#273: Navigating the Health Coaching Industry in 2024

health coaching industry in 2024

In this special New Year episode, Michelle looks at current trends in the industry and where we are headed as health coaches. Don’t miss the new opportunities she describes to get help with your business, reach more diverse communities and create a health coaching practice that perfectly suits YOU. Get our free Healthy Profit University blueprint at: HealthCoachPower.com/blueprint

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Navigating the Health Coaching Industry in 2024

Having been part of the health coaching industry since 2008, I’ve witnessed the ebb and flow of various trends. So what should we expect in 2024? 

Here’s a look ahead…

In 2024, one noticeable shift is the heightened interest in health coaching across different sectors—from health insurance companies and corporations to medical practices. 

Seems like people are finally catching on to the fact that health coaches can play a huge role in supplementing our healthcare system! This interest is promising but the framework for integrating health coaches into these systems is still a work in progress.

In short, don’t expect a salaried health coach position just yet. Building your own client base is still the norm, and the most lucrative path.

We’re also getting closer than ever to having private health coaching covered by insurance.

But when will it actually happen?

And if you could bill insurance – would you actually want to?

I wrote more about health insurance and health coaching here. 

In 2024 we can expect more health coaches seeking national board certification. 

This is a significant step toward regulating an otherwise unregulated industry. I mean it’s truly been the wild, wild west for decades!

Certification through the NBHWC holds promise for industry standards, may open doors to employment opportunities, and will be required if health coaches are ever able to bill insurance.

But currently, for a coach establishing their own client base, the tangible benefit of board certification is unclear and requires ongoing investment in continuing education courses.

And speaking of a health coach’s financial investment…

An alarming trend I see is the inclination of new health coaches to accumulate multiple certifications and specialized trainings – but not actually working with paying clients. This habit incurs significant financial burdens without immediate returns. 

The industry also seems to promote an excessive investment in various cookie-cutter business/marketing programs, leading to financial stress. 

The result? Coaches overwhelmed with information and debt, reaching far fewer clients than they’d hoped.

I suggest fewer certifications, more practical experience and a re-focus on the reason we got into health coaching in the first place:

To help people.

Amidst these challenges, Healthy Profit University stands committed to three core principles in 2024:

  1. Diversity and inclusivity: Offering scholarships to the BIPOC community aims to diversify and broaden access to health coaching.
  2. Affordable business support: To ensure accessibility and affordability of business support programs, Healthy Profit University will not be raising any prices in 2024 – and in many cases, prices are coming down.
  3. Choose your own adventure: No two health coaches are the same, so why would you try to fit into someone else’s mold? HPU recognizes this type of individuality and invites you to “have it your way” and build a business that leads to success on your own terms.

To explore the array of resources Healthy Profit University offers and learn how to attract new clients, check out our free blueprint. Let’s move into 2024 together, with the priority of making the world a healthier, happier place.


Full transcript:

Happy New Year health coaches. Thank you so much for joining me. I am wishing all of you a very peaceful joy-filled and prosperous year ahead. Did you happen to know this? That New Year's Day is the perfect time to eat collard greens and black eyed peas. It's like the one holiday that has a healthy tradition. Isn't that funny? Now, I'm a New Yorker, but I hear that this tradition comes from the Southern US states where collared greens represent dollar bills and black eyed peas represent coins. Hey, let's go with it. They all symbolize success and prosperity in the new year. I love it on so many levels. So eat your greens. Today we are looking ahead to 2024 and the state of the health coaching industry, which of course I've been part of for so long. My entrance into this industry was back in 2008, and there really are trends that come and go and some that stick around.

So I'll share some thoughts around where we're headed. This episode is brought to you by practice Better, the practice management software that so many health coaches in our community are using and love. We even have Jumpstart Kit members right now setting up their five day jumpstart Inside Practice Better because it handles everything, all your billing, your scheduling, your programs, and so much more streamlining your entire practice for a limited time. You can get a bonus Kitchen cleanout program. It's built right into the Practice Better platform, so you can start using it with your clients and earning right away. Plus you'll get 30% off your first three months when you go to healthcoachpower.com/pb (that stands for Practice Better) and get started. Details are in the show notes.

