We interviewed Jeremy Fernandes, a part-time nutrition coach of 6 years on how his journey started, where it is today and what he’s looking forward to.
Let’s get to it 👇🏽
How did you become a nutrition coach?
I became a personal trainer while in university, in 2011. It wasn’t intended to be a long term career. Then I found myself as a fresh new grad looking for a job. I had a lot of positive recognition for training, my clients seem to really enjoy working with me, so I decided to start applying to gyms.
I didn’t become a nutrition coach until a few years later where I realized that this is where I can help people make the biggest impact. And also, not work crazy hours on the floor while doing it.
What coaching education programs have you done, if any?
I have my personal training certification, my kinesiology degree, a few nutrition certifications, and a lot of very specific courses and education around topics like neurokinetic therapy, motivational interviewing, etc.
How much do you charge for nutrition coaching? How has that changed over time?
I was making $800/month as a personal trainer, commuting across town, three hours a day, starting at 6:00 AM.
For a while I was driving to the gym at four something or leaving around five something, drive to the gym, train one person, get back on the bus, go back to the gym and then come back around seven or eight at night.
In 2016, when I first offered nutrition coaching as a service, I priced it at $99/month. And I pitched it to my personal training clients as,
“This is the price of one additional training session, and I’ll be able to help you on this other facet that’s super important”.
Over the course of 6 years, I’ve increased my price to $250/month.
How many clients do you have? How much time do you spend with your clients?
I have 17 paying clients and 3 pro-bono clients that pay what they can.
Each client gets a program that they work through, plus a weekly 30-minute check-in.
They can also message me at any point for questions or support but I have a 24-36 hours response time.
If a good fit is determined in the first month, most of those clients will stay with me for 5-6 months.
What does your process look like when bringing on a new client?
- They usually message me via DM or email.
- I’ll send a templated email as a response (customized depending on the source of the lead).
- “Here’s my general availability, let me know a few times that work for you for our initial coaching call”
- I send a google invite once we land on a time.
- We’ll meet on zoom for 30 minutes, but my assumption is that it’ll go over 30 minutes because it’s more important for me to establish a strong relationship in that first meeting than it is to be stringent of my time.
What happens in that first introductory call?
I call it the initial coaching session or initial coaching call, for the idea that I want to plant the seeds that we've already started, before you've actually exchanged money with me.
There’s a lot of listening on my end that happens in the first call.
Some of the common questions that I’ll ask are:
- What is your experience with weight gain/weight loss?
- What other programs have you tried? What did you like and not like?
- If you experienced success, what is drawing you away from that approach?
- What kind of road blocks do you have today?
As the call progresses, we identify some low hanging fruit:
- If a client says “I’m really busy with work, I don’t have time for X, Y, Z”
- A question I might ask is: "How we can scale down the actions that you need to do, to make them happen in the time that you do have?"
At the end of the call, it’s important that we have a rough shared vision of the future.
I’ll summarize what I heard from the call, the parts that we’ll want to focus on, reiterate the low-hanging fruit opportunities and then see if we have agreement. If we don’t, then it’s an opportunity for me to ask more questions to find out where the disconnect is.
Then we have the admin part of the call:
- I’ll send an intake form and ask “When do you expect a good turnaround time for that?”
- “Let’s schedule our next appointment (30-40 min) follow up shortly after you’ve completed the intake.”
- “I’m going to take my notes from today + look at your intake to see if there’s any info we’re missing.”
- Lastly, we’ll decide on a payment method depending on where they are based.
What are the exact tools that you use? And for what?
- ProCoach for delivering the program.
- Zoom, text messages and phone for communication.
- Scheduling is google calendar + email correspondence.
- Paypal / EMT for payment.
How are you growing your coaching business? Where do new clients come from?
I'm lucky enough to be in a position where I have connections to other professionals who will often send people my way. So other coaches and other healthcare professionals, like doctors.
What’s the next step for your coaching business?
The short term focus is doing more intentional branding and promotion. Right now, all my clients are coming to me from referral or word of mouth.
Long term, I love working with younger coaches to grow their skills and practice, so maybe a mentorship program. I’ve had 5-10 clients who are also coaches, and some of them have gone on to become really successful — that feels good to me.
What advice would you to give to upcoming nutrition coaches?
- Your communication skills should far outweigh your knowledge. Get really good at communicating the basic concepts, in a way that resonates, that’s what clients will be paying you for.
- Nobody really cares about the letters after your name as a coach.
- It begs repeating, start prioritizing communication skills above anything else to build your coaching business.
- Get comfortable with your clients leading the process, and developing autonomy — even if it feels incorrect (but not harmful).
💡 I'm not a calorie counting coach. But if that's the path that they want to take and I don't see any potentially harmful things in their past, i.e. they’re not someone who has a history of disordered eating. They're just someone who’s like, I'm curious about this and I want to learn more. Then great, let's feed that curiosity.
- None of the knowledge that you have is special, and it should all be verifiable with easy research. What makes my service unique and valuable to my audience is that I package it in a message that highlights my personality. And then I try and create an environment that allows them to share their personality and pull that forward.