Why I became a Health Coach.


I know a lot of people wondered why I chose to study to be a Health Coach. I already had a Bachelors degree in Physiotherapy, seven years of post graduate experience and a number of additional qualifications. Why bother with a course that some regard as a bit of quackery?

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being a physiotherapist, it was never intended as a career change. My job as a physiotherapist has enabled me to meet and work with all walks of life (some more interesting than others), and for the past six years live on the wonderful little island of Bermuda! Life could get any better right?

Well I couldn’t complain, however as my physiotherapy practice developed, I began to realize that you could be the best physiotherapist in the world (now I’m in no way saying that I am, just an observation of the profession) and still not be able to help people in a significant way. Isn’t that what physiotherapy is all about, right? Enabling people to be healthier and pain free as much as possible or to maintain/improve the function of the body. So why were some of my clients not seeing the results that I was expecting?

I’ve worked with some of the richest and poorest people in the world. Bermuda, as many may already know, is a hub of rich tax evading millionaires and billionaires (I’ve lost count of how many conversations about finance I’ve had over the last few years), and I’ve worked with homeless individuals with addictions and chronic mental health problems (give me these clients any day, the conversations are much more interesting). However, it doesn’t matter how much money you have in your pocket, you can’t buy health! Though you would be surprised at how many people actually don’t realize this, or think that they can pay you to perform miracles. I’m sorry, but if you’re a hundred pounds overweight, sit at a desk all day and call golf your exercise for the week, you are going to have problems, FACT. Also, I was surprised on a daily basis how many clients were unaware of basic medical information such as; the medication they are currently taking, their blood pressure values, their weight and cholesterol levels. No guys, this information is not just for your doctor to write down in your medical file, take note yourself and find out what the values actually mean!

I became more and more aware that hands on treatment, giving ergonomic advice and giving out exercise programs was not enough. I wasn’t looking at the whole picture. Yes, I was doing what I had been trained to do but in health care (we will discuss health care in another post) you have to keep within your ‘Scope of Practice’ or risk being struck off. I realized I was lacking key skills to being able to help my clients to the max. We all know that exercise alone is not going to help you loose weight, you have to tackle your diet also.

"Help! I’m not trained to do that!"

 Although I feel I live a healthy life myself, I didn’t feel I had the skill to advise others. Also there were the mental health issues, stressors and other life events which were stopping my clients from looking after their health in the best way possible. Again, my physiotherapy degree did not give me the necessary skills to properly address these issues. I felt like I was intruding in someone’s private life if I was to ask about their family life or relationships, but I can ask someone about their toilet habits and not even blush! (yes I have a blushing problem in certain situations, redhead problem I’m afraid…. sigh).

So then began my hunt for a course which would enable me to better address these “non-physiotherapy” aspects of someone’s life and be able to give tips and set achievable goals.The course I decided to take was with the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, and it has vastly improved my ability to see the ‘whole picture’ when it comes to my client’s health and problems. Now I can address time management issues with my clients that say they have no time for their exercises, nutritional advice for my overweight clients and some basic counseling for those who come in and spill their heart out while having an acupuncture treatment (yes it happens more frequently than you would think). Seeing my clients as a whole, rather than just a body that needs fixing allows me to be so much more successful in improving the health of my clients.

A lot of the time my Health Coaching sessions are during a physiotherapy session! They go hand in hand. One of the first things I ask my returning clients it “how are things going? Any changes? Did you do you exercises?” They don’t even need to answer, I already know if they did or didn’t by the look on their face. But now I’m trained to address the underlying issues as to why they didn’t do their exercises, rather than just give them a stern look (at least that’s what I’m hoping for, apparently I’m not very good at looking stern) and telling them to do better next week.

Health Coaches are becoming more and more popular, with G.P's hiring them, corporate companies hiring Health Coaches to set up Healthy Living Programmes and gyms and wellness centres adding to their services with the help of a Health Coach. People are taking their health into their own hands rather than relying in their doctor to give advice and medication. I believe the future of health and wellbeing is in the hands of anyone involved in preventative healthcare and not the current Western medical system.

I think and hope my clients have benefitted more from my services since I completed my training as a Health Coach and I constantly try and develop my skills as a physiotherapy practitioner. However, I can only encourage change. Stressing and complaining will change nothing, take action, make a change and never look back! (and hire a Health Coach if you need some help to make the change!).

If you would like any more information about Health Coaching, becoming a Health Coach yourself,  or would like to become a client, please email: helenturnerhealth@gmail.com

Have a great day!