So where are we headed in 2024 As health coaches? There's so many of us these days, let's start with the very good news. There definitely is more interest in health coaching than ever before from health insurance companies, from corporations for their employees within doctors' offices. There seems to be a real upward trend of figuring out how health coaches can help fill a gap in our medical system. So that's very good news. The not so great news is that no one's really figured it out yet. Most practicing health coaches are still working for themselves and finding their own clients, but that's also a good thing in my opinion, because coaches working for organizations generally are paid much, much less than coaches working with their own clients. I mean, you would know this if you've applied for any of the jobs out there. I hear about so many of these opportunities from the health coaches in my world, and sometimes they're paying as little as minimum wage and they want you to have quite a few advanced certifications. Geez. Meanwhile, at the height of my private health coaching practice, I was charging the equivalent of nearly $500 an hour. So good news, bad news, you decide. Alright, more good news for you. We are closer than ever to having insurance companies cover independent health coaching sessions. So yeah, one day in the future, maybe every health coach will be able to bill insurance. The bad news, we're still not there. I don't know how long it will be, but we are still not there. And when we get there, you will have to be board certified through the NBHWC to accept insurance, but will you want to? Insurance generally pays out very little to practitioners. It requires a lot of paperwork. Be careful what you wish for.

Now, speaking of board certification, I believe we have been headed and we will continue to go in a direction where more and more coaches are going to be getting board certified, which is an important step towards regulating what historically has been a completely unregulated industry. The bad news is that right now there's not a whole lot of tangible benefit for coaches getting board certified because as previously mentioned, most coaches we're still working for yourself, right? You're still finding your own clients and among the general population, literally nobody knows what the NBHWC is or any other governing body for that matter, but with board certification and with the overall growth in the industry, we're getting there. The whole industry is still in its infancy. We're getting there, but one thing I have absolutely noticed, as the industry has changed through the year, there's a big upward trend in one thing. Look around, it's out there. You're seeing it probably every day. There are more and more opportunities for health coaches to spend money than ever before. It's like, wow. When I was a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2008, 2009, there was literally only one other school that I had considered to become a health coach or to do anything in the field of holistic nutrition, and that school was the Holistic Nutrition at Bauman College because that was literally the only other option available.

These days, there are hundreds of programs, hundreds of different types of certifications that all pretty much amount to the same thing. I hate to burst anybody's bubble, but basically you become some type of unlicensed practitioner, right? You're not a licensed medical practitioner, so you're unlicensed best described as a coach or maybe a consultant or something like that. When I first graduated from IN back in the day, we were called holistic health counselors. That changed through the years. Then we were supposed to call ourselves holistic health coaches, and now I believe that's just been shortened to Health Coach. But my point is that it really changed. Oh, no. At one point we were also called Certified Health Coaches. That's right. But then that changed because now there's board certification, so blah, blah, blah, more and more red tape, et cetera these days.

Here's what the net net is. We have coaches with the option of so many different schools and specialty areas, et cetera, that I see you guys attending. Not one, but two, sometimes three, sometimes four different certification programs before you even worked with a single client. I hear that story time and time again and it blows my mind because each of these programs have tuitions that are ranging from like $5,000 to 10, $15,000, and then these same coaches are going on to complete further nutrition and health trainings in many specialty areas. So the state of health coaching, as I see it right now, is that more and more coaches are sinking into debt than actually doing the work. Red flag, we got something going on in this industry that we really need to talk about it. Now, of course, there are also business and marketing trainings to help you get the clients.

So after you got as many certifications as you're going to rack up and maybe you're still taking other courses, et cetera, you still need to work with clients. Okay? Now you get around to some business and marketing trainings and maybe you also did a prep course to get board certified. You spent money on all this stuff. Now you're ready. Okay, I'm going to actually go find clients. How do I do it? And coaches are paying another 10,000, 12,000, $15,000 to business coaches and programs to set up their done for you marketing systems and their online presence and their client programs. It's a lot. Amidst all of this, I do see coaches finding success even without the heavy investment. I see coaches running their very first mini program for $99 a spot and getting signups, and it's very exciting. There's a lot of momentum there. I see coaches starting something as simple as a local walking group, walking with people once a week.
That's it, you guys and signing their first clients that way. It's so simple, and I see some of you out there with a full practice ready to scale with online courses like I did years ago, but I want to see more of that in 2024, and I want to see less unnecessary investing of tens of thousands of dollars upfront. What do you think about that? I think for everybody's sake, but I also don't want coaches getting priced out of doing the work because people need our help more than ever before. I mean, in my own private health coaching practice, I was at it for 13 years, you guys, and I saw clients create amazing things in their lives, big changes. I mean, certainly with their health cutting cholesterol numbers in half, putting an end to heartburn, naturally, clients lost weight, they reduced chronic pain, got rid of autoimmune symptoms in a really dramatic way, and then even life things in their life had clients who made a big job change or took care of themselves in other non food ways, primary food ways. So it was very, very exciting. People need this kind of help. They need you and I started mentoring health coaches in 2011 to find clients and create the same sort of success for themselves. And then of course in 2017, healthy Profit University was born. But lately, all these business coaches for health coaches, they just seem to be popping out of the woodwork. Every time I turn around and from what I hear from all of you, they're charging you $10,000, $12,000, $15,000 a pop.

