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How Does a Health Coach Differ from a Dietitian or Personal Trainer?

A comprehensive guide for choosing the right health professional for your needs
Professional health coach sitting on a couch with a clipboard

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However, each of these service providers have a unique approach and qualifications that you must take into consideration.From health coaches to dietitians to personal trainers, there are many different professionals you can hire to help you reach your health and wellness goals. However, each of these service providers possesses unique expertise and qualifications.

Wondering which provider is right for you? Check out our comprehensive guide that empowers you to make an informed decision.

What Does a Health Coach Do?

According to Adrienne Farrel, Arootah’s Director of Corporate Wellness, “a health coach provides guidance and support to clients in achieving their health goals, often emphasizing holistic well-being.”

Health coaches employed by reputable coaching companies have obtained certification in health coaching that has equipped them with the skills they need to provide guidance to and assist clients in making lifestyle modifications and behavioral changes.

As Farrel mentions, health coaches take a holistic approach to clients’ health goals. Whereas a personal trainer only works with a client on physical fitness and a registered dietitian only works with clients on their nutrition, a health coach thinks about all the elements of a client’s life that might be impacting their overall health — including diet, stress, physical activity, and more.

During a health coaching session, coaches will ask you focused questions to assist you in setting goals. Subsequently, they will help you develop an action plan tailored to your needs and objectives and will provide you with accountability along the way to success.

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How a Health Coach Differs from a Personal Trainer

Personal trainers specialize in creating fitness programs aimed at improving their clients’ physical fitness, strength, and overall health. Unlike health coaches, their focus isn’t on broader health goals.

During a personal training session, the trainer evaluates your current fitness level, helps you set fitness goals, and creates an exercise program tailored to your needs. You may have the option to choose between one-on-one sessions or participating in small group training.

In contrast, when working with a health coach, you won’t have one-on-one sessions in the gym. Instead, the coach will equip you with the strategies needed to achieve your goals, but it will be up to you to show up at the gym and put in the effort.

How a Health Coach Differs from a Registered Dietitian (RD)

Like a personal trainer, a registered dietitian focuses on a much more specific set of concerns, as compared to a health coach.

“Registered dietitians specialize in nutrition and dietetics, providing evidence-based advice and guidance on food and nutrition to promote health and manage diseases,” explains Farrel.

Registered dietitians are held to strict standards and have undergone years of training and education. Using their niche expertise, an RD will help you evaluate your nutritional needs, educate you on proper nutrition, and develop a meal plan that fits your objectives.

While health coaches can offer basic and generalized nutritional guidance, they are not qualified to provide specific nutritional advice pertaining to your health concerns or create personalized meal plans. For these specialized services, you should consult a registered dietitian.

To find an RD, speak with your primary care provider, since many registered dietitians work in a formal healthcare setting.

Choosing the Right Health Professional for You

When it comes to selecting the most suitable professional for your needs, it all depends on the areas of your health that need improvement.

If you only want to focus on your physical fitness and would like one-on-one assistance in the gym, work with a personal trainer.

If you specifically want to work on your diet and would like the help of a professional who can provide evidence-based information in a healthcare setting, go with a registered dietitian.

However, each of these service providers have a unique approach and qualifications that you must take into consideration.

The Bottom Line

If you’re committed to improving your overall health and well-being but find it challenging to follow through, hiring a health coach could be the ideal solution for you. A coach can assist you in identifying relevant goals, overcoming obstacles that hinder your progress, and providing unwavering accountability.

Take the initial step on your health improvement journey by registering for a free introductory health coaching session today.

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be taken as professional medical, psychological, legal, investment, financial, accounting, or tax advice. Arootah does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or suitability of its content for a particular purpose. Please do not act or refrain from acting based on anything you read in our newsletter, blog or anywhere else on our website.

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