Coaching in motion - an introduction to walking coaching
Life coaching bridges the gap from where you are now to where you want to be. Exercise not only changes your body it changes your mind, your attitude, your mood. Joining the benefits of both walking and life coaching in the form of walking coaching has a powerful effect on our physical, mental and emotional health.
Walking relaxes and re-energises the body by giving the muscles a workout and increases blood circulation throughout the body. It exercises your mind, helping oxygen and glucose to reach your brain. This helps to calm the mind, enhance mental clarity and sharpen thinking. Like other forms of exercise, walking leads to the release of your body's natural happy drugs, endorphins. In essence, walking is an excellent form of exercise, which not only improves your physical health but also mental alertness, relaxation, insight and creativity. The static positioning of coaching when sitting indoors enables coaching skills to be employed quite readily. How does this transpose to coaching outside and what is that you stand to gain from having a coaching session outside?
A coaching session outdoors is physically active, less formal, more sensory and more likely to increase creative thought. Both you and your coach are more likely to relax when you are outdoors. Although walking coaching is a relatively recent idea, walking as a tool to thinking is evidenced in history. The 4th century philosopher St. Augustine wrote, “it is solved by walking” and more recently Walter Isaacson wrote of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple “taking a long walk was his preferred way to have a serious conversation.”
Walking coaching doesn’t require any special equipment or a special place to walk. You can engage in coaching conversations whilst walking with your coach outdoors in an urban area or in a natural environment. Walking outdoors heightens the awareness of your environment and involves the use of all your senses. It enables you to slow your pace down and ground yourself, which has a calming effect on your body and mind. This calming effect helps with problem solving and creative thinking.
Often when we are attempting to find solutions to our problems we can get stuck in our heads, in habits of intellectualising and over thinking. Walking coaching engages the body in physical exercise, leaving the mind free to focus on the here and now. The physical act of walking helps the flow of communication between you and your coach and moving forward physically inspires action psychologically. Walking coaching creates strong presence, ‘doing’ nothing but walking takes us closer to the sensation of ‘being’ present. The rhythmic action of walking alters the brain waves from beta wave, task orientated, to the slower alpha waves of deep relaxation. Our creativity is released and we are able to put together solutions that previously did not occur to us.
Going for a walk is familiar, it is an everyday occurrence for some, and walking coaching could be seen as much less pressured than sitting face to face with a coach. When a coaching conversation is added to a walk outdoors it becomes an effective, informal, relaxed way to work.
Coaching outdoors is unlikely to be appeal to you if you do not like walking or being outdoors, or if you prefer to sit at a table with pen and paper during a coaching session. You and your coach may not want to walk in poor weather conditions but alternative indoor venues can always be made available. Most of the barriers to walking coaching can be overcome and taking part in a walking coaching session can give you immense benefits. This is an opportunity for you to have a holistic experience; engaging both your mind and body to unlock your potential and move you towards your goals. What have you got to lose?
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About Kim Furnish
Kim Furnish of Instar Life Coaching has coached in the areas of health and fitness, couple relationships, parenting and mental health. Kim offers Walking Coaching sessions as an alternative to regular Life Coaching sessions.
Kim is Author of the book 'Parenting a Violent Child' Darton, Longman & Todd