The past couple of years have been quite difficult due to the COVID 19 pandemic. But if we have to think of one positive by-product of the pandemic, then it would definitely be the fact that it has taught us to prioritize our health over everything else. This rising awareness towards health and wellness has led people to seek help from holistic health coaches.
What is a health coach?
A health coach is a guide who inspires clients to take charge of their own lives, educate them, arm them with skills and tools to deal with their health issues and encourage them to make effective long-term lifestyle and behavioral changes. These, in turn, lead to a healthy and happy life.
Health coaches ensure a comfortable, safe and non-judgmental environment for clients to articulate their issues. They empower clients with self-confidence and self-belief so that they can actually reach their set goals. In doing so, they often make use of evidence-based strategies.
Health coaches are not medical doctors, mental health practitioners or dieticians. They do not diagnose ailments or prescribe medicines or diets. Unlike other healthcare professionals, health coaches conduct sessions that are primarily client-led and take a holistic approach towards their client’s health: exercise, diet, stress control, health maintenance, disease prevention, etc. However, they may collaborate with other healthcare providers in dealing with their clients.
The skills required to become a health coach
Health coaches must possess the following basic skills in order to make a difference in their clients’ lives:
- Proper understanding of healthcare development and practices and a holistic view on health and wellness, the human body, nutrition, etc.
- The ability to think about one’s own health and wellness journey and to apply those learnings to clients who are probably in a similar situation.
- The ability to empathize with clients
- Stay organized and updated on everything new in the world of health and wellness
- The ability to give a patient hearing
- The ability to communicate effectively
- An awareness and training in fitness, nutrition and other positive health practices
- Quick problem-solving skills
How to become a health coach
Do you think you have all the required skills to be a health coach and are wondering how to become one? Here’s how to become a health coach:
1. Earn a degree
Start your journey of being a health coach by earning an associate or a bachelor’s degree in health and wellness, nutrition, health management or health sciences. Make sure that your chosen program is in tune with your future goals. Although earning a degree related to health and wellness is not obligatory, obtaining an undergraduate training may give you a jump start to your health coaching career. It may help you get easy access to jobs available in wellness centers, health insurance firms, etc. and also attract recurring and well-paying clients. Earning a degree from a reputable health coaching school does add to your credentials.
2. Get certified
Whether you’ve gotten formal education in health & wellness or not, a certification is always a good idea. Choosing the right health coach certification program sets you up in the right direction and brings you closer to your future goals — as the saying goes “well begun is half done”. Getting certified as a health coach keeps you ahead of the pack. It goes a long way in building your potential clients’ trust and confidence in your abilities and skills as a health coach. There are no established rules and regulations in place with regards to health coaching programs. Hence, do your homework well in advance on the available courses, compare the different programs, figure out which one matches your educational goals, etc. It is very important to choose an accredited certificate program.
3. Develop required skills
As a health coach, make sure you are in a position to deal with your client’s health and wellness. Polish up your skills on a regular basis. Also, keep yourself updated on anything that is new in the field. It never hurts to become a life-long learner. Consider getting help from mentors; they often accelerate the process of learning, give proper guidance and direction.
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4. Start practice coaching
Once you earn a relevant degree and obtain a certificate, your next practical step should be to start with your practice coaching. If the institution you received your certification from already offered you practice sessions, consider you are one step ahead. This is the time when you can actually offer pro-bono sessions or sessions at discounted rates and focus on honing your skills and building a reputation. You may also start working for organizations that specifically hire health coaches. This would give you a fair amount of exposure to the world of coaching without having to actively search for clients.
5. Choose your sub-niche
Once you earn the right amount of experience from your practice coaching sessions, you can choose a sub-niche for yourself. Find out what your true calling is – is it to work closely with the survivors of a terminal disease, help new mothers to deal with their post-partum health issues, help teenagers deal with their gamut of emotions or help individuals handle professional stress? Having a niche will help you leverage your expertise and connect with the right audience easily.
6. Launch the business
Once you have selected a sub-niche, you should focus on launching your own health coaching business. One good place to begin with is a name, a list of offerings and an idea of how to connect with your potential clients. Map out how you would reach out to your target audience—leverage digital and try out different platforms such as LinkedIn, YouTube shorts, Instagram, blogging, etc. Other aspects of a coaching business that need to be taken care of are ideating on a coaching framework, setting a pricing strategy for your services, etc.
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One of the greatest perks of becoming a health coach is the opportunity to motivate individuals to lead a healthier lifestyle. What’s more? You get to grow with them. Even if you choose to become a health coach out of sheer passion, the cherry on the cake would be to build a successful business around it. Now that you are well versed with what is a health coach and how to become a health coach, put your best foot forward for a fitter tomorrow!
1. What are the common places of employment for health coaches?
Common places of employment for health coaches are: wellness centers, corporations, medical offices, physician clinics, educational institutions, day spas, natural health food stores
2. What should you look for in a health coach training program?
Here’s what you should be mindful of while selecting a health coach training program:
A. Identify your educational goals
B. Decide on your preferred course duration: Whether you are comfortable taking up a year-long course or a short-term one.
C. Once you zero in on an institution, analyze the curriculum of the course they are offering.
D. Find out what the program focuses more on: nutrition, mental wellbeing, behavioral science, the art of coaching or health coaching business skills, then choose the one that best aligns with your career goals.
E. Learn about the faculties: Look for testimonials or talk to past graduates of the institution if possible.
F. Research the credibility and reputation of the institution with regards to licenses and affiliations.
G. See if it offers practice coaching: Conducting sessions while still on the course creates a safe and less stressful environment for you to get rid of the initial coaching jitter.
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