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As a health coach for over eight years and the founder of an institute that trains functional health coaches, I often get asked for my definition of health coaching. People come to me all the time and ask me – “What is a health coach and what does a health coach actually do?”

To this day, many people still don’t understand the term because health coaching, despite its rising popularity as a profession, is still not considered a “standard role” in conventional healthcare.

In fact, before I became a health coach over eight years ago, I didn’t even know what the term meant.

All I knew at that time was that 1) I spent a decade battling my own health obstacles without much help from conventional medicine and 2) I wanted to help others who faced the same health obstacles navigate their way towards improved wellness.

I remember sitting down at my computer with this goal in mind and doing a search for different words and phrases. It took me hours to finally stumble across the term “health coach” and the definition I came across at that time was a lot different than what I believe health coaching to be about now.

Over the past eight years, I’ve learned that the most fitting definition of a health coach is someone who meets clients where they are and guides them to where they want to be in their health journey in the least stressful, lowest-risk, and most inspiring way possible.

This approach makes up the foundation that Institute for Functional Health Coaching curriculum was built on.

Our functional health coaches who implement this approach focus on:

  • Educating their clients on the seven essentials for optimal health – whole foods, sleep optimization, safe movement, fun, stress perception, spirituality and addressing old trauma
  • Providing access to trusted resources that help their clients dig into the root cause of health issues
  • Suggesting lifestyle changes based on what the clients feel is least stressful but leaving the decision-making up to the client
  • And supporting their clients through those changes so that they can achieve sustainable results

We do all of this in three key steps which we call Education, Preparation and Action. Below is a simplified version of what this looks like:


  1. First, before kicking off the coach/client relationship, the client fills out a high-mileage intake form. This intake form gives the health coach a solid starting place so that he or she can investigate what may have caused the client to get to this place of ill health or disease.
  2. Next, during Education phase, the health coach simplifies all the overwhelming health information out there by providing the client with trusted resources to consult and study based on the intake form. As the client consults the information, he or she becomes empowered to make health decisions based on what he or she feels is best.
  3. During the Preparation phase, once the client has reached his or her decisions, the health coach helps the client get prepared to act. This phase looks different for each client and may involve things like finding recipes that feel good to the client and helping the client clean out his or her pantry.
  4. Lastly, during the Action phase, we motivate and support our clients so they can make decisions that feel good to them and achieve massive transformation!


Not only is this signature approach to coaching most efficient, it’s completely low-risk. This is important so that we, as health coaches, stay within our scope of practice.

But what’s even more amazing is that this simple yet transformational process can be used to help any client with any condition achieve massive results with his or her health!

Hopefully this answers your questions about what a health coach is and does, but if you want to learn more about becoming a functional health coach with a low-risk practice, register for our training here.



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