Opportunities for health and wellness coaches have grown rapidly in the last two decades, in part because of public health concerns about obesity in the United States. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services projects that by 2030, half of all adults (115 million people) in the United States will be obese.
While nutritionists and fitness trainers certainly have a place in the solution, a health and wellness coach offers a holistic approach that’s appealing to individuals who want to make sustainable changes that address all aspects of their well-being.
Sound intriguing? Let’s take a closer look at what a health and wellness coach does, where they work, and if it would be a rewarding career for you.
What Is a Health and Wellness Coach?
A health and wellness coach works one-on-one with individuals who want to improve their health and well-being. Using concepts drawn from psychology, behavior change, and life coaching fields, a wellness coach helps their client overcome obstacles to maintain healthy habits for life.
Clients might engage a wellness coach for any number of reasons, including:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing stress
- Improving interpersonal relationships
- Eating a healthier diet
- Achieving better work-life balance
- Increasing life satisfaction
- Prioritizing self-care
- Practicing a positive mindset
Naturally, these kinds of issues overlap. A health and wellness coach will look at what’s preventing their client from thriving physically, mentally, and emotionally, then give them the tools and support to reach their goals.
Many health and wellness coaches choose to specialize in certain areas such as women’s health, alternative medicine, or massage therapy, depending on their interests and educational background. However, it’s important to note that health and wellness coaching isn’t the same as the services offered by certified specialists like nutritionists or personal trainers. While coaches should have broad healthcare knowledge across many disciplines to inform their work, coaches aren’t legally qualified to give clients professional nutritional or fitness advice without further certification. Aspiring health and wellness coaches should always consult with their state’s laws to be certain of what they can and cannot do.
What Is a Typical Day Like for a Health and Wellness Coach?
Although this may vary depending on your work environment, here’s a quick look at what your day might look like if you become a health and wellness coach.
At the beginning of the day, you’ll review your calendar to see which clients are meeting with you. If you have a new client, you’ll spend time reading through their intake form before their first appointment.
New clients typically fill out a detailed questionnaire, so the coach can get a sense of their client’s current health status and the issues they want to discuss. This also serves as a way to mark their starting point and measure progress. If you work in a healthcare practice or fitness center, they might have standard forms based on a specific program they follow. However, that’s not always the case. Many health coaches have flexibility in designing their programs, especially if you’re an entrepreneur in private practice.
Based on their intake form, you’ll gather relevant resources such as videos, books, or websites that you might recommend. You may put together a rough draft of a plan to give your client ideas and inspiration.
Client’s First Meeting
During the first meeting, you’ll walk through the intake form, asking more questions and taking notes about your client’s unique needs. Next, you’ll discuss your client’s goals and what challenges may stand in their way. These challenges could be physical, emotional, or financial. For example, your client might feel self-conscious about exercising in front of others, so you’ll find a movement plan that’s easy to do at home.
Once you’ve defined reasonable goals and understand any constraints, you’ll work together on a plan to achieve them. For instance, if the primary issue is stress and work-life balance, you might recommend a brief, daily meditation practice, followed by journaling. You could share a helpful meditation app, ask the client to document how often they meditate and bring the journal entries with them to the next meeting.
Client’s Follow-up Meetings
Most people work with a health and wellness coach for several months, so you’ll have periodic appointments to see if they’re making progress. Often, you’ll ask your client to complete “homework” between sessions to demonstrate progress towards the goals you’ve set together – or identify obstacles they hadn’t anticipated.
During these sessions, you’ll keep your client motivated by acknowledging that progress takes time and reminding them of the great work they’ve made in the right direction. As a wellness coach, you’ll build feelings of empowerment so they can carry on with their positive changes after you’re finished working together.
Where do Health and Wellness Coaches Work?
According to the Institute for Wellness Education, health and wellness coaches work in a variety of settings, both onsite and remote, such as:
- Physicians’ offices and hospitals (improving patient health outcomes)
- Health insurance plans (reducing healthcare costs by preventing lifestyle-related conditions)
- Large employers (boosting employee productivity and job satisfaction)
- Health clubs and gyms (expanding their range of services to clients)
- Community organizations (focusing on community health concerns)
- Alternative medicine practices (complementing services such as acupuncture or chiropractic)
In addition, there are many health and wellness coaches who have started their own businesses. With the right marketing skillset, coaches can develop a branded wellness offering, build a clientele, and have the flexibility to work on their own terms. And with apps like Skype and Facetime, it’s now possible to provide consultations far beyond just your own community, broadening the potential.
Who Should Consider Being a Health and Wellness Coach?
Now that you know more about health and wellness coaching, is it the right career for you? See if any of these statements resonate.
- I enjoy working with people, it energizes me.
- I’m constantly reading and learning about health, wellness, and fitness.
- It gives me great satisfaction to know that I helped someone.
- I have a gift for putting people at ease.
- I’m organized and always prepared.
- I’m open-minded and a good listener.
- I’m not afraid to gently push someone when they’re stuck.
- I’m not easily discouraged.
If that sounds like you, becoming a health and wellness coach might be a perfect fit.
When you’re ready to embark on your new career, consider an educational starting point that will give you a foundation in both traditional and alternative medicine. Everglades University has a Bachelor of Science degree in Alternative Medicine that fits the bill. To learn more, please contact our Admissions team. We’d be happy to discuss our program and how it can get you closer to becoming a health and wellness coach.