Hiring a nutrition coach at your gym can be a great way to increase revenue for your business. Unfortunately, many gym owners make the mistake of allowing one of their fitness instructors coach their members on nutrition in an effort to save time or money. You wouldn’t hire someone lacking the proper education to train your members on fitness. So why would you let anyone other than a certified nutrition coach, nutritionist or registered dietician train your members on nutrition?
Allowing uncertified staff to coach nutrition at your gym can be a huge liability and risk to your business. There are rules and regulations (see below) regarding the legality of what nutrition advice can be offered and by whom. That’s why you must make sure to you’re hiring a nutrition coach with the proper certifications, experience, and skills. We recommend the following five areas to evaluate potential nutrition coaches for your gym:
1. Formal Education Or Certification In Nutrition
Firstly, you must research and take into account the laws that your state has regarding nutritional advocacy. If you reside in a red state, you may only be able to hire a Registered Dietician (RD) for your business. Orange, yellow and green states also have individualized criteria that you are required to adhere to. Additionally, different certifications and licensures provide a different scope of practice. It’s important to select a nutrition coach that is certified based on the services you wish to provide to your members.
For instance, if you are looking for someone to provide basic nutritional guidelines then you may be looking for a “health coach”. In contract, if you are looking for someone to work with members who have more advanced needs, such as chronic diseases that may be affected by a diet change, then you’ll need someone with more credentials. Some of the more well-known types of nutrition certifications, licenses and credentials include:
- A Bachelors or Masters Degree in Nutrition or related field
- Licensed Registered Dietician (RD) or Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN)
- Precision Nutrition Certifications
- NASM CNC Certified Nutrition Coach
- ISSA Nutritionist Certification
- ACE (American Council on Exercise) Fitness Nutrition Specialist
2. Leadership Skills
Credentials aside, a nutrition coach that will make your nutrition program valuable will also be a passionate and dedicated leader. Your new nutrition coach will likely be building the nutrition program from scratch and will have to take the lead on multiple initiatives to get the program up and running.
Furthermore, a good nutrition coach should also lead the way in that they practice what they preach. A coach should lead by example by practicing good nutritional habits themselves. This doesn’t mean that your nutrition coach has to be a fitness model just like being a fitness model does not qualify that person to dispense nutritional advice. However, in the same sense that your fitness coaches are practicing fitness safely your nutrition coaches should be practicing proper nutrition.
3. Interpersonal Skills
A good nutrition coach should not only be knowledgeable but also compassionate, patient and empathetic. Nutrition isn’t always the most easy or exciting topic for people to teach or to learn. Therefore, it’s important that your nutrition coach is able to make the subject interesting and engaging. Finding a prospective nutrition coach who is able to plan and hold events such as nutrition challenges will ensure the longevity of your nutrition program. Similarly, your nutrition coach should align with your core values and business goals.
4. Work Experience
If potential nutrition coach candidates have the credentials and the skills but lack the experience you can still evaluate their ability to work well with others. A good coach will have a track record of experience working both closely and well others. Look for someone who has a genuine interest and passion for helping people. Likewise, they should be an effective communicator and understand that communication is important to the success of their clients.
5. Compensation Expectations
Nutrition coaching is a professional service, so you might charge additional fees for this service in addition to your general membership prices. What you charge for nutrition coaching will vary depending on the degree of service. However, a general rule of thumb is it should be similar to what you would charge hourly for personal or group training depending on the credentials of the nutrition coach. Additionally, it’s important to have a plan in place for how you will compensate your nutrition coach before you decide on prices.
One option is to partner with an established external nutritionist. In this case, you might offer them an 80/20 profit split to work with your members. This arrangement is mutually beneficial as the nutritionist would have access to your members and you would not have to invest financially in an internal hire. Alternatively, you could offer hourly rates in addition to or in place of an 80/20 arrangement. Compensating your coach for running seminars, writing informational articles, and hosting events for your members will provide value for your nutrition services and give your nutrition coach additional ways to earn money.
If you can afford to hire a nutrition coach full-time then you have the potential to build out a formal nutrition program at your gym. This will allow you the ability to include nutritional consultations and plans as a part of membership fees, increasing your membership value. Furthermore, your nutrition coach can provide value by also coach fitness classes, working at the front desk, cleaning the gym, etc.
Time To Hire Your Nutrition Coach
Now that you know what to look for when hiring a nutrition coach the next step is to put together a nutrition coach job description based on the above criteria. Remember to review potential candidates for certifications and credentials, leadership skills, interpersonal skills, work experience, and compensation expectations. Once you’re ready to post the job consider sharing it within your own gym community first. Inside your own network is an easy and trustworthy place to find referrals and prime candidates for an outstanding nutrition coach for your gym.