'Career Profile: Life Coaching'
Analee Matthews BA (Rec)
Australian Fitness Network Magazine
you ever dreamt about building a career in the fitness
industry that extends beyond working in a gym or
training clients? There are many career opportunities
now available that were not there a few years ago.
This is the first in a series of career profiles
that will examine the job opportunities that are
emerging as the fitness industry continues to strengthen
Life coaching has only emerged in
Australia over the last two years, but already it
is becoming a buzz word of the new millennium, and
a viable and lucrative career path for fitness professionals.
Originating from the United States, life coaching
means to help someone achieve success in all areas
of their lives, not just fitness. It is the role
of the life coach to work with their client to set
specific goals and implement strategies to achieve
these goals. People seek life coaches to improve
certain areas of their life, whether it be to improve
their financial position, secure a more fulfilling
job, or make a relationship change.
Life coaching works with people's
mindsets, but is different to counselling or therapy.
Traditionally, therapy and counselling address issues
from the past, whereas life coaching examines the
here and now and the creation of a desired future.
What skills/experience are
There are definite similarities between
life coaching and fitness leadership. Effective
life coaches possess the genuine desire to help
people achieve goals, and they have the ability
to motivate, communicate, empathise, and keep an
open mind. As most fitness professionals 'walk their
talk', so too should life coaches. Richard Day,
owner of Melbourne-based life coaching company Richard
Day and Associates, has an extensive background
in health and fitness management and he believes
fitness professionals often possess the fundamental
skills to make successful life coaches. 'They are
passionate about helping people stay healthy; they
have a real interest in the welfare of clients;
and they're already selling something that has a
lot of integrity', he says.
How much do you get paid?
Life coaches earn between $100 to
$300 per hour. Sessions range from 30 minutes to
an hour, and some coaches ask their clients to commit
to a minimum one month of coaching, while other
coaches allow their clients to dictate the frequency
of the sessions.
How do you find clients?
Clients generally find coaches. Most
clients locate coaches through word-of-mouth or
in response to publicity, often received through
published articles. Popular women's magazines and
weekend newspapers have profiled life coaching in
recent times, and the internet is rife with web
sites featuring overseas based life coaches. David
Wood, owner of SolutionBox based in Sydney
and New York, receives much of his business through
his web site, and it won't be too long before other
Australian based coaches and coaching companies
realise the benefits of cyber exposure.
Do you have to work out of
There is no standard practice, as
it varies from coach to coach. David prefers to
conduct his sessions over the telephone and via
e-mail, as he believes this is the most convenient
and effective method, especially for clients who
live interstate/overseas or who are time-challenged.
In contrast, Richard prefers to conduct face-to-face
sessions, allowing clients to elect the location
of the session. 'This ensures the client is in a
comfortable environment, and having visual contact
with the client allows me to pick up on body language
signals and create a stronger bond between myself
and the client', he says.
Is life coaching a full time job?
Life coaching is often undertaken
on a part time basis, as the number of clients dictates
the hours of the business. One of the big pluses
for this career is that life coaches can dictate
their own hours, so coaching sessions can easily
be fitted in around other jobs like personal training
or teaching classes.
Are there training and accreditation
Currently the life coaching industry
is largely unregulated, which means there are few
checks and balances for quality control. The International
Coach Federation (ICF) and the International Coach
Federation of Australasia are the accreditation
bodies for the coaching industry, but their guidelines
are not mandatory. The ICF accreditation requirements
are very stringent, demanding 750 paid coaching
hours, 125 coach training hours, five coach references,
written and oral examination and ten hours of supervised
coaching over a three month period.
Accreditation and training programs
for life coaches are available in Melbourne through
Richard's company, Global Guidance. These programs
focus on self-development and inner contentment,
which are areas requiring constant development in
order for life coaches to effectively practice their
trade. The accreditation process through Global
Guidance is similar in structure to the process
for fitness professionals, offering numerous modules,
ongoing training and different levels of accreditation.
The first step is a 2.5 day live-in program with
experiential learning, accommodation and meals included,
for $495. Additional training for those who decide
to pursue life coaching requires an investment of
two installments of $495 each, which brings people
up to the point where they can market themselves,
take appointments and coach clients.
