ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Does a Personal Trainer Need a Health Coach Certification?

Does a Personal Trainer Need a Health Coach Certification?

Reading Time: 5 minutes 18 seconds


Date: 2023-05-10

Once you have your personal training certification, your education doesn’t stop there. To keep your ISSA certification current, you must also complete 20 continuing education units (CEUs) every two years. This ensures that you have the latest information in the world of fitness. This information can then be used to enhance the results of your personal training clients.

One course that offers all 20 credit hours is our health coaching program. Becoming certified as a health coach offers many benefits. However, if you’re considering this certification, it’s important to first understand what it means to be a certified health coach.

What Is a Health Coach?

Health coaches helps clients overcome health and wellness obstacles that extend beyond the gym. This might involve finding ways to better manage stress. It could also include providing nutrition advice. Or maybe you come up with ways that clients can quit smoking or improve their sleep quality.

In many cases, clients hire a health coach to help them better manage a physical or mental health condition. People with diabetes may look for a coach who can help them create a healthier lifestyle, thus lowering their blood sugar levels. Someone with high blood pressure might turn to a health coach for help with getting this vital sign under control.

A health and wellness coach has advanced knowledge in the management of chronic disease. They have a greater understanding of the challenges people with these types of conditions face. This helps them craft a more effective response, providing the client with higher levels of health and wellness as a result.

Benefits of Earning a Health Coach Certification

While a certified health coach offers a valuable service, you may be wondering if you should pursue this certification as a personal trainer. Here are a few benefits of being a fitness coach with a health coach certification:

Health Coaching Expands Your Scope of Practice

As a certified personal trainer, you can advise your clients on the best exercises to reach their fitness goal. Most any other topic is outside your scope of practice. Becoming a health coach enables you to provide advice in additional areas. You can provide guidance regarding nutrition, stress, and other issues that are affecting their overall wellness. You are no longer limited to exercise and physical fitness. You can delve more deeply into these other topics as well.

You Can Help More Clients

A personal training client is looking for a coach to help them increase their physical activity. Or they want a coach who can tell them which exercise can help them achieve their goals. A health coach has a much broader group of clients since they can talk about other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Instead of appealing only to clients with exercise goals, you appeal to clients who want to develop healthy habits in these other areas too.

You Can Help Your Current Clients More

If you currently provide only exercise advice, you likely have clients who could benefit from additional services. Earning your health coach certification enables you to expand your service offerings. This can make you more appealing as a coach. Clients would know that they can turn to you for advice about other obstacles they face with weight loss, for instance. Maybe they’ve made exercise a regular part of their lifestyle yet they’re still making poor dietary choices. These choices could be preventing them from reaching their health goals. In your health coach role, you can provide a higher level of nutritional guidance. You’re able to tackle obstacles that exist outside the gym.

It Offers Even Greater Specialization

Maybe you’ve already established a niche as a personal trainer. This could involve working primarily with clients who play a particular sport. Or perhaps you’ve developed a client base of busy moms who are trying to stay fit while still caring for their families. Becoming a certified health coach can help you specialize even more. Instead of coaching busy moms, for instance, you could tailor your programs for busy moms who are also trying to manage a chronic disease. This ability to hone your specialty is important because…

It Increases Your Income Potential

Wellness professionals who can solve a specific problem are able to command higher rates. This is because people are generally willing to pay more if they feel that you understand and can help with their unique needs. It’s similar to how a health care specialist earns more than a primary care physician. (The difference between the two was more than $100,000 per year in 2020.) Even if you don’t drill down your personal training niche, the ability to coach more clients increases the amount you can earn. It might also allow you to bring on clients who typically pay more. One example is a company that has a corporate wellness program. Since the program is wellness focused, the company may be more inclined to hire a health coach than a personal trainer to help run it.

You Build Upon Your Current Coaching Skills

During your training to become a fitness instructor, you likely picked up a few coaching skills along the way. Maybe you became more efficient in teaching proper form. Or you gained a better understanding of the visual and verbal cues that provide the desired response. You can learn even more skills when obtaining your health coaching certification. This includes the skills needed to increase motivation in your clients. Health coaching also relies heavily on positive psychology. The more you understand these strategies and techniques, the more effective you are at promoting positive lifestyle change.

Answering the Question: Should I Get a Health Coach Certification as a Personal Trainer?

Even with all of these benefits, you may still be wondering whether health and wellness coaching is right for you. That’s a fair question. Not every personal trainer is destined to be a health coach. Some are better served by pursuing a different type of certification or training instead.

To help you decide whether to earn your certification in health coaching, consider your goals as a coach. What does a successful coaching career look like to you? Who is your target client base and how do you help them? Do you specialize in a certain area? If so, what is that area? What type of guidance do you provide?

Once you have a clearer vision of the coaching career you want to create, think about whether increasing your health education would get you closer to this ideal. If it would, finding a certification program is the next step.

What to Look for in a Health Coach Certification Program

Before obtaining your personal trainer certification, you likely shopped around a bit. Maybe you researched what each program taught, the additional resources it provided, or how long it would take you to get to the certification exam. You might have even read its reviews to see what others thought.

It benefits you to perform the same due diligence when choosing a health coaching program. Look at whether it covers the topics you want to learn. Also consider how the materials are provided. Some people prefer an online certification program, for instance. This enables them to further their training when it is convenient for them.

If the cost of certification is an issue, what type of payment options does the program offer? Can you spread out the expense over time, making it more affordable? And if this is an option, can you do it without paying a high amount of interest (if any interest at all)?

If you’re ready to get started, check out ISSA’s Health Coach certification program. This online health coach training program provides the education needed to start offering health coaching services. You’ll also learn coaching skills that can enhance your ability to get your clients results. This makes you even more valuable as both a personal trainer and a health coach.

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Certified Health Coach

ISSA's Health Coach certification is for personal trainers and other health professionals who want to help clients overcome physical and mental health barriers to achieve their optimal wellness.

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