This article is brought to you by fitness “influencers” who claim to have all the knowledge, despite relying 100% on their coach for their fitness goals.
Don’t get me wrong, coaches certainly have their place in fitness. Hiring those who have the pedigree to guide others toward their goals can be especially beneficial; I’d never suggest otherwise.
However, where I’ve found people go wrong is taking what they’re “taught” and disavowing everything else there is to learn. That’s a shame. The potential for knowledge gained through questioning and researching is nearly infinite. To rely 100% on the advice of a single mentor is a quick way to cutting potential short.
What do Joseph Campbell, Star Wars, and fitness all have in common?
The (Fitness) Hero’s Journey
In Joseph Campbell’s A Hero With A Thousand Faces, he brought to light what he calls The Hero’s Journey. This journey is heavily leaned on in storytelling, and Campbell has often been criticized for supposedly providing Hollywood a formulaic outline for stories.
For example, as much as you Star Wars fanboys might hate me for this, that epic story found in The Last Hope is simply the apotheosis of The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell did not create the Hero’s Journey, though. It dates back nearly to the dawn of storytelling. The prime example would be Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey.
I’m fully aware this whole thing might seem like an overdramatization. Self-improvement isn’t saving distressed damsels or pompous princes from dragons. It’s just…well…fitness. Right?
Wrong. Any endeavor in pursuit of growth and betterment is a heroic endeavor of the self. That includes fitness. And in a hero’s journey, there are acts and steps. Bear with me.
Look at the steps in Act 1: Here’s how they can apply to real-life.
- Ordinary World: Eating donuts and binge-watching You on Netflix
- Call To Action: Looking down at your belly. When did that roll get there?! I should hit the gym and start eating healthier.
- Refusal: Netflix goes to the next episode automatically. Your box of donuts isn’t empty yet.
- Meeting with the Mentor: Maybe a commercial comes up. Or we just fast forward to that you’ve gotten a trial pass to the gym. Whatever. You get offered a few free sessions. Obviously, you take them. Why wouldn’t you?! This is free knowledge (i.e. free power)
- Crossing the Threshold: The moment when you have learned enough to grow without the mentor by your side. (They’ll be with you in spirit, don’t worry.)
Meeting With The Mentor
In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke finds a mentor in Obi-Wan, who introduces him to the grandness of the universe, teaches him the way of the force, and even warns him about the Dark Side. Mentor is just a cooler word for a coach, and Obi-Wan is Luke’s first coach.
But, in case you missed this tragic moment, In A New Hope, Obi-Wan faced off against Darth Vader. And this time, he did not have the higher ground. ZZzzzt! Light sabered.
Luke lost his first coach. The decision to leave his mentor, take what he had learned — then nourish that knowledge and let it grow — was thrust on him. He didn’t get to make that choice on his own. Although this moment was almost as traumatic for him as Jar Jar Binks’ existence was for us, in a way, it made things easier for the future (quasi) bringer of balance.
Because Luke was forced to grow without his mentor. Unless finances dictate otherwise, that’s not an occurrence for those of us who have ever worked with a coach. We must choose to go out alone, cross the threshold, and learn for ourselves.
But, in order to truly master a craft, at some point we must forge our steel without the guidance of a set mentor. We must cross the threshold.
This is not to say we will be without a mentor forever, it just means without a specific, chosen mentor. Nor does it mean that without a hired coach we’ll be isolated from potential knowledge. We just have to look in different areas.
Luke learned plenty from Han Solo, Leia, and even from the opposition of his “father”. And later on, Yoda coached him. He did not become the badass cloaked in black, saving Han from Jabba in Return of the Jedi without some extra coaching from the wise — but syntax challenged — green goblin.
Side note: is it just me, or did Luke radiate some serious sith vibes in the opening scenes of Return of the Jedi? Hmmm.
My point here is that if you approach fitness, nutrition, and supplementation with a student mindset you will never be without a coach. Think about it, if you’ve ever researched, you’ve read someone else’s work. That’s a form of mentorship. If you’ve watched a YouTube video, whoever you watched was your mentor for the duration of time you watched their content. Even experience can be a coach if you allow yourself to perceive it as such.
