If you know us gals personally, you know how much becoming health coaches has absolutely changed our lives. Sounds a bit cliche, but there is something special about pursuing what you are truly passionate about. Health & wellness had always been a priority for us on a personal level, but we didn't realize how fulfilling it would be to watch others change their lives for the better under our guidance. We will be forever grateful for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) for giving us that opportunity.
Let's back up and start from the beginning.....
To be completely honest, we didn't even know that being a "health coach" was a legitimate profession until we noticed a few people in our social circles pursing it as a career. They were so inspiring... one of our friends had left her big time corporate job in NYC to become a trainer and health coach (say what!?), and she looked so incredibly happy! We immediately reached out to these individuals to learn more about this up & coming career path. It just so happened that all of the people we spoke to had graduated from IIN, and LOVED IT.
We chose to write this blog for those who are interested in the IIN program and who want to hear about someone's authentic account of their personal experience. We sincerely hope that you find this helpful. *Please note that we aren't here to sell you something, or to tell you what you want to hear. The three of us have always been super transparent about our journeys with IIN, and our honest thoughts will be reflected here as well.
HERE ARE PROGRAM THE BASICS
It was a 1-year long online course with a new module every week. The whole course is designed for people to complete it while they are balancing their crazy busy lives - like working full time jobs or being a mom, for example.
There were 4 open book tests. If you are watching the lectures and taking the important stuff down, you should be totally fine to pass the tests! They WANT people to pass, so the tests aren't over-the-top challenging (...which can be a good and bad thing, since it allows almost anyone to graduate with the certification).
Towards the end of the course, IIN offers 6 Coaching Circles, which are essentially conference calls with other students, lead by an experienced health coach. These calls were extremely helpful for us because we were able to try out our newly acquired skills on other students (nerve-wracking at times, but totally worth it!) and help answer common coaching questions. After completing these calls, we realized how important it is to put what we learned into practice.... and you only become a great coach by doing it over and over!
There is a broad variety of course material. Let's face it, when it comes to health and wellness, there are 1 million things to cover. IIN brings in serious industry experts for each specific topic -- from food experts to meditation masters to relationship gurus. Over 100 dietary theories are taught (time was spent on some more than others). We found our lectures to be fascinating... we seriously enjoyed learning about each new topic, so the modules never felt like a drag (we even preferred it over our typical TV shows!).
A great deal of the course is also dedicated to teaching you how to start a health coaching business. IIN will cover how to best structure your programs. They even give you a large file of templates to use while working with clients, how to keep your business organized, etc. It would have been very hard to start coaching without it.
You can start taking clients halfway through the program. It's a great side job and a nice way to earn some extra money. They say some students pay for the entire tuition cost before they even complete the program. (PS- If you ever wanted to do coach full time, you definitely could make a living off of it but it does take take a good deal of time and effort to build your client base up!)
Something that became apparent to us right away was that IIN doesn't tell you what to think...it teaches you HOW to think critically about the many dietary theories and all of health in general. This was super important because it helps you develop your own thoughts, rather than them pushing you towards one belief. They harp on the fact that every single person on the planet is unique ("one man's food is another man's poison"), so it's crucial to have an open mind and find what works best for you. There is no ONE WAY to live a healthy life. This notion really stuck with us, especially because even though we're sisters, we've come to learn that each of us requires a slightly different lifestyle from the other.
In general, one of the things we loved about getting a health coach certification is that you can take it in lots different directions: personal coaching practice, health coach for a company/corporate wellness, make products, write books/articles, create a wellness-focused business, be a chef, etc. etc. It goes hand-in-hand with many other wellness professions, like personal training. The list can go on and on. You don't just have to coach clients. IIN showcases a lot of their alumni (some superstars like Robyn Youkilis and Purely Elizabeth) using the certification to pursue a number of career paths around the world! We felt that whether or not we decided to take this certification into our professional careers, IIN changed how we view and live our own lives - it was that powerful!
THINGS WE FELT WERE POTENTIAL DRAWBACKS:
It's important to note that this program is NOT for someone who is looking to:
Specialize in a certain area. In this program you will learn ALL of the basics in every topic (we're talking EVERYTHING) as the content is extremely broad. But on the flip side, it allows for people to figure out what niche (eating disorders, for example) inspires them the most. There are some people who feel that this is a major negative, but for us personally, we didn't mind because we were interested in all of it.
Go in-depth with science & studies. You definitely learn a good deal about food and dietary theories during the program, but it isn't very extensive (there just simply isn't enough time to cover it all). Since completing the program, we've done a TON of our own research through books, podcasts, etc. on food and other health-related topics to become more knowledgable for our clients and to stay up-to-date on the latest health information. There are some individuals who want to get into the nitty gritty with science (like down to the cellular level) for every module - if you are this person, we're not sure this program is for you.
Receive a medical or masters degree, or work in a clinical setting. After graduating from IIN, your title will only be a certified IIN Health Coach.
Create and distribute meal plans. This certification technically doesn't allow for meal plans, unlike a registered dietitian or nutritionist. IIN doesn't teach you about things like macronutrient counting, calorie counting, the in-depth science behind food, etc. Instead they encourage numerous ways of eating, whatever is best for the individual. IIN is more about teaching people how to develop a healthy lifestyle with simple, positive behavioral changes - such as eating more vegetables, lowering your sugar intake, swapping for health alternatives, etc. If you are looking to provide clients more detailed support around food, then we're not sure this is for you.
If you're all about a earning a hefty salary. Don't get us wrong, there are lots of people who make $$$$ from successful health coaching businesses (and props to them!!!!)... but as we mentioned earlier, you need to put in quite a bit of time and effort to build your client base to support yourself. It doesn't happen overnight and it's definitely a grind to get started! Coaching, however, is a great supplemental income if you are looking to do it as a side hustle.
The three of us were very aware of these shortcomings, but we still felt that the program was exactly what WE needed to get started in this field at that point in time. It all depends on what you are looking for and what will work best for you!
As we mentioned above, we highly recommend that you do your research and shop around between various coaching programs. During the due diligence process, some people find out that health coaching isn't even for them, and instead they are looking for something completely different...there is nothing wrong with that! You do you, boo.
If you are interested in IIN, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'd be thrilled to help you take next steps and answer any further questions. *As IIN ambassadors, we have access to exclusive alumni discounts to the program for future students.*
We hope you found this helpful! xx