A Consistent Approach to Coaching Course Review

You can take a seminar on just about any topic in our industry…except one.


How is it that something so fundamental to what we do as movement professionals is rarely taught? Knowledge of autonomics, anatomy, and business are meaningless if you don’t possess the ability to coach.

Lucy Hendricks and Michelle Boland have filled this gap in a major way. Both are expert level coaches who work in the private sector, and have created a much needed seminar titled “A Consistent Approach to Coaching: Fundamental Positions & Exercises.”

Even if I had to be the third wheel in this one 🙁

This one-day seminar focused exclusively on coaching and cueing several exercises used to establish a movement baseline in the gym. What’s unique about this seminar is its 100% hands-on aspect. You’ll not only get coached on how to move effectively, but you’ll practice coaching the other attendees.

If you need a seminar that is going to change what you do on Monday without the need for a complete overhaul, this is the one.

Let’s check out the highlights.

Having a Consistent Approach

A consistent approach both simplifies coaching and creates continuity among trainers. If movement and cues stay similar across all clients, then coaching can become more streamlined.

Most skill acquisition innately has feedback systems in place to inform of success or failure. If you are playing a musical instrument, you hit the wrong tune and the song is awful. In basketball, you either get buckets or your jumper is sorry AF.

Kinda like my buddy Aadil’s #ether (Photo by Chris Moore on Unsplash)

What feedback is there for training? Weights can be muscled up any old way, but how do we qualify “good” technique? How do we know if an exercise is performed the “right” way? A way that maximizes fitness qualities and minimizes risk of harm. Lift with poor technique for enough reps, and you are probably going to have some issues.

Training is a skill to be mastered like any other. In order to learn skills, you have to master the basics. Become fundamentally sound (wow, what a great name for a seminar, if only they kept it!).

If time is spent building a base, concepts learned early in the program will transition easily to more complex moves. If half kneeling is taught well, then a split squat will be a piece of cake.

Thus, a consistent approach involves emphasizing movement in three steps:

  1. Position
  2. Fitness Qualities
  3. Variations

Let’s dive into each


Position coaching involves teaching basic constituents that are fundamental to gym movements. For Lucy and Michelle, these components focus on trunk and pelvis management.

Positioning the trunk and pelvis effectively will maximize joint range of motion and encourage loading desired tissues.  Inability to position the trunk and pelvis may reduce force production and desired loading.

Three simple cues can be emphasized to maximize positioning:

  1. Exhale
  2. Reach
  3. Tuck
Sometimes all at once

Combined, these cues allow for both balance between intra-abdominal and thoracic pressures and movement option enhancement.

The exhale serves to position the lower ribcage to maximize abdominal tension. The reach assists in lower thorax positioning. Lastly, the tuck orients the pelvis to where it is stacked below the ribcage.

These three cues are peppered throughout all exercise activities—ranging from a 90/90 hip lift all the way to a trap bar deadlift.

My favorite cue from this section was using your forearm to visually demonstrate the pelvic tilt.

Fitness Qualities

Fitness qualities involve activities that develop desired physiological adaptations (e.g. power, endurance).

Fitness qualities are only pursued with a positional foundation. Take the masterful technique you learn in the beginning and alter the programming so desired adaptations can occur.


Keeping the same moves in a program may get boring over the years. Attention spans dwindle. Sometimes you have to mix it up to keep things interesting. That’s where introducing exercise variations comes into play. Keeping programming novel.

A client with a solid movement foundation will easily adapt to new exercise variations. Take the same cues from familiar moves and kick back and relax while your client gets crushed.

Buy in for Breathing

Some of your clients may be resistant to doing breathing exercises. I get it. They aren’t sexy and you may struggle to attain buy-in.

Lucy and Michelle have the fix for you. It involves two keys.

Step 1: Produce Results

If I could guarantee you the body of your dreams in under a month, I bet you’d pay a pretty penny regardless of what I had you do. Results sell.

What’s often missing from breathing exercises is producing a tangible result related to your client’s goals.

Can’t get your client to buy-in to the breathing? Maybe you aren’t coaching the exercises effectively enough to produce the intended result. In this seminar, you learn how to do that.

But results alone aren’t enough, you also have to…

Step 2: Make Breathing Meaningful

It’s really cool when we get test changes on an exercise, but your clients don’t care about that. They care about their fitness goals—be it moving pain-free or looking good naked.

Hell, who doesn’t want those Coach Bo shoulders? (Photo by John Arano on Unsplash)

One must educate clients on how these activities, and really the entire fitness program, can nudge them closer to their goals.

The way Lucy and Michelle carry this education out is by using the client’s words in selling the moves. This 90/90 exercise is the bottom of your squat. The better you can squat, the bigger your legs will get.

Independent Clients

Independent clients must develop self-appraisal and thoughtfulness towards their program.

Leading questions can encourage independence. “Where did you feel that” or “how did that set go” are useful examples.

The Riddler was onto something (Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash)

The answers clients give can enhance and simplify coaching. When a client perceives a certain area working on one exercise, you can create a reminder of that sensation on a different activity.

Asking what the client should do differently on the next set can help he or she problem solve when training unsupervised.

Suppose your client feels back tension on a deadlift. If you have used leading questions previously, and the client was able to reduce back tension in a different exercise, then the client may independently execute a similar strategy. Same cues, yet no work on your part.

Favorite Exercises

While there were many variations and activities taught in this course, nothing beats having Lucy and Michelle take you through the exact coaching components.

An exercise I’ve picked up and been employing liberally from this seminar was the bear pushup. I like this variation because it’s much easier to keep the hips tucked and is a friendly push up variation for those who lack hip extension.


Does your client struggle staying stacked in half-kneeling? Perhaps a loss of hip extension is the culprit. Simply having the client shift back, then tuck can do wonders for building up this position.

Sum Up

I thoroughly enjoyed this seminar (despite my biases), and think it is one of the few offerings out there that focus on an often-lacking piece in education—coaching. Effective coaching is not taught, yet the concepts espoused in this seminar cater to this need. A Consistent Approach is a must-see.

To summarize:

  • Building consistency within the training program makes coaching easier and improves continuity among trainers.
  • Pursue placing the body into relevant positions first, then build fitness qualities, then add variety.
  • Exhale, reach, and tuck are key cues that can be used in almost every exercise.
  • Buy-in comes from results and demonstrating that your product will push clients towards their goals.
  • Leading questions can encourage client independence.

What do you do the keep consistency within your clients’ programs? Comment below and let the fam know.

Want More Detail and Execution Instruction?

Lucy Hendricks and I created a workshop that is 100% hands-on! 

You will be coached and practice coaching each fundamental position and exercise pattern. These fundamental positions and exercise patterns will serve as a basis for choosing warm-up activities and teaching tools that are right for your clients. 

We will problem solve, discuss variations, and make decisions based on your context and clients. The day will be filled with 100% hands-on coaching and more detail about warm-up preparation for your client’s fitness and movement goals.  

Location: Hype Gym, NYC

Date/Time: Sunday, September 29th 2019. 9:00am-4:30pm (lunch 12:00pm-1:00pm)

CLICK HERE for the event’s page.