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How to Take the Step from Student to Health Coach

by: Sarah Appleby
Last Updated: June 23, 2022

It’s only natural to feel a little trepidation when you’re on the verge of starting your health coaching career. The leap from student to professional health coach can feel incredibly daunting.

If you’re a Primal Health Coach Institute student or grad looking for the “right place to start,” then this post is for you.

In today’s post we’re going provide some advice on how you can make the transition from student to health coach with ease.

1. Be the Coach

The path from nervous student to confident coach is one that many of us have taken at the start of our health coaching careers. I have been there myself.

Primal Health Coach’s Master Coach Christine Hassler believes that it can take up to five years to grow into your full coaching potential.

So what can you do in the mean time?


As freshly graduated students, the thought of landing your first client can feel like a double-edged sword; exhilarating as this is what you have been working towards, yet terrifying as it is unknown territory.

If the thought of coaching real clients fills you with nerves, one of the best things you can do is to get some experience under your belt.

A great way to do this is to practice the very aspect of coaching that sends you into a tailspin.

If it’s making a discovery call, perhaps you could arrange a mock call with a fellow Primal Health Coach Institute student or grad?

Or if you simply want to gain more practice “being a coach,” grab a family member or friend and offer some free or discounted sessions. You’ll be surprised as to how many people will be willing to help out.

Find a Mentor

Another handy tip is to find a mentor. This could be someone that you know personally, or you could reach out to someone you admire professionally.

Your mentor could be a health coach, an entrepreneur, or anyone that has excelled in a field that you feel you need guidance with.

Be Prepared

As a health coach, you’re providing a professional service, so it is imperative that you are prepared.

Before signing any clients, make sure you have your program(s) in place and all your coaching materials ready.

Allow enough time between clients so that you can revise and review any notes you may have.

Being prepared will boost your confidence, help with punctuality, and will create an air of professionally.

Fake It Until You Make It

Impostor syndrome can affect anyone, but is most prevalent in high achieving women.

Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy believes that the best thing you can do if you’re lacking confidence is to do something enough times until you internalize it and become it. In other words, “fake it until you make it.”

2. Employ Clever Marketing

For many of us, marketing and sales do not come naturally.

In fact, marketing can be, for many people, one of the most daunting aspects of running a business.

Here are some helpful marketing tips to get you started.

Appeal to Your Ideal Client

You can’t be all things to all people.

However, by clearly identifying your niche market, you’ll be able to tailor your marketing strategy so that it’s irresistible to your ideal client, from your branding and logo design, to the social media platforms you utilize. Maintaining a consistent social media presence that appeals to your niche market, for instance, can be key to developing exposure.

Be Your Business Brand

The best marketing and branding tool you have is yourself.

By developing your business brand around your own personal beliefs and values, you’ll be able to genuinely live and breathe your health coaching business brand.

Since you are your own walking, talking marketing tool, it’s important to be on the ready to start marketing your business in social situations whenever the opportunity arises.

This doesn’t mean you should be putting the hard sell on your cousin’s wife at a family barbecue, but it does mean that you should be prepared to hand out your business card and clearly explain what health coaching is and what programs you offer to anyone that asks.

Social Media

Social media marketing can be a highly effective way of reaching your target audience.

Facebook and Instagram offer freely available business accounts, which provide insights into the popularity and reach of your posts.

TwitterSnapchat and LinkedIn are other social media platforms you may consider using for marketing purposes, depending on your target audience.

How often should you post?

The best approach would be to chose one or two platforms and post quality content at least once a day. Keeping your posts specific, theme-oriented, or maintaining a personal tone or “voice” can go a long way.

HootSuite and Buffer are social media managing tools that can help streamline the process of posting onto social media by saving you time and maximizing your reach.

Develop Your Business Website

Thanks to some pretty handy website building tools, anyone can make their own professional-quality website.

SiteBuilderReport is a useful platform for website building novices (such as myself), as it compares the different website builders such as WordPress, SquareSpace and Weebly so you can make an informed decision on which site builder will best suit your business needs.

Market Within Your Local Community

Marketing within your local community is ideal for someone wanting to make a difference in the lives of the people around them.

A great way to do this is to reach out to local businesses that share your business values. This could be a local gym, yoga studio, or even a cafe. Connecting with like-minded businesses within your community has the potential to forge new networking opportunities and to attract new clients.

Build Your Mailing List

Marketing is not just about attracting clients, it’s about securing them. A great way to do this is to build your mailing list.

You can do this by including opt-in email sign-up forms on your business website, as well as running a contest over social media.

3. Getting Down to Business

Do you love the idea of being your own boss, but the thought of running your own business seems intimidating?

Don’t worry!

We’ve got you covered with these helpful business tips, which should set you on the right track towards running a flourishing health coaching business.

Choose a Business Model That Suits You

Choosing a business model that suits you and the direction of your business is one of the first things you should do when setting up your health coaching business.

The best way to choose which model will work best for you is to think about what style of coaching you would prefer to do.

Here’s a list of proven health coaching business models you may like to consider:

  1. One-on-one (individual) coaching
  2. Group coaching
  3. Workshops
  4. Partnership with a gym
  5. Corporate coaching
  6. Online coaching

One of the best aspects of running your own business is that you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself into any particular coaching model. You could choose one or two coaching formats, and/or transition and incorporate others into your business as your coaching style evolves.

Write a Business Plan

Did you know that you can double the likelihood of business success (in terms of making profits and securing funding) by writing a business plan?

With freely available business planning tools online, there’s no need to start your plan from scratch.

A business plan usually projects 3-5 years ahead, and outlines the path your business should take in order to reach your projected milestones.

4. Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s

Understanding your legal responsibilities is hugely important for all health coaches.

Here are 4 ways you can protect yourself and your business.

Understand Your Scope of Practice

As health coaches, we’re not in the business of diagnosing, treating, or prescribing.

Instead, we help our clients achieve their health goals by promoting healthy eating, sharing nutritious recipes, and other healthy lifestyle advice.

Be sure to investigate what your scope of practice is within your local area, as each state within the US and other regions abroad have different legislation in regards to what nutrition advice we as health coaches can offer.

Hire a Lawyer

Lawyers are expensive, but are definitely worth the investment.

Hiring a lawyer will give you the confidence that you’re working within the scope of practice in your local area. They’ll check your social media and website company descriptions, client contract templates, and any other paperwork you have generated for your business.

Try and find a reputable lawyer who has experience working with private coaches.

Get Insured

Protect yourself and your business with professional liability insurance.

Here are three insurers you may wish to consider:

  1. Philadelphia Insurance Company
  2. American Council of Health Care Professionals
  3. The International Coaching Federation

Trademark Your Business Name

Deciding on a catchy health coaching business name that encompasses your business values and appeals to your niche market is no easy feat, so it’s important to protect it.

The best way to do this is to trademark your business name.

You can get the ball rolling at the USPTO website. Here you’ll find lots of tools and links to help get you started. You can also search the database for existing trademarked names, and once you’ve made your decision, you can trademark your chosen business name here, too.

In summary, here are some helpful tips to make the step from student to health coach a little easier for you:

  1. Be the coach
  2. Employ clever marketing
  3. Get your business matters in order
  4. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s 

You’re now armed with what you need to turn your dream of becoming a health coach into a reality. The rest is up to you!

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