Amber Long by Amber Long

Believe it or not, wellness used to be a term most frequently used in natural grocery stores and vitamin commercials. In fact, for a long time, wellness took a back seat to fitness, simply because it wasn’t as cool or dynamic, especially from a marketing perspective. Clearly, that is no longer the case. At a time when the speed of life seems to be increasing exponentially and schedules are packed to overflowing, consumers are searching for ways to find balance—and the wellness industry is thriving in response. While physical fitness will always be at the heart of the health and exercise professional’s work, let’s explore why wellness deserves special attention for consumers and professionals alike.

Fitness specifically refers to physical health, and is the ability to complete a physical task, or the lack of a physical ailment. Wellness, on the other hand, refers to the balance of a spectrum of health-related elements in one’s life. Most wellness wheels represent six or seven dimensions of wellness, including intellectual, emotional, physical, occupational, environmental, spiritual, social and financial. When a person is balanced and well, all of the aforementioned areas of life are considered and prioritized in daily lifestyle habits.

Popular culture has embraced the notion of whole-person wellness and personal balance. Clients come to health and exercise professionals looking for a more holistic and wellness-based service. This is not to downplay the importance of exercise and overall fitness. Starting a fitness program is often the first step someone might take toward becoming healthier. Once healthy habits are created around exercise, clients often have the confidence and desire to explore other facets of wellness.

It is important for all health and exercise professionals to have general knowledge of all the elements of the wellness wheel. Some elements, such as financial or emotional wellness, may be out of the scope of practice for a health and exercise professional, which means it is crucial to develop a referral network from which you can recommend to clients seeking information or treatment options. Having these options available for clients demonstrates that you understand the importance of lifestyle wellness as it relates to achieving fitness goals.

Health and exercise professionals can increase their knowledge around holistic wellness by obtaining a health coaching certification. ACE has one of the only NCCA-accredited health coaching certifications currently available. With the shift in client demands, the skill set of health coaches is valuable in the traditional fitness or gym setting. Furthermore, a health coach certification pairs nicely with personal trainer or group fitness instructor certifications. Health coaches learn to work with clients on larger lifestyle habits and have a broader knowledge of the elements of wellness.

While fitness is a part of wellness, there is much more to explore to help clients achieve health, happiness and wellness. As wellness continues to gain traction in the market, challenge yourself to explore referral opportunities and learn about all seven dimensions of wellness. Notice if there are areas in your own life that you could focus on to be well. After all, in the business of taking care of others, we must first take care of ourselves.