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Your questions answered: Why don’t you do online coaching?

Thursday, January 29, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Over the years quite a few people have asked me why I no longer do free diet & training plans for others, or why I haven’t become a professional (paid) online “coach”. The answer to that question is actually fairly involved, and today I’m going to address that subject with brutal candor.

questionMarkIconBack in late 2003 and 2004 when my initial transformation was complete and I was receiving a huge amount of media exposure, I would spend entire weekends answering emails–hundreds upon hundreds of them. Several new emails would arrive during the time I was composing a single reply. It was nuts, but I embraced it!

Even though my initial physical transformation was complete, back in those early days my self esteem was still recovering, and very much a work in progress. I was flattered and, frankly, shocked that anyone thought my opinions were worthy of their attention. I willingly spent most of my spare time creating custom meal plans, designing workouts, offering words of encouragement and giving transformation advice to everyone who contacted me.

I did all of this for free, and I was happy to do it. Why? Because seeing people excited about making real, lasting and positive changes in their lives is an awesome feeling; the privilege of being a part of those changes was almost indescribable. In fact, that is a large part of the reason I kept JSF going after my transformation was complete, and why I created the JSF Forums.

As I just wrote, I did all of this without asking for anything in return. Well, almost nothing: I always requested that people take the time to follow up with me after a month or so, and let me know how things were going.


Okay, not complete silence, but pretty much. I’d say of the thousands of people I replied to, less than 5% (and I’m being generous) took the time to follow up even once. It was, in a word, heartbreaking. I couldn’t understand it.

I saw the same sort of thing over on the JSF Forums. Back in the day, before Facebook and other social media suffocated it (and other forums like it), the JSF Forums were teeming with life. Hundreds of new posts every day, and dozens of new members every day. There were some amazing transformations made by JSF Forum members, and hundreds of “regulars” who took the time to help people out (I was one of them).

But most people would come, post questions for awhile and then… silence. Sure, some of those people came back every year or two, vowing that “this time is different”, but most people came into our virtual town, asked for help, gobbled up the many thoughtful and learned replies, and then vanished into thin air.

All this–the unanswered emails, the forum “leeches”, the apathy–was demoralizing. I felt like I’d wasted a huge amount of my time. I have to admit, the thrill was gone.

So, getting back to the initial question, why not do online diet and training coaching for money? At least then I’ll be compensated for my time, right? Well, sure. But I’m not the sort of person who holds hands. It’s just not me. I will never understand people who say they want something, and then don’t have the drive to really go for it. Frankly I find that sort of behavior very off-putting. I’m not suggesting that a few words of encouragement are not helpful from time to time–hell, we all need that once in awhile! I’m talking about the needy sorts, who don’t care enough about their own goals to buckle down and give 100%. No amount of money is going to make me pretend to care when my own client doesn’t.

Some people are very good at dealing with those who need to be babied, and my hat is off to them. Those folks are much better candidates for diet & training coaches than I.

As an aside, I do think I’d make a very good cycling coach. Of course I’m not qualified for that–at least not yet (hint, hint!) I think most cyclists who seek out coaching are already quite committed, and are not strangers to hard work and sacrifice. I would thrive working with such individuals.

John Stone Fitness Comments

One Response to “Your questions answered: Why don’t you do online coaching?”
  1. While i have failed to make my desired aesthetic transformation, I *have* been successful in making tremendous improvements in my athleticism which has translated into many improvements in my life and I have you and your blog and forums to credit for most of the inspiration for that.

    The last frontier for me is the aesthetic piece and increased health/athleticism and there is nothing in my way but me!

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