The main job of any wellness consultant is to make individualized recommendations for patients and clients relating to diet, exercise, and overall health. This person is usually employed by a corporation, a consulting firm, or by clients directly. Sometimes the job involves making broad recommendations and helping coach people in a general fashion, but it can also involve a lot of very specific guidance. Consultants who are on staff with big companies often spend most of their time making presentations and answering broad questions, whereas those working in fitness centers or hired on a freelance basis more often focus their efforts working with individuals to achieve more concrete results. Most of these professionals, no matter their setting, have a combination of both education and formal credentialing related to nutrition, fitness, and overall health at various stages of human life and development. This training helps them do their jobs effectively. In many places, attending conferences and participating in continuing education courses to learn the newest trends is also important.
Understanding the Job Generally
The wellness consultant is a fairly new concept that has gained popularity in recent years. In most parts of the world, the last few decades have brought an increased amount of attention to what’s known as “preventative medicine” — which is to say, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with the goal of preventing illness and disease before the intervention of drugs or other treatments becomes necessary. A wellness consultant is a person who furthers this goal by assessing an individual's personal habits, then making recommendations based on exercise, nutrition, and stress management to help the person enjoy a higher quality of life overall. Wellness programs are especially popular in the workplace. A number of recent studies have shown that healthier employees also tend to be the most productive and profitable employees.
In the Workplace
With corporate stress-related disability growing rapidly, it is no wonder there has been a rising need for wellness programs. Employment for consultants has increased considerably, as corporations integrate programs with the hope of keeping their staff healthy and productive. Many companies now offer wellness programs in addition their employees’ regular health benefits. These programs develop fitness and nutrition programs for employees.
A consultant in a corporate environment might work with employees individually, but he or she is more likely to implement programs, create incentives, and work to motivate employees on a broader level. These people often develop educational materials and programs to empower workers to take their health into their own hands.
Work with Fitness Clubs and Health Clinics
Consultants who want to help individuals meet their health goals over time may work in a fitness center or health clinic. In these settings, they’re often considered full members of the staff and are contracted to work with any clients or patients of their parent organization. It’s common for them to spend a lot of time meeting with people one-on-one, and working with them over months or even years to help achieve certain goals like weight loss, lowered cholesterol, or better mental energy.
In certain communities, consultants might also work more or less independently. This can be less stable since pay usually depends on a steady stream of clients, but it can be a good fit for professionals who only want to work part-time, or for those who really enjoy the challenges of working for themselves. Several consultants might also join together to form a boutique firm that can cater to people at a more personalized level than they might receive elsewhere. These are most common in affluent areas where members of the community have discretionary income to spend on personalized wellness counseling.
Communication and approachability are very important for any consultant working in the wellness realm, since in nearly all cases the consultant must be able to connect on a personal level in order to be effective. A certain amount of trust is also usually needed in order to assess the client's strengths and weaknesses, and then offer suggestions without causing the client to feel uncomfortable or defensive. Many of the subjects addressed in a wellness program can sensitive, broaching things like weight concerns and mental health problems. Consultants who make clients feel uncomfortable often find that it’s difficult if not impossible to get good results.
To become a certified wellness consultant, an individual must generally complete a number of courses on a range of health-related subjects, and usually also take an exam. Certification programs are offered by several different organizations in a number of different countries, and requirements vary from place to place. Some science courses may necessary, including anatomy and physiology. Often, a student must be certified in first aid and CPR.
It’s important to note that certification and formal training aren’t normally required by any jurisdiction in order to begin work as a wellness or health consultant. For this reason, people are usually wise to check on the background and training of anyone they’re thinking of hiring. Though the services provided by a person who has more “real life” training than formal education might be superior, their methods also might not be as complete or broad-reaching as someone who has devoted more time to studying wellness as a discipline.