American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

Driven by your desire and passion to help people live their fullest, healthiest and most vibrant lives, you chose to become an ACE Certified Health Coach and launch into the curriculum. You leveraged every part of the structured learning experience, studied hard and passed your exam. As you exhale, grateful, proud and excited that you have passed the exam and earned your certification, in the very next breath, you think… now what?!  

Many ACE Health Coaches have felt the same way and found that following these six steps is an effective bridge from exam success to practical applied success.   

1. Appreciate the Moment 

Be present in the moment and savor passing your exam. Activate your exam success through an appreciation self-awareness exercise by taking an inventory of your character strengths, highlighting those that were most prominent in your success. You can use the Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Strengths (Peterson & Seligman, 2004), which is available for free. This will increase your ability to tap into your strengths moving forward and provide practice using a health coaching tool. As you prepared for your exam, you likely faced and overcame a variety of challenges and adversities, resulting in your achievement. Seize this opportunity to look back and select a moment during your exam preparation when things appeared bleak, and then remind yourself what you thought and did to break through that barrier.  

2. Connect to a Network   

Join a group of certified health coaches and wellness professionals. Start by joining the private Facebook group the ACE Health Coach Network, where you can collaborate with a group of professionals, from newly certified to highly experienced, and receive live video teaching designed to translate skills learned into skills applied. Joining professional organizations such as IDEA or the American College of Lifestyle Medicine will provide exposure to thought leaders and professionals who are actively involved in a integrative approach to health and wellness.    

3. Start Helping Someone

The single most important thing you can do for yourself and for launching your health coaching practice is to start helping someone. A person can study swimming and memorize every movement and breath, but eventually, they have to get in the water. The evidence-based skills of health coaching require applied use to grow and thrive. If you struggle to land an employment opportunity or a paid client, find someone in need and be of service.  

4. Take Care of the Business Necessities 

You may or may not find establishing your business basics particularly inspiring, but it is necessary. Setting up business necessities may become overwhelming and you may find yourself suffering “paralysis by analysis.” A small, thoughtful, yet imperfect step forward is often the way to break the paralysis. Use this cheat sheet to help you work through the necessities of building your health coaching business.   

5. Consider Your Options

Opportunities for certified health coaches are rapidly expanding as the landscape of healthcare continues to shift and embrace an integrative wellness model using multifaceted team-based interventions. This is occurring in combination with the rise of virtual care delivery, behavioral health and disease-management subcategories of digital health, all of which translates into a wide and growing range of employment opportunities for certified health coaches. The most direct path to helping people with the power of health coaching is launching your practice. Health coaching is, essentially, an intentional conversation, and is, therefore, equally effective regardless of the delivery method, virtual or in-person. The fact that health coaching is equally effective across all delivery methods means that a health coach’s practice is not limited by geographic location.    

6. Remain Curious – Be a Lifelong Learner

Embracing an always-learning and growth-oriented mindset prepares you for success, as it keeps you in the process of open curiosity, a key attribute of an accomplished health coach. Learning keeps you nimble of mind and adaptable to challenges. The wellness industry is shifting and growing rapidly across all domains and channels. Therefore, a health coach must always be listening and learning to remain relevant and prepared to be of service. Investing in your professional development doesn’t need to cost a fortune, as there are numerous budget-friendly opportunities, including free ACE webinars and quizzes based on ACE Certified™ .  

We are reminded of the importance of action and the power of “now” through these famous of words of Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”  


Peterson, C. & Seligman, M.E. (2004).?Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

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