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4 Steps to Health Coach Certification

Want to be a health coach? Health coach certification programs are rising in popularity. Follow these 4 steps (the same ones I took) to become a certified health coach.

Want to be a health coach? Health coach certification programs are rising in popularity. Follow these 4 steps to become a certified health coach.

Health Coaching Certification

Obtaining my health coach certification through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) four years ago opened up countless doors. Not only did I receive a solid education on the multitude of dietary approaches that can lead to wellness, but I completed the program with a keen understanding of what it would actually take to run a nutrition-centric business.

And today, well, I sort of feel like I’m living the dream as a successful food blogger and YouTuber. Last year, Downshiftology reached more than 30 million folks. Sometimes I legitimately have to pinch myself!  

Maybe you have a similar dream – and that’s awesome. Given the steadily increasing rates of obesity and other chronic diseases, there is a huge demand for health coaches who can help people navigate a confusing world of nutrition misinformation with the tried-and-true strategies of a reputable health coach certification program.

But, once you’ve answered “yes” to the question do I want become a health coach?, you’ve probably found yourself wondering, what’s next? This, my friends, is where the real work (and fun) begins.

Here are the steps necessary to find health coach certification program that’s right for you – and how to make the most of it.

Want to be a health coach? Health coach certification programs are rising in popularity. Follow these 4 steps to become a certified health coach.

4 Steps to Health Coach Certification

1. Evaluate Your Goals & Expectations

Before you jump into anything, pause, take a breath, and make sure becoming a health coach is something you should actually do. In my experience of building a business and getting to know fellow health coaches, the people who truly thrive have a few things in common. They have a killer work ethicthey have a clear goal in mind for what they want to do once they graduate and they have realistic expectations of how much money they’ll make when they start out.

Once you feel confident that becoming a health coach is the right path for you, you can start researching health coach certification programs.

2. Find A Reputable Health Coach Certification Program

Within the past five or 10 years, dozens of new health coach certifications have become available. Unfortunately, not all are created equal. So, how do you weed out the ones that aren’t worth your time? There are a few key questions that will lead you toward a reputable health coach certification program:

  • How long has the health coach certification program been operating? If a company offering a health coach certification has just started up, then pass. You want a program that has stood the test of time and has enough notoriety to give you access to the best instructors and speakers in the nutrition space. IIN, the health coach certification program I completed, has been in operation for 27 years and features guest lectures from true visionaries in nutrition and wellness, from Dr. Andrew Weil to Gabrielle Bernstein to Dr. Mark Hyman. 
  • What’s the duration of the program? If a program claims you can get your health coach certification in just a few weeks, that’s a red flag. Gaining a solid nutritional foundation and developing the coaching skills and business savvy necessary to make health coaching a career, should take the better part of a year. The program should also periodically test your knowledge to ensure that what you’re learning sticks. If anything seems too quick or too easy, it probably is.
  • Is the program willing to connect you with alumni? If you’re contemplating enrolling in a health coach certification program, the program should be more than happy to connect you with alumni who can share their experiences. If they don’t, well, that’s another red flag. You can also do a little research of your own on LinkedIn to find recent graduates. Consider sending them a friendly email and asking if they’d be willing to have a quick 10-minute phone call with you to provide some candid feedback. Often, this firsthand insight one of the best ways to decide between two health coach programs you’re interested in.
  • Can the program provide examples of successful alumni? You want a program that provides students with the tools necessary to thrive in their future businesses – and any solid program should be able to point you to some rockstar alumni for inspiration. Case in point: IIN grads include Kelly Leveque, celebrity nutrition coach and best-selling author, and Elizabeth Stein, who founded Purely Elizabeth shortly after receiving her health coach certification.  

3. Dedicate Plenty Of Time To Your Coursework

Once you find the program that is right for you, your next mission is to keep your eyes on the prize and always make time for your coursework – even when life gets busy. With most health coach certification programs, your video lectures, readings, and practice quizzes are released via weekly modules. And if you don’t dedicate the appropriate amount of time each week to complete them, you can quickly fall behind.

My suggestion? Block off one hour every night (or a larger 5+ hour block over the weekend) to complete the week’s work. Letting yourself fall behind is a slippery slope and can make all the difference between you completing your certification or not.

4. Don’t Forget To Practice, Practice Practice

Getting the most out of your health coach certification program isn’t just about completing your readings, watching your videos, and passing your tests. Perhaps the most important part? Practicing health coaching consultations with fellow students in your program – as many different people as possible.

You may think you know what you’re doing, but until you’re faced with the initially uncomfortable reality of asking personal health questions to complete strangers, you don’t know what’s going to come out of your mouth, let alone the types of questions they may have for you.

Practice coaching will give you an idea of what to expect from clients, help you build your confidence and allow you to tweak and customize your coaching approach until you develop a style you and your clients are comfortable with. The fact is, you need to stutter your way through a couple practice sessions before you can truly excel.

More Health Coaching Posts to Enjoy

If you’d like to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), the health coaching program I attended, click here to get a copy of the curriculum guide.

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