Are you an owner trying to figure out how to start a nutrition program in a gym? Do you want to provide your clients with ongoing nutrition support, but you don’t know how to get started?
Even health based practices such as chiropractors, physical therapists and even doctors offices can benefit from providing clients with a way to work on their health through nutrition coaching.
Properly fueling the body and getting enough sleep are the top two ways to stay healthy.
Did you know that 36% of the population in the United States is obese? I see our role as fitness professionals changing to also include wellness. If we can provide our clients with the education and resources necessary to learn how to properly fuel their bodies and get enough sleep, our impact on the healthcare system could be profound.
About 4 years ago I was that gym owner looking for a way to help my clients live a long and healthy life. I had the fitness training down, but I had no way to legally provide nutrition coaching to my clients. After countless hours of scouring local registered dietitian listings with no luck, I finally found Healthy Steps Nutrition online. Since that time, my gym has helped over 100 people lose weight and learn to live a healthier lifestyle.
Check out Will! He joined our nutrition and fitness coaching program in August of 2022 and has lost 25 pounds. Not only has our program helped him lose weight, but it’s helped him refocus his life to be more purpose driven.
Helping people live longer is the primary focus of our nutrition coaching program, but on top of this, it also brings in between 10-15% of our total revenue each month.
I want the same for you!
In this article I will discuss how to start a successful nutrition coaching program in a gym or wellness facility. You will learn how to build your business into a house of wellness that promotes optimal health and fights chronic disease.
If you want a quick summary of how HSN Mentoring can help you, watch this quick video from owner and founder, Nicole Aucoin.
What Is A Nutrition Coaching Program In A Gym?
A nutrition coaching program is a structured program offered in house to your clients or members that provides ongoing nutrition and wellness support. Oftentimes gym owners or wellness centers are having many “informal” conversations around nutrition and its importance, however nothing longterm or structured is provided.
Many times we will see nutrition challenge after nutrition challenge being offered to clients. People sign up and lose a ton of weight which is amazing. But, participants end up eventually gaining back all the weight they lost during the challenge because there is no ongoing support afterwards.
As a Fitness Or Wellness Facility Owner - Our Role Is To Help People Stay Healthy & Live A Long Life
Nutrition is a BIG piece, however, looking holistically at human lives is just as important because SO MUCH goes into nutrition choices. We need to provide a program with a framework that helps clients learn healthy habits one at a time. This framework includes addressing these physical and mental states:
We will be using a habit based holistic approach with our coaching. As James Clear says, “All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger.”
Macro counting has its place, but not in the beginning stages of a clients journey. The majority of new clients coming to your program are barely going to be drinking enough water each day. Asking them to accurately measure, weigh and log food is going to lead to burnout, frustration and failure.
Our program must be ongoing and not stop after a nutrition challenge or kickstart ends. Accountability and encouragement go a long way for many people. Accountability is what they need to rely on until they form the habits needed to maintain their health on their own.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
The Process To Starting A Nutrition Coaching Program
After making the decision to start a nutrition coaching program, we need to ask ourselves why the program is valuable to us and to clients. Discovering and systematically reviewing the answers to this question will help guide us in the right direction when building and maintaining our nutrition program.
We do this by looking at the “4 R’s”.
Is our program providing….
Results and Client Transformations
Is everybody winning? Are clients getting results from your program? If so – they are happier and healthier than when they started. The nutrition coach is happy because they have lived out their passion of improving a life and are getting paid to do what they love.
Retention & Client Engagement
Are clients sticking around? Getting an initial client is not too hard. Keeping clients long term is much harder. Constantly evaluating our processes and ensuring we are continuing to provide results and transformations will help ensure retention and client engagement.
Is our nutrition program bringing in the revenue we want it to? If not – then we need to look back on the results and client transformations we are getting. Doing so can help us determine why we are low on retention which is causing our low revenue.
If we are providing results, transformations and engagement, then our clients will be referring their friends and family to us. Over 50% of the clients in my nutrition program are from current client referrals!
Next let’s lay out the steps necessary to implement and run our program from a business standpoint.
Step 1 -Structure: Determine Your Nutrition Coaching Packages
If you are a fitness and nutrition gym there are going to be a couple different ways you can onboard a new client into your nutrition program.
A nutrition coaching only membership
A nutrition and fitness coaching membership
We highly recommend that there are two tiers or levels of membership that you offer. The difference between the two is solely based on accountability with the higher accountability plan being the most expensive.
The packages below are indicative of what Healthy Steps Nutrition offers in their facility.
