A Wellness coach job is to support an individual in the process of making those choices; not only telling someone what to do but helping that person examine their relationship with the choices themselves. That coaching role is unique among health, fitness, and wellness professionals. While dietitians and fitness professionals know their roles, wellness coaches have an incredibly important one, and they get it. A few key reasons stand out:
Wellness coaches approach their role from a fundamentally different place.
Few who have been in a healthcare setting have been around an active coach. What I mean by that is that they’re not there to say “you’re wrong” (my personal nightmare) or to tell someone what to do. They’re there to give sound information about how to make decisions. They’re there to not tell you what to do but, instead, to help you take the time to figure out what to do; to examine the possibilities.
So, yes, an individual that is overweight, has anxiety or is trying to quit smoking may have a coach helping them figure out what options they have and which choices fit best for them. And these questions may include, “What would you like to do?”
I went from being someone who hated exercise to someone who is an instructor in classes. I have an extensive background in fitness and wellness; and while I’m no expert, I’ve had the time and exposure to apply the resources I have to truly understand the why of what I do. And what I’ve found is that clients benefit tremendously from coaching.
If you want to consider yourself a wellness coach, first have a look at the attributes of the role. You’ll need to learn to be more comfortable in that uncomfortable position of being asked for opinions. I mean, come on, it’s often hard for me, too, when someone asks me what I’d like to eat for dinner. You don’t want to be the person that doesn’t know their “why,” or worse, the person that gives advice without any thought to how it fits in with the other person’s situation or goals.
Because you’re never going to know more than your client, nor is it your job to pretend to be an expert; you can bring sound information and a clear vision to the table. You can’t work if you don’t have an understanding of what is required for you to do your work, but you also don’t work if you don’t feel that the person has a clear idea of what they want. The second part of the definition: “a coach helps an individual to make choices regarding lifestyle changes.”
Most professionals have, at one time or another, contemplated working with a client on lifestyle changes. The hope is that they’re looking to change something about their body, their physical condition, or their mind. Lifestyle changes often involve, at least, some type of change to eating habits. You can think of the coaching process as, “If I were your coach, how would I want you to make these choices?”
This isn’t to say you can’t ask for opinions; it’s to say you have to be okay with the fact that sometimes, you may be wrong. Your job is to help the client make informed decisions. You don’t go in looking for “solutions.” Instead, you guide the client through what they can or need to, accomplish in their own life. They have to be able to evaluate their options, weigh the pros and cons, and decide how best to move forward.
The role of the wellness coach
Like the role of a medical provider, the role of a wellness coach is all about information and education. In this, wellness coaches have an incredibly important role in helping clients make good decisions and taking a proactive approach to their health. It’s not just that they want to help someone “get healthy,” but they want to provide them with knowledge and, more importantly, an understanding of why they’re making the choices they are. They want to show them how to address their needs and take action. I hope all these things will help you.