Keeping our mental and physical health in tip-top shape takes a lot of time and energy — and it’s completely normal to struggle with both. And when we need support and advice, turning to an effective coach who specializes in one area or the other might be the secret to staying motivated.
Life coaches are coaching professionals who focus on mental wellness and personal development, while health coaches help their clients reach their fitness and physical wellness goals. Both coaching professions promote client health while catering to different needs.
Are you considering a career in wellness coaching? Whether you’re just starting out or looking to guide your practice in a new direction, the first step is determining which area sparks your passion. We’ll teach you the differences between a life coach versus a health coach to decide which profession is right for you.
The difference between life and health coaching
Life and health coaching are both rewarding careers with the unique opportunity to support your clients as they improve their wellness. While you probably already have an instinct about which role is right for you based on your interests and skills, knowing more about these types of coaching will help you confirm that inkling.
Let’s dive into what each of these wellness professionals accomplish in their coaching programs.
What is a lifestyle coach? Lifestyle, or life coaches, help clients overcome challenges in their personal lives and find greater personal satisfaction. Some reasons a client might turn to a lifestyle coach are to improve their relationships, address bad habits, or better their stress management.
Life coaching can be especially fulfilling for naturally empathetic people and those who enjoy watching other people succeed. They may choose to specialize in a particular area, like family relationships, career advancement, or financial planning. While not strictly necessary, they can formalize their coaching education with a life coach certification from an accredited program.
The following are common examples of work for a life coach:
- Helping clients pinpoint the challenges they hope to overcome and the goals they have.
- Creating long-term objectives for their clients’ personal or professional development.
- Providing advice, tools, and guidance to assist clients in their journeys.
- Setting short-term goals for clients to achieve between sessions.
- Tracking clients’ progress and sourcing feedback on the effectiveness of coaching strategies.
When clients feel better about themselves and their successes, their mental health can improve. But remember: Life coaches are guides and motivators, not mental health professionals. They can’t answer every question a client may have. People should also seek help from a licensed healthcare professional rather than a life coach for mental health concerns.
What is a health coach? Health coaches help clients improve their physical wellness. These mentors encourage clients to make positive changes to their lifestyles, from eating more nutritious foods to developing a healthy relationship with exercise.
Health coaches may work with athletes, individuals with chronic illnesses or allergies, and people looking to adopt a more health-centered lifestyle. Clients might seek assistance to tackle challenges such as kicking smoking, increasing activity levels, and reducing risky behaviors. The work of a health coach lies in supporting clients on these journeys, not making diagnoses or prescribing nutrition plans.
If your strengths lie in encouragement and accountability, health coaching may be right up your alley.
Here are some examples of common work for health coaches:
- Helping clients follow a physician’s advice on nutrition and activity.
- Supporting clients as they adapt their lifestyles to a chronic disease or food allergy diagnosis.
- Identifying roadblocks that may be preventing clients from living their most healthful lives.
- Monitoring progress on physical health goals.
- Checking in with clients to understand if they can better support and motivate them.
Some health coaches have a background in medicine or related healthcare fields like physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition, and fitness. Those new to health can develop their education with a health coach certification from an accredited program.
Health coaches aren’t personal trainers, nor are they healthcare professionals. They don’t spot their clients at the gym and they aren’t licensed to diagnose conditions or prescribe treatments. For health-related concerns, people should be directed to a medical professional.
Combining life and health coaching
If both of these career paths sound appealing to you, there’s a third option: wellness coaching.
Wellness coaches take a holistic approach to improving clients’ well-being. These mentors have a broader focus than life and health coaches, and their work often combines aspects of both professions.
Like health coaches, wellness coaches support clients as they embark on lifestyle changes to improve physical health. However, their coaching practices might also encompass other aspects of wellness, like emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
Wellness coaches are a good fit for clients struggling with both their physical and mental health, as their unique skill set allows them to offer advice pertaining to both. They may have experience in both life and health coaching or relevant certifications in each field.
Follow your passion
Both life and health coaches play an essential role in promoting client wellness — no matter which profession you choose, you’ll be supporting people on a journey to feeling better. This work will be incredibly fulfilling. Listen to what inspires you and get excited about the next chapter of your career.
Whether you’re new to coaching or opting for a career change, we’re here to help. Check out our blog to learn the ins and outs of the coaching profession and take your practice to the next level.