Baseline guidelines for navigating coaching

Foundational Health Series

Resize coach planning workout schedule and training with 2023 11 27 05 27 40 utc

Personal Trainers

I sense a cultural sea change among us. It feels like “health” has begun to creep ahead of “career” for more and more people, as it should! Take personal trainer stats, for example. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 373,700 people claimed to be “Personal/Fitness Trainers” in 2019. Back in 1990, the number was closer to 25,000.

So, clearly there’s been a massive increase in demand for fitness trainers over the past 30+ years. 

Health/Wellness Coaches or Consultants

Does the same go for Health/Wellness Coaches and Consultants? In 2021, there were an estimated 128,000 health coaches in the United States, whereas in 1990, health coaches were virtually non-existent:

How about Integrative Medicine?

In the United States, the use of functional medicine has grown significantly in recent years. According to a survey conducted by the Functional Medicine Practitioner Research Network, the number of functional medicine practitioners in the U.S. increased from roughly 5,000 in 2010 to nearly 40,000 in 2020.

Industries don’t emerge unless there’s demand, and the trend here is clear.

The “Sickcare” Medical Industry is changing. 

I am fortunate to have met and befriended many medical doctors in my life. Sadly, I’d classify many of them as more unhealthy than the average person. Many prioritize career over health, and others simply were not trained in preventative health. Medical doctors were trained to diagnose diseases and conditions, and develop treatment plans for those suffering from symptoms. It’s a very “downstream” approach to health.

This is one reason why integrative and preventive health care has grown in importance and popularity.  Living symptom-free isn’t good enough anymore. Looking good, feeling good, and being resilient against disease should be the goal, and health coaches continue to emerge as a vital resource to tap into. 

The Health Coach Value Proposition

An experienced and certified health coach that incorporates testing into their routine will, on average, cost $3,000-$10,000 per year (note: some are much more expensive). Most health coaches are compensated out of pocket, meaning one's health insurance will not cover the cost. 

Sounds like a lot of coin, doesn’t it? Or does it?!?

There are many people who are willing to spend thousands of extra dollars on cars or vacation upgrades each year, but would at the same time dismiss additional costs for healthcare outside of what their $50 copay covers to see a specialist or visit their primary care physician for 15 minutes. This is backward thinking. 

How many people have had this experience?   

When you're middle-aged, you go to the doctor for your annual wellness exam. They run a standard blood panel on you, ask how you’re feeling (without paying close attention), and prescribe you with either blood pressure meds to control your LDLs, or an antidepressant if you’re feeling run-down. “Good seeing you,” they say, and onto the next patient.  

Most people treat this as a sufficient wellness experience. Fortunately, things are starting to change, and more and more “integrative medical clinics” are emerging, where this type of “downstream” review of downstream symptoms will hopefully soon become extinct.

Good Health Coaches

A good health coach will likely spend hours with you trying to unpack your previous health history and complaints. A good health coach will have some type of testing protocol that will give you clarity for your health journey.  A good health coach will hold you accountable to make better health decisions for months and years at a time.  Your healthspan and lifespan will shift in the right direction as a result. 

The way I look at it, investing in your health is always worth the money. If you don’t have your health, you have a body that’s breaking down, a body that’s out of balance, a body that’s lost meaningful resilience and is ripe for disease. It’s a body that isn’t going to let you reach your optimum performance or overall potential.   

You only get one chance at life, so prioritize investing in your health. Especially if you’re on the lower end of the health education curve, a good health coach will be worth every penny of the $300-500/month that you may need to spend. 

My goal in life is to avoid ever being a “patient.” I’d rather be a “client.” It’s much more enjoyable and beneficial. 

Which Health Coach is Right For Me?

There is a wide spectrum of health coaching methodologies and pedigrees, too many to summarize in one article. 

Our bodies are all unique and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to health habits and routines. That’s why at my health coaching practice, Leddy Wellness, we respect and embrace metabolic individuality.

As such, here are my general recommendations for selecting a health coach:  

  • Ensure your coach is certified: it should be easy to find information online about their certifying body.
  • Ask about their methodology (note: if it’s one-size-fits-all, I’d be skeptical)
  • Ensure that their process includes asking you hundreds of questions about your past health history and gathering a thorough understanding of your current habits and routines.
  • Find out if they can tap into and consult with a larger network of mentor coaches or integrative medical professionals
  • Ask for references
  • See if they incorporate some form of testing for biomarkers to correlate with the (hopefully extensive) health history questionnaires they have you fill out.
  • Find someone you “click with” as you’ll want to look forward to meeting them each time.

Foundational Health - Basic Guidelines Series:

Brian Leddy Profile Image
Brian Leddy CEO & Co-Founder, BodyStack (FDN-P)
Certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner (FDN-P) and owner of Leddy Functional Wellness. Formerly an Adweek Executive and Media Entreprenuer, Brian pivoted his career to focus on inspiring and coaching people from all walks of life to make positive strides in their respective health journeys. Brian is a Co-Founder, and now serves as the CEO of BodyStack.
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