Lifestyle Coach: The Best Models and Exercises for Wiser Living

How satisfied are you with your life? How do you feel about making a difference in other people’s lives? Becoming a lifestyle coach doesn’t just impact your legacy. It also helps you grow. Every client teaches you something about who you are and how you live.

We all have areas of our lives that we want to improve for healthier and wiser living. A lifestyle coach leverages a suite of tools, often tested on themselves first, to guide people to make the changes they want and need.

Borrowing techniques from psychology and philosophy as well as health sciences and coaching methodologies, lifestyle coaches support clients to develop personalized strategies. From there, clients can define and implement their action plans to get the lifestyle their mind and body needs.

Human behavior is complex and no amount of telling people that they need to exercise or eat healthily will make them change their habits. Instead, partner with Quenza and encourage them to self-reflect through exercises and worksheets.

Why not see for yourself the vast library of activities that Quenza has for coaches to use with their clients? Sign up for the free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial to test just how much those activities encourage empowerment and self-discovery for true transformation.

What is a Lifestyle Coach?

Founded on counseling, psychotherapy and human development in general, coaches partner with clients. Through that partnership, clients learn how to enhance their fulfillment in life and overall effectiveness in managing it.

Just like any coach, a lifestyle coach will focus on goal-setting and defining concrete activities. In terms of lifestyle, this can cover physical health such as exercise or mental health such as how their way of living impacts their mental state [1].

The question now might be “What does a lifestyle coach do?” but also “How is this different to life coaching?”

In short, a life coach looks at where clients want to go and what goals they want to aim for. A lifestyle coach is more focused on the present state and how a client’s lifestyle is impacting their health and well-being.

See the table below for more similarities and differences between the lifestyle coach vs. life coach experience:

Lifestyle Coach

Life Coach

PurposeTakes a holistic view of the client’s values, strengths, beliefs and behaviors to enable them to take ownership of habit change for healthier living. Aside from the mind, the body, soul and environment or context are also incorporated. Focuses on specific issues within life including, but not limited to, relationships, finances, career and family.
RoleRemains client-led but with some element of raising awareness around what healthy living looks like.Also empowers the client and allows them to guide the work within the context of life goals.
SkillsRapport-building and interpersonal skills are the most important. Coaches also need to be excellent listeners with the ability and curiosity to ask powerful questions. The same skills as a lifestyle coach. Both coaches need to act as guides and not teachers so that clients take ownership.
MethodologiesLeverage psychotherapy and counseling theories as well as health sciences.Generally stay within coaching theories and techniques, applying psychotherapy and counseling where relevant.

The Path to Becoming a Lifestyle Coach

What is a lifestyle coach if not someone who guides others to eat, exercise and sleep in a balanced approach? At the core, that’s what it’s all about so it starts with the coach themselves. Coaches also often serve as role models to inspire and encourage their clients.

So, how to become a lifestyle coach starts by learning about health sciences including physiology, nutrition, exercise science and of course, well-being in general. Although, there is no set course, nor a regulated approach so lifestyle coaches can choose their own education.

Nevertheless, there are a growing number of organizations that offer lifestyle and coaching programs. For example, the University of North Texas provides an MS in Lifestyle Health Sciences and Coaching. This comprehensive course takes 1 year with 36 credits [2].

Another approach future lifestyle coaches can take is to look up accredited courses with the ICF or other life coaching organizations. Those courses are usually more general but are a good starting point for getting credibility in the industry. It’s then easy to add on shorter courses to gain lifestyle speciality.

One more option is to follow the psychologist / counselor – coach path. For example, Dr. Michael Arloski who wrote the book Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change is a licensed psychologist as well as a certified coach and certified wellness practitioner [1].

Finally, there are those that focus specifically on one area within lifestyle coaching such as fitness. Those coaches aren’t sports coaches who tend to be more directive in style. Instead, a fitness lifestyle coach also lets the client guide them but encourages an ongoing dialogue that shifts as the client’s commitments and schedule evolve [3].

Wheel of Needs 

As clients’ schedules evolve, a lifestyle Quenza coach could leverage this exercise at various check-ins throughout the journey. Clients can then visually analyze how their needs are shifting and changing. 

With all these choices, it can get overwhelming for a future coach. In that case, just like you might guide your future clients through goal-setting, you need to do your own vision and mission statements.

Motivational Vision Board

This Quenza exercise is a fun and inspiring way to picture your future goals. In essence, you get to implement your vision of what you, as a future coach, will look like.

What is Lifestyle Coaching?

If you look at how to become a lifestyle coach in terms of what you learn, as explained above, a lifestyle coach essentially guides, without directing, clients towards healthier living. 

Even the word coach is a metaphor to remind all coaches that they are only the vehicle and not the master. So, just as a person in times gone by would tell a coach driver where to go, today, clients tell their coaches their end goals. 

