Whether you are expanding your existing health and fitness career or entering into the field as a newly certified professional, working as a health coach is both rewarding and transformative. To help you set yourself up for career success and longevity while best serving your clients, certified health and wellness coaches from around the country offer words of wisdom and practical advice they wish they had received earlier in their coaching careers.
Serve as a Guide
As a well-meaning, passionate professional, you may feel compelled to direct clients toward more healthful behaviors by telling them precisely what to do to reach their health and fitness goals. However, lasting behavior change is the result of skillful guiding through active listening and powerful questioning rather than directing and telling on the part of the health coach, says Lee Jordan, ACE Certified Health Coach and Behavior Change Specialist.
“In my earlier years as a health coach, I leaned heavily on my ‘expert’ status, providing simple direction, encouragement, accountability and assurance to clients,” explains Jordan. “I wish I had known then that facilitating behavior change involves listening at least as much as telling. Learning how to skillfully guide clients is crucial. In the words of [French philosopher] Blaise Pascal, people are generally better persuaded by the reasons that they have themselves discovered rather than those which have come into the mind of others.”
Nurture Your Professional Network
Rather than viewing other health, fitness and wellness professionals as your competition, consider how creating and cultivating collaborative relationships could best serve your clients. Andrew Garrison, president and CEO of BodyFacts Wellness Services and author of Wellness in Mind: Your Brain’s Surprising Secrets to Health from the Inside Out, suggests that health coaches join forces with other likeminded professionals as a means to successfully grow and expand one’s coaching services.
“In creating an allied health team, you can package internal and external services and share clients you’ve built rapport with,” notes Garrison. “Sharing clients with other professionals isn’t bad for business—rather it’s actually a very viable and beneficial way to evolve your career and support your clients across all dimensions of wellness.”
Be Your Authentic Self
When establishing yourself as a health coach, you may be tempted look at what other successful coaches are doing and attempt to simply follow suit. However, when it comes to branding yourself and your services, it’s important to stay true to yourself and your unique offerings, as ultimately they are what will set you apart, especially online, notes Sami Skow, ACE Certified Health Coach and Group Fitness Instructor.
“I wish I had learned earlier in my career not to try to appeal to everyone,” says Skow. “I now craft content for my ‘ideal’ client and, as a result, I attract that type of client. This has led me to love my job day in and day out, as it never feels draining to me.”
As a health coach, you know the transformative power that coaching provides clients, so why not seek the same guidance when it comes to establishing and evolving your coaching business? Caroline Jordan, corporate wellness consultant and author of the book Balanced Body Breakthrough, recommends investing in yourself and your career by working with a coach who can help you grow your business in the direction of your dreams.
“The best coaches have coaches, and to this day I work with several different career coaches, investing in sessions to help me clarify my brand and identify my signature strengths and services,” shares Jordan. “One thing I know for sure is that you can’t just work in your business; you have to work on your business if you want to be a success. Remember, you are your best investment and worth spending time on.”
One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of being a health coach is the ability to work with a wide variety of individuals on their unique health and wellness journeys. Even when working with clients who have similar goals, it’s imperative as a coach to be fully present during each session, listening intently to what the client has to say without making presumptions.
“As a health coach, it’s important to be naturally curious when working with clients and to not assume anything,” explains Gina Crome, ACE Certified Health Coach and registered dietitian. “By asking the right questions to gather information and clarify statements or particular words your client uses, you’ll better understand their unique perspective and offer subtle nuances along the way that are significant to behavior change.”