Focus On: Health Coaching

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Council on Exercise. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Council on Exercise. The opinions and text are all mine.

A common theme in my email inbox includes the request for tips on starting a health or fitness-related career. While I spent a majority of my college years trying to determine what I’d be when I “grew up” (I still don’t know the end result haha), I feel like this profession found me. When I was post-college, living in a small town, and did not have luck finding a job related to my major (Finance) with frequent moves on the horizon, fitness was one of my constants in a life of continuous change. When I often worked the 7-7 shift in retail management, I was at the gym when the doors opened at 5am to get in a sweat session before starting the day. Even though I’m NOT a morning person in the least, I always looked forward to my daily workout, and it was easier for me to wake up early.

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Health and fitness changed my life. I went from being an overweight college student, with no energy, blah skin, and little strength, to someone who felt energized and vibrant. I wanted to share my love of fitness with others, so I looked into teaching fitness and eventually became a certified personal trainer. I’m not training clients as often as I used to, but I’m excited to get back into teaching classes when I’m cleared to work out again. When others tell me that they want to work in the fitness field, they often think that it needs to be in an instructional or training type setting. One of the biggest trends in the fitness professional world is health coaching, and it’s something I’ve explored over the past few months.

What does a health coach do?

A health coach meets with clients on an individual or group basis to help them achieve their goals for wellness. Many health coaches offer a holistic approach to health through strategies for quality sleep, physical activity, healthy eating and stress management.

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There’s an excellent career guide here.

Through the ACE Health Coach Certification, coaches are expected to do the following:

• Apply effective communication skills, such as the use of open-ended questions, affirmations, reflective listening, and summarizing to help a client or patient increase motivation and ownership of making a change

• Help clients and patients develop achievable and measurable goals to monitor success and motivate ongoing behavior change

• Help clients and patients develop and exploit strengths to support successful behavior change

Where can you work as a health coach?

-Privately, in client or patients’ homes

-An online setting

-Clinical settings

-Holistic Health Facilities

-Health clubs, wellness centers and fitness studios

-Educational institutions


-As a health coach, you connect with clients about their health and fitness goals. Instead of instructing clients to follow a generic plan, you’re able to make suggestions based on their unique needs and preferences.

-Health coaches have the ability to impart REAL change by relating to clients and determining the motivation behind their goals. These goals can be to sustain, restore, or transform their overall wellness.

-Emerging opportunities, especially in workplace wellness. The professional of health coaching is still fairly *new* and continues to grow in popularity. My hope for the future is that health coaches are included in the general wellness spectrum, among personal trainers and health professionals.


-You may need an additional certification. I think this is also a pro because it means that the ACE Health Coach Certification is geared more towards those who are already interested and have experience in the fitness and health realm. You can check out the requirements here. If you’re planning on prescribing exercises or meal plans, you would likely need to be a certified personal trainer for the fitness aspect, and a Registered Dietitian to suggest meal plans.

-Building a clientele. Finding clients can be one of the most different parts of any type of personal training or educational atmosphere, but i’ve found that if you genuinely love what you do, it’s much easier to spread the word with others. If you’re just getting started, after becoming certified, offer complimentary sessions for your friends. This helped me a lot with personal training and it was easier to see what techniques were effective and how to structure the workouts.

Have you considered working in the fitness or health world? Did you end up doing what you thought you’d be when you *grew up*? I was a Musical Theatre major before I switched to Finance. Needless to say, you will not see me dancing and singing in character shoes anytime soon. 😉



This post is sponsored by the American Council on Exercise. Thank you for supporting this blog and the companies who help to support our family. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of American Council on Exercise. The opinions and text are all mine.

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  1. Courtney B on November 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Aw yay! I love being an ACE Health Coach!

  2. melissa on November 13, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    retail management works 12 hour days? that seems excessive & hard to believe. definitely not worth it for the pay…

    I don’t blame you. Much better to be active and help others for a living!

    • Fitnessista on November 13, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      I was salaried and they did whatever they wanted with us haha. It wasn’t every day but we definitely had 1-2 12 hour days scheduled in. That’s a huge reason why I left- with the hours I made less than min wage

  3. Kailey on November 13, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I always thought I’d end up being a Musical Theatre major. Then I went “practical” and switched to teaching. While I enjoy it, part of me is dying to explore the fitness career scene, especially after being a Zumba instructor and loving it. I’m still wandering…life is never boring 🙂

  4. Sheena @ Paws and Pavement on November 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for the recap! I love reading anything health and fitness and love helping people.

