6 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Trainer or Coach

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.


Successful people in life have coaches.

Oprah has a life coach.

Taylor Swift has a vocal coach.

Steve Jobs had a business coach.

Julia Roberts has had acting coaches.

Famous athletes, from Michael Jordan to Serena Williams, have strength and conditioning coaches and sports psychology coaches.

There’s no denying that a coach can help us get a slight edge—and chances are you, too, have had a coach—in some form or fashion—during your lifetime:

  • A sports coach during your little league soccer days
  • A counselor during a rocky season in your mental or emotional health
  • Your 9th grade American Literature teacher who taught you lessons beyond the classroom
  • A nutrition expert who educated you on the basics of fueling your body
  • A marketing coach who helped you get your business off the ground
  • An art teacher, guitar teacher or dance teacher who taught you how to perfect your craft

You name it!

A coach is meant to help YOU achieve your goals and ultimately reach success in your endeavors. If you want to be better at something, you can benefit from working with a coach, mentor, or teacher.

This past year, heeding my own advice, I hired a coach (a business coach, and a fitness coach)—actually I hired several coaches…that is until I found the “just right” coach for me.

What I discovered?

No two coaches are alike.

Unfortunately, I discovered this the hard way when:

  • My first ‘business’ coach ended up pocketing the money I paid him and failing to follow up on any one action step he promised me he would
  • The fitness coach I hired had her own goals in mind—not necessarily mine

Just like you try on a pair of shoes in Nordstrom before you walk out with your purchase, any smart shopper knows they need to try on the “fit” of the coach—in order to find the right coach for you.


Whether you’re thinking about working with a life coach, a nutritionist, a personal trainer, a mentor, a business coach, a strength & conditioning coach, a counselor and beyond—here are a few things to consider adding to your ‘initial interview’ process for picking the best individual for your own team

Find the right coach fit for you:

  1. Know your why. First things first—know why you are seeking guidance, and support. What do you really need help with? You need to be able to express this on the front end of the coach-client relationship so the coach can partner with you in your The more specific, the better. (ex. Why a business coach? In order to grow your client case load by 50%. Why a fitness coach? To increase your lifts by at least 5-10 lbs. in the next 3 months…lose body fat…get out of your rut…Why a counselor? To hold you accountable to your recovery, etc.)
  2. What’s worked well in the past? Think back to a time in your life where you succeeded at a goal or experienced success in a particular area of your life. Think about the coaches that have made an impact in your life (coach=counselor, teacher, athletic coach, instructor, etc.)—what about working with these individuals was effective for you? What was their style lie? Was it being given an exact plan to follow, like a checklist? Someone who had a no BS approach and wasn’t afraid to “tell it like it is”? A coach who let you determine your own path? Awareness of how you’ve best worked in the past can help pave way for knowing what you need today.
  3. What do you love about your teachers? We’ve all had a teacher or two who we’ll never forget. My 10th grade English teacher, Mr. Covert comes to mind. More than just checking off a list for us 15-year-olds to learn all about Edgar Allen Poe, Hemmingway or The Great Gatsby, he brought the stories and authors to life in a number of unique ways, and earnestly tried to teach us lessons far beyond text on a page (life lessons). In other words: He cared and integrated creativity into his lessons. And I will never forget my 5th grade teacher Miss Harrison. The effort she put into trying to make learning fun did not go unnoticed—games, movies, creative assignments and speeches. She invested time, thought and, once more, creativity into the learning experience. I know I connect with “teachers” who are thoughtful and bring something to the table—nuggets of information, fun, creativity. They are genuinely invested in me, the individual—not just another client or session to fill.
  1. What do you need? (Teacher? Coach? Counselor? Guide? Trainer?) If you want to learn more, find a teacher. If you want to be better, find a coach. If you want to dig deeper and reflect more, find a counselor. If you want to grow as an individual, find a mentor. If you want to be told ‘what to do’, find a trainer. If you want a sense of direction, find a guide. While all of these roles can bleed into one another, know what primary style you are looking for in whatever type of “coach” you need (business, life, spiritual, relationship, financial, etc.).
  2. Knowledge & Experience. It’s about a combination of the two. You can hire the most book-smart individual in the world, but if they don’t have the hands-on experience to back all that knowledge, there’s a lot of talk and not a ton of action. The same can be said about experience. Experience is a great teacher, however, if the individual is just using their own experience (and projecting what worked for them onto you), you will only get so far. For instance, say you hire a coach to help you up your CrossFit game in the gym, based upon his personal success in various local competitions as an athlete—he’s a box beast. However, CrossFit has always come natural to him. He doesn’t fully understand why you have such a hard time getting a muscle up (he got it on his first attempt), or why you can’t just pop upside down into a handstand (you’re a bit timid). Without the knowledge of how to fully teach strength and conditioning progression (because it’s always come easy to him), you may find yourself stuck.
  3. Money, money, money. Hiring a coach is no light investment. And it’s a wise investment when you feel totally connected with your coach. Have a general idea of your budget, but realize, when you find that ‘just right’ individual, sometimes it’s totally worth it to invest (in yourself). If their knowledge, experience, care, concern and process is going to help you learn, grow and “get there” (wherever “there” is), the coach is invaluable.


Have a good idea of these questions and concepts on the front end, and it will make finding the ‘right fit’—(whatever type of coach you choose to partner with)—ten times easier!


Interested in what a coach in your life could look like?

My customized Thrive Life program offers a holistic perspective to coaching, therapy, fitness, healthcare and nutrition–all wrapped up in one.

Depending on your personal health and life goals, I create a custom-designed Thrive Life Blueprint to help you get to where you want to be--change your body, change your mind, change your life.

Find out more with a free consult today.







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