5 things to look for in an Online Coach

Nowadays it seems like everyone and their dog is providing some sort of online coaching, training, or nutritional guidance – for the right price of course.

And while many of them tote great stories of success (or post  motivational quotes on their instagram pages), it can be overwhelming for the average Joe to pick a coach that is best suited for THEM and their goals. And in such a saturated health and fitness industry, GOOD COACHES can be hard to differentiate from the BAD ones.

I hear horror stories from both clients and strangers; It more often-than-not involves someone paying money to an online, social media entity with a great body- toting “get a bikini-ready body”or “lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or “Cleanse your liver and melt fat!” or.. well, you get the point (I could go on for a week so I’ll stop while I still have your attention). After the money is paid they receive a plan meant for a seasoned triathlete training for the crossfit games, a meal plan that has them eating chicken breast and broccoli 6 times a day, or a coach that withholds justifications in plans and/or never gets back to them. And trust me, people can complain all they want but it’s hard to track down an online entity to demand answers or a refund. 

Don’t just sign up with someone because their website looks fancy or their butt looks big- ALWAYS do your homework and contact your potential coach with an interrogation of your own before you fork out any money. It’s always important to remember that you are paying for a service from someone else- they should be selling themselves to YOU, not the other way around! 

If you already have a coach and are unsure if they’re the right fit for you, take a look at the list below to see if any red flags come up. If they do, you might want to consider “firing” your current coach and transitioning to someone else! 

Be sure to look for these 5 characteristics in an online coach that will help you narrow down if they’re worth it or not:

1. CREDIBLE: is your coach QUALIFIED to coach you?

At the VERY LEAST they should be certified personal trainers, preferably with a nutrition certification or specialization. Extra credit goes to those with degrees in a science, nutrition, or exercise/kinesiology field. Extra EXTRA credit to those with masters or PhD’s.

Relevant experience is also important, so be sure to ask how long they’ve been coaching or training others, or even educating themselves! It is always okay to ask for testimonials or transformations from previous clients as well. 

2. EDUCATIONAL: does your coach take the time to answer your questions and help educate you when you ask, or do they simply tell you to follow their plan?

If you are inquiring with a potentially new coach, they should be open and willing to answer ANY and ALL of your questions. They should be prompt with replies and, in my opinion, thorough grammatically as well.

If you have a current coach who is unwilling to explain WHY they are using the tactics they are on you, please go find a coach who is. Your coach should ALWAYS have solidified reasons as to why they use the methods they do. Preferably it should be backed by credible research. PLEASE don’t ever let a coach tell you they gave you a specific plan because that’s “the way it is” or that’s “how it’s done”.

3. PROMPT: does your coach get back to you in a reasonable time?

As a paying customer, your coach (unless otherwise noted in automatic replies or a pre-agreed contract) has a responsibility to their clients. That means getting back to you within 24-48 hours (under 24 hours is usually my expectation) with changes, advice, answers, or comments.

If your coach takes multiple days, or god forbid WEEKS to get back to you? Kindly request your money back and find someone who is willing to perform the service you paid them for. 

4. RATIONAL WITH CLAIMS: does your coach use marketing tactics or fad diets to reel you in?

If your coach totes “fat burning foods” , “lose 30lbs in 30 days” or supports ANY fad diets (or demonizes any food groups) please do one thing for me right now… RUN!

Don’t get distracted by a nice booty- just because they have a great body doesn’t mean they are great coaches.

Any qualified, well-educated coach knows the importance of proper nutrition but also the stupidity of claiming certain foods “make you fat” (which hasn’t been proven when macronutrients/calories are controlled), “burn fat”, “detoxify [any organ]”, “directly cause cancer” or anything else ridiculous like that.The same goes for training. “spike your testosterone with this magic workout” or “burn stomach fat with these exercises” are also irrational claims marketed for people who don’t know any better. But you reading this right now? you’re smarter than that (and much better informed now that you’ve read this article). 

The aim of a coach is to give you a nutrition or training plan that suits your goals and needs, but doesn’t give you ridiculous claims  or tells you “superfoods” will make you burn fat. 

5. GIVES OUT FLEXIBLE, CUSTOM PLANS:  does your coach take your individual needs into account when designing you a plan? Do they accommodate your specific needs?

If you can tell a coach has given you the same plan as everyone else and their pet hamsters, please don’t waste your money on them. A good coach should send you a detailed questionnaire or have a thorough phone/skype interview with you before giving out a planwhich should be individualized to your training preferences, injuries, nutritional choices, schedule, and future goals. 

your coach should encourage whole food consumption, but allow flexibility for “less nutritious” foods in moderation.

Nutritionally speaking, a good coach will encourage flexible dieting or macronutrient coaching (with appropriate fibre goals and encourage whole foods consumption), but for those that may want more structure  or don’t want to count macros, a good coach will be able to provide a flexible meal plan that lines up with your daily macronutrient intake. The plans should NEVER restrict you of certain foods, rather structure more nutritious foods a majority of the day and give you flexibility to “treat” yourself in moderation. 

Your coach should ALWAYS ask you what foods YOU like to eat before creating a custom meal plan. If someone sends you a plan without asking you any questions about your current diet or foods you ENJOY EATING, that’s a major red flag, and indicates they just gave you a cookie-cutter meal plan that hasn’t been individualized to you and your preferences. Send the plan back and find someone else.

   –  You should NEVER have to force yourself to eat a food you don’t like (case in point: no one likes tilapia).

 –  No one wants to eat chicken and asparagus 6 times a day either, nor should you have to if your coach actually knows what they are doing with your nutrition.

The same goes for training, if you like specific exercises (within reason- and it won’t lead to injury or total physical break down. Don’t ask your coach to give you America Ninja Warrior monkey bar drills if you can’t even do 10 pull-ups) your coach should be able to fit them into your weekly workout routine. Don’t ever be afraid to let your coach know what you want.

And, while this isn’t a characteristic on the list, please make sure you LIKE, BELIEVE IN, and TRUST your coach. If there is no trust in them, your motivation to stick to a plan in the long run is going to be nonexistent. 

Be picky! At the end of the day, keep in mind YOU are paying for a service from THEM, not the other way around. Never feel guilty for switching coaches if you don’t feel like the one you have isn’t right for you – or is just a bad coach in general. 



Interested in coaching with EVLV fit? Head over to our coaching page to see our qualifications – and ask all your questions in our contact box! 


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©2018 EVLV fit

EVLV fit is not a physician or registered dietician. This website, the information disclosed on it and all of its contents are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical health problems. It should not be used in replace of advise from a medical physician. Always consult your doctor, physician, or qualified medical health professional for health matters.