“First I want you to draw a circle,” Robyn Grant directed.
Having no idea what “health coaching” involved, I followed her instructions and drew what was as close to a circle as I could with undiminished curiosity.
Next under Grant’s guidance, the circle was divided into eight sections, which I was exhorted to label with different facets of life. The wedges were given names like “nutrition,” “stress,” and “sleep” to reflect different aspects that contribute to an overall sense of well-being or lack of it.
Then, I rated each wedge, and a wheel was created.
I was in for a bumpy ride if this wheel didn’t get balanced.
“Where would you say the lowest point in your wheel is,” Grant probed.
Over the next forty minutes, she helped guide me toward concrete actions that I could take to improve the flagging wedge “sleep” in my wheel of life.
Robyn Grant sees people coming to her after they have an “aha” moment of recognition that they need to change their lives in a substantial way.
“More often than not people already know what they need to do,” Grant told me, “I actually help people make those changes, and make them permanent.”
One of the biggest challenges for people is figuring out how to grapple with an overwhelming list of self-improvements.
“I’m a complement to [other] practitioners,” she said, who works with clients as they need.
“We come up with a simple plan based on the individual’s values, priorities and preferences and move toward their desired quality of living.
“I help them pull their vision out of themselves,”
Coaching may involve one or two “refocusing” sessions where Grant works with a client to get them “back on track,” checking in and retooling any self-improvement projects as necessary.
“More often I’m working with people over a period of six months to a year,” she said, “It’s usually better to work for nine months to a year to get the solid results they’re looking for.”
In Grant’s experience as a health coach, it takes time to make changes permanent and resilient to stress.
“I’m there constantly for my client,” she added, with most support taking place in one-hour sessions over the phone. Keeping in contact via the phone or email allows a coach to check in with her clients whether or not they are at home or on vacation or in the middle of a life-altering move.
“They have this consistent support person who is not family, is not their spouse, is not their friend, who is neutral and non-judgmental, who helps them stay the course,” said Grant.
As part of the process, she offers therapeutic body work for people who feel they would benefit from it.
Grant offers a variety of services at her Willow Wellness Studio downtown, and also does some bodywork at Halcyon Hot Springs. She has been surprised by the number and variety of illnesses which plague the people who visit her. Many people of all ages have chronic pain, digestive problems and high levels of stress.
“There are a lot of sick people out there, with real substantial problems. We’re so lucky to live here,” she said, mentioning the variety of local hot springs as an extraordinary health resource.
Grant’s practise is as varied as her clients. One session she really enjoyed was a cooking class that introduced mother and daughter Valerie and Katelyn Hill to a different approach to meal preparation. Not only were they given new recipes and cooking techniques, the two were also encouraged to enjoy the total experience of making food, from appreciating the sight and smell of ingredients to experimenting with flavours and textures.
Accountability is also key to the coaching process.
“That is a big factor in why people are able to succeed with co-operative coaching,” Grant stressed. Arrangements between the coach and her client ensure realistic goals are made and attained, with prearranged check-ins testing a plan of action’s feasibility. If she doesn’t hear from a client, she knows something has gone awry and arranges a better route to achieving success.
As a health coach, Grant sees what she calls “blanket expectations” as being the biggest barrier to personal growth.
“We tend to put these expectations on ourselves that are so unrealistic,” she said, “and then we beat ourselves up for not being able to [live up to them].” Grant sees what she does as helping people set and reach realistic goals.
“We get really creative sometimes, and usually it’s way more fun than going it alone,” she summed up.