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The Online Coaching Controversy

Posted Sep 12 2008 9:14am
There’s been a lot of blowback on the web lately regarding online coaching. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s essentially where someone from a remote location wants more specific help with their training, so they enlist a qualified coach to write their programming for them. As I write this, I have several online clients from Europe, one from Japan, and one from China. Needless to say, without the Internet, this wouldn’t be possible.

In my case, I tend to get a lot of injured or beat-up people who need proper programming to get them healthy. At first, I didn’t really like the idea. I mean, how can you really help someone when you can’t see them? How do you know what days they should crank it up, or what days to reel them back in?

Quite simply, you don’t. It’s not THE most efficient way to train people. But, in that same vein, it’s truly helpful for those who either don’t know how to program for themselves, or simply have no desire to. There are always going to be special cases or people with more major problems than you can solve via the Internet, but these people are generally few and far between. Even in person, they’re still going to be your tougher cases.

Now, some people on the Internet will say that it’s an online coach’s job to teach that person how to program for themselves. Really? Last time I checked this person wants a program, not an education. Now I’m more than willing to explain exactly why I chose a certain exercise, set/rep scheme, etc., but quite often the people I work with don’t give a shit about what they’re doing, as long as it works. Along these same lines, you can give someone the basic tools in a few months, but it’s just not possible to give them all your knowledge in that time frame, especially when the bulk of your interaction is via e-mail.

I have had one or two clients who want me to coach them on the “art” of program design, but they are few and far between. The people that I work with view this as outsourcing on their part. I outsource my financial planning because that person is an expert/professional in their field, and even if I know a lot about the topic, I’ll probably never know as much as someone who dedicates their life to it. In all honesty I don’t care what my financial planner does with my money, as long as I get the returns that I want. The same can be said of online coaches.

So there’s my piece – hopefully it gives you an idea as to how and why an online coaching service may help you.

Stay strong
Mike Robertson
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