Individual Nutrition Coaching Only Memberships - 3 Month Commitment
Membership Option 1 Higher Accountability – Ranging from $249 – $299/month
Initial consultation with a certified nutrition coach where we check biometrics
Monthly Inbody scan and progress assessments
Access to our exclusive HSN app
Individualized nutrition plan
Healthy cookbook and recipes
Weekly virtual check ins with your nutrition coach
Weekly calls with your nutrition coach or in person meetings every other week
Membership Option 2 Lower Accountability – Ranging from $149 – $199/month
Everything listed above except the accountability goes from weekly calls and in person check ins to weekly virtual check ins with your nutrition coach and one in person meeting per month
Ongoing Membership Option 3 – After The 3 Month Commitment
Clients move into “phase 2” after their initial 3 month commitment of the nutrition coaching program. This is typically at the lower level of accountability. With that said, we have many clients that chose to stay with the higher accountability plan, even after their initial 3 month commitment.
Nutrition And Fitness Coaching Memberships - 3 Month Commitment
No matter what kind of gym you own, when a new client has health and fitness goals, a great way to get them started is a with a 12 week or 90 day transformation. With this front end offer, typically clients will get a nutrition coach, a personal training coach and group classes.
12 Week or 90 Day Transformation – High Accountability ranging from $399 – $499/month
4 personal training sessions with a certified personal trainer to learn the movements found in group class, and to become acclimated with the gym
An initial consultation and health assessment with your certified nutrition coach
Monthly In Person meeting that includes an Inbody scan, goal setting and progress assessments
Unlimited small group fitness class
Open gym daily
Access to the exclusive HSN app
Individualized nutrition plan
Weekly virtual nutrition check in with your nutrition coach
Calls weekly with your nutrition coach
12 Week or 90 Day Transformation – Standard Accountability ranging from $299 – $399/month
The client receives everything they get with the high accountability plan except the accountability changes. It goes from weekly calls and in person check ins to weekly virtual check ins with the nutrition coach.
These packages can be modified and priced to fit the offerings in your facility but the main takeaway is that clients start with a 3 month commitment, have two options of accountability, and move into ongoing support after their initial 3 month phase.
Wellness Membership – Nutrition and Fitness coach ranging from $199 – $499/month
Clients move from their initial 3 month nutrition coaching commitment to monthly ongoing support at the accountability level they choose.
In addition, clients are also members of the gym either doing group class or personal training. The Price point is higher if the client chooses to do personal training
Now Let’s Talk About Existing Gym Members
Existing clients coming into the nutrition coaching program at the gym typically become nutrition coaching clients when you run a nutrition challenge and then they move into ongoing support after the challenge. Another point of entry is that they learned about the program from you or your staff and they will start with one of the options listed above.
What is important to remember is that an existing gym member starting new in the nutrition program is required to start with a 3 month commitment, just like all brand new clients starting out.
Step 2 - Find A Great Fit To Run Your Nutrition Coaching Program
Finding someone that has an amazing personality is so much more important than finding an actual person with nutrition coaching experience. As long as the candidate is upbeat, enthusiastic, empathetic, loves nutrition and has a passion to help people, the education and ensuring this person becomes a certified nutrition coach is the easy part.
Who Makes a Great Nutrition Coach?
We have found that people in caretaking fields make great coaches.
Current fitness coaches or personal trainers in your facility
Where To Find A Nutrition Coach
The first place I always look when hiring a coach is inside my facility. If I don’t have any fitness coaches that want to become nutrition coaches, I send an email and post in our private Facebook group the opening that we have. Potentially you may have a member or a members friend or family member that could be interested in the role.
In addition to looking internally we post our job openings in these places:
Facebook and Instagram feeds
Facebook Jobs posting
We contact local colleges and universities
Local public boards at coffee shops and the libraries
Finding a nutrition coach to help with this program is huge. A lot of gym owners nutrition programs fail because they think they can run the program alone without a coach. Although it is possible to do this, I can tell you from personal experience that having a coach to take leadership of the program makes all the difference.
As owners we have too many hats to wear to focus on growing one program alone. With a nutrition coach running the program you will help more clients and make more money in the long run. The growth of the program will not be limited by the limited time you have to put into it.
Step 3 - Train Current Staff About The Nutrition Coaching Program
Nutrition clients come out of the woodwork when your entire staff is on the same page with the nutrition program. Just because a staff member isn’t a nutrition coach and has no nutrition knowledge doesn’t mean they can’t promote and be a big supporter.
As soon as the owner and nutrition coach have training and back end work done for the program a staff meeting must be called. In the staff meeting it’s imperative to introduce the program to current staff and also give them a role in promoting the nutrition program!
If the program is being launched with a challenge – all staff must participate in the challenge. Otherwise a great way to show social proof and intro the program to your facility is to have one of the personal training or group class coaches complete the 12 week program and document the process through social media and internal sources. At my gym, all coaches have gone through a challenge or have taken part in the nutrition programs ongoing coaching.
Current staff must:
Know how to get a client signed up for a free intro with the nutrition coach
Have basic knowledge about the philosophy of the program;
In person meetups
There is an exclusive app
You can contact your nutrition coach through the app outside of your in person check ins
Everything is individualized to work on the things you need to work on
Be able to provide current and new clients with motivation to start thinking about nutrition
Promote ONLY the facilities nutrition program to clients (some gyms have coaches promoting and talking about other nutrition coaching programs they are taking part in rather than the gyms program – not cool)
If you have someone apart from the owner or nutrition coach doing free intro’s or new client consults it’s important they are talking about signing up for the options that include nutrition first. These options are going to get the client results the fastest which will get them healthy and keep them around longer.
