Amber Long by Amber Long

As a group fitness instructor, you positively impact the participants in your classes by helping them stay motivated to exercise. If you’ve been teaching for a while, you may be wondering what other things you can do to increase your value or perhaps diversify your income. Perhaps you are looking for a way to reach more people and have a larger impact on those who need your help the most. If this sounds like you, it may be the right time to add health coaching to your professional credentials.

Successful health coaches are typically people who have some kind of background in health and wellness, along with a genuine passion to help others. Health coaches are compassionate, empathetic and emotionally intelligent. They are “people-people.” More often than not, group fitness instructors possess these same personal traits, which makes them ideal candidates for becoming a health coach. In the same light, group fitness instructors have the ability to reach a wide variety of people. Each class you teach provides you with a platform to share your knowledge. As a trusted instructor, you have a great connection with your participants, much like the necessary rapport that health coaches build with clients. By working as an instructor, you have developed skills that will help you in becoming a successful health coach.

Health coaches are charged with assessing clients’ current wellness habits and empowering them to make positive changes that will improve their overall health. The ACE Health Coach certification provides information and resources around three major areas: exercise, nutrition and behavior change. As a fitness instructor, you already have a general understanding of exercise science, and you can apply this knowledge as part of your coaching platform. A primary difference: Coaches encourage and empower rather than direct and plan. Your goal as a coach is to help your clients reveal their true potential by assisting them in identifying self-limiting beliefs or barriers and creating solutions. Intuitive and focused listening skills are incredibly important. Coaching might mean stepping into areas of challenge or discomfort with a client to uncover the best solution for that person. You may wear multiple generalist hats, including counselor, nutrition coach, personal trainer, cheerleader, listener, motivator and group leader.

Health coaches are currently in high demand. The field is evolving at a rapid pace due to the obesity epidemic and shifts in healthcare policy. As the industry continues to diversify, the need for more qualified and versatile coaches is increasing. The ACE Health Coach credential can open the door to opportunities to serve new segments of the market, such as corporate wellness, medical fitness or health care. Coaching cases may range from empowering a client to stop smoking to providing mentoring in a health center for patients with diabetes, coaching a personal training client to managing a workplace wellness program.

Health coaching often involves working with people who do not currently engage in healthy habits. They may not enjoy exercise and have deep-rooted habits of being sedentary or eating fast food. Health coaches have the knowledge and tools to identify with the non-active population, which is currently the majority of the population. If you can connect with this demographic, there is no shortage of work available. With experience and continued professional development, you will learn how to work with the diverse needs of clients with varying health, socioeconomic, cultural and emotional backgrounds. A health coach is uniquely equipped to help clients from all walks of life process and find the solutions to their own challenges, regardless of perceived barriers or excuses.

Health coaching jobs are increasingly diverse, allowing you to work full- or part-time. You can work within a corporate structure, as an independent contractor or and online coach. You can find positions with an 8-to-5 schedule, or positions that are entirely flexible, dependent on when you are able to work. Health coaching can be a great supplement to an already existing career in fitness. It can also be a great way to take the leap and jump into the fitness and wellness industry full-time.

As you contemplate adding a health coach credential to your resume, it’s worth noting that not all programs are created equal. There is a wide variety of organizations that provide health-coaching education. ACE is currently the only health coaching certification that is NCCA-accredited. This means that the material and testing criteria is evaluated in similar fashion as that of credentialing exams for registered dietitians, athletic trainers and other health professionals. This may not seem like a big deal, but it proves that the ACE credential is valid amongst the changing landscape of health and fitness.

All in all, a health coach certificate is a great professional investment. Coaching can be an incredibly fulfilling job that allows you to make a considerable difference in the quality of life for other people. The obesity epidemic is far from over, and we need more coaches to join in the efforts to solve it.

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