In the ever-evolving world of fitness coaching, there's a recent call to action by a prominent fitness business guru urging coaches to increase their prices by 7% due to the prevailing inflation. While the logic behind this move is sound, I find myself moving in another direction and I'd like to share why.
For the past two years, I've embraced the power of AI in my training methods guided by my coach and founder of Athletica.ai Professor Paul Laursen. Before that, I meticulously planned my workouts or had the guidance of a human coach. Each approach has its merits, but my allegiance lies with AI tools, and here's why.
Time is of the Essence
Time is a precious commodity, and AI tools have become my time-saving allies. Utilizing Athletica.ai, grounded in years of sports science, allows me to swiftly deliver effective training programs for individual athletes. As a sports scientist myself, I appreciate plans rooted in science rather than template plans, guesswork or bro-science.
One of the flaws of many AI training programs is the over-emphasis on HIIT and moderate-intensity work. Sure, HIIT is proven to improve your physiology, but it is a potent tool, and when used too much (and too soon) can leave athletes plateau quickly, or worse, overtrained and drained. Athletica takes a different approach from any other platform I've tried.
As a coach, I appreciate the science-based approach, as it allows me to quickly adjust and tweak the plan for my athletes, while the intellect behind the program quickly recalculates the training load (stress) for the following days. The biggest difference between using Athletica and to more static (and let's be honest, old-school way) training platform such as TrainingPeaks is exactly that. The adaptability of each program. Mary does one run too hard, and the next training session gets adjusted (load lowered)to make sure Mary doesn't "bin" herself and ends up feeling like "trash".
All this without a button push from me as her coach. Pretty neat, eih?
This efficiency frees up my time for personalized adjustments, while Athletica fine-tunes loads to align with individual goals and abilities. One such brilliant feature is invisible threshold detection. Every time my athlete reaches a new fitness level and runs faster than before 5K, her training intensity zones get updated. This may seem trivial, but it is quite the opposite. Self-coached athletes don't often even realize that the zones from their watch are not individualized for them, and are training either too hard or too easy at a given specific intensity. This can lead to underperformance or even overtraining.
Pictured here is my last 6 weeks' Cycling Power Profile. It is based on Athletica's invisible threshold detection, and is always current, regardless of whether you did a Zwift race, pushing yourself hard for 20 minutes or an hour, your power curve gets updated. If you've been sick or taken a break from cycling, your curve gets updated.
So what do you ask? What significance does such a chart have?
As an athlete and coach, you can in one way use the power/pace (there is the same kind of pace/duration curve for running) to form your race strategy with the help of this. How?
Say that I am going to run a half marathon. Let's look at my running pace profile from the last 3 months.
My longest run was 2hrs 20mins, and my 2hr average pace was slightly over 6min/km. Now, because I know this data is based on my training, and I have not raced much this year, this is training data, and aerobic long runs, which are typically slow easy zone 1-2 runs. If I look at my 1 hr data, I can see my average pace 5:24min/km. Now, that's more like it. I know that when I get a bib on my shirt, I can run faster than that and hold it for longer than an hour. So cautiously, I would probably make an estimate of 5:15-5:25 average for the half marathon, which is a far cry from my best times but somewhere between 1:50-1:54. So I would start with 5:25 pace for the first 7 km, then increase the next 7K depending how I'd feel and the last 7K focus on running technique and bringing it home.
Now do you see the benefit of this?
Autonomy for Athletes
Athletica.ai grants athletes more autonomy over their training. They can effortlessly reschedule workouts or use the workout wizard if time is scarce or they feel very fatigued and need something more mellow in their day, all without consulting me extensively. This not only empowers athletes but also saves valuable time by avoiding unnecessary back-and-forths.
I am probably the worst business owner in history, but I believe that each one of my athletes should fly on their own after they've been with me for a while. My goal is to teach them so they can do that.
Fly little bird, fly!
Let me explain where I am coming from.
The Nordic countries are world leaders in endurance sports like cross-country skiing, orienteering, running (ever heard of the Flying Finn?), and ice skating. One of the principles that is embraced early on is to give athletes autonomy (athlete-centered approach) over their training. I too, embrace this, and instead of holding back what I've learned over the years, I happily share my experiences and knowledge with my athletes. Whether an athlete wants to stay with me longer or shorter, is totally up to them. My goal is to empower them so they feel confident that they CAN do it on their own.
Using Athletica while they are using my services, and learning how to make adjustments, they'll be able to keep utilizing Athletica even without my guidance. They'll have the knowledge and wisdom together with the magic of Athletica to smash their goals, and save some cash!
The Value of Time
Time is valuable, and as a coach, I recognize the worth of my time. I also recognize the time limits of my 24 hours/day. There is only so much I can do, and so many athletes I can serve. There's a time cap. I am also an athlete myself, a mother of three, a wife, and a dog owner. Just like you, I'm no superhuman.
Designing a detailed program for a triathlete over seven (or more) months would take considerably more time than the minutes Athletica requires to generate an excellent plan. My fee decrease makes sense when one considers the considerable time I used to spend designing every athlete's program from scratch.
Funny fact is that one of my most popular "off the shelf"training programs is one that allows the athlete chose their training mode (running, nordic walking, biking, roller skiing, rowing, swimming) freely and often to make exercise a daily norm, rather than an after thought.
