Why use a "coach"?

People contemplating or involved in improvement of their health (nutrition and physical fitness are usually elements first to mind for many) are faced with many considerations. One of which is, "do I utilize a coach"?

This question is the focus of this post. You will find that I often make "manufacturing", "business" or other interesting analogies because 1) its my nature and 2) usually they are things people can relate to and then appreciate the point better.

When considering "should I use a Coach", this is not much dissimilar to manufacturing where consideration is given to "in-source" (do the work internally) or "outsource" (have the work done by someone else). There are pro's and con's to each. I won't highlight all the considerations which may only be business related, but will highlight those that are health related and business provides a good analogy.

This in-source/outsource decision is analogous to "do it myself" or "hire a coach". In business this decision would be based on the considerations of: 1) do we have the expertise? (skill, knowledge), 2) do we have the resource (personnel, equipment, time), 3) do we have a preference? Maybe we have the capability, but would rather spend our resource on other things? (this is called "opportunity cost")

Also within this consideration is "cost", "quality", and "schedule" (or time). 1) Cost: this may be in dollars or other attributes such as frustration or inconvenience. 2) Quality: quality is defined as "meeting the customer's requirements". In manufacturing this is defined by "specifications". A consideration here is having the skill/expertise to know what the specifications should be. For example in fitness, the question might be - "does one have the skill/expertise to define a fitness routine that is safe, effective, and will achieve the objective. Has one thought about the objective? For example in nutrition, if one is pairing nutrition with exercise, what does one know about right combinations, the effect of food on hormones, health conditions which may be hindering factors? 3) Schedule (or time) - Time on the other hand can introduce an interesting component - "how long does one have to get to their objective or results"? How willing is a person to make multiple attempts on their own?

 This leads me to an analogy. A friend I knew from some time ago worked for Sikorsky, a company that participated in the aerospace market manufacturing helicopters. He acquainted me with the phrase "schedule, "cost", "quality". Each of these variables could be manipulated but at the same time there are limits to each. For example:
  1.     you can get it faster, quality will be high, but it will cost more.
  2.     you can get it faster, but if you want it to cost the same, the quality may be less.
  3.     if you want it cheaper, it will either take longer or be less quality or both.
There are other scenarios for the above, but I think the point is revealed. Most "shoppers"  want the most they can get, for what they can pay, the quickest they can - right?

I'd like to next give an example from my background to tie all these points together.

Toward the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, I was considering the addition of a Kettlebell Certification as a fitness training modality to my qualifications. Considerations were the quality of the certifying organization (brand), where the course would be held (travel cost), and when it would be held (affected my preparation time). Here is how the scenario went.

I felt this certification was valuable, I looked for the best organizations to offer it, Boston was the next location (cut travel expense), but also defined how much time I had to get ready to certify (two months). I also felt I was in good shape and could handle the preparation on my own.

January 2016 - Course and location identified. Preparation/training began.
February 2016 -  Attended certification in Boston. "Failed" qualification (almost made it) - Cost: $1,500 plus food and lodging ~ $250.

Now I knew what I needed to know and do in order to certify and I had time to schedule my next attempt. So I spent February 2016 to July 2017 training and preparing. This time frame was not only associated with my preparation, but due to when the next close certification opportunity was.

July 2017 - Attended certification in NY. "Passed" - Cost $1,500 plus food and lodging ~ $700 (NY is expensive), not including the further drive.

So what was the net result in my example? I spent $2,200 more than I needed, traveled twice as much as needed and it took a year longer to qualify.

What if I had hired a "coach" for my first preparation? It might have cost at the most $500, but if this lead to my passing the first certification, I would have saved net $1,700, been qualified sooner and not spent as much time training and preparing while trying to figure things out myself.

There are a number of considerations to applying my example: 1) what if attaining one's goal is not that urgent or important - maybe one has plenty of time, 2) maybe one is ok with the risk and the cost is not that important - maybe they will be lucky and get the results themselves, 3) maybe one is willing to compromise a little on the standards / results - if they want for example to be healthy and fit, but instead loose a few pounds and still have high triglycerides and other conditions, maybe that is ok in the short term.

I'm sure that inherently we all make these considerations - maybe not so analytically ... or ... maybe not at all.

In this era, one can find most every bit of information they need over the internet: go to PUBMED, Library of Congress, join a professional organization like the National Strength and Conditioning Association. The references are all there. One only has to read, digest, analyze.

Will you "in-source" or "outsource"?

Brad Eaton