It is somewhat shocking to look at statistics on death and chronic illnesses in the United States only to realize that many of these diseases are entirely preventable by lifestyle choices. Metabolic disorders (i.e., dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancers are responsible for two-thirds of American deaths.
Although these chronic illnesses pose a major threat to our health, oftentimes, medical providers focus more on acute problems while oftentimes lacking the time to address problematic lifestyle choices in depth (Gordon et al., 2016).
This is where getting certified in health and wellness makes a huge difference.
Let's explore the many reasons why you should become a Wellness Coach below.
Why Should You Consider Becoming a Wellness Coach?
Perhaps you are already a certified personal trainer, certified nutrition coach, registered dietitian, exercise physiologist, or life coach, but feel you may need additional training to reach your clients. Perhaps you currently work in an unrelated field and are seeking a more fulfilling vocation. If you are thinking of a career in wellness coaching, these may be some points to ponder.
• Fill a much-needed niche in healthcare.
• Stand at the forefront of a revolution in healthcare focusing on lifestyle change and prevention rather than reacting to disease processes.
• Help people find sustainable strategies that help break long-standing unhealthy life patterns.
• Work with clients to lead more fulfilling lives overall rather than focusing on one aspect of health (i.e., fitness, nutrition, or sleep).
• Have many potential career prospects from independent practice to working in a fitness facility or clinical setting.
• Enjoy working in a dynamic field where lifelong learning is a must.
• Facilitate the development of intrinsic motivation in clients leading to long-lasting results.
What is the Earning Potential of a Wellness Coach?
The earning potential for a wellness coach can vary quite a bit depending on location and whether someone is self-employed or works for a company. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a wellness coach in the United States is $46,134 per year with salaries ranging from $29,000 per year to $74,000 per year.
These positions include wellness coaches, wellness directors, health promotion specialists, and corporate wellness specialists (Glassdoor, 2022). ZipRecruiter, by comparison, lists the average salary of a remote wellness coach as 51,957 dollars per year with salaries ranging from $21,000 per year to $109,000 per year. The variability of salaries suggests that there is a lot of potentials to earn higher wages with more skill and years of experience (ZipRecruiter, 2022).
What Does a Day of Wellness Coaching Look Like?
The day-to-day lives of wellness coaches can differ greatly depending on whether they are self-employed, in-person, remote, or working as a wellness director for a gym or large company.
Each coach will have a slightly different style and method of working with clients. Overall, most wellness coaches will spend a portion of their days dedicated to their wellness, spend a great deal of time communicating with clients whether it be via text, email, in-person meetings, or remote meetings, and focus quite a bit on researching on behalf of their clients to provide them with appropriate information and resources to help them achieve their goals.
Wellness coaches often work flexible, but sometimes long hours to meet the needs of their clients not dissimilar to personal trainers.
Overall, if you are looking for meaningful work, have a passion for health education, or find yourself wishing to help your clients with more than exercise or nutrition prescription, wellness coaching may be a career path worthy of serious consideration.
Why do Lifestyle Changes Often Fail? The Difference You Can Make as a Wellness Coach
How many times have you had a client create a series of New Year's resolutions only to find themselves making the same resolutions again the following year? How many gyms (at least in pre-Covid times) are packed in January and empty in December?
It is common for lifestyle changes to be initiated, however, long-term adherence to these changes is low. Leung et al. (2017) conducted a systematic review to determine which factors led to high dropout rates for patients attempting weight loss and found that stress, strong body shape concern, unemployment, and beginning at an earlier stage of change were strongly associated with these high dropout rates.
Lifestyle change dropout often starts before it begins. When a patient sees visions of six-pack abs and perfectly toned arms as the result of a diet, or a specific weight loss goal (i.e., losing 40 pounds in 3 months), they have already set themselves up for failure. Setting unrealistic goals or beginning a lifestyle change program with unrealistic expectations leads to a sense of futility and burnout when the patient fails to achieve these goals in the expected timeframe (Bazrafkan et al., 2021).
Likewise, implementing an unsustainable weight loss strategy such as a very intensive exercise program or restrictive dietary regimen becomes very difficult to maintain long-term which will often lead to a pattern of weight loss, plateau and weight regain. A health or wellness coach can help prevent lifestyle change dropout by helping a client set appropriate goals, provide accountability, and find sustainable strategies that work for them.
The high-stress nature of American society (i.e., high-stress jobs, busy family life, little leisure time) can make lifestyle/behavior change difficult for many who suffer from chronic illness difficult without help.
Likewise, lack of access to correct health information due to profit-driven practices or being bombarded with misinformation from popular social media influencers without proper training/education makes it even more difficult for the average person to make necessary and effective lifestyle choices (Perlman & Abu Dabrh, 2020).
This leaves a gaping niche in the field of healthcare. Healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses, dietitians, occupational/physical therapists can provide advice on interventions to improve chronic health conditions or direction for a patient, however, oftentimes patients fail to follow through with them.
Long-term lifestyle change requires more than a few visits to and directions from a healthcare provider. Rather, it takes more intense guidance to help the patient find intrinsic (internal) motivation for change (van Rinsum et al., 2019).
Bazrafkan, L., Choobineh, M. A., Shojaei, M., Bozorgi, A., & Sharifi, M. H. (2021). How do overweight people drop out of a weight loss diet? A qualitative study. BMC Nutrition, 7, 76. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40795-021-00480-w
DeJesus, R. S., Clark, M. M., Finney Rutten, L. J., Jacobson, R. M., Croghan, I. T., Wilson, P. M., Jacobson, D. J., Link, S. M., Fan, C., & St. Sauver, J. L. (2018). Impact of a 12-week wellness coaching on self-care behaviors among primary care adult patients with prediabetes. Preventive Medicine Reports, 10, 100–105. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.02.012
Glassdoor. (2022, January 6). Wellness Coach Salaries. https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/wellness-coach-salary-SRCH_KO0,14.htm
Gordon, N. F., Salmon, R. D., Wright, B. S., Faircloth, G. C., Reid, K. S., & Gordon, T. L. (2016). Clinical Effectiveness of Lifestyle Health Coaching. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 11(2), 153–166. https://doi.org/10.1177/1559827615592351
Leung, A. W. Y., Chan, R. S. M., Sea, M. M. M., & Woo, J. (2017). An Overview of Factors Associated with Adherence to Lifestyle Modification Programs for Weight Management in Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080922
Perlman, A. I., & Abu Dabrh, A. M. (2020). Health and Wellness Coaching in Serving the Needs of Today's Patients: A Primer for Healthcare Professionals. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 9, 216495612095927. https://doi.org/10.1177/2164956120959274
Richey, R. (2021, December 22). Discussing the NASM Certified WellnessCoach [Podcast]. The National Academy of Sports Medicine.
van Rinsum, C., Gerards, S., Rutten, G., Johannesma, M., van de Goor, I., & Kremers, S. (2019). The implementation of the coaching on lifestyle (CooL) intervention: lessons learned. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-019-4457-7
Wiklund Axelsson, S., Wikberg-Nilsson, Å., & Melander Wikman, A. (2016). Sustainable Lifestyle Change—Participatory Design of Support Together with Persons with Obesity in the Third Age. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(12), 1248. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph13121248
ZipRecruiter. (2022, January 2). Remote Wellness Coach Salaries. ZipRecruiter. https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Remote-Health-and-Wellness-Coach-Salary