When it comes to my programs delivered via other training program platforms, they lack the dynamic feature Athletica is so good at. With Athletica, when an athlete misses a workout, the load for the next few days is recalculated. That is something I've never really engaged in, to be honest in other platforms. I've always just told my athletes to move on and not worry about it if they miss a workout.
Sometimes when an athlete does longer or harder workouts than in the plan, Athletica downregulates the load to avoid overtraining and to allow recovery. This is also a very hard thing to do in a static training program. All those small things take time as a coach.
With Athletica, it is taken care of and in the grand scene of things, can be the one thing that will make all the difference. One of those small things that do add up. Why would you not take advantage of this?
When I was still using TrainingPeaks as my primary training program delivery method, I struggled to serve as many clients as I wanted to simply because I found it hard to find time to serve more than a handful of clients at once. So scaling my coaching business was like pushing a giant boulder up Everest. I charged a lot more, but I was capped at 5 athletes.
Now, I am confident to serve more athletes all at once without stretching myself too thin, and giving the athletes what they deserve, a quality program with quality human coaching who can focus on the art of coaching.
Quality of Programs
Athletica's programs, developed by world-leading experts using the HIITscience method, have proven their excellence. While I trust AI-generated programs, I still monitor and adjust based on individual factors, like what else is going on in their lives, like travel, sleep, illness, life stress, and nutrition.
Honestly, you can get a decent training plan by googling or even using ChatGPT. If you are ok coaching yourself, you're good to go.
After years of reading research articles contradicting each other, I found my go-to source for sports science research at HIITscience.com. I've taken most of the courses offered and highly recommend them to any coach wanting to up their game in coaching.
Knowing what and who stands behind your training program is vital. My confidence in the quality of Athletica is unshakeable, after using Athletica.ai in my own Ironman training and being coached by Professor Paul Laursen, co-founder of Athletica.ai and Hiitscience.com. Just google and you'll find over 200 peer-reviewed articles under Dr. Laursen's name.
As a coach with Athletica, my role shifts from programming to providing the support that only a human coach can offer. Unlimited access, to educational resources, group calls, and newsletters enhances the coaching experience beyond what AI alone can provide.
Athletes have a shoulder to cry on, someone to debrief with, a partner in crime, an idea board to bounce ideas on, and a trusted person to recap their races or events with. I am here to provide individual strength programming, helping them figure out race day logistics, race nutrition, equipment choices, how to manage life stress better, and how to keep training while traveling around the world, the list is quite long and I love to see my athletes find ways to do what they love to do, reach their goals and make new bigger ones!
Transparent Fee Structure
Now, you may wonder... If I am not doing as much as a coach with the programming part, what are you paying for? You are not only paying for my time, but also access to years of education, experience, and knowledge both as a coach and as an athlete, parent, expat, and hopefully the wisdom I've gathered along the way. You are paying for the shortcut of learning that you are taking by having me on your team!
As a human coach, I can focus more on providing the support only human coaches can. I don't believe in limiting the access that my athletes have to me, such as one coaching call a month. My athletes can contact me however much they want.
Breaking down my monthly 1on1 coaching fees, it's clear that I prioritize transparency and value for my clients:
1. Athletica Platform Fee: $20/mo
2. Monitoring and Adjustments
3. Athlete Support: Newsletters, group calls, educational videos, Athletica user support and unlimited contact
Total 199 USD per month for adults, 99 USD for youth.
4. Onboarding, one-time Fee: $100: Endurance, strength & movement assessments, individual programs, and analysis. I charge an onboarding fee to cover the time I spend at the beginning of the relationship, because getting to know an athlete takes time.
All you need is a Garmin watch, with HR chest strap, or Strava (make sure you have chest strap though).
For athletes who've been with me for a while (typically 6 months or longer with 1-on-1 coaching), they feel confident enough to move on to my group coaching service "Tribe" which offers the same quality program as Athletica, and support they are used to. Although they can take advantage of the monitoring and adjustments unlimited support, they do not pay an extra onboarding fee, and they in general terms do require fewer adjustments and changes - and I want it to reflect on what they pay. Some athletes stay with the 1-on-1 program longer, some have stayed for over 4 years, some 2 years, and some a little less. It's totally up to you.
Tribe monthly fees:
Athletica platform $20/mo
Monitoring and support: Monitoring commenting, adjustments, newsletters, group calls, educational videos, athletic user support, and unlimited contact $109/mo.
As an athlete member, you'll also get 10% discounts for my other programs, like the Fit Mom online course (normal price 299 USD) and the Deep Dive 3-month program at 349 USD per month.
In a world where fitness coaching is adapting to new technologies, my choice to embrace AI-powered training isn't just about staying ahead; it's about delivering efficient, effective, and personalized coaching. I'm proud to partner up with Athletica.ai after trialing it for two years in my training, through thick and thin, as my crazy life has taken me through more than I can begin to explain in a short blog post.
As this new landscape rapidly evolves, my commitment to providing top-notch support remains unwavering. The future of coaching is here, and it's a blend of cutting-edge technology and human connection.
Time is the most valuable commodity we have. The one thing we never get back. I value mine, and I urge you to value yours. Let's embrace the power of AI together so we can focus on the art of crushing your goals!
Yours in fitness,