After working as an R.N. in cardio/medical intensive care and then leaving the hospital setting to be a stay-at-home mom, Alison Allman knew when she reentered the workforce that she would rather focus on keeping people healthy and out of the hospital. “I wanted to work on the preventive side of health and wellness, so that’s when I became a personal trainer, certified through the National Strength & Conditioning Association,” Allman says. Allman, who also has an advanced certification as a health specialist through the American College of Sports Medicine, has been in the industry for the last 10 years, eight with Wellbridge as a personal trainer.
While keeping her day job at Wellbridge, where she started its S.T.A.R. (Stairway To Action and Results) coaching program, Allman also is now helping others to establish healthy living practices through her new business endeavor, Pyramid Health Coaching. “Instead of me telling them what to do during a workout session at the gym, health coaching is a new strategy to help people make behavior changes that are lasting.”
Typically, Allman says a visit to the doctor can prompt many to realize that lifestyle modifications are needed. “The doctor tells you that you need to start exercising and lose weight, and then you walk out of that office wondering, What do I do now?” she says. “And that’s when my role as a coach comes in—I am there to help people understand where they are now and where they would like to be. We then design a road map to help them get down that road to their healthiest self.”
Allman points out that when changes are made based on one’s own value system, then people understand why good health is important. “I ask them how they see themselves at their healthiest, and many times, their response is weight loss or a desire for stress reduction, work-life balance or increased energy,” she notes, adding that health coaching is based on a pyramid, and at its base are values. “That’s the basis of our coaching: trying to get people to get in touch with the most important things in their life.”
After determining why a client wants to be healthy, Allman and the client establish obtainable weekly goals. “We take small steps that lead to sustained healthy changes, because a lot of people make a New Year’s resolution every year and say, I want to lose 10 pounds. When they really connect that resolution with what we call The Big Why, then they are more successful,” she explains. “We look at why is it important to them? Is it because they want to look good? Well, why do they want to look good? Will it improve their self-esteem? Does it make them feel better? Eventually people make the connection, and they begin to feel passionate about it.”
According to Allman, most people are fully aware of what’s wrong with their diet and lifestyle. “It’s usually not a mystery to them. They just don’t know how to not do it anymore. So we talk about what they perceive they need to do and then we develop strategies to make those changes.”
Allman looks at health and wellness coaching as a part of the whole life coaching field. “We’re all helping people make some kind of positive modifications,” she says. “For me, I am really targeting long-lasting, sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes. Partnering with the client is really how I think of it.”