Most people would agree that health is the foundation upon which we can build success.
Without good health, either mentally or physically, you will not be able to achieve your highest potential.
What is a health coach?
According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a health coach is “a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices.”
Dillan DiGiovanni is a certified integrative health coach based in Boston. I recently met Dillan at a local networking event. I was interested in learning more about his health coaching business and he took the time to answer some questions.
In this in-depth interview, Dillan reveals how he became a health coach, what a typical day of a health coach is like, and how to get started building a successful health and wellness coaching business.
How to Become a Health Coach:
An Interview with Dillan DiGiovanni
How did you start your health coaching business?
I started it in 2009 by sending an email out to everyone in my Gmail contact list.
A few folks replied and I started setting up one client at a time with consults and building from there.
I also told my friends I was available for talks and workshops and they hooked me up with opportunities at their respective places of employment.
What is a typical day like for a health coach?
Since I need to walk my talk, I start with breakfast and, in good weather, a run or exercise of some kind.
I check email, all the social media and post something inspiring or relevant to me or the work I do.
Then, I’m off to sessions for my workplace wellness consulting in or near Boston.
Since most of my individual clients live all over the world, I host sessions with those clients over the phone or Skype.
I stop and take breaks for lunch and dinner and then hang out with friends at night, attend networking events or do my laundry and watch movies at home.
How do you get new health coaching clients?
I get new health coaching clients from several different sources, including:
- Referrals from past clients
- Attending networking events
- Speaking at workshops
- Presenting at conferences
I actually get a lot of clients from my Facebook profile, since I run that as my “business” page.
I’ve even gotten some from Instagram, which is awesome, since it’s my favorite social media outlet.
What kind of certification or insurance requirements do you need as a health coach?
Well, you don’t need anything, really. There are some people selling coaching services without credentials, currently.
But I chose to get certified because I wanted formal training to be really good at it, and I learned a lot that I didn’t know I even needed to know.
I’m also a certified teacher and comprehensive sexuality education trainer from my careers prior to health coaching–and those inform my work as a trainer and consultant as much as my health coach certification.
My scope of practice as a coach doesn’t involve me giving advice in place of a doctor or licensed clinician, so I don’t carry or use insurance. I have my clients sign a waiver so they are sure of this before we begin.
How do you set up a health coaching business?
That varies according to each individual. I operate as a sole proprietor, not as an LLC.
However, I will probably be changing that soon as my business has grown substantially.
I did create a website and have changed that a few times as my business has evolved.
Likewise, I have changed my business cards and rates over time.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to set things up; it depends on each person’s goals for the business.
Since I primarily enjoy speaking to groups, I need to do different marketing and set different goals than someone who operates out of one office location, with an actual shingle outside.
I also have to learn different technology options for live or virtual interactive and engaging presentations that someone who does in-person coaching or cooking classes may not worry about.
What is the future of the health coaching industry?
Hopefully coaches become more fully integrated into our existing health care system or workplaces.
Right now, it’s happening slowly but more people are seeing the need for the work I do.
People are seeing that prescription medications and short-term, quick-fix solutions don’t actually create lasting relief or change–whereas nutrition and lifestyle transformation does.
My hope is anyone who needs a health coach can get access to one, via whatever funding necessary from companies, grants or otherwise.
What do you do when people ask to “pick your brain”?
It depends on who it is. If it’s new coaches or people building a business, I try to answer a few questions–paying forward help I’ve been given.
If it happens more than once, I charge money for the information I’ve acquired from experience and hard work.
When I meet new people and tell them what I do, people often ask me for health advice.I will answer a question or two to give them an idea of what I do because health coaching is relatively new.
If it starts to feel like a consultation, I remind people that it’s how I pay my bills.
Anything else you’d like to share with anyone interested in starting a health coaching business?
Yes. Get support because it’s challenging and takes a lot of work.
Delegate where and when you need to, play to your strengths and know your limits. Factor in failure to most of your ideas (because not everything will work) and always walk your talk.
I always tell health coaches to follow the advice they’d give their clients. If your health and your life isn’t working, your business won’t, either. I’ve experienced this firsthand–my business stalled when I stayed in the wrong relationship for too long.
Once I left, things got much better. Your life will reflect itself in your business, and vice-versa, so make sure you’re happy and healthy and you will likely be much more successful.
Any last shoutouts?
Wellness entrepreneurs needing help getting their businesses up and running can check out my business development intensive with Zoe Hack Keller.
It’s happening in Downtown Boston starting April 7, but there’s a virtual access option:
Looking for ways to improve your health, either in your personal life or at your workplace?
Dillan DiGiovanni is a certified teacher and certified integrative nutrition health coach specializing in innovative programs and presentations for healthier people and workplaces.
Visit him online at www.dillandigi.com
James K. Kim
James "Jim" Kim is a commercial real estate agent with Cushman & Wakefield / Pyramid Brokerage Company in the Capital Region of New York, specializing in retail, office, and industrial tenant and landlord representation.