Although, the most experienced coaches are not too dissimilar from a wise guide or sage in that they simply listen and ask the right reflective question or provide metaphors at the right time. Some common metaphors that most people know are, for instance, cultivating change like you might a garden or tending the fire of motivation. Fire is often used to represent various human traits.

Metaphors work because, as fMRI studies have shown, they light up sensory parts of our brains. Essentially, when we hear metaphors, we’re connecting the mind and the body, which deepens our understanding while allowing the imagination to start making change happen [4].

Passengers on the Bus Metaphor

Quenza’s library has many metaphors for you to choose from including this one. A lifestyle coach can easily adapt this one to enable their clients to get to know how their barriers are affecting their lifestyle habits.

In summary, what does a lifestyle coach do? They leverage their interpersonal skills along with exercises and even games in some cases, to enable clients to make their own choices about how to change their lives for the better.

Within that, there’s the process of setting the framework and the pace both for the coach and the client. As part of this, all coaches ensure that they have a solid coaching agreement in place and clear goals defined by their clients. This can take several sessions to do properly, but clarifying goals is also a coaching experience for the client.

Once the goals are in place, each session becomes a mini-goal in itself to support the overarching goal. A lifestyle coach will then apply various models to let the clients see alternative viewpoints and new potential habits they could implement.

Lifestyle coaches can use any model they think will help their clients see new ways of being. As mentioned, these models usually originate from psychology, philosophy or health sciences.  Furthermore, notable wellness psychologists and experts have created models that lifestyle coaches often refer to, summarized in the table below [1]:

Table Summarizing Core Lifestyle/Wellness Models 

  Core ThemeStructureAuthor
 Ardell’s model Self-responsibility is the core tenet. The aim is to empower clients so that they feel in control of their wellness and healthSimilar to the wheel of life, there are 4 other dimensions to explore with clientsDr. Don Ardell, pioneer of the wellness movement 
 Hetler’s model The aim is to determine the optimal way to allocate resources to wellness and lifestyle choices There are 6 dimensions in total that give a slightly more “mental” balance with spirituality and emotional focus points includedDr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute
 Travis’ model Energy and energy flow are the central themes of this model There are 12 dimensions to explore with clients covering a wide range of domains. Dr. John Travis, physician and wellness expert
 Iceberg Model of Health & Disease A framework for uncovering the hidden lifestyle and social factors that influence health Coaches focus on the motivations, beliefs and values that underpin lifestyle choicesDeveloped by Dr. John Travis by building on the existing iceberg model of behavior and culture

Although, lifestyle change is most closely related to Abraham Maslow’s work and other humanist psychologists. Of course, in terms of the work required to change habits, you could just as easily refer to CBT. 

Nevertheless, the humanists had a huge influence in terms of the work they did to discover how to actually change behavior. In other words, clients can go through the CBT techniques, such as reframing, but they’ll leverage the desire to become self-actualized, as per the humanists. 

If you then look at wellness as a huge part of lifestyle change, this came from the humanists. CBT’s aim is to fix behaviors but the humanists took the stance that we all have the resources within us to live better lives. 

As such, lifestyle coaches leverage the deep, innate desire that humanists tell us we all have to become self-actualized. In other words, we all want a healthy and meaningful life but that doesn’t mean anything is broken [1].

The challenge for a lifestyle coach, and any coach, is to keep themselves healthy and constantly learning. The worst thing you can do as a coach is become stale or reuse the same exercises for years.

So, as a coach, keep yourself up to date with the latest developments and get creative with how you provide the most experiential coaching sessions you can.

Solution-Focused Guided Imagery

Visualization is always a great way to get experiential. This exercise from Quenza’s vast library lets clients work with their habits and wants at a deeper level.

Determining When to Hire a Lifestyle Coach

It’s up to all of us to decide when to get a lifestyle coach but each one of us can benefit from one. Such coaches can also artfully hold up the mirror to our bad habits that we’re either ignoring or twisting into untruths.

More specifically, you might want to get a lifestyle coach to help you with unhealthy habits or feeling stuck in a dead-end routine. You might also know that you need to exercise more but you can’t seem to find the motivation. Perhaps you’re also choosing to ignore your mortality such that your habits are destroying your health. All these are very common topics for lifestyle coaches.

When choosing between a lifestyle coach vs. life coach experience, the main question to ask is whether you have a specific life issue to work on or if it’s a more general change in approach that you need for life.

In terms of becoming a lifestyle coach and marketing yourself as one, you can probably see that the potential pool of target clients is vast. You need to focus on some niche groups where you can present yourself as the expert in, for example, “lifestyle change after divorce” or “lifestyle change after your 40s”, and so on.

Understanding Lifestyle Coaching Through Practical Illustrations

A multitude of lifestyle coaching examples exists across industries and a range of groups of people. Moreover, we now also have digital lifestyle coaching to reach even more people. For example, a 2022 study shows that ehealth lifestyle coaching made a significant impact on people living with obesity and working on weight loss [5].

Another 2021 study shows that lifestyle coaches have a central role to play in healthcare. Although, as the study explains, it’s up to the coach to develop their networks and find their place. Once they do, lifestyle coaching can make a major difference to people recovering from illness or injury [6].

