A Health Promotion Project, started at the spring of 2019, was carried out by the City of Vantaa.
One important segment of the project is the promotion and development of lifestyle coaching. This coaching program, started at the spring of 2020, is individual coaching with long-term guidance designed to achieve lasting results and learn new habits for better health.
From the group of project participants, fifty (50) health-risk individuals joined the lifestyle coaching program and successfully completed a full year coaching. Their health issues and concerns were primarily related to high blood pressure, being overweight, increased risk of diabetes, lowered mood, and/or plain lack of exercise.
During a three-hour closing seminar of the Health Promotion Project held 6th of October 2021, program data, important feedback and testimonials from the participants were discussed and presented.
Evidently, the program was deemed successful in several aspects. Majority of the participants have lost weight significantly within the one-year training period (average of 2.5%). Exercise and physical activities also increased by an average of five hours per month, or more than one hour per week. However, the high point of the seminar was the journey and experiences of the participants, and the general awareness and appreciation of the program itself. Based on the participant testimonials, the following points were emphasised:
The role of the mentor
The encouragement, support, and ability of the mentors to understand people’s diverse lifestyle and life situations proved most important to the participants. The clients appreciate the consistent feedback, particularly the individual coaching whenever needed.
When asked what they think “the best thing about the mentoring” was, the participants stated the following:
“ I have every day the possibility to contact a skilled mentor. Keeping in touch with the mentor keeps me motivated.”
“Continuous feedback from the mentor.”
“A mentor can also be challenged, and you don’t have to do everything at once.”
The program itself
All participants were aware that real change starts with themselves, and that change takes time. They appreciate the idea of a long-term program and they fully understand that it is essential when aiming for a lasting change and result. Some comments further describe the sentiments:
“It is a privilege to be involved in this kind of process, especially when it is free.”
“The biggest thing here is that this program has been long enough.”
“There will be set-backs, but life goes on.”
The participants appreciated face-to face meetings with the instructor, but they also realised that this puts a lot of strain on the instructor and goes to the city’s wallet. A one-time face-to-face meeting with the instructor was offered at the beginning of the program which helped establish trust and create a basis for natural and easy interaction during remote coaching.
Moreover, the participants appreciated the remote coaching’s flexibility — where the given tasks could be performed at their own time. It allows them to choose when and where to do their tasks.
“I can do the tasks whenever I have time, since instructions are available. I don’t need anything else. My motivation has improved, I am very pleased with that.”
The clients emphasised that they could always trust that feedback is given every time and messages are answered promptly — perhaps at times with short delays but always with certainty. Time flexibility was perceived as highly positive, with both the instructor and the client being able to work at their own pace.
Participants’ advice for future clients
There are also advice from the participants for those who are new to the program and for those who wish to participate in the future:
“Come along. But don’t join with the attitude that everything changes at once, it’s one step at a time. If there is this kind of opportunity, learn from and challenge the mentors, take advantage of their support, encouragement and criticism as well. Yes, they will support you in every way possible, if you have courage to give them a chance.”
“The mentoring is done in a positive way. If you haven’t done anything in the app for two weeks, then there won’t be a message saying you should start moving, but instead, only a kind question asking, ‘Is everything OK?’.”
A functional remote coaching platform enables personal lifestyle guidance. It enables constant communication, frees up from time and place, and allows one to progress at their own pace. It streamlines the work of instructors, enabling them to work with and help more clients. Instead of a “self-help” service, it was an active personal service. And that was highly appreciated by all the client interviewees.
For more information:
Mikko Koskela, CEO
+358 40 060 3209