Lindsey Passaic

Job title Wellness Coach

Employer VitalityHealth

Lindsey Passaic, Wellness Coach at VitalityHealth

Hi Lindsey, can you tell us what a Wellness Coach is and does?
A wellness coach helps individuals or groups achieve a healthy lifestyle through expert programming and advice around nutrition, exercise and mental wellbeing. Some coaches specialise in a specific area of wellness, but I believe in pursuing a holistic approach as diet, fitness and mindset are all inextricably linked!

How did you become a Wellness Coach for VitalityHealth?
My journey to becoming a Wellness Coach has been quite circuitous! When I left university I joined a US teaching programme called Teach For America. My interest in wellness was sparked while I was part of this unique and challenging two-year teaching commitment. Despite being a reading and maths teacher, I became passionate about educating my students about nutrition and would always integrate nutrition themes into their standard curriculum. Equally, I was also interested in the work-life balance of teachers and started developing eating and fitness habits to help relieve my own work related stress and that of my colleagues.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself in France, where I was still teaching, but also baking up a storm after work to unwind from job stress. Many macarons later, I took a big leap and decided to swap my teaching career to pursue professional baking. I earned a diploma from one of Paris’s top patisserie schools. I loved my schooling, but much to my dismay I discovered half way through the programme that I could no longer eat wheat – a near catastrophe in the land of baguettes!

“I earned a series of qualifications, worked with industry experts and most importantly, practised in the field working with clients in 1-2-1 and in larger group settings.”

My Celiac diagnosis combined with my continued interest in fitness took me down a path of exploring my own wellbeing. My self-discovery led me to believe that I could in fact use my work skills, present circumstances and seemingly unconnected life experiences to build a career as a wellbeing advocate. I earned a series of qualifications, worked with industry experts and most importantly, practised in the field working with clients in 1-2-1 and in larger group settings.

Now I have the privilege of working with Vitality members to help them achieve wellbeing using the benefits and rewards embedded in the Vitality programme.

What qualifications does a wellness coach need?
I think every wellness coach probably has a different answer to this question, but to me it’s about qualities not qualifications. A coach can have a hundred certificates, but if they don’t know how to connect to clients, establish rapport and develop relationships than those are empty certifications. Wellness coaching is not a one-size fits all profession so it makes sense that there’s not one qualification that can make you a good coach. For me and many other coaches, it’s about building on one’s life experiences to create learning environments that inspire people to achieve their best self.

“I earned a series of qualifications, worked with industry experts and most importantly, practised in the field working with clients in 1-2-1 and in larger group settings.”

What advice would you give your younger self?
‘Stay the course! Eventually this will all make sense!’ When I entered university I thought I was going to be a large animal vet! I thought my education and career track was set in stone. Chemistry lab made me second guess that path and the road hasn’t been straight since! My work experiences post-school have been challenging, fun, stressful, exciting and scary at times, but no two have ever been the same. It used to worry me that I wasn’t on a straight and narrow path, but I now understand how my interests and passions have woven themselves together to get me where I am today. I don’t second guess any of it!

What opportunities are there in wellness coaching in 2018?
The field of wellness is so diverse that there are endless opportunities in the years ahead. Personally, I am excited about bringing wellness to kids and exploring how we can instil wellness principles from a young age, making health and happiness part and parcel of our lives rather than something we only explore out of necessity when we’re adults. I think there’s a growing need to take wellness coaching into our communities and schools and explore how we make it engaging for young people, especially with the amazing advancements in technology, like AI and gamification.

Wellness is a big thing at the moment, are you noticing a bigger demand for people wanting to look after themselves?
Absolutely, 100%! Taking care of ourselves has never been more popular. But more and more there’s a shift happening from looking after our physical selves to what’s on the inside. You can see evidence of this important transition with the explosion of mindfulness programmes entering the wellness space. People are taking more time to focus on their mental health, which will have positive repercussions in homes and workplaces across the country.

“I think there’s a growing need to take wellness coaching into our communities and schools and explore how we make it engaging for young people, especially with the amazing advancements in technology, like AI and gamification.”

How do you keep up with the constantly changing worlds of health and fitness?
Despite being inundated daily by wellbeing information, I make it a top priority to champion basic, scientifically backed habits that improve people’s health – not hugely exciting, but these habits work and have proven results. It’s really easy to get mixed up in fads and quick fixes, so one of my most important roles is helping clients wade through all the mixed messaging that’s out there. That doesn’t mean new information is incorrect information, it just means I follow up ‘what’s hot’ by doing my due diligence by reading medical papers, reviewing studies and staying up to speed with the material coming out of accredited research institutions.