I have been running my health coaching practice for over one year! It is honestly so crazy that this has become such a big part of my wellness career in such a short time. I am so grateful for it! Needless to say, I am still new at this and learning every single day, but I still see value in sharing my experience so far and wanted to take the time to answer some FAQs.
Where did you get certified?
I got certified through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition based out of New York City. It is a one-year online course. When I was researching online programs, this one for sure came up the most for me. I had heard from many successful graduates and thought it would be the best choice for me. All in all, I highly recommend the program, but I go through a more detailed recap of my experience at the school further down in this blog post – so keep reading 🙂
How would you define a Health Coach?
I love this question. A Health Coach is your personal guide to helping you develop, adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle habits. This pertains to both eating well and being well – holistically. As a health coach, I see myself as a teacher and supporter for my clients in guiding them to reach their goals both with food and lifestyle. We are not clinically trained like Dietians, but we can support those roles.
What are the pros/cons of the IIN program?
I loved how the program went through multiple different points of view on nutrition topics, dietary theories and health coaching practices. I did not feel like it was preachy to one way of living which is huge! I loved learning about all different approaches to nutrition because it now helps me understand and relate to many types of clients.
I felt very prepared to work with clients upon completion of the program. It really brings you through the value, process and logistics of being Health Coach. Near the end of the program you engage in coaching circles with your classmates where you can practice with and learn from others in a live setting.
The community is incredible. I am still very well connected to the people I went through the program with. The alumni resources are super helpful and the wellness community respects them. I also met incredible people through the IIN connection that have become mentors, friends and collaborators.
The work is totally manageable with a full time job. Most people who go through the program are working full time. The commitment is around 5 -10 hours per week depending on how much you put into it. I listened to all the lectures, downloaded and read the notes, but I didn’t find it necessary to sit there and study every week / take detailed notes separately. If you want to put in that extra effort you absolutely can, but I do not think it is totally needed to succeed and learn.
I love the focus on holistic living and how being healthy and helping someone become healthy is so much more than food – in fact it is so deeply related to what is off the plate. IIN calls this “primary food”. I loved the focus on these areas as I think it is such a huge part in helping my clients.
Although I mentioned learning about tons of different nutrition and dietary
I also felt the program was lacking on marketing education, especially when it comes to social media. A huge part of marketing yourself and building your business as a health coach is on these platforms. At least when I took the program in 2017/2018 – the content was dated. The reason I am so well equipped with knowledge in this area is because I went to school for it and worked in corporate advertising for 4 years prior to getting into wellness. I hope that they have or will consider updating the curriculum to address this.
What do you think is the most important part of starting a health coaching practice?
I remember being at the 6 month point in my program and saying to myself ok – now where are the clients? I kinda just expected them to appear out of nowhere. Boy was I wrong! Just because you have something amazing to offer, does not mean people will flock to you. You need to bring people in and this takes time! Especially at the beginning! It is so key for you to be patient in getting clients. People will be hesitate to work with someone who is so new. I offered to help friends and family just to get practice and experience. The program also encourages you to do this. After you get a few happy clients under your belt, you can expect things will happen a little bit faster.
Establish a Target Audience.
When I first started, I was working with any one and everyone! In doing this, I realized that I dreaded certain sessions and looked forward to others. Why? Because there was a certain group of people that I was making a big difference with and truly enjoyed working with. I could relate to them and they could relate to me. It clicked and that is where the magic happens and people see results! I had discovered my niche, my target audience and my ideal client. I learned that I do not want to work with everyone and that I can choose who I take on and who I don’t. I can tell instantly in a consultation if I am going to want to work with a person or not. You can turn people down because they will not a good fit the same way they can turn you down.
Provide a Variety of Program Options.
Always Keep Learning.
To stay inspired, I constantly listen to health-related podcasts, read books and attend online webinars. I find it so important to keep my ear to the ground in such an ever-changing industry. I am always interested to research the latest trends and keep up to date with new products. Clients always ask me about these things and I find it valuable to have an opinion and help them find the right information.
Establish a Process.
IIN teaches you a set process, but I think it is important to create one of your own in how it works with your business plan and your clientele. That can be from how you conduct your consultation, to your health history, to invoicing and payments. Make sure you firmly establish this process with your clients so they are assured you are organized and professional.
Your Time is Money.
This is huge. Health coaching can be a little bit informal because it is so personal. It’s not a rigid plan or set talking points most of the time. It’s important that you keep to your time scheduled for starting and ending your sessions. You charge what your charge because you have value and those extra 20 minutes reall add up.
Put yourself out there in the community.
This has been a big part of my practice. I have
Do you see yourself get more education in establishing your practice?
I have thought about getting a masters in nutrition one day! We will see where life takes me.
Do you work with people virtually?
Yes, I work with clients over Skype/ Phone and in person if they are local. You can absolutely impact someone’s life without being there in person.
That’s it for now! I hope this helps anyone who is looking to get into Health Coaching. If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a DM on Instagram @eatwellwithsari.
If you are interested in IIN specifically, feel free to reach out I would be happy to refer you, or follow the link here for more information.