  5. Jess on November 13, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Love musical theatre!

  6. Lilia on November 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

    unbelievable that you was overweight. Now you look so strong. ACE Health Coach that worked.

  7. kayla on November 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Former musical theater major here… and now I’m considering business school. Always been curious about health coaching but definitely worried about the finding clients part!

  8. Shaina on November 14, 2015 at 9:31 am

    I was a math major. I guess I kind of use it with our family budget and working macros for bodybuilding clients, but its definitely not any multivariable calculus ha!

  9. Julia @ Lord Still Loves Me on November 14, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    For a long time. I considered being a health coach of some sort, with a specification in eating disorders. Considering that I myself have recovered (or still recovering- it’s a long battle), I really wanted to use this second chance at life to help those who struggle. It’s a dark and debilitating disease, and I never want others to suffer. i thought, maybe I could help! It’s only been recently, upon coming to college really, that I saw how wrong this though process was. It is not fair to my own mental health to do this, so I am learning how to help in other ways.

    With that said, I support ANYONE who goes into this career path. It’s incredibly selfless! You’re helping change people’s lives and changing their health. It’s incredible!! I think you’re doing a lot of good Gina, by spreading the word on how to get into this area of work.

  10. Cassie on November 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

    First I got a Journalism degree, but didn’t use it. Then a Mathematics Education degree with 5 years of teaching. Now I’m staying home with our first little one. I still haven’t found the thing that I could imagine doing the rest of my life – other than being a mom. We’ll see what the future holds.

  11. Valerie on November 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Crazy! I was just researching becoming a health coach today! I am a group yoga and pilates teacher but I get frustrated because clients will ask me about losing weight or toning a particular part of their body and I wish I could incorporate one on one coaching as part of my offerings. Thanks for the post!

  12. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on November 15, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I’ve been working at a civil engineer for 7 years now and sometimes I dream of quitting my job and trying to do something in fitness/healthy living. It just seems so daunting… and I’m not sure I could handle the salary cut that would definitely happen at least in the beginning. But I often find myself thinking… will I really sit at a desk for the rest of my life???

  13. Lisa on November 15, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    As an RD, a health coach is a great similar job. I love what I do, but often I have wondered if I primarily saw clients outpatient in a health coach type setting if I would be more fulfilled.

    • Katy on January 17, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Could you help explain the difference between the two? I’m trying to figure out exactly what a health coach does?

  14. Kaitlyn on November 16, 2015 at 2:53 am

    I have a question re: health coaching: What are your thoughts/opinions on the Beachbody “Health Coaches”? I feel like recently EVERYONE is becoming a Beachbody coach and claiming to be a health or fitness coach, when they really don’t have any “real” certification in the field….aside from whatever requirements it takes to become a Beachbody coach. It’s something I get kind of annoyed at, but honestly I don’t know if I have the grounds to be annoyed because I really don’t know the details that go into becoming BB “certified”….haha, does that make sense?

    The reason I ask is because I know you are involved in BB, and I’ve never heard a certified health/fitness professional’s opinion on being a BB coach if you are not already certified in something. Thanks! 🙂

  15. Melissa @ girlchasingpavement on November 16, 2015 at 4:31 am

    Thanks for this. I have been looking into the ACE personal training and health coaching for a while now. Sometimes it is hard to tell where you will get the most “Bang for your buck” so to speak when it comes to certifications. This is a great review.

  16. Katy on January 17, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Hi 🙂 I am really interested in health coaching, but wonder what exactly you can do? You mention you need to be a certified personal trainer to offer fitness advice, and a registered dietitian to offer meal plans, so it seems to me health coaching leaves little else? Could you offer some specifics on what health coaches do?

    • Fitnessista on January 17, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      i’m not a health coach, so i’m not 100% sure, but i think it’s more with lifestyle guidance than giving exact prescriptions. like, instead of saying “i think you need to do eat these foods in this amount, etc” you would give them a list of healthy foods to choose from. instead of giving an exact workout plan, you’d give ideas on how to incorporate movement into their life. if they don’t have time to work out, you’d help them adjust their schedule and find a time. i hope this helps a little!

      • Katy on January 17, 2017 at 8:34 pm

        Thank you!

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