Over my decade of working in the fitness industry, I’ve come to realise that “personal trainer” is not only an inaccurate way of describing exactly what I do, but that adhering to this job description alone simply isn’t enough to help my clients get the results they deserve.

I’ve now developed a more holistic practice to help my clients and have began to notice more of the most experienced trainers I know going down a similar route. We don’t simply describe ourselves as “personal trainers”, but also as “lifestyle coaches”.

Here are some of the differences in our practice and some reasons for considering the lifestyle coach approach.

In depth and personal consultations

I like to sit down with my clients one on one for a good hour before we even start to think about setting foot in the gym. The goal is to understand their lifestyle on every level – not just how much exercise they’ve been doing recently. Together we look at their job, sleep, stress, diet, social life, motivations and likes and dislikes. Only once I feel like I’ve got a thorough picture do we start to think about what a realistic and sustainable lifestyle goal for them might look like.

Goals for life

I like to look at the kind of goals that will help someone overall with their mental state and everyday life. That means that weight loss for aesthetic reasons or lifting an arbitrary weight on a gym machine won’t cut it. Instead, the goal could be “improve self esteem”, which we’ll do via helping you achieve smaller physical goals you never thought you’d be able to do – it can be as simple as learning how to headstand or doing a pull up. If you walk out of each session with a smile on your face, feeling proud and amazed at your own ability, then we’re going in the right direction.

We don’t switch off at the gym door

Once the goal is set, we’ll do whatever it takes to help you achieve it. I stay in touch with my clients on Whatsapp – in fact one of the first things I do with my clients is to get them to send me photographs of each of their meals for two weeks to enable me to get a deeper understanding of their long term nutritional picture. If I see any obvious outliers, I’ll try to understand the “why” behind it – they may well have had an argument with their partner, slept badly and felt like they needed a comfort pick up. If I can tell that something isn’t working, we’ll meet up to chat through why this is. If it’s because their head isn’t in the right place, we’ll take extra time to talk through their stresses.

Delivering health solutions

At the end of the day, my goal with each client is to deliver an overall fitness and lifestyle solution that sticks with them for life. In my experience, this takes this much deeper level of understanding, time and commitment from both myself and the client. Your body is intimately connected with your mind, so it only makes sense to do the job properly and treat both with the same level of importance.