For Julie Edgar, watching her weight yo-yo throughout
the years was nothing new. As a child, she’d been
decidedly chubby, but by college most of the weight had
dropped off. Though the weight cycle continued well into
her 20s, Edgar seemed to be comfortable in her own skin.
That is until she got pregnant with her
first child. That’s when she says the pregnancy pounds
packed on — and stayed.
By her son’s third birthday, Edgar had
ballooned to nearly 330 pounds, and her signature bubbly
personality could no longer mask her deep personal
struggles with weight. Edgar says it was time for a
“It got to a point where my size hindered
my everyday life,” the Wauwatosa resident says. “I
wanted to be on the floor playing with my son. I wanted
to play soccer. And I didn’t want my son to have to feel
embarrassed about me being his mom.”
When her friend, Sandi Vande Berg, owner
at T3 Fitness in Wauwatosa, suggested she attend the
boot camp class she was instructing, Edgar initially
refused. But after running out of excuses, she gave in —
and hated it.
“I cried all the way home — I didn’t
think I belonged there,” says Edgar. “But then I
thought, ‘I have to start somewhere.’”
For the next eight months, she leaned on
Vande Berg’s fitness coaching to help reach her goals.
She worked out twice a day, six days a week, and learned
how to incorporate a healthy diet into her routine. Soon
Edgar lost more than 170 pounds, but she says the
journey was so much more than a number on a scale — it
was a whole new lease on life.
In fact, Edgar was so inspired that she
eventually left her corporate finance job in downtown
Milwaukee to become a full-time lead trainer at Vande
Berg’s studio, so she could help others to do the same.
“I just felt so alive, and I felt
thankful,” Edgar says. “I wanted everyone to feel as
good as I felt — as I feel.”
to Shape Your Future
Edgar credits part of her success to
seeking out the help of a personal trainer — and she’s
not alone. Since the recession, millions of American
have sought out the assistance of a personal coach,
turning the trade into a multibillion dollar industry.
Though the reasons for doing so vary
widely — people seek out help for everything from
fitness and nutrition, to home organizing, life coaching
and career development — the end game is the same.
People are searching for ways to significantly improve
their daily lives.
According to Harvard Business Review,
successful personal coaches combine consulting and
therapy techniques to result in increased
self-confidence, better communication skills,
professional advancement and improved personal
relationships for their clients.
While most people could benefit from
personal coaching, Vande Berg says it often takes a
person reaching their breaking point to move them out of
their comfort zone and into an avenue of change.
“The worst kind of place to be is in the
‘all right’ place,” she says. “People don’t make changes
then. The people who are fed up? Those are the people
who are really motivated. It’s really about making a
difference in peoples’ lives, rather than short-term
At its root, personal coaching is all
about empowerment and creating the life that you want,
adds Meg Daly, a personal development coach in
“When people ask me what I do, I say,
‘Have you ever woken up completely overwhelmed with your
life?’” she explains. “It’s like they’ve lost their
sparkle. Maybe they are full of fear. Maybe there is a
lot of self-criticism. Maybe they’re lonely. A lot of
times, we’re stuck in our hearts and heads.
“I help people move out (of that feeling)
to revive and thrive,” Daly continues.
Personal Coaching Works
Most of us have experienced those moments
when we’re standing in the mirror and just don’t like
what we see or feel. So how do you know if you’re just
having a bad day or week, or when it’s appropriate to
hire a personal coach?
“People usually approach me when they are
stuck,” says Rochelle Melander, a wellness and writing
coach in Milwaukee. “Maybe they’ve set a (goal) to
exercise more, find a new job, or start their blog… and
they’ve made little progress.”
The first thing Melander does is
normalize the situation. For example, Melander points
out to clients that only about 8 percent of people
actually keep New Year’s resolutions, and reminds people
not to be too hard on themselves. Then she works with
them to uncover their obstacles.
The biggest obstacles aren’t usually time
or money; it’s a fear of failure or of being
uncomfortable, the coaches say.
Sometimes it’s because a person is trying
to achieve too many big goals at once — for example, a
woman who was both trying to write and exercise every
morning before work. In other cases, emotional or
physical distractions can get in the way.
A consulting session, question form or
survey can help coaches pinpoint the areas that need
work. Daly says her process includes three major steps,
including how to help clients: 1. Remember who they are;
2. Discover or know what they desire; and 3. How to take
While every coaching process or package
is different, it usually includes a variety of exercises
(writing goal statements, journaling, completing
worksheets, making behavior changes), in-person and
virtual meetings, and check-ins to measure progress.
It’s important to remember that a
lifestyle change takes time.
“When I’ve seen them move through those
layers, and when they are able to reclaim that life,
that’s what I love,” Daly says. “It’s about knowing
you’re worth the time and investment. People don’t value
themselves enough to know that.”