To a greater or lesser extent, many coaches do their work in the applied psychology space. In other words, they are interested in what goes on in the mind of their clients. So, it is important for coaches to help their clients develop a mindset that enables them to achieve what they value.

When we examine what coaches do, we notice two important issues. The first is HOW THEY WORK with clients, and the second is WHAT THEY WORK ON.

How Change Fitness Coaches Work

The HOW issue mainly refers to the methodologies or modalities that shape how the coach approaches coaching.

Some coaches use a narrative approach, some take a behaviourist approach, and others take a more cognitive behavioural approach.

Some approaches would not even be considered psychological. These could be classified as metaphysical, spiritual, or energetic approaches.

These different approaches are shaped by different philosophical traditions and coaches have adopted one or more of them.

Although coaching bodies like the ICF or EMCC have identified ‘core coaching competencies’ that characterise best-practice in the coaching profession, how these competencies are used and applied is shaped by the tradition and approach the coach adopts.

Traditions Shaping Change Fitness Coaching

I intend to focus on change fitness coaching in this article, so it is appropriate to inform you what traditions shape this approach. Change fitness coaching is heavily influenced by cognitive theory and narrative theory. It is also heavily influenced by constructivist philosophy. These terms are not transparent so, to put it more simply, change fitness coaching is based on these views:

  • people construct their personal views of reality through what they have learnt at a conscious level and, especially, at a sub-conscious level
  • people’s beliefs shape their emotions and behaviours, which are also shaped by them
  • one of the primary ways people express and create their reality is through the language they use and the stories they tell.

The views stated above shape how change fitness coaches work with clients. They help clients identify, understand, evaluate, and make choices about their belief systems. They help them understand how beliefs shape their emotions and behaviours, and what they learn from their experiences. And they help people understand the power of the language they use and the stories they tell and help them more empowering choices in this area. This is how they work.

There are many coaches who have similar views and work in similar ways, even though they know nothing of change fitness or change fitness coaching.

What Change Fitness Coaches Work On

So, what is unique about change fitness coaching?  To understand that we need to look beyond the HOW question and examine the WHAT question. What do change fitness coaches work on with their clients that coaches in similar traditions don’t?

The answer to this question lies in academic research, but not the research conducted decades ago that is now common-place in many coach training programs. The research I mean is much more recent research – 21st century research. And because it is recent, it is less well-known.

What Makes People Successful

This research concerns how people think that makes them successful at change. Many people don’t like change and find it stressful. They prefer what is tried and true, doing familiar, safe things.  The prefer to remain in their comfort zone. And in many ways, this is exactly what society has conditioned us to do – don’t take unnecessary risks, follow the rules, and play it safe – be normal.

But not handling change is a big problem in the modern world. Society prizes innovation. We love it when tech companies release their latest gadgets. But we aren’t so happy if innovation threatens our careers or our comfort.

And there are people thrive on change, who hate comfort zones, and accept high levels of risk. They try out new things, experiment, and push themselves to new endeavours. Some of these people are foolhardy, take uncalculated risks and come to no good.  And others achieve great success. There are some famous ones – Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, JK Rowling. There are lots of them.

Change fitness coaches are not trying to turn every client into a Richard Branson – they simply try to help the client achieve the future they aspire to. But they are interested in a key question: what do the people who handle change well have that others don’t? The answer they give is that these people have lots of change fitness.

A Capacity Driving Behaviour

People don’t have change fitness because they handle change well – they handle change well because they have change fitness.  In other words, change fitness is not a behaviour – it’s a capacity a psychological capacity. It’s something that exists inside the mind, and it can be measured and developed.

So, the difference between change fitness coaching and all other coaching is that it’s based on understanding what drives people to be good at the change process – what empowers them psychologically to succeed and expand their horizons.

In other words, change fitness coaches have an evidence-based understanding of WHAT TO WORK ON to help their clients become better at handling and succeeding at change. They aren’t guessing at what might work or having a scatter-gun approach. They have a very focused, evidence-based approach.  And that’s important in coaching, because people who don’t want to change don’t come to coaches.

Is This Approach For You?

So, should you consider moving towards change fitness coaching? That depends. It would be if you relate to constructivist, cognitive, and narrative approaches and you like learning about this field. It would be if you are interested in the change process and want to help people succeed at it, and you believe it matters what people think. But you would already need to be a good coach, because although change fitness training helps you improve the core coaching competencies, it’s not intended to teach them to you if you don’t already have them.

If you are interested in exploring whether change fitness coaching might be right for you, contact me and I will be happy to provide more information and answer your questions.

Dr Steve Barlow

Steve Barlow
Author: Steve Barlow

Steve heads up The Change Gym. He is a change readiness specialist. You can contact him at