Sure, these new coaches might not be ones you hire, so you might find yourself without someone to:
- Write you a cookie-cutter meal plan that drops so low in calories you might as well become a breathertarian
- Dictate your new hamster-on-a-treadmill life — gotta burn 400 calories from the 1200 calorie diet, obviously
- Then prescribe the emergency brake — the all-miraculous primrose oil — to somehow reverse the side effects their “guidance” has caused:
- Metabolic damage
- Blimping (when your body blows up the moment it gets any nutrients)
- Hormonal demolition
But who knows…maybe you’ll be better off without that coach.
The Right Coach For You
Personally, I think that anyone who claims they’re totally self-taught is full of gastrointestinal blockage. While I pride myself on having the ability to efficiently research, apply gained knowledge, self-experiment, etc. that’s still — as stated previously — learning from others.
Likewise, I’ve certainly had my fair share of dedicated coaches in the past. There have been some great ones, and there’ve been some pretty terrible ones…actually it was just one. But he was horrible enough to count for three bad experiences. Nonetheless, I’m eternally grateful for him. Without his expertise, I would have never decided to pursue the path of fitness nerd. Bonus: he taught me the wonders of Primrose Oil!
The right coach for you can be dictated by many things, but the biggest factor is to look for one that fits the current you. In fitness, you can’t know your future without at least having a vague idea of where you are at in the present.
Here’s what to keep in mind.
Specific Fitness Goals
If you are a powerlifter who wants to transition into bodybuilding, it wouldn’t make much sense to hire a coach who specialized in strength training. Sure, strength training and bodybuilding are intertwined but to build the ideal physique takes more than just watching your lifting PRs go up. It requires various angles, different rep ranges, and different techniques.
Likewise, if you’re a bodybuilder who wants to branch off into Yoga, then obviously you’d want to attend a yoga class, not hire a trainer who thinks your fitness goals require thirty minutes of battle rope.
If you are confident in your training methods but know you lack in nutrition knowledge — thus hindering fat loss goals — then seeking out an expert in that area is optimal. A qualified dietitian or nutritionist that can help you in that area.
The opposite is also true. Say you have a degree in nutrition but have spent most of your life on a treadmill and find that’s no longer enough, then hire a personal trainer.
If you are interested in doing bodybuilding competitions but have no clue what to do with the physique you’ve built, then find yourself a posing coach.
Online coaches have become somewhat of a joke. Customizable plans that are really just three different prewritten workout routines or diet plans with slightly adjusted macros. Not all do this, obviously, but a lot. The same goes for many trainers and, well, any position of mentorship in fitness. That one-size-fits-all approach to mentorship is detrimental to any clients (you).
Make sure whoever it is you hire has the knowledge and willingness to help you find a diet or workout routine that works for you.
For example, if you want to try keto, but the coach hates the keto diet then find one believes keto can work. Same goes if you have zero intention of giving up cookies; a coach that’s dogmatic about low carbs isn’t the one for you.
Credentials & Reviews
When researching, check out a coach’s certifications. Not just levels of expertise, but areas of expertise as well. These can be a good way to know beforehand how helpful they might be.
Certifications are a piece of paper. While they can translate over to the efficacy of a coach, that doesn’t mean they always will. Sadly, there’s not much of a Yelp when it comes to coaches. (This would be ideal for clients, but would likely drive away business for many coaches.)
Still, with social media these days, you could probably dig up one or two past clients to get an idea. Might take some boldness on your part, but could save you time, energy, and money in the long run.
Opinions On Supplements
Call me biased (it’s okay, I am). But there are coaches out there who believe supplements are the last piece of the puzzle. That is absolutely absurd. If you hear a coach say that, run in the opposite direction.
Yes, you should focus on your diet and your training, but ignoring supplementation is just silly. If you are on a weight loss journey, it’s likely there are nutrients you’ll have to cut from your diet, and equally as likely, you’ll have less energy. It’s also possible your hormones will be affected. Supplements can help you mitigate those effects.
