Focus on your whole being: From exercise programming and nutritional guidance to support and motivation, health coaches take a holistic approach to working one-on-one and understand the science behind true behavior modification. With a focus on enhancing, preserving and maintaining health, and preventing illness, health coaches understand the emotional, physical, behavioral, nutritional and lifestyle factors that are needed to enhance overall health and well-being.
Establish a connection: One of the most important things a health coach does is work to establish a bond built on genuineness, respect and trust with every client. To allow for a successful and effective coach-client relationship, health coaches establish an understanding of the psychological, behavioral and emotional needs and characteristics of you as an individual. That understanding begins by identifying your unique fitness personality through open communication and active listening.
Set SMART Goals: With an understanding your fitness personality and your personal interests, past successes and failures, your attitudes and beliefs about health and fitness, and your readiness to change, a health coach will work with you to establish SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals. Through this effective approach, which helps you establish both short- and long-term goals that are continually revisited, a health coach will help you to take vague ideas and aspirations and transform them into reality.
Retrain the way you think: Health coaches helps clients establish positive self-
talk (the things we tell ourselves) by identifying negative, irrational and erroneous beliefs. By becoming aware of situations where negative self-talk occurs, including times when you may say to yourself, “I hate doing this exercise,” health coaches help you shift to a more accurate and positive way of thinking. By listening and applying their expertise, they help you transform your self-talk to thoughts like, “This exercise is challenging, but I know I can do it!”
Overcome barriers: From lack of time to financial constraints, inclement weather, injury or medical issues, there are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors that often serve as external barriers to people trying to lose weight or improve their overall health. Coupled with internal barriers such as low self-esteem and intimidation about exercising in front of others, a health coach will work with you to diffuse anxieties and identify misconceptions that may be standing in the way of you reaching your goals. Although obstacles are inevitable, with the right systems in place a health coach will arm you with the skills you need to cope with current and future barriers and provide you with strategies to help you get back on track following temporary slip ups.
Become self-reliant: While this may seem counterintuitive, the ultimate goal of a health coach is to help you to become self-reliant to increase your motivation to adopt healthy habits. From helping you create or maintain an environment that fosters success to finding and implementing a support system, a health coach is committed to arming you with the tools you need to succeed in reaching your goals.
Make it a lifestyle: Health coaches enable individuals to see the value in reaching their health-related goals and building a true connection between exercise and activities of daily living. A health coach will empower you to take ownership of your experience and create positive, lasting lifestyle changes that enhance what you do in the gym and in everyday life.
Written By: Jessica Matthews, MS is an exercise physiologist for American Council on Exercise (ACE)