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The Rise of the Health Coach

by: Sara Gustafson
Published: May 23, 2016
Updated: September 14, 2023

Young coach making an exercise plan for group of seniors.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s ninth annual Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, health and wellness coaching is the top emerging trend for 2015. It showed the largest increase of all entries from the 2014 survey by jumping from third to first place. Why is that?

According to the respondents, health coaching has empowered them in their own field of expertise whether it be dance instructors, personal trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, athletic or sports coaches, or even dietitians, and nutritionists.

Health coaching offers that 1-1 experience that encompasses a lot of the missing pieces in health care when working with one physician, or one personal trainer for example. Health coaches often represent one person who can guide you through dietary changes, health goals, stress management and counseling, fitness goals and exercises as well as lifestyle behavioral changes. Usually someone would have to seek out several of the following experts to complete their health management team: a general practitioner, personal trainer, physical therapist, massage therapist, counselor, yoga instructor, nutritionist, and/or life coach. Health coaches are able to address many of the needs across the board and tailor every person’s experience to their individual needs while maintaining communication with any other providers. And one reason that health coaching, otherwise known as wellness coaching or peer health coaching, is on the rise is that having one person to guide and educate an individual helps to prevent the onslaught of contradictory information coming from many sources. And this is helpful to empower and educate not only professionals but their patients and clients as well.

What we’ve seen in the last five years develop among health coaches is a massive expansion of experts who all offer their own niche. We are seeing an influx of experts in every field who are turning to health coaching certifications in order to narrow their scope to work specifically with eating disorders, or juveniles, corporations, insurance companies, gyms, spas and even schools. This is significant because there is a collective evolution of integrative thinkers and experts who are applying holistic approaches to almost any profession.

Health coaching really began to spark interest around the early 1990’s and slowly gained momentum, but it hasn’t been until the last five years that it has really skyrocketed. So why is health coaching one of the fastest growing professions in the last ten years? Well, it’s really taken off due to high demand. As you are probably aware, there is a health crisis going on in our country and around the world, and more and more people are looking outside the box to create solutions to the every growing rise in obesity, addiction and disease.

Additionally, what professionals are learning is that applying their health coaching skills to what they already do is actually advancing their careers, moving them forward and helping to increase the value of their skills. Even those that work exclusively as health coaches are praising the profession as the best decision they ever made and here’s why:

  1. Health coaches get to choose their niche. They choose their area of focus and who their clients will be.
  2. They set their own hours and make their own rules. Want to work with kids? Well, you can. Only want to work with senior citizens? That’s all up to you!
  3. Earning potential is increased
  4. You can choose to work from home and visit clients on Skype or by phone, or you can choose to travel for your job.
  5. The best is saved for last. Health coaching is increasing in popularity, not only because the demand is higher, but because professionals are finding that it allows them to make an even bigger impact on a person’s life and in the community.

Trends in Health Coaching

What are some of the trends in health coaching?

For starters, the Affordable Care Act provoked wellness programs to include health and wellness coaching.

Doctors and medical practices are “paid for performance” which means they are seeking health coaches and others to help boost the success of their patients, so health coaches are beginning to find their places in many medical settings now.

Most health savings accounts now cover health or wellness coaching, and insurance companies are offering discounts on premiums for companies and organizations that include health coaching in their wellness programs.

Technology is helping to drive the field of health coaching! Health coaches are now using technology advances to work with clients, making it easier to communicate, develop programs, set hours and appointments, and deliver nutrition and exercise guides.

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