- HEAT Fat Burner: Finally, a fat burner that doesn’t rely solely on caffeine to help weight loss!* Boost metabolism,* utilize thermogenesis,* cut water weight,* support hormones with cortisol control ingredients.*
- Organic Greens: Let’s be honest, you can really only eat so many vegetables. Okay, maybe I’m projecting. Nonetheless, our Greens deliver the quality micronutrients to help you feel fantastic even when you’re at a nutrient deficit.
- BAMF (Nootropic Pre-workout): Promote healthy brain functions,* improve memory recall,* dial in the mind-muscle connection,* potent pump,* high energy,* endurance,* and here’s a yet-to-be-well-known secret: Hordenine, one of the key ingredients in BAMF not only delivers HYPER FOCUS,* but it also boosts metabolism.*
- RACKED BCAAs: Heat up every workout with these BCAAs. They don’t just help with muscle recovery.* They increase body temperature and signal to your system to burn more fat for fuel.* WARNING: You will sweat. A lot.
Building muscle is no less daunting of a task. Things to take into consideration. Strength gain. Better recovery between sets. Better muscle recovery. Protein synthesis. Muscle endurance. Hormones. Nutrient partitioning. Even the “perfect” diet won’t provide everything necessary for such admirable goals.
- ALL BULK NO BLOAT (Zero Calorie Mass Gainer): ABNB is commonly referred to as “cheat codes.” It challenges the idea that calories are everything when it comes to gaining muscle. It helps with hormones,* muscle recovery,* protein synthesis,* mitochondria function,* and nutrient uptake.* Nutrient uptake is vastly overlooked when it comes to the importance of gains. Metaphor time! If you’re driving without a GPS in a city you’ve never visited, chances are pretty high you’ll get lost. Your food is the same. And ALL BULK NO BLOAT is the GPS system.
- Six Point Creatine: Creatine Monohydrate is fine, but it’s only part of the picture. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. It’s responsible for the reproduction of ATP (the body’s anaerobic energy source), which as you might imagine is pretty important. So, you decide. Do you want just one type of creatine powering your cells, or do you want a full team?
- The Original BCAAs (2:1:1): The OG. Some companies try to say there’s something magical about their BCAA formula, but the tried and true 2:1:1 formula is king for a reason. 3g of Leucine for protein synthesis stacked with Isoleucine & Valine for optimal recovery and growth.* Plus, ingredients for hydration.* Because duh, hydration equals gains, every time.
- RUT: Testosterone Booster: Testosterone is one of the most important hormones when it comes to building muscle. RUT has everything necessary to improve test naturally.* Vitamin D3 for any potential deficiencies.* Tongkat Ali, which specializes in improving libido and elevating low test to baseline.* DIM helps moderate cortisol,* a stress hormone that can hinder fitness goals. Then the rest of the RUT team takes over and straps a jetpack to testosterone.
Look within your budget. That’s obvious. If you’re not balling out, chances are you won’t be able to afford whoever it was that trained Hemsworth to become Thor. Not the Thor in Avengers: End Game, obviously. That one’s easy. Pizza, donuts, beer, chips, more beer.
If you can’t find a coach that fits your budget, or if you can’t allocate funds to hiring a coach. Don’t stress it. That’s what we’re here for!
Things To Keep In Mind
If you have a coach and they’re working well for you, that’s awesome. But don’t take on all their views and then force them on others. Fitness isn’t a dogma. It’s not “your team vs. my team” situation.
Question everything. If you don’t have a hired coach, don’t read just one article and accept that mentor’s words. Check for a study, look for a second opinion, experiment for yourself. If you do have a coach, don’t take everything they say as gospel. Your coach is not your messiah.
While a hired coach can be useful, you do not need one to improve your fitness.
This is the Age of Information. There are resources everywhere. Hell, you’re reading one right now, and if there’s ever a topic you want us to cover, feel free to let us know in the comments section below!
Not to mention, there’s one thing a coach can’t do for you that resources like this blog can. And this is a pretty big one…