Of Coaches & Credentials

The field of fitness coaching is growing rapidly, and globally. Like any emerging field, the coaching world is also facing issues of credentialing.

It’s a particularly important matter. Physicians and other healthcare professionals are recognizing the importance of exercise and the potential value that fitness coaches can bring to the therapeutic equation. But they need to know to whom they can confidently refer their patients.

Patrick Williams of the International Coach Federation defines coaching as a profession that can “provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfillingresults in their personal and professional lives.”

Coaches, says Williams, “Help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, observe, and customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client, and they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, andcreativity that the client already has.”

A fitness coach is someone who understands that the most important service they can offer is to continually inspire people to build progressively upon their own physical successes. Through positive support and reinforcement, they help people establish a subconscious motivation toward healthy, nourishing habits on a daily basis.

Well-trained fitness coaches should also know a lot about anatomy and physiology, so they can guide people to exercise safely and in a way that truly promotes health.

What type of credentials should you look for when selecting fitness professional to whom you can refer patients?

Seek out individuals whohave completed a third party certification program, or an academic programbased at a university. A good resource to check is the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (formerly National Organization for Competency Assurance). For more than 30 years, NOCA, NCCA, and their predecessors have promoted excellence in credentialing through education, research, advocacy, standard setting, and accreditation.

Currently,there is no single, nationally recognized credentialing body for fitness coaches. That said, there are several legitimate, high-quality coach training programs and organizations. A coach who has completed training from Wellcoaches, a widely recognized and reputable leader in wellness coaching education, possesses the qualifications and skill sets to collaborate well with health professionals. 

A good fitness coach should, ideally, belong to a global association such as theInternational Coaching Federation (ICF). These professionals must also abide by the International Coaching Federation Standards of Ethical Conduct,.

Williams emphasizes that, “a powerful attraction to [coaching] is having a partner who is committed to helping people develop and implement their ideal life. Coaching also provides a sense of connection, belonging, and significance in a world that can sometimes seem isolating, overwhelming, or both. Coaches also help keep people focused ,challenged, and motivated for living their lives on purpose.”

In addition to competencies and standards, a good fitness coach ought to embody the principles outlined in Williams’ statement. Credentials and good training are important, but equally important is a zest for helping people move toward better health.


Subscribe to Holistic Primary Care