The Four Stages of Coach Development

Speeding Progressions By Controlling Variables: A Theoretical Model
When I want to talk about developing coaches, I call Josh Martin. Or Oskar Johed, or Josh Price…I’m surrounded by dozens of gym owners who have been serving their clients for over a decade. These guys know how to get people up the ladder. They also know how to HOLD the ladder to let other coaches climb.
Every gym has a unique coaching flavor. But we’re all humans. That means new coaches can benefit from a structured plan for coach development. Whether you call it an internship or a coaches’ education plan, you can introduce lessons and topics in a way that our brains understand.
New coaches at a gym that sells group coaching and 1:1 coaching have two variables to manage:

  1. Delivery of the lesson in an appropriate way (the owner’s way)
  2. Management of the client(s) in front of them.

In my experience, most gym owners combine shadowing classes with some kind of “I judge you judging them” assessment. In most cases, this “internship” is a much tougher process than the owner went through themselves–and that’s okay. No matter how you choose to lift up your future coaches, you can follow this structure.
Stage 1 – Controlled lesson, controlled audience
At this stage, the new coach can deliver a scripted lesson plan (like your OnRamp sessions) to one client at a time. In other words, the workout doesn’t change at all. And while the client will require some adaptation to the plan, the new coach doesn’t have to worry about starting a group on time or holding anyone’s attention.
Stage 2 – Controlled lesson, variable audience
In this stage, the new coach can deliver a tightly-scripted lesson plan to an experienced group. They should not have to worry about making up a warmup or cool-down; or what skill to teach; or which points of performance to use. They should almost be reading from a script. That will leave their cognitive capacity free to maintain group structure and flow.
If your new coach is only introduced to these first two stages before they start running classes, that’s not ideal. But it’s a short-term triage solution when you need one.
Stage 3 – Variable lesson, controlled audience
In the third stage, a new coach creates the workout plan for a single client and guides them through it. They take the results of each individual workout and plan the next workout. This is an introduction to programming: filling in the gaps between the steps taken by a client. A seasoned coach should plan workouts #1, 2, 4 and 5 for a client; then the new coach is asked to “bridge the gap” or “get her ready for #4” with a workout they devise.
Stage 4 – Variable lesson, variable audience
Only at this point should a new coach create a workout for a group. I’d argue that they shouldn’t be left to create a warmup or cool down for the group until they reach this phase either, which might take months. At this stage, a seasoned coach should still provide parameters for the workout, like allowing the new coach to make up Wednesday’s plan, or allow them to fill in a week of programming based on the previous month’s results.
Stage 5 – Lead coach… (I won’t go into that here.)
Now, many have said “That looks like Founder | Farmer | Tinker | Thief for coaches!” They’re referring to the way we classify entrepreneurs based on their stage in the life cycle. But really, this is all just an on boarding process to help coaches progress more quickly. Most certifications and seminars don’t differentiate between message and audience; that means coaches are either overwhelmed by the group or can’t stick to a repeatable plan. And that’s bad business.
At TwoBrain, we haven’t formally adopted this plan for coach development yet. We’re still testing it (we test things for a loooooong time before we recommend them to anyone.) That’s why it’s a theoretical model. But we LOVE talking about human development; what would you do differently?


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.