Like most people considering a health coaching career, you’ve probably had your own health transformation. Maybe it was losing a lot of weight. Or reversing diabetes. Or learning that you don’t have to feel the downward spiral of symptoms that often come with getting older.
Regardless of the reason, you feel great—and you’re living a life filled with energy and vitality. And now you have a passion for helping others do the same. But how do you take that passion and turn it into a sustainable and profitable career?
In today’s post, we’re going to share 5 steps to becoming a successful health coach.
But before we do, you probably have more questions than answers. You might be thinking…
- How do I find the right health coaching program?
- Where do I find clients—and how do I coach them?
- What about running a business? Am I cut out to be an entrepreneur?
- Will I be able to sell myself and my services?
- Is it possible to make money as a health coach?
It’s enough to make you stop before you even start pursuing a certification, which is a huge shame, because the world needs health coaches now more than ever.
A recent review of 219 articles revealed that health coaching is a promising intervention for chronic diseases, and can help people lose weight, reduce cardiovascular risk factors, and significantly decrease the $2.3 trillion in annual costs related to chronic and mental health conditions.
The demand for health coaching has exploded because so many people are fed up with trying to change their health and fitness habits on their own. Not only that, doctors are partnering with health coaches to keep their patients on track with nutrition and exercise choices. Functional medicine doctors often have a team of health coaches working on staff. Corporations are hiring health coaches to run their employee wellness programs. And to help cut healthcare costs, insurance companies are hiring health coaches to offer prevention programs to patients. Some even provide reimbursement for health coaching, and health coaching was included in the House and Senate Health Savings Acts of 2016 as a “qualified medical expense.”
Health food stores, supplement companies, and fitness studios are all following suit and bringing health coaches on board. There’s no shortage of opportunities, and no reason to deny your passion for helping others pursue a healthier life.
So, with that in mind, let’s dive into the steps you need to take in order to become a certified and successful health coach.
1. Get a Health and Nutrition Education
It’s important to find a certified health coaching program that resonates with your philosophies, and provides a thorough and constantly-evolving health education based on the most up-to-date research and science.
Look for a program that offers:
- A solid foundation in health and nutrition science
- In-depth coverage of topics such as evolutionary biology, epigenetics, and body systems and their response to food, fitness, and optimal cellular and hormone function
- Scientifically-validated strategies that tackle health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease
It shouldn’t just include the fundamentals of nutrition and functional fitness, either. A good health coaching program should also teach:
- Holistic training in stress management
- The science of sleep
- The art of play
- Mind-body balance
The goal is to become an expert in all facets of health, nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to choosing your health coaching program.
You’ll want to look for one that also builds your skills as a coach, and provides real-world business training so that you can successfully launch and maintain a profitable coaching career.
2. Learn How to Coach
Have you ever taken a class from someone who was an expert in their field, but not necessarily a great teacher?
When you signed up for the workshop you probably thought, “Awesome! I’m going to learn from the best of the best!” But the genius they had for their craft didn’t translate to the classroom. As the student, you were left confused, uninspired, and possibly more frustrated by the material than you were before you walked into class.
Don’t be that kind of health coach.
Having the information your clients need is important, but it’s not actually the most important part of your job. You’ve got to be able to inspire lasting behavior change. And that, of course, will determine your success and the success of your clients.
You’ll want to choose a program where you’ll be set up to become a master of motivation and behavior change who sparks confidence, action, and achievement in your clients through listening, reflecting, and responsive engagement. And your coaching training should be based on a scientifically rigorous, proven coaching model such as Integrative Health Coaching, which is rooted in developmental and humanistic psychology.
A good health coaching program will also show you how to:
- Navigate working with different personality types
- Master the art of communication
- Ask effective and transformative questions
- Actively listen and reflect
- Practice authentic engagement online and in person
- Overcome clients’ barriers to change
- Cultivate accountability
- Set reachable goals and celebrate client successes
3. Earn a Professional Credential
Even if you have a wealth of nutrition and fitness knowledge and are feeling good about your coaching skills, having a professional credential is what will set you apart from other health experts, and give your clients the extra confidence they need to invest in you.
A professional credential:
- Gives you a competitive edge
- Highlights your commitment to your profession
- Raises the level of your professionalism
- Speaks to your superior skill-set
- Enhances your reputation
- Improves your earning potential
- Increases your job opportunities
- Connects you with a strong network of colleagues
The most reputable health coaching programs are professionally accredited by independent accreditation bodies like the American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP) Certification & Accreditation Board. This accreditation is a public-facing certification for educational institutions saying that the program is a reputable one and meets a higher set of standards.
