Pure coaching involves questioning using your intuition, enabling your client to gain clarity on where they’re at, where they want to go, and how they can get there. Although running exercises with your clients arguably isn’t coaching, we are all “multipassionistas” with a range of wonderous skills under our belts. And you get to choose what to bring into your coaching business, so your clients can follow their true paths.
For twenty years my main income came from designing and delivering inclusive leadership training for a range of organisations. The methodology involved researching and writing training plays and putting together exercises. During my training with Radiant Coaches Academy in 2020 we were encouraged to create our own coaching exercises, and the syllabus provides hundreds of examples. I immediately saw the potential for blending my established skillset, and was hooked!
For my first two hundred hours of client work I would look for opportunities to regularly weave in coaching exercises, either as part of the session or for their homework. Clients responded well, and it felt good. After a while I noticed a kind of “settling” around my use of exercises, it felt more organic and less formulaic. I realised that I didn’t have to do exercises; they could sit in the background and appear if/when necessary. Now, as I reach five hundred hours for my PCC Accreditation, coaching exercises are still very much part of my toolkit, and flow gently from my questions and clients’ answers symbiotically.
If you are considering offering coaching exercises to your clients, here are some things to consider:
- Mention them as an offering on your website and in your Coaching Agreement. Decide whether they are part of your coaching session and/or homework. Are they an optional (free or paid) extra?
- During your first free session with a new client, mention that you offer exercises and glean their response to this.
- On your pre-sessions questionnaire ask your client to identify their learning style, and any types of exercises they enjoy.
Offering the Exercise
- When asking if your client would like to do an exercise, stick to open questions framed in the future, and target their feelings. This gives them more breadth and choice in saying yes, maybe, or no. For example, use “How would you feel about doing a coaching exercise?” Avoid, “Do you want to do a coaching exercise?”
- Check in half-way through the exercise and keep a lookout for how your client is engaging with it.
- Do the exercise alongside your client to take pressure off them feeling watched or judged, and to help you gage the timing.
Remember there are different types of exercises. As a holistic coach, I outline that my exercises will tap into mind, body, spirit in the way that works for them, and I will discard areas they do not warm to.
Below, I have focussed on cognitive/mind exercises, but I also enjoy body and breath exercises, visualisations and pulling my oracle cards. Each of the following are ripe for adapting to all topics and niches. I am a relationship coach working with individuals, couples, and groups, so the exercises below are framed accordingly. You may have seen different versions of each, perhaps with a different name. I encourage you to get creative, make them fit your business and choose your own titles.
I love using metaphors, so when my clients start using them, I know it’s game-on! I was working with a couple who are opening up their relationship, they talked about it feeling like a cake recipe. I invited them to do some homework on identifying which ingredients (relationship qualities) needed to be in the cake, which were optional extras, and what sullied the taste of the cake.
I had a feeling my client liked words; from the way he used language. I checked in with him, and sure enough he confirmed this. He had been discussing how important Respect was in building his next relationship. In the session, I asked him to write down RESPECT with one letter on each new line. Then, to write words or phrases, starting with each new letter, that demonstrate the qualities underpinning Respect. He was able to be clearer on why Respect was important and will be able to transmit this to his next partner.
Write a word or phrase in the middle of your page, and then draw legs and write associated words or phrases at the end of each. My client was working out whether to pool her resources on dating apps or attending live events. I asked her to do two spiders on one sheet. The body of one said, “Dating Apps” and the other, “Live Events”. Using coloured pens, she identified the pros in one colour and the cons in another for both spiders. This allowed her to make the unconscious conscious, and she could see which area she should currently focus on (live events!).
Draw a circle with spokes that create eight cheese wedges. My client wanted to work on their relationship values. They were currently single and ready to explore attracting a new lover. I asked them to identify qualities that were important to them in their next partner, and to write each in a section. Then I asked them to quickly, without too much thought, assess which were the top three qualities. Then we discussed how each of these qualities currently show up in other areas of their life. From this they outlined practical ways of growing each quality further, in preparation for inviting in a new lover. We know that the quality of our relationships is based on the quality of our relationship with Self. This exercise allowed my client to build up a strong, compassionate relationship with Self.
What’s the favorite exercise you like to use, and why? I would love to hear from you.
Ali Hendry (she/her), Education Director (Europe), Radiant Coaches Academy
Ali Hendry is a certified holistic relationship coach helping LGBTQIA+ folk gain focus and accountability for their life goals. If you’d like to work with Ali then book your free taster here: https://calendly.com/alihendrycoaching/initial-meeting