Need a Health Coach?

Most will reinforce the importance of wellness, nutrition. But they come at a cost.

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Health coaching rides the trend of preventive health, but how could a health coach help you?

Phil De Angelo, fitness director and personal trainer at Penfield Sport & Fitness in Rochester, believes it’s “absolutely essential” to receive help in nutrition, since food labels and health claims have become very confusing.

“A  fitness coach or personal trainer can oversee all this,” De Angelo said.

He said that his organization bases its health advice on that of the Cleveland Clinic and each person who comes for personal training receives a complete evaluation and medical history to assess the person’s goals and issues.

Daniel DiMarco, manager of the Riedman Campus Wellness Center at Rochester Regional Health, views a health coach as a “mentor and wellness authority who helps clients feel their best through food and lifestyle changes.”

These changes come about through custom wellness programs. Health coaches function as more than weight loss gurus (although many clients need help in that area).

“The health coach is also responsible and will reinforce the importance of practicing all aspects of wellness to move toward optimum health,” DiMarco said.

Physician Joanne Wu, an experienced yoga teacher, health coach and wellness expert practicing in Rochester, said that health coaches engage clients to focus on a healthful lifestyle.

“These skills are specialized,” Wu said. “Many people could use inspiring and accountable people in their lives so they can make sustainable change in daunting tasks such as exercise, lose weight, eat right, sleep better, and have less stress; however, not all health coaches are certified, are properly trained, or use evidence-based counseling tools to help their clients.”

Some health insurance plans or company’s health benefits include health coaching; however, those not covered who can’t afford to hire a health coach have other options.

Seeking support in a group setting to meet health goals can often help participants succeed while they save. For example, many gyms employ personal trainers and experts in nutrition who offer group programming. Group fitness sessions can foster accountability and camaraderie.

Community-based organizations such as Oasis, YMCA and JCC offer fitness classes for short sessions. There’s no long-term commitment so you can “try on” an activity and learn more about health. Some gyms, martial arts schools and dance studios offer trial lessons or memberships as well. While these can’t replace regular exercise, they do provide an opportunity to experiment to see what activity could become lifelong without wasting money on an unused membership.

Workshops offered at the public library, health foods stores and other venues could offer a good way to learn more about good health (although these lack the ongoing motivation many need to stick with their goals). Read local periodicals and look on community bulletin boards to spot upcoming events.

“Should you have a friend that practices healthy behaviors, you can always approach them and many people will help each other best they can as friends,” Wu said. “Don’t be shy.”

People interested in hiring a health coach should expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $80 an hour. Some insurance plans may cover the expense.

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