “me time,” I instead spent my time in the gym wondering and worrying about adjustments. The gym is my sanctuary, my quiet time to focus on my mind and body, and I began losing that as I felt I was no longer reaching the goals I had set for myself. This was the perfect time to begin looking into coaching and training options. There is absolutely nothing wrong with starting on your own! And I wouldn’t change that 18 months I spent learning, but to have someone else take the data and calculate your training and macros based on your set of goals is a weight lifted off (or on?) your shoulders! My mental energy is now spent on focusing on my lifts and training, and I don’t even question or worry about my programs. It’s one of my favorite parts of having the guidance of a coach.

Find Someone You Trust!

This is so important. Your journey is much more personal than you can even anticipate – yes you will be sending these strangers bathroom selfies (and if you are shy like me, the first time I even took a half-naked picture of myself was to send it to Jessi for progress photos…I’m still blushing), but the emotional journey is much greater than you can anticipate. There will be struggles and deep feelings of the past that surface when you least expect it. There is great physical progress while working with a coach, but incredible emotional changes that also occur, and you will want to work with someone that either understands or is very sympathetic and supportive when you need it most.  A coach should be someone that helps in times of struggle, and celebrates the triumphs. You should never be afraid to express the challenges, or worry that what you are feeling “isn’t normal” or is unrelated to your fitness journey. One of Jessi’s greatest qualities is her empathy – there will not be a situation or feeling she has not experienced, and she will absolutely help you through it. I feel like I have a support system in my coach, and I am beyond grateful for it!

It’s an Investment!

Lastly, choosing a coach or trainer is absolutely a large investment, so ask questions!! A good coach will have an email address or messaging board to inquire with them about options, expectations, more information on themselves, how to set goals, their approach with training, etc. Ask any and all questions you have! (And keep this open communication once you choose a coach! Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions; “why did my reps increase? What is the benefit of HIIT cardio v. steady state?” and also be honest with them in terms of what workouts you liked and didn’t like. Your coach will never know how you’re feeling if you don’t tell them!) I emailed Jessi a few times prior to purchasing my first 12-week training package, and she was diligent and thorough, and answered all of my questions. I felt confident in the plan we came up with, my goals, the process, and timelines – I felt heard! You must choose someone you feel will work with you and that you are on the same page with in terms of training and nutrition. I also loved Jessi’s approach of flexible dieting, and enjoying life in moderation throughout the whole process! If I inquired with a coach that told me there were 35 ways to cook tilapia, I know I just could not do it. I needed the flexible dieting approach to be incorporated in my training, or I knew it would not be maintainable and sustainable long term. You are much more likely to succeed when you chose a program and coach that you believe in and agree with! Don’t just select a coach because of their social media popularity or reputation within the industry, choose them because you want them to guide you in your journey, and you trust them!

P.S. You don’t have to look at it as an all-or-nothing approach. There are multiple options such as a 3 month training or nutrition-only options, e-books for DIY macro calculations, and full coaching (training + macro programs) available! Inquire to chat with us about your goals!