You’ve heard of wellness coaching and you’ve got questions. What does a wellness coach do? How does it work? Who is it for? Where do you find a coach? When should I hire one? etc. etc. etc. This article in no way can be a complete guide to answer all of the questions on wellness coaching, however it will give you enough background to decide whether or not you are interested in learning more, and perhaps even accepting a ‘free coaching session’ from a wellness coach willing 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 support their clients in making long term sustainable lifestyle changes such that their actions in relation to health and wellness are in alignment with their personal goals.

What areas of ‘Wellness’ does a Wellness Coach work in?

Wellness is a huge word that means vastly different things to different people. For some it means going to the gym every day, for others it means finding the right balance between work and home life, for others they define wellness as the spa at the corner shopping center! Given this broad array of definitions out there for the term wellness, its 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, cardiac health, disease management, relationships, and mental health. Clearly, not all wellness coaches will have a background in all of these areas.

What Credentials should I ask About?

There is no universally accepted license for wellness coaches today – so don’t expect that there is one correct answer to the question of what credentials your coach has. Ask what your prospective coaches philosophies are on coaching, what coach training/ background they have. If they have had no formal coach training, ask what them what it means to be a coach. Many wellness coaches will have life coach training/certifications, or wellness coach training/certifications. No single program can be identified as ‘the best’, ask them what their training program looks like if you are concerned about their 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 him or himself out of business because you leave the relationship with all of the tools and the 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 areas of wellness listed above, you will find out quickly that coaching is not about passing along information. The coach will work with you to set goals, identify your strengths, develop your personal skill set, and most importantly to become self reliant on taking action.

How does a Wellness Coach differ from a Nutritionist or Trainer?

There are many Wellness Coaches that are nutritionists and personal trainers, however not all trainers and nutritionists are Wellness Coaches (and vice versa). The biggest difference is the approach that is taken towards achieving goals. A personal trainer is typically hired to provide guidance, motivation, education, hands on support and to tell you how to achieve your goals. This support is very appropriate in many cases. A nutritionist has a similar function, they are trained to provide information, guidance and design a recipe for success when someone has very specific dietary needs and goals. Again, they serve a fantastic role in supporting their clients through the questions they have.

A Wellness Coach takes a much different approach when working with clients. Fundamentally a coach assumes that you have your own answers. Certainly there are opportunities for education and sharing information when appropriate (and this information should be shared only in the coaches areas of expertise), however the focus of a wellness coach is one of empowering the client to clearly see for themselves the most appropriate path forward such that they can make sustainable, long term lifestyle changes. This is much different than telling them what they need to do today. It involves discussing goals, a vision, and designing a plan together.

Why Should I Hire a Wellness Coach?

I’ve got another article written on this topic – read the full dialogue here.

Where do I find a coach?

Most wellness coaches work as sole proprietors rather than with large companies and are scattered across the country (and world). Coaches that work for large companies are typically working in an organizational setting and are not able to take individual or private clients. Since wellness coaching is a relatively new industry, there is no ‘best’ way to find a coach. If you’ve got a personal referral that is fantastic. If not, the best way that I know of to find a coach is to do a Google search for Wellness Coach. This will give you the most comprehensive listing for wellness coaches in the country.

Where do we meet?

Almost all coaches work telephonically (many do not even offer in person meetings), so distance should not be a problem if you are willing to settle for working by phone. Often times people prefer the ability to be more anonymous. Just know that it is most likely that you will need to contact the coach so if they are out of your local area code you may incur a charge for phone time if you do not have unlimited long distance.

Who should I Hire?

A couple of words of advice. Recognize that you are going to be establishing a relationship with the coach. Just as important as finding a knowledgeable coach is finding one with which you are comfortable with and most importantly, one which inspires you to take action (that is why you are hiring a coach in the first place). Many coaches offer a first complimentary coaching call, so take advantage of this. If they don’t, most will spend time with you discussing their services in depth and this should give you a good feel for their personality.

Who is Wellness Coaching for?

If you’ve made it this far in the article I suspect you may be a potential candidate. Wellness coaching is for someone looking for a partner rather than a teacher. A person looking for a wellness coach is every bit as interested in the question – How do I make lifestyle Change, as they are in the question what should I change. If you know what you need to do, but have not had success in the past, or if you know that personal support and interaction will be the key in making lasting lifestyle change, then a wellness coach may be right for you.

When should I hire a coach?

That’s clearly your decision. Ask yourself what the opportunity is with working with a coach. Is it weight loss? Is it improving stamina? Is it creating a life plan in which your work and family life are balanced? Ask yourself why you may be considering a coach and this should guide you to making the decision of when. In general coaches do not offer specials, there is no right or wrong time to begin working with a coach.

I will remind you however that when you do decide to hire a coach, you are taking a big step. You are journeying from the place of inaction to action. Hiring a coach alone (and committing to the relationship) is a symbolic action which states that you are ready, willing and on the path towards change. Its a big step and you deserve acknowledgment when you decide the time is right.

For more information visit