Coaching is one of the most effective tools for transformation. There’s something inherently fulfilling about being able to impact someone’s life in a positive way. It makes sense why so many people aspire to become wellness coaches. It’s not just a profession – it’s a calling.
If you’ve been bitten by this bug, then you’re probably wondering how to get your foot in the door to help others affect the change that's already working well for you. This post explores how to become a wellness coach and all the tools you need to achieve the level of success you envision for your new-found career.
How to Become a Wellness Coach 101 – Understand What It’s All About
As you scroll through your socials, you’ll come across several posts that have something to do with health and fitness. There’s always someone advising people on what constitutes healthy eating, how to lose weight fast, the best exercises for your body type to get the body of your dreams… the list goes on.
If you’re on the advice-giving end of it, you want to make sure that the information you’re putting out there is accurate, and the best way to do this is by becoming a health and wellness coach.
Unlike fitness trainers who specifically work to help you achieve your fitness goals or nutritionists who guide you on healthy eating habits, a wellness coach takes on a more holistic approach to healthy living. They go beyond fitness and nutrition to deal with other facets of their clients’ lives that may be contributing to their unhealthy lifestyle. This could be anything from stress and anxiety to time management and procrastination.
To become a wellness coach, you need to be well-versed in what healthy living means in its entirety. You need the right tools and techniques to help people overcome the barriers standing in the way of a holistic lifestyle.
Skills You Need to Become a Holistic Health Coach
Before getting into the education aspect of the process, you have to master some crucial skills that are equally as important. For instance, you need to learn how to listen – really listen to what people are saying and ask open-ended questions to get more information. Having empathy, compassion, and maturity is a must to help your clients find lasting solutions to the challenges they may be facing.
You should also be highly intuitive to connect on a deeper level with your clients. Last but certainly not least, you need to be passionate about health and wellness. Your clients feed off your energy. If you’re not fond of your line of work, it shows, and this will affect your bottom line. So, if you’re thinking about pursuing a career in health and wellness, make sure you’re in it for the right reason – that’s to help others.
Steps to Becoming a Health and Wellness Coach
Now that you know what a holistic health coach does and the skills you need to have to become one, you’re now ready to embark on the journey. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Choose Your Specialty
Holistic health is wide. It encompasses several different programs that contribute to an individual's overall health picture. The term “holistic” often refers to nutrition, but in the context of health and wellness coaching, it involves looking at the whole picture to achieve a well-balanced, well-rounded body. These are some of the areas you could consider specializing in.
There’s a lot that goes into nutrition beyond encouraging your clients to follow the standard dietary guidelines. When becoming a health and wellness coach, you’ll need to zero-in on supplements, allergies, dealing with potential food intolerances, and finding the optimum balance in the various types of food and nutrients your client requires.
It also encompasses using food as medicine to treat illnesses or pain. This may involve using essential oils as a remedy for certain conditions. If a client is looking to shave off a few pounds, a wellness coach may suggest implementing a series of small but sustainable changes in their diet to accelerate the process.
When working with a client to achieve their fitness goals, you first have to identify their abilities and limitations. Specializing in this area of holistic coaching would entail adapting workouts and therapeutic activities to help an individual recover from injuries, major surgery, and even childbirth.
For people looking to improve their overall fitness, you would help them get on a fitness regimen and come up with sustainable ways for them to incorporate activity into their daily routine. This may involve anything from yoga and Pilates to dancing and strength training. You would also have to implement an action plan for different types of activities to reduce the risk of suffering harm, injury, or stress.
Holistic health extends beyond training and exercise. You may also have to look into specialized treatments offered by massage therapists, acupuncturists, and chiropractors.
Although having a specialty is great for catering to a specific niche, a true wellness coach has to be able to look at every single facet of their client’s life to help them advance towards their goals.
Step 2: Get Certified
There are lots of people who call themselves health and wellness "coaches” without the necessary credentials to back it up. If you intend to pursue a career along this path, you need to get properly certified to work with clients in a health coaching capacity.
The Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) offers one of the most comprehensive health coaching programs around and is a great avenue for professional certification in the field.
If you don’t necessarily have the time (or money) to pursue a 4-year degree program at a university or college, this is a convenient and cost-effective way to do it. You get to learn at your own pace from wherever you are, do the exams, and you’ll have your certification in a couple of months. They have a sample class that you can try for free to get a feel for what the program is about.
Step 3: Get Training and Education in Other Disciplines
Holistic health coaches take a different approach to an individual’s wellbeing in a way that other health professionals don’t. They focus on the physical, emotional, and mental health of their clients to find long term solutions that improve the overall quality of their lives in every aspect.
Because of this holistic approach, you need to become well-versed in many disciplines, and this often requires training and education in those fields. So, in addition to getting a health coaching certification, you might want to think about obtaining licensure in different types of healthcare like kinesiology, natural and traditional medicines, naturopathy and homeopathy, physical therapy, sports medicine, etc. You can incorporate mental health coaching into your areas of expertise by adding psychological studies to your list of accreditations.
Step 4: Get a Few Practice Sessions In
Once you’re through with the theoretical parts of the process, you need to put what you’ve learned into action before you can take on real paying clients. The IIN certification program requires students to complete five practice coaching sessions before they can graduate.
You can hone your skills with friends, family members, or even other students who are also taking the program to help you get a feel of what it would be like to work with real paying clients. You also need to be confident and knowledgeable if you hope to drum up business. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll become with the process.
Step 5: Create a Business Plan
This next phase of the process involves putting a business plan together – after all, your ultimate goal is to build a thriving coaching practice, right? Who do you want your services to cater to? Are you looking to work with busy moms who want to lose weight and eliminate stress from their lives? Do you intend to work with pro-athletes who want to enhance their performance both on and off the field? Do you want to help executives working in high-stress jobs? Do you want to cater exclusively to vegans?
Take the time to find your niche and come up with a plan of action that details how you intend to secure clients for your business. This may involve launching a business website, creating flyers and social media ads, partnering with health and medical professionals, and any other method that gets you more exposure. Remember, you may have the best skills to offer; if nobody knows that you exist, then it will all be for nothing. You’ll need to put yourself out there, step out of your comfort zone, and make lasting connections.
Step 6: Money Matters
How much does a health coach make? This is a valid question from anyone looking to become a holistic health coach. There’s no clear-cut answer to that question. Since you’ll be starting your own business, it is entirely up to you to decide how much you want to charge for your services.
If you want to cater to lower-income communities, students, or anyone else who may otherwise not be able to access a coach, you might want to keep your costs low to reach more people. On the other hand, if you want to cater to a more upscale clientele, then you should price your sessions accordingly. Research beforehand, determine what you think makes sense, and put a price on it.
If you’re hired to work in a hospital or out-patient clinic, the average salary is in the ballpark of $45,000 per year.
Chase Your Dreams – The Sky's the Limit
Now that you have valuable insight into how to become a wellness coach, remember, nobody is perfect. You won’t get it right on the first attempt, or second, or maybe even third. The secret lies in not giving up. Keep in mind that you won’t always have all the answers. So, you need to know when it’s time to get a medical professional involved.
Part of the journey towards becoming a health and wellness coach involves understanding that your clients’ needs are always evolving. What may be right for them today may not be the case next week – and that’s okay. Stay focused on their goals, keep track of their progress, and make changes along the way if you need to.
All in all, it’s one of the most rewarding careers you can have. If you do it for the right reasons and there is no limit on what you can achieve.
Do you have a coaching session coming up? Check out our blog for tips on how to prepare for it.