There are coaches, and then there are coaches. And like in any industry you will no doubt have to take the good with the bad. Except the thing with bad coaches is that there are still far too many of them around, despite there being a lot of uproar in the fitness industry about the dangers of low calorie dieting.  You have to have been living under a rock if you have not heard about flexible dieting or iifym and its’ benefits. The issues with cookie cutter meal plans, simply copied and passed on (for a fee of course) are very apparent especially if you keep up to date with some of the leading names in health and fitness. Dr Layne Norton, Brad Shoenfeld, Alan Aragon and Lyle McDonald are all heavy weights in the fitness industry. They are gurus and they are challenging the old school “coaches” and teams with something a bit more scientific than plain old chicken and broccoli combined with fasted cardio to get lean. These guys are good. They are not simply personal trainers these guys are sports scientists. They have degrees. They spend time researching and providing new information. They challenge the previous “old school ways” and they know their shit.

Due to the increasing popularity with competitive bodybuilding, there seems to be a number of contest prep coaches popping up offering their services, especially online. Yes competing teaches you a lot, however many people simply compete once, get given a cookie cutter diet by their “coach” and because it worked for them they think that it will work for everyone. They then pass it on to others, for a small fee of course. This is the problem. This is not coaching.

Coaches who simply give all of their clients the same diets, most of them dangerously low in calories, are slowly being weeded out of the industry. But it is still not happening fast enough. I am still shocked almost every day at some of the things I see online pertaining to a competitors’ diet or fitness regime. Yet here I was thinking that progress was being made. Apparently not.

There are coaches advising bikini competitors to take illegal and banned substances in order to get lean. There are coaches taking their clients health and lives in to their own hands when they have no professional qualifications or the necessary experience. Qualifications are one thing, yes, yet on the other hand I also see qualified nutritionists and dieticians peddling bogus MLM products that are not only unnecessary for weight/fat loss, they are actually terrible for you anyway. No one needs synthetic vitamins and fake fibre, especially not at the exorbitant cost that these companies charge! My god what is going on?! I would have thought that by now people knew better. But they don’t. And to be honest is sucks. And I am over it.

As frustrating as it is, we continue to try and beat the bullshit. And while I don’t claim to be any kind of expert, I still know what is right and what is wrong. There is a push for a more sustainable, long term approach to weight loss, and to be honest it makes a lot more sense than destroying your metabolism and your relationship with food to get lean. I’ve had experience with dangerously low calories myself. I have done the “bro prep” and been on a diet of 800 calories a day whilst doing 3 hours of LISS daily, and 5 weights sessions per week. It. Does. Not. Work. Well it works once, and then you’re fu*ked. It has taken well over a year to undo the damage that was done. All because I had a coach that hadn’t kept up to date with what was going on because “they knew what they were doing and had 20 years experience in the industry.” Ok 20 years experience is all well and good until new evidence comes out that blows your bullshit meal plan to shreds. As a fitness industry professional you should always be questioning and learning. And as an individual interested in your own health and fitness you should also do the same. People trust their coaches, which I understand. I trusted my previous trainer and look where that got me. I should have taken more of an interest in my own health to do a little digging myself. Well I have learnt my lesson.  

My experience with a coach like that taught me a lot. The hard way. It has given me experience and by going through what I went through this does help me to help others who are in similar situations. This is why I write. This is why I rant about flexible dieting. This is why I go on about the dangers of low calorie diets and how they are a leading cause of EDs. This is why I am passionate about finding balance. Because I went for so long without it, and I am adamant on letting people know there is a healthier way.  Competing does not have to consist of a bland, horrible, limiting diet at all. It does not have to be miserable. No it’s not easy but it sure as hell doesn’t have to be anything like what I went through.

I believe a good coach should not simply tell their clients what they want to hear. They should have their clients’ health at the top of their priority list rather than just thinking about the money. Most successful coaches actually give out a lot of free information. It’s because they’re passionate about helping others. It is satisfying knowing that you have really helped someone, and when they thank you for it, that’s something money doesn’t buy.

My current coach (who I never ever want to leave!) is amazing. What I have learned from him beats everything I have ever learnt from all of my previous trainers combined. Times a million. I am finally back in a place where I am on top of my training and nutrition. My metabolism is working as it should. In fact it is working better than it ever has. I am on track to compete again later this year, and I am actually really excited about it rather than dreading it because I know it will be nothing like previous preps at all. I had originally thought about competing last year, but we decided to wait and take more time to build metabolism and muscle off season. Best decision ever. And that is the difference between a great coach and a not so great one. Someone who actually has your best interests at heart and wont push you to do things that are aren’t necessarily right for you at the time.

There is a major difference between someone who absolutely loves helping people and loves what they do, to someone who is going through the motions and only wants to make money. There is a difference between someone who is prepared to put in the work, and continue learning not only for their benefit but also their clients, to someone who thinks there is nothing that they don’t know. If you ask a question and get told “because I said so” as the answer, then run.

I ask Paul questions all the time. He is always so knowledgeable in his responses and how he explains things to me. From previously being told “because I said so” as the answer to everything, this is such a welcome change and has enabled me to learn a whole lot more in the process. I started working with Paul Revelia in September 2013 and it has been an absolute breeze so far. How this has changed things for me is nothing short of amazing.

Having a coach that you trust makes a huge difference. I never ever told my old trainer the full extent of what was going on. I knew I would get blasted and told I wasn’t working hard enough and needed to just suck it up.  That I was the problem, that long with the stupid meal plan she had me on. If you can’t be completely honest with your coach then this is a big problem and a sign that things will not turn out well.

It is one thing to have a big team and a big following, but it shouldn’t be about that. A lot of these so called teams are made up of bullys who push their ideals on to new clients and brainwash them in to thinking that their way is the only way. It is not. I don’t care what pros are doing what, and who else is wearing a god damned squeem. The fact of the matter is, if you have a coach who is dictating to you, making you purchase ridiculous supplements and products because “that’s what you need to do to win” then I’m sorry but they are bad people and you don’t need that in your life.

Surrounding yourself with more positive ad uplifting people is far more beneficial than associating with people who simply bring you down.

You see some of these girls competing and even winning, but at what cost? No ones health is worth a mere $15.00 trophy.  To be doing countless hours of cardio daily, trying to survive on a measly 20g of carbs a day and likely even less fat is simply never going to work long term. Even getting a place but having to put yourself through hell for it how is that winning? It is not. Being at peace with yourself, loving the journey, loving the actual sport and taking a vested interest in your health really has to be at the top of your priority list. And while it is hard to sift through the terrible coaches that are out there, it is worth it when you find do finally find one of the good ones.