Alternatively, David provides a program
Start, which is designed to give people hands-on,
practical experience of life coaching. The program
costs $500 per month for three months and operates
under a mentor system involving four 30-minute sessions
per month and fieldwork requirements. For people
wishing to become life coaches, David suggests a
minimum dedication of three hours and a maximum
availability of twelve hours per week is needed.
David also runs practice coaching classes in a teleconference
format: for $120, people receive a phone number
to dial into and a pin code, which provides access
to four weekly teleconference calls where coaches
can engage in audio role play.
What is the future of life
As fitness clubs increasingly move
towards becoming total wellness centres, life coaching
is rapidly becoming a viable consideration as a
means to increase service and value for members.
It is predicted that one day in the future life
coaches will be as accessible in fitness centres
as personal trainers are today.
For more information on life coaching
Case Study: A Life Coach in Training
Jacqui Grant is a fitness leader training
to become a life coach.
Name: Jacqui Grant
Occupation: Personal fitness trainer and massage
Background: Corporate trainer focusing on general
health and fitness, weight loss and injury rehabilitation
How did you hear about life
I came across life coaching about a year ago,
after reading about it in a magazine, and later
attended a seminar on the topic at a Network convention.
Does your fitness leadership
background help your life coaching?
Definitely. A good fitness leader should
be constantly setting goals for their clients in
a health and fitness context and a life coach does
the same for the bigger picture. Generally, people
who get involved in the fitness industry have a
genuine interest in making a difference in people's
lives on a health and fitness level - it's very
rewarding to see the same sort of results in other
areas of people's lives.
What are the similarities between
fitness leadership and life coaching?
Trying to move people out of their comfort zone.
When training people, I try to effectively bring
about new highs in what people achieve while they
are training, and the same applies to coaching.
It's also about making clients feel accountable
for what they have decided to focus on in their
life, the same as fitness training - the client
set the focus and the trainer implements the strategy
to reach these goals as effectively as possible.
Why do you want to be a life
Coaching goes hand in hand with the other
areas I specialise in. In fitness training, the
focus tends to be on the body alone, but I respect
that the body can't be in balance if the mind isn't.
Being a life coach also opens the door to a more
versatile work environment, like working from home
without the 6 am starts!
What steps should a fitness
leader take to become a life coach?
To become a life coach, the first step
is to experience what it is like to have a life
coach. By having your own coach, you can focus on
the areas of your life you would like to improve,
plus it gives you an understanding of how the process
works. I took on the CoachStart
program and found it very effective - it allowed
me to practice my skills in a safe environment with
some constructive feedback.
Case Study: The client of
a life coach
Jane is a 26 year old event manager
and former aerobic instructor, who has had two months
of life coaching.
'I can't remember exactly where I
heard of life coaching - I think it was in a women's
magazine. I looked up life coaching on the internet
and found a coach nearby. He does most of his coaching
over the phone or via e-mail, but I wanted to meet
him in person for the first session. I do all my
sessions over the phone now, but the first one it
was important I met him face-to-face.
I was curious to find out what life
coaching was all about. A lot of people have intentions
of becoming a coach when they start being coached,
but for me, I really just wanted to see if I could
benefit from it. I didn't turn to a counsellor or
therapist because they seem to me to be more appropriate
for depression or severe emotional problems. I wasn't
crying my eyes out or feeling miserable, I was just
looking for some direction. I was unhappy, but not
depressed. I saw life coaching as a more positive
step than counselling or therapy.
The main reason behind my unhappiness
was mainly job dissatisfaction. I realised I wasn't
the happy person I used to be and I was no longer
content with myself. This all came about from a
change in job roles.
I had weekly sessions on the phone
with my coach. It's a really fulfilling relationship,
where he seems to learn a lot from me too. He validates
a lot of my thoughts and decisions and reinforces
that I can do whatever I choose to. At the onset
I had to commit to a few things like making coaching
a priority in my life, to start telling the truth,
to be nicer to my self and the people around me,
and to stop suffering.
I know it sounds like an advertisement,
but it's the truth when I say coaching has changed
my life and way of thinking. I'm a lot more aware
of new opportunities and am open to new things.
It's made me realise I can change my life, that
it's all up to me - all I need is the courage to
make a choice. Coaching can be really confronting
so you have to be willing to look at your weaknesses
and change yourself. I'm a lot more carefree now
because I feel like I have more control. Coaching
is completely empowering. I would suggest that people
give it a go for at least a month and see where
you're at after that.'