Got Flab? Stress? Health Coaches Want to Help

By Marni Jameson
The Orlando Sentinel

Like many working moms, advertising executive Regina Camplin put work and family ahead of personal wellness.

“After I had my second child, work was crazy breakneck. I was traveling and struggling to find myself in all of that,” said the 38-year-old mother of two daughters, ages 4 and 5.

That changed two years ago when the Oviedo, Fla., woman started working with certified health coach Nicole Copare, who helped Camplin lose weight, get stronger and find some balance in her life.

A relatively new profession, at least in name, health coaches are part weight-loss counselor, part personal trainer and part motivational expert. The field is growing rapidly thanks to a big boost from the new health-care law.

Obamacare requires private insurance companies to cover “intensive behavioral counseling for obesity” for adults beginning in 2014. That coverage has to be without any co-pay from patients. Medicare already covers obesity counseling for Americans older than 65.

Sessions with a certified health coach would qualify. The American Council on Exercise, the accrediting agency best known for certifying personal trainers, began offering health-coach certifications in October 2012. Since then it has become “the fastest growing certification we have ever seen,” said Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for ACE.

Today, the council has 2,600 certified health coaches, including 128 in Florida, Bryant said.

Coaches differ from personal trainers in key ways, he said. Personal trainers focus on helping individuals with their exercise and physical activity. They conduct fitness assessments, then design exercise programs. Health coaches take a more holistic view and factor in what else is going on in clients’ lives, including work, family, stress levels and diet.

“Most people know what they should be doing,” Bryant said. “The secret sauce is to translate that knowledge into activity that leads to sustainable change.”

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