Coach Vs. Trainer

Coach Vs. Trainer

I’m engaged in a conversation with a stranger at the gym when he asks me what I do for a living. Such a mundane question should have a simple answer, but for me as a coach, it couldn’t be more complicated. 

As I tell him I’m a personal trainer, you can hear the pain in my voice. Before he groups me with the stereotypical jocks and their overworked and overworn clients, I mention that I implement therapy principles.

This situation is one that I’m met with often, as it can be complicated to describe my innovative, energetic style that allows me to combine creativity with my passion for fitness. Let me walk you through the list of job titles that don’t seem to fit.

Life Coach:

While this is slightly more accurate than “personal trainer,” it sounds a little extreme. It doesn’t portray a sense of responsibility or relay the true message that I share with my clients.

Strength and Conditioning Coach:

Slightlyyyy closer. This usually brings up mental images of a yoga-pilates-crossfit-bodypump coach, but it does speak a larger message. 

Strength is the basis of physiological gains and without it, you’re limiting your ability to improve in all areas. Conditioning speaks to the energy system training we design and implement into our programs. Yet in this title too, many facets of my job go unaccounted for.

Coach Vs. Trainer:

I’m a coach. I’m not a trainer. My goal is to help you achieve your goals outside of the gym and if we’re intentional, you’ll be able to achieve your goals inside the gym at the same time.

(Some) Components of Being a (Good) Coach:

Quality, Not Quantity:

It’s not hard to kick someone’s ass. Anyone can tell you to do some push-ups, but it takes intentionality and knowledge to help someone achieve their goals.

I know why you should perform an exercise in a certain way and whether you’re qualified to do it. I understand your level of capability and tailor exercises to your needs and abilities.

Self-Limiting Factors:

It’s easy to believe we have limits. What takes practice is realizing that we have the ability to overcome them. My job is to find as many self-limiting factors as possible and eliminate them. This alone will improve your mental and physical performance.


Understanding recovery means realizing that it’s probably not what you are doing, it’s what you’re not doing. You’re not eating enough quality foods or getting enough sleep and sunlight. You’re never taking time to unwind your nervous system, taking nights off, or staying out of bars. If everything in your life is a stressor, you’re not going to see the results you want. Period.

Chronic stress will bury you!

Seeing the Full Picture:

What you do inside of the weight room shouldn’t define you. It should allow you to be better at whatever it is that helps define you. It’s a means to an end. 

The weight room is a tool that allows you to improve things like your marathon time and your overall athleticism. It should be a modality that feeds your desire to do more things of real value. It’s a long-term investment. 

Our society has become fixated on exercise as a measuring stick of who you are as a person. Instead, let’s focus on holistic, achievable goals that will benefit every area of your health. If you’re in constant pain, it doesn’t matter how much you can deadlift.


Building confidence will have a bigger effect on your life outside of the gym than any strength and energy system training will. 

Whether it’s going for a walk without pain, joining the “four plate” club, or doing a bodyweight pull up for the first time, my job is all about helping people see what they’re truly capable of.  You can always do more than you believe you can.

Quick fix results in fitness and weight gain and loss don’t exist. It’s the equivalent of a financial investment that has quick gains and an ultimate plan for bankruptcy. Dr. Richard Wood used to tell us that “95% of people who lose 30 pounds or more gain it all back within the year.”

Behavioral Changes:

Don’t sell yourself short. Invest in a long term plan and stick to it. If you fall off the wagon, get back on. Few people can overhaul their bad habits within a week. You have to make small changes. Change one thing at a time, slowly.

Your last stop:

As a coach, my clients appreciate the quality in which I strive to do my job. Alongside my team, I provide an all-encompassing scope of health, from nutrition, mindfulness, and fitness (not just “kicking your ass” for an hour-and-a-half, twice a week). Although, we can do that too.

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