Girl Gainz: "Abs & Trophies are NOT qualifications". The Signs Of A Good/Bad Contest Prep Coach
As a well-established nutritionist with years of experience online coaching, I pride myself on my knowledge, experience & the high level of service I provide to my clients.
The sport of bodybuilding & the online coaching arena has grown massively in the past few years & although this is fantastic for well-skilled responsible coaches who are educated, insured, & actually care about their clients, it's also meant many unqualified "fitpros" are now operating well outside of their scope of practice. This can make it extremely difficult to know who to trust when it comes to choosing a bikini prep coach, so I thought i'd list some of the key things to be wary of:
1. A coach who puts you on a set meal plan & isn’t a registered dietician.
(They’re operating outside of their scope of practice if they do). A nutritionist can only give recommendations when it comes to meals & macros, they cannot prescribe what you should be eating.
2. A coach who gives you the exact same programme as someone else.
When new clients start they often show me their old programme. I’ve seen 4 identical bikini prep programmes from the same coach that are so say “bespoke”.
3. A coach who doesn’t actually hold any nutrition qualifications.
The basic PT qualification really doesn’t cut it when it comes to online nutrition coaching- especially not when you’re taking someone through an extreme diet like a bikini or figure contest prep.
4. Someone who holds ZERO fitness qualifications.
Yes that’s right there are some prep coaches out there who simply think the fact that they’ve competed entitles them to take people’s health & bodies into their own hands which is not only dangerous, but it also means they won’t be insured either.
5. A coach who's never actually worked with face to face clients.
For some reason coaches assume that working with clients online will be easier (or they see it as a lazy way to earn more money). From years of working within a gym let me tell you, it is not. True coaching is much harder online than it is face to face & certainly requires a greater skillset. Don't be afraid to ask a coach their background & how many clients they've worked with before agreeing to give them your money for your contest prep.
6. Someone who’s never actually been stage lean (or lean full stop!).
You don’t have to be shredded to be a good coach but there are just certain things you experience during a contest prep that you can only understand if you’ve been there.
7. A coach who INSISTS you MUST use some not so legal supplements.
It’s not the only way. Be especially wary of this if it's a coach’s first point of call before they've even looked into your nutrition & training!
8. An online coach who takes your money upfront then never delivers your plan.
Sad but it happens. I never ask new clients for their bank details. I use a professional third-party payment service, the same one used by many insurance companies & I also have a registered business address.
9. A coach that charges a very low price.
Some things are just too good to be true. Prepping someone to stage properly takes time & support so chances are a lower price will mean lower quality too.
10. A coach who can’t tell you about how they plan to reverse diet you post show.
Again I’ve had a few clients start with me off of the back of a bad binge rebound because their coach has either dumped them once they’re done with their show, or has just given them a one size fits all reverse diet plan which again highlights they don’t actually understand nutrition.
11. A coach who never answers your questions with anything other than “just do it”.
It’s probably because they’re hiding the fact that they don’t understand WHY they’re using that approach with you, it’s probably just something that worked for them. It makes me so sad when a competitor blames themselves for not getting results when it’s actually just down to poor coaching.
12. A coach who’s desperate for your custom even if they’re not sure they can help you.
I’ll happily turn away business if I don’t think I’m the best prep coach for the job. Likewise, I realise it’s important to manage expectations. I’m not afraid to tell someone they won’t be ready for the show they want to do & that they need longer to diet in order to be their best. (I’ve then seen other coaches arrogantly take on that client & surprise surprise they don’t come in at the level of condition they wanted to....).
12. A coach with hundreds of clients on their books.
They simply won’t have time to give you the support you need. I cap my client numbers to make sure I have enough time to speak to each of my clients every single week (& can actually remember all of their names – yep this happens!). Many coaches will charge a lower price, but you'll be lucky if you get much more than a brief email every couple of weeks so factor in the level of support you think you'll need, especially if it's your first prep. Likewise, be wary of coaches who aren’t coaching as their full time occupation. We all have to start our business somewhere, but if someone is working 30 plus hours a week elsewhere – how much time do they actually have to commit to your prep??
I’m not writing this piece to shame or call anyone out, but as a well-established online coach who takes huge pride in what I do, it saddens me when a few cowboys bring the whole name of the online coaching industry down. If you are a coach & you've taken offence to this post in any way I apologise but if you’re doing the right thing & are in this industry for the right reasons then I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with the points I’ve raised.
For food prep hacks, prep advice and more follow Laura via @girlgainzblog