The Who, What, When, Where and How’s of Wellness Coaching

The Who, What, When, Where and How’s of Wellness Coaching

You’ve heard of wellness coaching and have questions. What does a wellness coach do? How does it work? For whom is that? Where can you find a trainer? When should I rent one? etc. etc. etc. This article can by no means be a complete guide to answering all wellness coaching questions, but it will provide you with enough background to decide if you are interested in learning more and maybe even accepting one ‘Free Coaching Session’ from a Wellness Coach ready to give one. Here are the answers to many of the most common questions.

What is a wellness coach?

A wellness coach is a professional trained in one or more areas of “wellness” who helps clients make long-term, sustainable lifestyle changes so that their health and wellness actions align with their personal goals.

In which areas of “wellness” does a wellness coach work?

Wellness is a huge word that means very different things to different people. For some it means going to the gym every day, for others finding the right balance between work and private life, for others wellness is the spa in the shopping center around the corner! With such a wide range of definitions for the term wellness, it’s good to know what areas your wellness coach has a background in. Here are some common ones: physical fitness, nutrition, stress management, weight management, obesity, life balance, heart health, disease management, relationships, and mental health. Of course, not all wellness coaches have backgrounds in all of these areas.

What credentials should I ask for?

There is no universally accepted license for wellness coaches today, so don’t expect there to be one correct answer to the question of what your coach’s qualifications are. Ask about the coaching philosophy of your potential coaches, what coach education/background they have. If they haven’t had formal coaching training, ask them what it means to be a coach. Many wellness coaches have life coach training/certification or wellness coaching training/certification. No single program can be identified as “the best”. Ask her what her exercise regimen was like if you’re concerned about her background.

How does a wellness coach work?

Think of a wellness coach as your mentor and partner. The goal of a wellness coach is to put you out of business because you leave the relationship with all the tools and inner motivation to conquer your goals on your own. While a wellness coach will most likely have a background in one or more of the wellness areas listed above, you’ll quickly discover that coaching isn’t about passing on information. The coach will work with you to set goals, identify your strengths, develop your personal skills and most importantly to act independently.

How is a wellness coach different from a nutritionist or trainer?

There are many wellness coaches who are nutritionists and personal trainers, but not all trainers and nutritionists are wellness coaches (and vice versa). The biggest difference is the approach to goal attainment. A personal trainer is typically hired to provide guidance, motivation, training, hands-on support, and to tell you how to achieve your goals. This support is very useful in many cases. A nutritionist has a similar function, trained to provide information and guidance and to design a recipe for success when someone has very specific dietary needs and goals. Again, they play a fantastic role in helping their customers with their questions.

A Wellness Coach takes a very different approach to working with clients. Basically, a coach assumes that you have your own answers. While there are certainly opportunities for training and sharing of information when appropriate (and this information should only be shared within the trainer’s areas of expertise), the focus of a Wellness Coach is to empower the client to find the most appropriate one Clearly see the way forward for themselves so they can make sustainable, long-term lifestyle changes. That’s very different than telling them what to do today. It is about discussing goals, a vision and a plan together.

Why should I hire a Wellness Coach?

I wrote another article on this topic – read the full dialogue here.

Where can I find a coach?

Most wellness coaches work as sole proprietors rather than with large corporations and are scattered across the country (and world). Coaches who work for large companies tend to work in an organizational environment and cannot take on individual or private clients. Since wellness coaching is a relatively new industry, there is no “best” way to find a coach. If you have a personal recommendation, that’s awesome. If not, the best way I know of to find a coach is to do a Google search for Wellness Coach. This will bring you the most comprehensive list of wellness coaches in the country.

Where do we meet?

Almost all trainers work over the phone (many don’t even offer in-person meetings), so distance shouldn’t be an issue if you’re willing to settle for working over the phone. Often people prefer the option of being more anonymous. Just keep in mind that you will most likely need to contact the coach. If it’s outside of your local area code, you may incur phone time charges if you don’t have unlimited long distance calling.

Who should I hire?

A few pieces of advice. Realize that you will develop a relationship with the coach. Just as important as finding a knowledgeable coach is finding one you’re comfortable with and most importantly, one who inspires you to take action (that’s why you hire a coach in the first place). Many coaches offer a free first coaching session, so take advantage of it. If not, most will spend time with you to thoroughly discuss their services and this should give you a good sense of their personality.

Who is wellness coaching suitable for?

If you’ve made it this far in the article, I suspect you’re a potential candidate. Wellness coaching is for someone looking for a partner rather than a teacher. A person seeking a wellness coach is as interested in the question – How do I change my lifestyle as in what to change? If you know what you need to do but haven’t had success in the past, or you know that personal support and interaction are key to making lasting lifestyle changes, then a Wellness Coach may be right for you.

When should I hire a coach?

That is clearly your decision. Ask yourself what options there are for working with a coach. Is it weight loss? Does it improve endurance? Is it a life plan that balances work and family? Ask yourself why you might be considering a coach and this should help you decide when. In general, coaches do not offer specials, there is no right or wrong time to work with a coach.

However, I want to remind you that when you decide to hire a coach, you are taking a big step. You travel from the place of inaction to action. Just hiring a coach (and engaging in the relationship) is a symbolic act of showing that you are ready, willing, and on the path to change. It’s a big step, and you deserve recognition when you decide the time is right.

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Thanks to Doug Nau


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