the public’s interest in wellness as an “awakening.”
“People are saying, ‘I’ve got my financial advisor,
I’ve got my trainer, but what about the rest?’ It’s one
thing to invest in finances for retirement, but if you
don’t do the same thing for health you won’t have
the resources to enjoy the wealth. People are waking
up to realize that the longer you wait, the smaller the
bank account is. If you invest in your health now, it’s
going to pay back royally down the road.”
Think of the wellness coach as a health concierge:
part nutritionist, part trainer, part cheerleader/guru.
Eschewing the one-size-fits-all approach, wellness
coaches work closely with clients to define their
specific health and lifestyle goals. “I don’t tell people
exactly what to do,” says Amélie Lamont, who runs
Nerdy Girl Wellness. Instead, the coach and client
assess where the client is, where he or she wants to go,
and how he or she can get there. Swartzlander found
that flexibility incredibly valuable. “Marissa never told
me to do something, or told me I couldn’t have something. She always worked within what I told her was
important to me. And she told me, you don’t have to
be perfect.” As a driven professional with a perfectionist streak, that was exactly what Kristin needed to hear.
THE BIG PICTURE
While nutrition and exercise play an important role
in wellness, an effective wellness coach looks beyond
food and exercise. Lamont will “look at your career,
your lifestyle, your relationships, your spirituality. If
you’re in a horrible relationship or if you hate your
job, it doesn’t matter what you’re putting into your
body— you’re still not going to feel overall like a
healthy and happy person.” Figuring out precisely
what you want is, for many people, one of the biggest
challenges. “People say they just want to lose that
last five to ten pounds,” says Marissa Vicario, “but
when we get down to it there’s a lot more going on.”
Wellness coaches spend their initial sessions with
a client working to carve out a path. “Everybody
arrives at their own goals in different ways. It’s very
individual, very tailored to the person. We’ll talk
about their challenges and then we come up with
a game plan.” Creating a clear vision of where you
want to go is important because “health is just the
means, not the end,” Margaret Moore explains. “The
end is the life you want to lead, the energy you need.
Wellness is basically the fuel, the energy source.”
Cleaning up your health and lifestyle habits can
head off serious medical challenges down the road.
According to the World Health Organization, 60 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by chronic disease,
the vast majority of which is preventable with health
and lifestyle changes. “Roughly half of our health status
is under our control,” Moore says. And if you’re already
in the throes of a more serious condition, coaching
can be an excellent complement to medical treatment.
Several studies have shown the effectiveness of coaching
for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes,
obesity and heart disease. In a randomized clinical
trial, patients with Type 2 diabetes who were coached
were more likely to take their medication and exercise
regularly; they also reported less stress and higher “
perceived health status.” As more studies confirm results
like these, the medical community is growing more
accepting of the wellness coach’s role. “Doctors have
minimal nutritional training,” Vicario says. “They love
to be able to refer someone to a wellness coach who
can really take the time with a patient.”
Working with a wellness coach can provide profound
and lasting benefits, but get ready to put some work
into it. “The client does a lot of the work,” according
Cost: Expect to pay US$50-
150 per session.
Certification: There are
programs whose sites list
coaches, searchable by area.
Reputable programs include
(but are not limited to)
school.com) and Real Balance
Global Wellness Services
Referrals: Does your doctor
know a good wellness coach?
Your acupuncturist, therapist,
personal trainer? Reach out to
trusted health professionals.
Social media: If you find
someone online, check out
their social media activity. You
can get an excellent feel for
them after you’ve read their
blog or newsletter, so get to
know them a little before you
make a call. And don’t forget
to check their Yelp reviews!
Try them out: The most
important aspect of the
dynamic is the relationship.
Use the first session to get
to know your coach. Do you
click? Do you leave feeling
energized and empowered?
Good chemistry is more
important than impressive
credentials. Listen to your gut.
is just the
the end. The
end is the
life you want
to lead, the
THE DETAILS ON COACHING