Almost one year ago, I receive a piece of advice from the 2012 Bikini Olympia Champion, Nathalia Melo, during a brief discussion in a downtown Fort Lauderdale gym. During our exchange, I told Nathalia that I was planning to compete in Men’s Physique and she prompted urged me to hire a nutrition/workout coach lickity split. Ok, she didn’t use the term lickity split but she did communicate that time was of the essence given that my first competition was a month away.
According to Nathalia, coaches have a way of “seeing things that you can’t see.” She went on to say that competitors have a way of “going crazy” in those last few weeks and days before a show.
So what did I do? I did the complete opposite, of course! I decided that I was expert enough and forged ahead into the 2012 season without a coach. Clearly, I was the type of child turned adult that had to learn lessons the hard way. In hindsight I should have hired a coach from the start but then again I wouldn’t have this handy anecdote to start this article with if I had.
As you contemplate hiring a coach, ask yourself a few questions:
1. What are your specific needs? Do you need nutrition advice, posing tips, or are you looking for someone to evaluate and improve your physique?
2. What show are you prepping for and how much time do you have? Are you preparing for your first competition or are you a “seasoned” veteran looking to elevate to the national stage? Some coaches require a minimum amount of time to work with a competitor before a show. This timeframe can range up to 16 weeks.
3. How much can you afford to spend? Coaches operate under various models including packages, per session fees, and flat rates for specific shows. If you’ve seen one coach’s fee model then you’ve seen only ONE coach’s fee model.
4. Do you need face-to-face coaching? Depending upon where you live, you might be challenged to find an experienced coach that is close-by, so give serious consideration to coaching via email and / or Skype.
5. What matters more – experience or education? Do you believe that years of hands-on experience trumps a certification and / or a degree in nutrition or kinesiology? You can make a compelling argument either way, so ask yourself which is more important to you.
6. Can you handle the truth? Friends, family and significant others have an uneducated bias. Either they will tell you that you look amazing or they’ll lead you to believe that you are too lean. A major benefit of having a coach is his or her objective opinion but we forewarned that the feedback will not always be positive.
If you’re anything like me, trust me when I tell you that coaches are extremely helpful, but then again maybe you need to arrive at that decision on your own. If you were able to answer the questions outlined above, then you’re definitely one step closer.