Ensuring this sales person is trained and has the resources with these options laid out for them clearly to present to clients is key. As an owner, role playing these conversations with sales staff is huge.
“Projecting” is a common behavior seen in many sales roles. Because the actual team member can’t afford the service they are offering, they project those feelings on the potential client and skip over the higher priced options simply because of price. Getting past this is important and key to the success of the program. Offering what the client needs vs offering what the coach thinks they can afford is the place we want to be in.
Creating a sales binder with testimonials, client transformations and the options to sign up clearly laid out helps the sales person stay on track and feel confident.
With everybody on your staff speaking the same language – more clients will begin to believe that the program can help them.
At Healthy Steps Nutrition and my gym, we love to see 50% of the clients coming into the fitness facility signing up for a nutrition and fitness coach!
Step 4 - Make Nutrition A Consistent Message At Your Facility
Now that all staff members are on board and up to speed with the program – it’s time to start spreading the word. New facilities have an easier job of getting clients on board with the nutrition program because the message will be there from day one.
If being fitness experts and talking about the perfect workout have been the facilities primary focus over the last few years, then incorporating conversations about proper nutrition, mental health and meal planning may take a bit of work for people to catch on to.
This being said, consistency is key. Wether you launch your program with a challenge or not, sending a consistent message moving forward will slowly change the culture to include nutrition as a primary focus.
At my gym we do nutrition questions of the week in our private facebook group, myself and our coaches make a weekly video about nutrition, we have a nutrition board on a wall in our gym showing a recipe of the week plus a QR code linking to a free intro sign up. We also have client success pictures in our sales office that we call “The Wall of Success”.
Step 5 - Create A Content Engine
It’s not enough to only share your message internally. Owners need to create a content engine by sharing their program and telling their story on all social platforms. The world needs to begin to see you as the nutrition coaching experts.
If a client refers her friend, and the friend goes to social media to check the gym out but there is nothing about nutrition to be seen, what message does that send? Versus if the friend goes to social media, sees a TON of client success story pictures, infographics with nutrition tips and short videos from the nutrition coach, they will feel confident with their choice to book a free intro.
If clients feel like they already know you and what you provide before the free into, conversion will be much easier.
What Does Our Content Engine Look Like?
Post on Instagram both personal and professional
Share posts to our stories and ask staff to do the same
Upload videos and success stories to our YouTube channel
Send emails to our entire mailing list about nutrition with a video link in the email either to our YouTube or Instagram/Facebook post
Post our video and social links to our gym software workout page
Create blogs with video links that we share to Facebook groups
We make video a part of our email sequence
Take advantage of Instagram reels!
Wrapping It Up & My Experience With Healthy Steps Nutrition Mentoring
There is a lot that goes into running a successful nutrition coaching program in your gym. This article has just scratched the surface but has hopefully helped clarify the process for you and has given some insight on where to begin, or places you need to make changes.
In 2017 when I realized the lack of nutrition habits and nutrition knowledge was what was holding a lot of my strength training clients back, I knew I had to implement a nutrition program.
It wasn’t until I found Healthy Steps Nutrition and purchased the nutrition coaching program that I was able to systematically provide nutrition support to my clients.
Our program currently sits at between $2900 – $3500 in revenue per month when we don’t have a workplace wellness engagement or challenge going on. Revenue is much higher when we run these programs.
If you are interested in finding out more about how to set up a nutrition program in your gym, book a free call!
Simplicity is something all gym owners need and if you were to decide to move forward, the training process is amazing!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do We Test Biometrics?
We want to test biometrics monthly and we use an Inbody. Bioelectrical impedance readings need to be done before a workout.
If There Are Multiple Nutrition Coaches, How Do You Determine Who Gets What Clients
At my facility we rotate who gets clients signing up for nutrition between our 3 coaches, unless personality or schedule conflicts.
Do You See Teenage Clients And Kids
Unless you have a certification to see this demographic then having clients under the age of 18 is not permitted. Healthy Steps Nutrition has a Teen & Kids Certification Course which I have taken. This has provided me with the opportunity to provide nutrition coaching to many families, kids and teenagers.
Am I Legally Allowed To Provide Nutrition Services Without The Use Of A Dietitian?
Unfortunately some states do not regulate who can provide nutrition coaching or advice. Because of this, so much mis information and confusion around nutrition and “diets” in general is published on social media and the web.
Check your state guidelines here. Many individual RD’s & nutrition coaches use the Healthy Steps Nutrition framework and mentoring services to help them run their programs. Because our service is a turn key solution, the only thing the practitioner has to worry about is seeing their clients. All business SOP’s, social media, nutrition coach training & evaluations plus continuing education opportunities are taken care of with your mentorship.