T Nation

Starting a Coaching Career, Help

Hello. I mainly just lurk and read the articles here, but I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Well… it’s more of how to get to where I want to be. After years of struggling with this I’ve narrowed it down to coaching athletes and helping them with their diet. I would also be open to helping non athletes with their diet. (T-Nation has inspired me to follow this career path)

I was hoping that anyone who does this for a living or is trying to do this as well could weigh in on what I should do to achieve my goal. I have a bachelors degree (not in anything science/sports related) I am looking into getting a duel Master’s degree in Sports Physiology and Nutrional Science.

However, I dont know if that would be the most effieenct path. Any help at all would be appreciated. Thanks.

[quote]Devilhunter187 wrote:
After years of struggling with this I’ve narrowed it down to coaching athletes and helping them with their diet. I would also be open to helping non athletes with their diet. (T-Nation has inspired me to follow this career path)[/quote]
Very cool that you’ve decided on path, but understand that nobody really starts coaching athletes right away. You work up to it, building experience, contacts, and confidence as you go.

Dual. :wink: Sorry, couldn’t help it. I do think, unless i’m misunderstanding it, the sports physiology degree could at least snag you an internship at a rehab place, opening the potential to network with more athletes depending on the location. Just an idea off the top of my head. What’s your current degree in?

Get certified as a trainer. That’d be step one. Regardless of university degrees, I think some type of official certification is mandatory to be training clients. Nevermind that most clients who’ve done any type of research before hiring you will ask about your certification.

Getting a job in a gym would be step two. Starting 100% on your own right out of the gate would be the slow track. Actually getting and training clients - any clients that’ll pay you - would be step three. A 34-year old mother wants to lose weight for a cruise? Train her. A 19 year old tennis player wants to advance in a tournament? Train them. A 71-year old wants to get back into shape after a hip replacement? Train them.

In the beginning of a training career, we don’t have the luxury of saying “I only want to train athletes.” You need experience with all sorts of goals, all sorts of body types and levels of experience, and all sorts of client personalities to fully develop your professional toolbox.

After those three “easy” steps, it’s a matter of finding/taking/making opportunities to nudge your career in the direction of your choice.

Check out these articles and threads for some very solid info on the “behind the scenes”, unglamorous, practical side of being a trainer:

I just wrote a lengthy response and it didnt save… To sum it up: I appreciate the informative response. My degree is in American Studies. Not too proud of it to be honest. Yes, I need to start looking into becoming certified. I was hoping to do that by December. I was wondering, what exatly do you do and what steps (basically) did it take for you to get there? Obviously you are some kind of trainer, but do you also help clients with a nutrition plan? If not, do you know of people that have both a training and nutrition career? I would ideally want to do something what Shelby Starnes does and what Poliquin does with the same or different client. Thanks for the links. Any advice from AC is always solid and useful. I think I hit everything that got erased…

[quote]Devilhunter187 wrote:
My degree is in American Studies.[/quote]
Ha, I asked because I thought there might be some kind of carryover but, yeah, I got nothing.

Long story short: I started off studying and teaching martial arts, then got certified as a trainer (ISSA CFT). Trained clients at the dojo and in a few gyms. Eventually dropped the gyms and found clients on my own, usually training in their homes, and started doing more online consulting. Now pretty much only do online work with clients.

The last few years, I did begin to specialize on working with, believe it or not, paintball players. When I started, because of my background, I thought I’d end up the next big MMA strength and conditioning coach. That didn’t happen and I’m 100% fine with that.

It’s a fine line, but “technically” certified trainers aren’t “supposed to” dispense strict nutrition plans unless they have specialized nutrition education. I give guidelines, of course, because diet and training are so complementary, but I usually clarify that it’s “I’d focus on this and that if it was me”-type stuff.

For sure some people get certified and do both. One some level it’s about what you want to invest in getting “the paperwork” and what it’ll bring you in the longterm. I began studying both ISSA’s youth fitness training course and their specialist in martial arts conditioning, but didn’t complete either for various reasons. I do still refer to the info/textbooks from time to time.

Online consulting as if you tell people what to do for workouts and they do it? Is it really as simple as it sounds or is there more to it then that? Interesting that you started to train paintball players. That’s cool. I would love to get some other people’s opinions on this as well.