A coach for the game of life

Aerobics instructor is ‘trainer for the soul’

After motivating people to get fit for close to two decades, Kathleen Marvelli of Norton embarked on a career as a life coach five years ago.

It’s a profession she describes as “a personal trainer for the soul.”

Marvelli said she now applies the support and encouragement she created in her weekly aerobics classes to other aspects of people’s lives.

A life coach can support a person to take better care of herself, physically, emotionally, and professionally as well as make better decisions and achieve a more balanced life, Marvelli said.

“Coaching is the new profession that can help close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be,” said Marvelli, owner and president of Priorities Life Coaching.

Thomas J. Leonard, a former financial planner, is hailed as the creator in 1992 of the life coach profession, whereby clients are counseled via the telephone.

Leonard also formed Coach U, an Internet-based training entity for life coaches. There are now more than 10,000 life coaches in the United States

“I assist my clients identify their priorities, choose goals, take action, and be accountable. Similar to a student having to turn in his homework, I ensure accountability where there isn’t any,” said Marvelli, who is a graduate of Coach U and the Relationship Coaching Institute, as well as Coachville and the Graduate School of Coaching. “I support clients in reaching their full potential, being the best they can be.”

In addition to life coaching, Marvelli is executive director of aerobics at the Vanderbilt Club in Norwood and an aerobics instructor at Reebok World Headquarters in Canton, Gold’s Gym in Norton, and Worlds Gym in Dedham.

A 17-year veteran of the fitness industry, Marvelli also still teaches 15 aerobic classes a week .

She is also a motivational speaker.

Ali Smith, a 29-year-old Norton resident, sought out Marvelli nine months ago in an effort to become more physically fit.

Not knowing much about life coaching, Smith who didn’t have much luck with a personal trainer, hoped for results with Marvelli. She wasn’t disappointed.

“Kathleen helped me with my fitness goals, as well as with all aspects of my life,” said Smith, who credits Marvelli with increasing and improving her self-awareness and helping her with her professional development, relationship, financial, and communication skills.

“My friends razz me about seeing a life coach, like it’s therapy or something,” Smith said. “It isn’t. Life coaching is for healthy people; it’s an excellent tool for successful people.

“I can see why CEOs would use a life coach; they help you refocus, prioritize, and reach your goals,” said Smith, who is getting married in October and is a social worker at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center.

For new clients, Marvelli offers an initial complimentary 45-minute phone conversation.

“If we are a fit, then we usually talk 45 minutes to an hour three or four times a month,” said Marvelli, who also offers a newsletter and unlimited email conversations.

Following the first phone session, clients are asked to fill out a five- page questionnaire, which according to Smith, “covers every aspect of your life imaginable.”

Marvelli uses the questionnaire and the phone conversations to help customize an individual program to meet the needs of each client

“Kathleen has heightened my self-accountability, all across the board,” said Smith who notes that each phone session with Marvelli usually focuses on a different issue.

Once an issue is resolved, she says they move on to something else.

Smith said she sees life coaching as short-term and goal-oriented, noting that she might use Marvelli for a year and then move forward on her own.

“Then, if something comes up that I need help with, I’ll start back with Kathleen again,” said Smith.

According to Marvelli, life coaches seek to elicit solutions and strategies from their clients, not to tell them what to do.

Elizabeth Brenner, a licensed independent clinical social worker with a practice in Providence, Rhode Island, and Watertown, Massachusetts agrees.

“Life coaches help clients to meet concrete, specific, generally short-term goals. They don’t get into the emotional issues,” said Brenner, a Dedham resident. “It’s all in what a client needs. There is some overlap between coaches and therapists, and plenty of differences.”

“Coaching is about achievement, action, and transformation. I help people to realize their full potential in the game of life,” said Marvelli, who survived a divorce and has been happily remarried for 12 years.

As a coach, her niche is relationships, helping both men and women to rebuild their life after a divorce or the ending of a relationship. She offers clients accountability, support and structure, but is quick to point out that she does not diagnose or deal with addictions.

According to Marvelli, life coaches charge clients generally between $200 to $500 a month for their services.

“People who hire a life coach are usually people who see the value of investing in themselves,” said Marvelli.

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