Again, Dr. Michael Arloski in his book gives other examples but this time, in the corporate world. For many businesses, lifestyle coaching is a way to keep health costs down while also increasing employee engagement and productivity.

Naturally, most businesses will probably look up leadership or executive coaching first. They won’t always think about incorporating lifestyle coaching into their programs. Some still have the misconception that this topic is too “soft” or doesn’t apply in business. As any coach knows though, a leader can only be effective if they have a healthy body and a healthy mind [1].

As such, if you’re interested in targeting corporations, you might want to think about how to package lifestyle and leadership. The aim is to make sure that businesses can see the direct link to profits and employee care.

With all these examples, when to get a lifestyle coach might not be instantly obvious. In fact, coaches often see clients when it’s too late and they’ve already had burnout. So, professional coaches also have to educate their target customers. Coaches essentially need to show how the results fit with their customers’ needs and dreams.

Technological Assistance in Lifestyle Coaching

The lifestyle coaching examples that truly stand out are where clients have made long-lasting change. This goes beyond using a simple app to set reminders for healthy habits. It involves engaging the basal ganglia, or the part of our brains involved with memory, learning and routine, among other things. 

Self-reflection is one of the most powerful ways to challenge our basal ganglia, or set routines. It’s like asking yourself which path you will carve out to walk through a dense jungle. Each time you take that path, the easier it becomes to walk. Similarly, each time you challenge the basal ganglia, the more it wakes up to its new routine.

Digital tools can be a formidable ally when it comes to taking those new paths. Yes, you can set reminders but this time they are linked to a self-reflection question or vision statement.

Strengths Self-Reflective Questions

For example, this Quenza activity walks clients through reflecting on their strengths and how they support them in their activities. A lifestyle coach can apply this exercise on creating new habits.

Quenza isn’t just one of the many lifestyle coaching softwares available. It’s one of the few that provides exercises and worksheets. Moreover, you can compile them into tailored sequences, or pathways, to structure your clients’ journeys. 

Realizing Long-Lasting Change by Setting Process Goals

For example, this Quenza activity is a great way to start habit change followed by perhaps the Self-Care Promise exercise. Together these set up the foundation for implementing new exercise regimes, eating non-processed food, making time for nature and other nourishing body/mind activities your client might highlight.

The power of having a platform like Quenza is that coaches are in constant connection with their clients. It can be so motivating to share moments of joy or even pain with a coach and the chat function in Quenza allows for that perfectly.

The other advantage is that Quenza allows you to store all the intake and feedback documentation securely within each client’s portal area. Goal tracking and session scheduling become much easier and coaches can spend more time with their clients rather than doing admin work.

After all, that’s the goal for any coach: to make back-office life easy and to maximize client engagement.

Making an Impact as A Lifestyle Coach

Sometimes it takes a terrifying shift in health to trigger people to reach out to a lifestyle coach. Rather than wait for the heart surgery or the workaholic’s divorce to go through, lifestyle coaches can impact real change in people and communities.

As a lifestyle coach, define your ideal client, get networking and perhaps even partner with fitness gyms or health spas. Either way, show people how a few changes in lifestyle can give them better health for longer as well as more control over their habits.

With Quenza as one of the top lifestyle coaching softwares out there, you also have an array of exercises at your fingertips to enable clients with that inner search needed to trigger real change.

See for yourself by signing up for the free, full-access, one-month $1-only trial and join this industry as a uniquely creative and experiential coach. Your clients will thank you and more importantly, they’ll keep coming back.


  1. ^ Arloski, M. (2014). Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change (2nd ed.). Whole Person Associates, Inc.
  2. ^ University of North Texas. (n.d.). M.S. Lifestyle Health Sciences and Coaching. Retrieved from:
  3. ^ Gavin, J. (2005). Lifestyle Fitness Coaching. Versa Press.
  4. ^ Desai, R. H., Howeverton, O., & Lai, V. T. (2019). Concrete processing of action metaphors: Evidence from ERP. Brain Research. Retrieved from:
  5. ^ Brandt, C. J., Christensen, J. R., Hesseldal, L., Jakobsen, P. R., Laursen, D. H., Lauridsen, J. T., Nielsen, J. B., Olesen, T. B., Olsen, M. H., & Søndergaard, J. (2022). Long-term Weight Loss in a Primary Care–Anchored eHealth Lifestyle Coaching Program: Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 24(9), e39741. doi: 10.2196/39741.
  6. ^ Gerards, S. M. P. L., van de Goor, Kremers, S. P. J., I. A. M., Mercken, L., van Rinsum, C. E., Rutten, G. M., et al. (2021). Lifestyle coaches as a central professional in the health care network? Dynamic changes over time using a network analysis. BMC Health Services Research, 21, 247.

About the author

Anne is a coach-counselor with a background in neuroscience, mindfulness, Gestalt therapy, and adult developmental theory.

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