Nothing inside Healthy Profit University has ever been priced that high. It doesn't make sense to me how are new coaches who don't have clients yet supposed to spend that much? And not only that, but what I've seen through the years is that everybody has a very specific system to sell you, and it's often based on a technology that's like whoo, way over your head, but it's like a Facebook ad system or a TikTok system or a funnel system. I've known so many health coaches through the years. I am friends with many successful health coaches, and no two health coaches are the same. Even those who have reached the six and seven figure mark, everyone has a slightly different business. Everyone makes money different ways, everyone markets themselves different ways. So it's very likely that you also are not going to fit neatly into another person's box or method because you are not that person and you'll just burn yourself out trying to be that person.

Instead, I want you to try to be more of yourself, letting your own light shine. I was just speaking with one of our Healthy Profit University members the other day, I think last Thursday, and she was talking about how she loves speaking in public. She really likes being in person with people. So she's going to double down on that in the new year, and I think that's great. Meanwhile, I know some of you just heard that and you're like, oh my God, I would rather die than do any kind of public speaking, but maybe you really enjoy writing, that's your thing, or maybe you really enjoy using social media. Cool. I do want to say, just as a side note, social media is one tool in the marketing toolbox. These platforms come and go. So lately, this is another thing I've noticed in the industry.

Every new health coach, you walk straight out of school, you got your brand new certification and you're feeling pressured to become a big Instagram star or something. Trust me, you don't have to run your business that way. That's not the one and only way to find clients through Instagram, through Facebook groups. There are other often better ways to market yourself both online and offline. That's the truth. So in 2024, I'm committed and Healthy Profit University is committed to three things that I want you to know about. First of all, we are committed to bringing more diversity to the health and wellness industry, which has always been and continues to be primarily a white woman's world, white affluent women. That's the wellness space in general. And we've given tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships to the BIPOC community over the last several years. This year, we will continue to do the same. Here's why. Because I know as a health coach, I am a white female. I know I am never going to be able to reach and connect with Spanish speaking communities, black communities, the way that a Spanish speaking coach or a black coach could. So we will once again be offering big scholarships to make sure that more people across the globe in diverse communities have the opportunity to work with a health coach. Alright?

Number two, we are committed to making it easier and more accessible than ever before to get help with your business. Yes, absolutely. None of our Healthy Profit University courses and products are going to have price increases this year, none of them. And even we're lowering prices in many cases. I want to charge less. That's what I've decided for this year, and we're finding ways to make it happen because it is possible.

In fact, I want to thank you because I can do this. I'm in a position that I can do this because of you at this point. We have such a substantial audience, which you just by listening to this episode, are part of. So we can afford to charge less at this point and still offer a very high quality product, and that's what we're going to do. So rather than like everybody else and across every industry in the past couple of years, jacking up prices along with the cost of gas and the cost of eggs, oh my good lord, and everything else, and we're going to do the opposite for you this year, and I'm really, really excited about it. And finally, this year, we're committed to helping you more than ever before, create a business that's right for you. Or really what I want to do is invite you to co-create your own path to success.

We are not all built the same. Our businesses shouldn't be trying to all fit into the same cookie cutter mold. So what I want you to do is choose your own adventure and healthy profit university will be helping you to do just that, offering varying opportunities to expand your learning and succeed in the ways that are important and helpful to you. It reminds me of those old Burger King commercials, have it your way. It's kind of funny to talk about Burger King when we're a bunch of health coaches, but your business, you should have it your way. And this is how 2024 is shaping up. So together let's kind of ride the tide as the world sits up and pays more attention to health coaching. And at the same time, we're going to put an end to this insane inflation going on with business support programs because that's something I can influence.

And we're going to encourage you to take advantage of our lower cost offerings. So if you want to learn more about the vast array of resources that Healthy Profit University has to offer and will have to offer, and how to sign 10 new clients in the next 90 days, you can get our free blueprint at healthcoachpower.com/blueprint, and we're going to see more coaches out there this year. I know we are doing the work, making the world in all communities a healthier and happier place. Now we are grateful to our sponsor. That clean life, That Clean Life makes a lot of sense. If you're spending countless hours creating recipes, oh my gosh, I used to spend so many hours creating recipes, putting them together into cookbooks or helping your clients' meal plan before this service existed. I can't tell you how many hours went down the drain on this exact type of thing. Now it's all solved. That clean life is a godsend for coaches and nutritionists. You're going to love it. And for a limited time, I have a discount to share. You can save 20% on your first four months when you join at healthcoachpower.com/tcl. That stands for That Clean Life. I encourage you to give it a try for a couple of months and see for yourself, see how it fits into your business. Happy New Year everybody. I'll see you next time. Take care. Bye.