“Earn a healthy income while sharing your passion for health and wellness.” You’ve probably heard the stories about how becoming a health coach is a path to a flexible, fulfilling career. But surely not everyone who completes health coach training ends up with a lucrative career, right? What’s really possible as a health coach, and how do you know if health coaching is the right next step for you?
Since completing my own health coach training in 2011, I’ve worked with thousands of wellness entrepreneurs to grow their health and wellness businesses, so I have a unique insight into what separates the successful health coaches from the rest.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the key questions to help you decide if health coach training is right for you.
What Is Health Coaching?
According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition: “A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness authority helping clients feel their best through food & lifestyle changes by tailoring individualized wellness programs to meet their clients’ needs.”
The Primal Health Coach Institute has a slightly different definition: “A health coach is a trained professional who can act as a key support figure in a client’s health journey, no matter what his/her particular goal. Armed with holistic knowledge of how fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle all influence well-being, a coach can offer critical knowledge and personal assistance as clients make the changes that will set their health on a new course.”
The key element to understand about being a health coach is that you are a COACH.
Whereas a nutritionist or nutritional therapist will prescribe dietary changes, and a personal trainer would give specific workout routines, a health coach’s role is to help the client integrate their desired health and wellbeing changes into their lifestyle.
It’s essential when becoming a health coach that you learn not only holistic health information but also strong coaching skills to help your clients make lasting changes in their lives.
Should I Become a Health Coach? 5 Key Questions to Decide
There are five key questions to ask yourself before deciding to become a wellness coach.
Answer these questions from your gut and heart, not your head.
Just because health coaching sounds like a great way to make a living, doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Only you know the best right path for you. These questions will help you decide.
1. What Do You Want from Health Coaching?
This first question may seem obvious, but it’s absolutely essential to know what you truly want to get from becoming a health coach.
There are many reasons you might choose to study for a health and wellness certification:
- Improve your personal health and lifestyle
- Help your family and friends improve their health
- Generate income / as a career path working with clients as a health coach
- Use health coaching skills within your current job or organization
- Personal interest in health and wellbeing, desire to learn more
Depending on your personal motivations for becoming a health coach, you’ll approach your studies differently.
It will also help you decide whether the investment in health coach training is worth it.
Do you plan to use these skills to generate an income, or just for personal interest? How much is that worth to you?
(There’s no right answer here, you just need to be clear on what you want to get from health and wellness coaching.)
2. What’s Your Ideal Life and Work Style?
When you think of your future self (3-5 years from now), what does your ideal life and business look like?
Don’t let your vision be clouded by all the “six-figure, work from your laptop” hype that you read online. What do YOU really want?
- Where do you want to live?
- What would your ideal day look like (at home and at work?)?
- How many hours per week are you working?
- Do you prefer to work independently or in a team?
- Do you want to work with clients individually, in groups, or not at all?
- Do you see yourself teaching online classes, giving workshops and talks, writing books, or something else entirely?
I truly believe you can create the type of life and work style that you want – IF you know what you want! You have to decide it first, to achieve it. (Otherwise, how will you know when you get there?)
I’ve seen many wellness entrepreneurs head down a path of creating someone else’s ideal business, wasting months or years following a path that didn’t suit them.
So, get clear about what your life and work style is upfront, so you can move in that direction – and see if health coaching fits within that vision.
3. What Are Your Strengths?
This is such an important question, and so often overlooked. What are YOUR unique strengths?
- Do you love writing?
- Public speaking?
- Being on video? Or perhaps just as audio (like a podcast)
- Are you self-motivated and good working independently?
- Do you thrive in teams and with collaboration?
- Do you love supporting people 1:1?
- Or do you like facilitating and leading groups?
- Are you more of a leader, a nurturer, a creative?
Again, there are no right answers here. It’s all about knowing yourself and seeing how becoming a health and wellness coach can help you emphasize your strengths.
One thing I’ve seen over and over again is that when you play to your strengths, it’s a lot easier to be successful as a health coach.
Be careful not to be swayed by the “guru” health coaches you see so often online. You don’t have to create a health coach website with a huge online following and take that guru role to be successful.
There are successful health and wellness coaches working within companies, in their local towns, running workshops at schools, working with clients 1:1, running group coaching programs, getting referrals through other practitioners, writing books, creating online courses, creating healthy products… there are so many avenues to success, but you can’t do them all.
You’ll have to choose (not now! Don’t worry. You can choose later.) But knowing your own strengths will help you decide what type of health and wellness coaching will be right for you.
4. Are You Open and Willing to Learn Business Skills?
Health coaching is a business. It’s not just about learning holistic nutrition and coaching skills – if you want to run your own business, you have to be willing to learn business skills as well. Business skills you’ll need to be a successful health and wellness coach include sales, marketing, finance, and a little bit of technology.
