The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Coaching for Change: Teacher or Coach?

Written by
Sue Beckham, PhD
Posted in
Fit Tips

Friday, Oct 14, 2016

Are you missing opportunities to coach clients to make lasting change? Teaching skills work well when we need to lead students/clients through a workout or educate others about risk factors and healthy eating strategies. Knowledge alone, however, doesn’t guarantee behavior change. Make more impact for change by incorporating coaching skills into all your client interactions. This video contrasts Response A (no coaching) with Response B (coaching skills) which sets the stage for the next step of planning strategies for relapse prevention. Coaching is a learned skill that can be utilized in any setting.  Whether you are a personal trainer, exercise leader, clinician, or wellness professional, you can guide clients to discover their own solutions for change. In as little as 2-3 minutes, you can brainstorm the benefits of change, barriers and solutions, set a goal, or create a relapse prevention plan.

Coaching begins with active listening and reflecting (repeating/ summarizing client concerns) to build trust. This also helps the coach confirm that he/she understands the client's challenges and feelings. The next step is to ask the right questions to help the individual discover their own solutions for change. The client must participate in the problem-solving process to learn the necessary skills for success and create a personalized solution to meet their needs.

Register for The Cooper Institute's Coaching Healthy Behaviors course at to discover the next step in Response B which is creating a relapse prevention plan. Coaching will change the way you engage clients and expand your reach.