What Does A Certified Life Coach Do? Fixes My Attitude, Apparently

A whistle sits on a card, symbolizing the role of a life coach

A friend once asked what my personal strategy was when it came to achieving my goals. I answered honestly, knowing the risk of sounding like a Nike ad was strong. I told her that, essentially, I just do it. Whatever it may be. I always saw myself as my own life coach: Motivation had never been a problem for me. In fact, I viewed motivation as an unnecessary step, and I would just skip the “building momentum” part of goal achievement altogether and simply start.

But the pandemic changed my ability to reach my goals, despite my motivation. It was my fitness goals, specifically, that suffered. I worked out more than ever before, but I still didn’t feel good. I blamed not walking enough, I blamed the types of workouts I was doing and I blamed myself. Eventually, that blame clouded my ability to see myself, and my goals, clearly. I needed an outside perspective. I needed a personal life coach.

I reached out to Eva Redpath, a celebrated trainer who I’ve interviewed before. In addition to being helping clients reach their fitness goals over the years, she is also a Co-Active-certified life coach. I wanted to get out of my rut of not getting what I wanted from my workouts and to stop feeling so negative about it all. But first, I’ll set up the process of what it’s like to work with a life coach.

What is a life coach?

I cannot help but use a sports analogy. A life coach is someone who supports and empowers you to win this game called life. They help create a game plan for goals, whether those goals are wellness, relationship or career-oriented. What I found, was that a life coach can also give you a viewpoint outside of your own perspective, and help you consider the bigger picture.

“I meet you where you are. Then, I go shoulder to shoulder with you toward transformation or what it is that you want in your life,” Redpath tells me on our first call, which started off with a quick meditation and moment of gratitude. Together, “We discover what you value, what it is you need, and what it is that you want out of your life.”

So, what’s the difference between a life coach and a therapist?

“Coaching is not therapy, and a coach is not a consultant.” In fact, she says many people who enlist the services of a coach also have consultants (say a business consultant or a relationship therapist, depending on what your goal is), as well as a mental health professional (like a therapist). And sometimes they work together if a patient/client permits it. “Our mindset is a muscle. The more we flex it, the stronger it gets.”

And in this case, it’s like having a team of professionals to help you train that muscle, like an actor getting in shape for a Marvel movie.

How much does a life coach cost?

That depends on the coach. There are certifications, but the practice is not regulated. So, some will charge by the hour, ranging between $50 to $200 an hour. Coaching sessions can also be sold by session packages, with weekly check-ins for three to six months. Doing the math for you, that could cost $600 to $4,800, depending on the coach’s hourly rate and how long you retain them. Some coaches, like Redpath, offer the first session for free.

What’s it like to use a life coach?

My first coaching session was what Redpath called a “discovery call.” Even though I felt I needed guidance in achieving more from my fitness and expected to create a plan that would make me more accountable in where I felt I was failing, we talked beyond that. “The discovery call is about being curious together about what you want in your life and how I help you,” she tells me over Zoom. 

Before the call, she asked me to be ready to answer the following questions:

  1. Where am I right now? 
  2. What do I want specifically? By when? 
  3. Why do I want it? 
  4. How do I get there? 

The first two questions were easy enough. I wanted more results from my workouts, and I figured six to eight weeks was enough time to not only create habits out of a new fitness schedule. For the second two, I realized needed more time to consider these questions before answering honestly. Turns out, that’s okay with coaching. “We are helping discover where it is that you are in making a choice—and to hold you accountable,” she tells me. “You are empowered to find your own answers and I encourage you on the path to making these life-changing choices.” It’s not always a straight road from want to goal.

Sometimes goals change, too. And sometimes goals branch out. It’s really up to me and what feels right. “I certainly don’t have the answers,” she says. “What I have are the questions. The only person that has the answers is my client because it’s about their life.”

Oh, yes, there’s homework

From that first session, she suggests I reflect on my relationship with fitness in the past, and take stock of what worked and what didn’t. And while this exercise can offer insight, she reminds me that what worked before doesn’t necessarily work for me now. I’m a different person. My life and my circumstances are different.

She also asked that I rank the different areas of the Wheel of Life: Health and wellness, career, spirituality, finances, intellectual, physical environment, and love, friends and family.

I also had to keep moving forward in thinking about my goals. She followed up with these questions for me to ask myself:

  1. What action(s) did I take since our last session? What were my wins/challenges? 
  2. What is present for me at this moment?
  3. What topic or issue do I want to deepen during our session? What are the challenges, concerns, achievements or areas of learning to be addressed?
  4. What do I want to get out of/explore/maximize from our session?

She also opened my eyes to how change can happen; by “being and doing.”

“‘Being’ is letting life happen, and ‘doing’ is making life happen,” she tells me. She also said she wanted me to think of this process as starting from scratch and give myself permission to move forward. 

From there I had to really look at why I was so frustrated with fitness. 

What I discovered from working with a life coach

For me fitness became transactional. I wanted something every time I worked out. Even though I know it’s a lifestyle, I became frustrated by the immediate lack of quantifiable and immediate results. But as someone who gets that it’s about the process, I was putting myself in a space where no matter what I did, it wasn’t enough. I also asked myself, why? What’s the reason for the change in mentality?

I mean, sure we’re in the midst of a pandemic. I’m walking less and the pressure to log steps has grown tired. But I tried to pinpoint the precise moment when I started feeling bad. It led me to a comment made by a random internet user – or should I say troll – that I unconsciously gave validation. 

I was able to look at this, with Redpath’s guidance, as a mental turn that went off course. I used to love the feeling of being strong, having good posture, having energy. Getting angry at my workouts and myself weren’t working. I needed to feel that long-lost positivity again. 

In recognizing that it’s more than just a switch of attitude, I took two weeks off from my home gym. I needed to separate that frustrated feeling from working out, something I used to love doing. And it worked. I found that I missed my Peloton spin classes and my Pilates workouts. I was back. I was chiller, less pushy, more about the experience and less about the result — but I was back nonetheless.

Eva Redpath offers these tips to keep motivated when you don’t want to work out – or get off your couch.