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ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Health Coach, Why You Should Offer Health Coaching with Personal Training

Why You Should Offer Health Coaching with Personal Training

Reading Time: 5 minutes 20 seconds


DATE: 2022-05-06

As a personal trainer, you help clients improve their level of fitness. And with improved fitness comes improved health. But what if you had the ability to positively impact your client’s health even more, beyond just with fitness? Would you do it? If you answered yes, becoming a health coach in addition to a personal trainer offers this opportunity.

What Is a Health Coach?

A health coach is someone who teaches others how to create and follow a healthy lifestyle. This involves identifying the client's challenges when it comes to health and wellness. The health coach then develops a plan for overcoming these challenges. 

For example, maybe you have a client who wants to lose weight. Yet, they often use food as a way to cope with stress. In your role as a personal trainer, you could teach them how to use exercise as a form of stress management. As a health coach, you can provide additional ways to reduce their stress. This might include deep breathing exercises or journaling. This gives them more options for lowering their stress levels, even when they can’t make it to the gym.

Health coaches also often work with clients who have a chronic condition. Maybe they have heart disease, arthritis, or diabetes. As a health coach, you can help them overcome the challenges their condition creates when it comes to health. This could include teaching them how to use nutrition to boost heart health. It might also involve helping them to quit smoking or get better sleep, both of which are good for the heart.

Health Coaching Benefits

Several studies have found that health coaching benefits clients in many ways. One such study involved people with diabetes. Based on the evidence, researchers concluded that health coaching was “highly effective” for this demographic. And it worked in two ways. 

First, it helped people with diabetes develop a higher level of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to the person’s belief that they have the ability to create healthy habits and/or hit their health goal. This type of belief empowers them to make the changes needed for positive behavior change.

The second way health coaching helped was by providing the skills the clients needed to overcome their challenges. It helped them get better at problem-solving, goal setting, and managing their emotions. This all leads to long-lasting behavioral change, enabling clients to better reach their personal goals.

Why You Should Offer Health Coaching with Personal Training

By offering services as both a health coach and personal trainer, you can help clients overcome more of the issues they face. 

Let’s say you have a client interested in losing weight, for instance. You can use your personal training skills to teach them how to burn more calories by increasing their physical activity. You can also show them which exercises provide the best results. If you offer health coaching as well, you can boost their weight loss even more by addressing the unhealthy behaviors they have outside the gym. Behaviors that are inhibiting their efforts. 

Maybe they can’t lose weight because they constantly use food as a way to soothe themselves after a hard day. Your first step might be to provide insight as to how this behavior influences their health. You can then work with them to create a realistic goal to change this behavior (using food to self-soothe). Next, you would provide them with the skills needed to affect a positive behavior change. This would likely include coming up with other ways to relax after a stressful day. It might also involve teaching them how to use food for nutrition versus using it as a way to cope.

By combining health coaching and personal training, you’re able to provide clients with more tools for overcoming the challenges they face. This dual approach allows you to go beyond the scope of practice as a personal trainer. It enables you to effect positive behavior change using methods that extend past fitness and physical activity.

Adding health coaching to your client services provides you benefits as well. For example, it broadens your target audience beyond just those interested in improving their fitness. You can work with anyone who wants better health. And you can promote more of a lifestyle change as opposed to focusing solely on the gym. Not to mention, offering more services beyond personal training can also boost your income potential.

Ways to Combine Health Coach and Personal Trainer Services

The nice thing about combining health coach and personal training services is that you can do it in a way that makes the most sense for you.

One option is to offer health coaching as an add-on. Stick to personal training as your primary service but give your clients the ability to add health coaching if they want more help. This sort of a la carte approach enables clients to get a little or as much help as they want.

Another alternative is to create a combination health coaching-personal training package. This might include offering a certain number of exercise and health coaching sessions per week or month. They could do three exercise sessions per week plus one health coaching session, for instance. Or maybe you split the coaching session itself. Start with a workout then transition into health coaching. 

You could also offer health coaching as a stand-alone service. This would be appealing to someone who is looking for a health coach but not a fitness coach. Maybe they’re more concerned with how to improve their health so they have less arthritis pain. As a health coach, you could teach them how proper nutrition can reduce inflammation and thus, also reduce joint pain. Or you can work with them to develop other healthy behaviors that can benefit this physical condition. 

There is no right or wrong way to combine these two types of wellness coaching. It’s more a matter of deciding the type of services you want to offer. Next, decide how you want to offer them. This will dictate how you set up your health coaching business.

How to Become a Health Coach

If all of this sounds like something you’d like to do, your next question may be what you need to do to become a health wellness coach

Technically, you don’t have to be certified to offer health coaching services. That said, there are some benefits to earning your health coach certification. The most notable is that it teaches you effective strategies for promoting a client’s health, such as via integrative nutrition. It also teaches you how to help those who have a chronic health condition.

In addition to learning how to help your coaching clients in multiple areas, completing a certification program enables you to stand out from health coaches who lack this designation. Put yourself in the shoes of someone looking for a wellness coach. Who would you rather hire: a coach with or without certification? Your answer is likely the former. So, too, is theirs. 

The first step to becoming a certified health coach is to enroll in a certification training program. Look for health coach training that talks about nutrition and how to set a wellness goal. It should also teach you how to work with clients with various mental and physical health needs. The more areas of wellness the program touches upon, the more strategies you’ll have for helping your health coaching clients.

Next, complete the training program and obtain your certification. This generally involves taking and passing an exam. This enables you to market yourself as a certified health coach. You can then use this certification to provide enhanced services to your clients. You may even decide to delve into new areas, such as by working with businesses to offer a corporate wellness program.

If you’re ready to get started, ISSA offers Health Coach certification. As a certified health coach and personal trainer, you can help clients achieve better health—both inside and outside the gym.


Wong-Rieger, D., & Rieger, F. (2013). Health Coaching in Diabetes: Empowering Patients to Self-Manage. Canadian Journal Of Diabetes, 37(1), 41-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjd.2013.01.001

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