4. Build Your Business Acumen
Passion, knowledge, coaching skills, and a credential are all essential parts of a successful health coaching education, but without the business acumen needed to grow your practice, you run the danger of going nowhere fast.
Getting any business up-and-running can be overwhelming with a long list of to-dos. You’ve got to:
- Determine your niche
- Share your personal story
- Brand your business
- Develop a marketing strategy
- Create marketing tools
- Build an online presence
- Attract clients
- Master social media
- Be consistent with putting yourself and your brand into the world
- Create coaching materials and customizable programs
- Construct questionnaires and handouts for clients
- Fulfill the necessary legal and insurance requirements
- Network with other healthcare professionals
Most health coaching programs don’t offer much in the way of business guidance, so it’s important to look for one that not only prepares for getting your business off the ground, but also helps you manage the day-to-day aspects of being an entrepreneur after graduation.
5. Secure a Support System
As a health coach, you are the confident, dynamic CEO of your business, which means you’re the one out there drumming up potential clients. And a big part of that involves networking with other health industry professionals.
Think of your support system as an alumni network, an oft-neglected but essential component of the health coaching program you choose. To be successful in your health coaching business, you need a network of people you can reach out to for help, direction, and support. You can’t do it alone, especially in the beginning when you’re just getting started…and you don’t have to.
A Program That Has It All
We understand how difficult it is to gather together the courage to start, to make a financial investment in a new career, to carve out the time to build a business and to trust in yourself to break through all limitations and come out on top. But we also know it’s entirely possible, because we see it happen every day at the Primal Health Coach Institute.
Our curriculum combines all 5 steps you need to be successful, plus so much more. Led by primal health expert and ancestral health pioneer Mark Sisson and internationally celebrated Master Coach and best-selling author Christine Hassler, The Primal Health Coach Institute program includes:
- A deep education on the health sciences that inform the ancestral health approach
- Master coach training that includes the logistics of implementing lifestyle changes and the specifics for guiding clients through this process
- An AADP-certification that sets you apart and shows clients you’re a reputable health coach
- The business education and resources you need for branding, marketing, and selling your business
- Lifetime access to a routinely updated Business Resource Center with a library of business-building tools and resources, including a 12-week turnkey coaching program so you can get started with your health coaching practice right away
- A built-in network and support system, with ongoing monthly webinars, mastermind groups, and associated business networks, including a ready-made network of clients looking to pursue the primal path towards wellness
Founded in 2015, the Primal Health Coach Institute has graduated thousands of successful health coaches, with hundreds more slated to graduate in 2019. Primal health coaches have gone on to start extremely profitable practices. Some have partnered with other health professionals, others have parlayed their education into thriving food blogging careers, and still others have become restaurateurs and even specialized food photographers.
Here are just a few accomplishments of some Primal Health Coach Institute grads:
Barbara Vieira Gomes has opened a Primal health food store and cafe in Lima, Peru.“Thank you #marksisson and team of #primalblueprint! You inspired me, changed my life and health. So now in Lima Peru (South America) yesterday we opened the first #primalperu health store and cafeteria! It has been a roller coaster of followers and more! A dream to share your vision!”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect a career like this when I hit the button to start my Primal Health Coach studies. I love making healthy recipes and showing people how exciting primal eating can be and the many delicious options available.”
Adan Rios has been hired as a health coach by a clinic (Virta) that specializes in type 2 diabetes reversal.
“Virta loved that I was a certified health coach and that I was steeped in low-carb eating to help lose weight and lower blood glucose and A1C levels. They also loved that I had experience working with clients. It’s been a great experience working at Virta and I am only one month in, but already one of my patients has discontinued his insulin after a few days of treatment!”
And the most remarkable thing is that it didn’t take that much time to transform their careers and their lives. They were able to work through the program at their own pace and at home since it’s online, and the affordable price was made even more affordable with monthly installments.
Becoming a health coach isn’t some fantastical dream. It’s a viable career. In fact, MarketData appraised the health coaching market at $6.14 billion in 2017 with an annual growth forecast of 5.4%. That puts health coaching at $7.85 billion by 2022 when an estimated 120,000 health coaches will be practicing.
The only question left to ask is, will you be one of them?