Client Goals: The Transformation Picture vs. Wellbeing Debate

In the fitness industry at present there seems to be different camps evolving when it comes to “coaching philosophies”. There seems to be a prevalence of coaches/facilities that just worry about transformation photos, and there is coaches/facilities that advertise a more “wellness” based approach. The problem here is placing yourself in either camp is in my opinion naive and that good coaching would ensure that both of these concepts can be achieved, and that it is most certainly not a case of “its one or the other”. These two concepts should not be separate. Coaching should cater for the clients goals, health and well being as a whole. That is the job of a highly educated coach. 

The problem we have at the moment is we have one side that gets great transformation photos but often the clients health and well being is compromised from crazy low calorie diets and lack of education on how to cope with it, excess amounts of cardio with no planning for after a goal is achieved, no care for nutrient deficiencies or health markers, and no coaching on how to cope with their food relationship. Don’t get me wrong there is sometimes a need for calories to be pushed low, and cardio to be pushed up depending on someones goal, but it needs to be done safely and with education given on how to cope with it. The education of it, is the part that goes missing.

We then have another side that goes down the route of pushing wellness and wellbeing as their philosophy, and one that speaks negatively about transformation photos, branding them “unhealthy”. You will hear the phrase “happiness isn’t about how you look”, which is true in the right context BUT there is absolutely nothing with taking pride in how you look, especially if you have worked hard to do so. If you look after all your health markers such as nutrition, cardio work and strength training you will as an automatic byproduct look better. With the numerous people I have worked with, I am yet to meet someone who wouldn’t be happy to improve their body composition in the gym. Yes you can be very content with your appearance, but seeking self improvement is how we as people progress and avoid staying stagnant in life in general. This includes body composition, strength and performance. A wellness approach preaches stress management, happiness and peace of mind – which are all things that should be part of a transformation anyway.

Key point here, it should not be two separate approaches. Good coaching looks after every concept

A great transformation needs to address all health markers first. You need to address digestion, sleep and stress which are all factors that effect mood and ultimately “happiness”. This is physiologically the truth, not hypothetically. Digestive health, sleep and stress all effect your neurotransmitters and hormones that regulate things such as mood, energy, drive, motivation and habit. Things such as serotonin, dopamine, melatonin and GABBA, all neurotransmitters that effect your ability to be motivated, get excited, relax, and chill out are all effected by your lifestyle habits – especially your nutrition. This is a massive part in achieving a transformation, as nutrition plays a crucial role. So to think being happy has to be separate from chasing your body composition, is extremely false when done right. Good coaching will put the clients needs first and look after sleep, stress and lifestyle before pushing for a body composition change. You have to address someones poor habits and build up there education first, to allow them to successfully achieve the results they want, again proving that good coaching will encompass both well being and a transformation.

Being a coach that parks your bias in one camp and completely disregards all other concepts closes off your ability to progress as a coach, and halves your ability to get a client results and help them improve their life. Being open minded to all options as a coach, is vital for success. Back to the original point here, transformation photos and well being should all be looked after with quality coaching, its not a case of one or the other.