Coaching is an important aspect of finances and fitness

Fitness and Finances: Coaches Square Off

How Practice, Fundamentals, Tracking, and Mindset Intersect on the Path to Wellness and Success

By Kaitlyn Ranze

Five years ago, I was a competitive athlete. I wasn’t born fast or athletic – I was just persistent. I’d train six days a week, travel an hour an a half to hit a bag because that’s what it took for me to get better. Through practice I learned, but it’s no surprise that I would never have been a champion without my coaches.

But boxing never paid the bills.

Long since retired, my focus shifted to actually paying bills. I became a professional, earned a real living. Then one day I realized I had no idea wtf I was doing with the money. I had a savings account, meager workplace retirement plan, credit card debt… The uncomfortable feeling of realizing how much I didn’t know, of being a beginner again, set in. Only this time, I didn’t have a gym or training partners. What I did have was

Built with tools to track your money and your mindset, the money app also comes pre-packaged with a coach. After talking with Erin, I realized there are some serious intersections between chasing success and wellness from an athletic or financial vantage.

I poked and prodded a couple of coaches into giving me their steps to success in finance v. fitness.

What is a financial coach? In Erin Papworth’s words, “Financial Coaching is a beautiful hybrid between therapy and financial literacy training. It’s not a highly regulated world, however, the best coaches help their clients see themselves in the big picture of their money management, then break down their high-level financial goals into micro-behaviors. They help clients identify their personal relationship to money… and craft a training program around the key areas where a person needs to grow.”

Scott Stiefeld, a former collegiate wrestler, delivers programming and training to athletes ranging from professional athletes in the NFL, MLB, MMA, world champions, and record holders in powerlifting to average 9-5 fitness clients at Tampa-based Elite Strength and Conditioning. If you want to get stronger, better, or faster in the Tampa Bay area, he’s your man.

Since every champion was once a beginner, I started with the basics.

Here are their thoughts on getting the fundamentals down.

Scott: When clients or strength athletes complain of repetitive basic movements, I ask them…

“Have you heard of Cael Sanderson? He is known as ‘The GOAT’ of collegiate wrestling. He went 159-0 in his collegiate career, with 4 NCAA titles. Do you know how? Not by fancy moves or training, but by utilizing the same 3 basic takedown moves that his opponents KNEW WERE COMING! He did these so well, so quick, so effortlessly, no matter the opponents planned method of defense, he always won. He was so good at these basic movements, no one could beat them.”

Erin: Tackling the fundamentals of money sets you up for success throughout your life.  All of people’s larger goals are affected by the small behaviors each day or week. Reviewing transactions and deciding which ones serve you or really drain you is a powerful way to identify WHY you are spending money the way you do.  That facilitates deeper conversations about what lifestyle you want versus what lifestyle you are living.

And once you have the fundamentals down, you repeat them. According to Bruce Lee, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times. ” Why is practice so important in behavior change and improvement? Take it from the experts:

Practice makes…

With automated budgeting in your money app, budgeting has never been easier.
A budget is just a new way to think and track it.

Erin: Once you have the basics down and know what money is coming in and going out, the next step is taking some time to practice whatever habit change you’ve identified.

Is it not allowing your kid to whine their way into extra toys at the store? Is it turning all the lights off at night before bed…?  Whatever you’ve identified as a micro habit you can build, if you give yourself even two weeks to try them, you start to reprogram your brain waves and feel like you can make changes each day or week, and really the lifestyle they create for themselves.

Scott: Many believe practice makes perfect. Then others argue that PERFECT practice makes perfect. I tend to think both are poorly expressed and not entirely correct…. I like to cue “PATIENCE. POSITION. POWER.”

In training and weightlifting, many rush to perform a motion, just to lose their position or balance, etc. Instead, display patience when you set up, focus on your positioning to produce the most power you can. Whether it’s in strength/weight-training, or strategic gameplay, you have to be patient . Get into proper position before you can powerfully attack. Practicing patience, in a skill or life, will always lead to executing correctly, which in the end, is the ultimate goal of practice: achieving your goal.

So practice patience making money moves so I am in a good position to leverage the power of my strong fundamentals. Got it. I’ll stay off Robinhood for a bit – at least until my high-interest debt is paid and I am consistently spending less than I am making. What a mindset shift. Speaking of…


Scott: At my gym Elite Strength & Conditioning, you hear a lot of the same thing over and over. “Tough Love” and “No Participation Medals” are printed on t-shirts, posted on the walls, and preached by myself and others countless times. If you accept 2nd, 3rd, or last place in whatever you do, you accept and engrain mediocrity in what you do. Being able and willing to accept feedback and coaching is an utmost necessity to be able to truly improve yourself.

This isn’t to bring someone down if they did not achieve a goal, came 2nd place at a competition, or whatever was not won at that moment. This is to acknowledge and accept that they didn’t win and something needs to change.  And it is not until you give that “TOUGH LOVE” to them, that they’ll realize it otherwise!

Erin: We all have inherited money beliefs, triggers and habits from our parents, from our childhood and from society.  Assessing what you want from your money and then what you actually do with your money is the first stage of greatness.  Do you want to grow your money into millions of dollars, do you want your money to sustain a comfortable lifestyle that includes maybe a trip or two a year, do you want to become a real estate mogul and own rental properties around your hometown? What is actually happening now? How can we train you mentally to get from your starting point to where you want your money to end up?

Whether you’re facing the challenge of a mountain of debt or an uphill climb at the end of a long race, mindset plays an important role in achievement. In everything that we do, what are we even aiming to achieve?

Goal Setting

Scott: I take the ideology for goal setting from the 1990’s movie “What about Bob?” starring a young Bill Murray. Baby steps to get here, baby steps to do that, baby steps to move here. Break down the ultimate goal into multiple tiny goals. A big deadline or task can break you down mentally a lot easier than multiple simple tasks, which you can do almost progressively, that still allows you to achieve that end goal.

Erin: Once you have the larger goals, you work backward to break down the behaviors needed to get there. You want to buy a house but your credit score is below 650 and you only have 5% of the downpayment saved. The plan then becomes focused on: How do we get your credit score up first and start saving more for a downpayment? You have to know where the person is starting from to get them to their end goal.

In boxing, our training regimen was centered around a fight – call it our goal. Twelve weeks out from the fight, we’d build endurance. Six weeks out, we’d start building speed. Our goal was winning the fight, but we were constantly being measured. The fight was on the back-burner compared to all of the steps we were taking to get to the goal.

Measuring Improvement and Tracking

Scott: If it can be measured, it can be managed. The only way to manage the growth, success, or improvement of something is by tracking and comparing the measurements that are taken throughout the process.

The point of tracking should be to hold oneself accountable throughout the time between the prior measurement of improvement to the next.

Erin: Measurement and tracking is a key part of the positive reinforcement. 

Seeing your savings accounts grow or your high interest debt reduce month over month reinforces the behavior that gets you there.  The key is to realize you’re playing the long game with your habits and goals so setting realistic expectations is key as is allowing yourself to miss the mark sometimes.

Progress, not perfection

I didn’t always listen to my coaches while training, and occasionally I still shop my feelings on Target. But through persistence, practice, and a little bit of guidance, I’ll improve, just like I did with boxing.

Hopefully, you’ll be wiser than I was and glean a little from my coach’s wisdom. After all, tracking, goal-setting, mindset, and getting the fundamentals down all intersect as important aspects of achieving success.

Want more personalized feedback on your finances? Head to the money app and chat with a coach.

Related Reads:

Debt, Love, Life Goals

Train Your Money Like You Train your Body

Nav.It Money Coaches


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