Wellness Coaching FAQs
Wellness coaching has emerged as a growing trend in the health and fitness industries as more emphasis is being placed on the link between lifestyle behaviors and chronic conditions. NETA’s Wellness Coach Specialty Certification can help you advance your career, strengthening your level of expertise in regard to health, fitness, and nutrition, while partnering with a client to assist them in self-discovery, problem solving, and behavioral change to improve their status on the illness-wellness continuum. The information below is meant to be a basic guide to help introduce you to becoming a wellness coach.
Wellness coaches are health and fitness professionals who work collaboratively with individuals in a client-centered process to facilitate the achievement of self-determined goals related to balanced, healthy living. To help clients reach those goals successfully, wellness coaches apply their professional knowledge and skills, empowering clients to mobilize their internal strengths and external resources for the adoption and maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviors. Wellness coaches may have knowledge or even expertise in health/fitness/nutrition, but they do not act as an expert to disseminate advice or solutions to a client’s problem.
Much like personal training, wellness coaching is currently an unregulated profession. In other words, there are no universally established or accepted requirements to become a wellness coach, and the practice of wellness coaching is not regulated by the government via state licensing or registration. However, many wellness coaches obtain a voluntary professional certification offered by a non-governmental entity, often times a non-profit organization (e.g., NETA).
To be eligible for NETA’s Wellness Coach Specialty Certification, candidates must hold (1) current NCCA-accredited health or fitness certification, (2) bachelor’s degree or higher in a health or fitness-related field, or (3) credential/license as an allied health professional. To earn NETA’s Wellness Coach Specialty Certificate, candidates must pass the written certification exam and satisfy the prerequisite. NETA offers exam preparation options to help pass the written certification exam.
Historically, personal trainers have employed a directive communication style, telling their clients what to do and how to do it. Telling people what to do is largely ineffective for long-term behavior change. The overarching objective of a personal trainer is more likely focused on developing safe and effective exercise programs; on the other hand, a wellness coach is focused on facilitating behavioral change to help their clients achieve any number of healthy living goals. A coach-like approach utilizes open-ended questions coupled with thoughtful reflections intended to help clients understand their thoughts, feelings, and intrinsic motivators, and to guide them toward self-identified solutions.
Educational backgrounds may include exercise science, health promotion, dietetics, nursing, psychology, or other health/fitness-related fields of study. Several organizations in the fitness industry do offer health/wellness coaching certifications/certificates. NETA’s Wellness Coach Specialty Certification was developed with fitness professionals in mind, to equip personal trainers and group exercise instructors with essential coaching skills to more effectively guide their clients and class participants through the process of behavior change. Although their title may not change from personal trainer to wellness coach, the purposeful use of a coaching-oriented communication style empowers their clients and facilitates better health and fitness outcomes. Beyond credentials, it is important for wellness coaches to be empathetic, be able to ask powerful questions and utilize excellent listening skills.
This will vary by each CPT/WC’s personal situation and work environment, but the most important skill you can utilize in gaining clients is to listen. Building rapport, establishing trust, understanding their situation, and aligning your services with their needs and desires will lead to building a strong client base.