No one is born knowing these business skills. We all learn them, and depending on your starting point, that can take a little time. But you absolutely can learn what you need to find health coaching clients – if you’re willing to learn.
If your vision of becoming a health coach means you’ll be running your own business, you’ll need to learn business skills. If you want to work online, be location independent, and work from anywhere, then you’ll need to learn online marketing skills too. Are you willing and open to learning these business skills?
If not, you can still become a health coach, but you’ll want to look at working within an organization or coaching program, so you’re an employee or consultant instead of a business owner. That’s absolutely fine! You’ll save time by knowing yourself and what you want.
5. What’s Your WHY? It Can’t Just Be About Money
It’s easy to get swept up in the idea of making $100 or more per hour as a health coach and to focus on the earning potential as an ‘easy’ way to feel financially secure.
Yes, you can (and many do) earn a thriving income through health coaching – but not everyone does. Here’s the thing: health coaching provides you with a valuable, marketable skill – but you still need to USE that skill to generate income for yourself and your family. And that means you’ll need to be dedicated to refining your health coaching and business skills for the long-term.
Becoming a health coach has to be about more than just money.
It’s important to know WHY you want to become a health coach, beyond the income potential.
Who are you passionate about helping? What change do you want to make in the world? How can you help people in your local community? Friends? Family? What would be possible for you if you were able to focus on spreading health and wellness?
Reasons You SHOULDN’T Become a Health Coach
Now that you know all of the reasons telling you that you should become a health coach, let’s take a look at some that point to not becoming one.
You Expect Immediate Money-Making Potential
If you expect to start earning a good amount of money right away, then this is definitely not the right career path for you to consider. It takes time to learn everything you need to know to become a well-rounded and knowledgeable health coach, and many people don’t even start getting clients until well into their first full year.
It requires a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot of patience to get to the point of making health coaching a full-time salary and career for you. Don’t expect it to be an easy and quick transition.
Takes Time to Land Clients
Even if you are the best health coach in the entire world, you will go out of business quickly if no one even knows who you are. To gain clients, you will need word of mouth referrals. You can also work in a doctor’s office or a holistic health practitioner’s office a few days a week, attend events and workshops, advertise online through your website, and post on your social media accounts. As you can see, it takes time and effort to get your clients. You need to have the time and motivation to network and do the work.
You Want to Work in a Hospital
A health coach is meant to motivate and inspire their clients so they can help them lead a healthy life while following healthy habits. However, this isn’t something you are going to do if you want to work in a hospital. If you want to be in a hospital, then you may want to focus more on clinical nutrition. In this case, becoming a registered dietician might be more up your alley.
Qualities of a Good Health Coach
Now that you have answered the five questions above, let’s look at some of the qualities a good health coach should possess.
You Value Health in its Entirety. What separates a health coach from others in the health and fitness industry is their approach to achieving a more optimal and healthier lifestyle. If you value health and well-being in their entirety, including the integration of exercise, nutrition, and psychology, then this is a good sign that health coaching is in your future.
You are Passionate. If you are passionate about people and want to empower them to be their best, this is another sign. It takes passion and encouragement to get others to invest in themselves and their health.
Continuing Education Is Important to You. This field is one that requires continuing education because it is an everchanging and evolving landscape. So, to become a health coach, you need to have that drive to learn and be willing to ask for help when it is needed while researching and reflecting along the way.
You Want to Create. An open mind is essential in this field, and you need to be open to exposing yourself to new information along your journey. You can maintain this open mind through creativity. Vlogging, video chatting, and video emails are good for inspiring action and sending out information during coaching sessions.
You are a Good Listener. This is one of the greatest qualities of a good health coach. While you may be an “expert” in your own right as you teach and inspire others to follow healthy habits, you need to be able to step back and listen to others instead of pushing your own opinion. This can be hard for some to accomplish. You need to be easy to talk to, a good listener, and you need to offer good solutions to those who come to you.
You Value Dynamic Relationships. As a health coach, you have the opportunity to create more dynamic relationships, and through these relationships, you are able to share and exchange ideas and plans and can help motivate others to succeed. You have the inherent ability to connect with others while providing them with a comfortable environment.
Do any of these qualities sound familiar to you? If so, you may want to consider becoming a health coach.
So, Should YOU Become a Health Coach?
If you thoughtfully consider the five questions above alongside the qualities of a good health coach and tuning into your gut/heart rather than your head, you’ll see whether health and wellness coaching is a good next step for you.
Health and wellness coaching is an amazing skillset that can help you personally, your family and friends, and your wider community. But before you decide to invest (your time and money) in health coach training and becoming a certified health coach, it pays to be clear on WHY you want to become a health coach and enter the world of wellness professionals.
If you’re considering becoming a health coach, get my free Should I Become a Health Coach? Decision Kit here.