I’ve been writing this week about Individual Design Coaching. So far, I’ve written about the entire process of Individual Design, from consultation to assessment to program design, program implementation, then continual refinement & improvement. Today, I’m going to put a cap on this definition of Individual Design by writing about what IT IS NOT.
Now, I think it’s important to clarify that I am not trashing these other programs. I have done years of personal training, I’ve taught hundreds of group classes, I’ve followed blog programs and sold templated programming before. It was the combination of all these experiences, and my continual drive to be better, that brought me to the practice of Individual Design Coaching. This is the culmination of many years of experience and I truly believe in it.
Individual Design Is Not Personal Training
When I talk about Personal Training, I’m talking about the business arrangement–usually in a gym or health club–in which a client purchases time with a trainer, typically at an hourly rate. The trainer meets with them, gets to know them, runs them through some form of assessment, and develops a workout program for them. They then continue to meet one-on-one for sessions, during which the client performs their workouts at the direction of the trainer, with encouragement, critique, education, and help counting reps or tracking weights used.
In Individual Design, you are not purchasing 1-hour blocks of my time. You’re paying a monthly fee for a service. This means that the total price for a month of training is much lower, but because of the way the service is organized to provide you with programs you do on your own, you’re actually getting a lot more for your money. You do your workout on your own, so when we do meet up, we’re able to focus our time on assessments or productive conversations that help us come to a better understanding of you and what you’re trying to achieve. We’re also free to broaden the scope of the conversations to work on nutrition and lifestyle habits that have a much greater impact on your health than mere exercise does.
Individual Design Is Not Group Fitness
Group Fitness is a model of training where a group of clients attend a class together, led by a trainer or instructor. In this model, everyone is doing the same workout as everyone else. It happens at a set time each day (or certain times on certain days). While this group approach can be fun and motivational, the instructor’s attention is divided amongst everyone and they have very few opportunities for individual lessons or corrections. There are essentially zero opportunities to talk about food, sleep, stress, or any of the things that happen in people’s lives outside the class.
With Individual Design, there is one coach, one client, one program. This means you are never sharing the coach’s attention with a group of people. When we are working together, all of the work we are doing is tailored to you, to your particular abilities and intentions. You’re also never getting the same program as anyone else. The program you receive is written and designed for you and your goals. This program gives you the freedom to do your workouts wherever you happen to be (at home, at a gym or health club, in the hotel gym, in the park), and at whatever time of day you want to do it. Individual Design also gives us the opportunity to candidly discuss all the broader lifestyle and nutrition topics that we couldn’t talk about in a group setting.
Individual Design Is Not Templated Programs
Templated programs are something I’m sure everyone has encountered by now. They used to be these sheets of paper you’d be given when you joined a gym, instructing you to do X many sets of Y exercise followed by Z. Then, the blog-based programs appeared. I used to do blog programs on CrossFit.com along with a hundred other people who were all doing the same workout there. eBooks started to show up, with simple 1-month or 6-week programs in them. Then there were the services where a coach would send you the same excel spreadsheet of standard workouts he’d already given to 100 other people. Now we have the rise of template-programming apps (even some that pretend to be individualized, with a coach on the other end just drag-and-dropping templates). The next phase is the AI-driven template apps. Basically, some system of standardized workout programs with limited customization.
Individual Design is not that. Yes, you are given weeks, months, even years of workout assignments, and they are delivered using an app. However, the app I use to write Individual Design programming is a completely blank page. I actually select every exercise and write every prescription of sets, reps, tempos, and rest periods based on YOU and where you’re starting from and where you want to go. Individual Design programs are completely customized–individualized–based on the person they are intended for. This means that your abilities, your preferences, your history, your resources, and your ambitions are all taken into account.
Individual Design involves a personal relationship and understanding, expertise based on years of hands-on learning, and a 1-to-1 experience. You receive personal attention, but without the smothering of constant face to face training–or the high price tag. You get the encouragement of a coach, along with help building habits that extend into 24- hours of your day (not just the 1 hour of the day that you’re in the gym). You get a program that lets you know what to do and when, but it is never the same program as anyone else is getting.
Individual Design works because you do the work. Your own autonomy and independence in following an individualized program is the linchpin of this whole thing. Sure, you lose some of the motivational “crutches” of personal training, group fitness, or a templated program, but that’s also why it is so much more successful. Your motivation has to come from within yourself. You won’t have the excuse to stop training because it was too expensive to meet with a trainer 3 times a week, or because the group class you love got canceled, or because the blog you were following got too easy. You’ll learn to understand your own drives and ambitions, and you’ll learn to depend on yourself and your own self-discipline.