To those who may not know the ins and outs of the fitness industry, “health coach” probably sounds like a cool title. However, health coaches don’t always help. As a Certified Personal Trainer, I have encountered numerous “health coaches” who merely want to sell people cookie cutter workout plans or nutrition systems that don’t take individual bodies into account. This goes against everything I believe about fitness.
If you’re considering using a health coach to get on track towards a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to know exactly what the title means before working with them. Therefore, I have some specific pros and cons about these people and what they do.
The Cons of Health Coaches
1. They’re sales people.
Most health coaches only operate with the goal to sell their product. Sure, some health coaches genuinely care about their clients, but the majority vanish once they complete a sale. Typically, if someone only cares about sales, they will reach out to you with a complimentary message then immediately jump into their sales pitch. They won’t express any interest in you or your life, and they definitely won’t develop a friendship with you. And when you pass on their offer, they will instantly turn rude or cut off all communication. If you encounter a health coach like this, run away!
2. They lack any formal education.
Health coaches only complete a couple hours of training before they can don the title and begin working. Not only does this cause misinformation, but it also gives you the impression that they know much more than they actually do. What’s more, most health coaches only know what they receive from the company they sell products for. This means that they can provide you with biased information that isn’t checked or backed by anything significant. All of this can lead to dangerous consequences.
3. Many health coaches don’t live a balanced lifestyle.
I have found that many health coaches do not actually live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. They overuse their product, meaning they may work out every day of the week or drink shakes instead of eating real food. They often preach a “no excuses” mentality and push themselves through exhaustion, illness, or malnutrition as a result. I highly disagree with messages like this because there are plenty of valid excuses to miss your workout for a day or two. Health coaches believe that their messages of restriction or perseverance will inspire others.. Instead, all of this just breeds extremely disordered behaviors.
The Pros of Health Coaches
1. Health coaches provide support groups to help you reach your goals.
A lot of health coaches maintain private support groups on social media platforms. These groups can really help people who lack confidence or need encouragement to reach their goals. These groups build comradery within a community and allow people to connect with others who are working towards similar goals. I think this can really help people improve their health and wellness.
2. Health coaches provide a cost-effective alternative to personal trainers.
While health coaches don’t offer programs that are customized for an individual’s specific needs, they do provide a program that is a cheaper alternative to hiring a personal trainer. Personal training can be really expensive, so when someone just can’t afford one, these are a great option. You receive a pre-made workout and (hopefully) a coach who will hold you accountable.
While health coaches may not be experts in the fitness industry, they can help people live healthier lifestyles. It’s important to recognize the difference between a coach who is in it for the right reasons, because so many are just pushy salespeople. Weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Whether you go with a health coach or a personal trainer, the most important thing is your health and happiness.