During the last 25 years, we’ve certified over 110,000 professionals. To celebrate our 25th year in business, we’re selecting 25 grads to showcase this year. Meet our next featured grad, Allison Wells, an AFPA Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, who's been certified with us for several years and has used to her certification to build a successful nutrition and personal training business.
How did you originally become interested in health, nutrition, and fitness?
I have always been interested in health and fitness. I come from a very health conscious family and was always an athlete, so it was always something that I really enjoyed learning about. Initially, I thought that I would get into personal training and nutrition as a side job, but the more I studied, the more I realized that this was really what I wanted to do full-time.
Why did you decide to pursue a nutrition certification?
I had been a personal trainer for two years, and I was becoming increasingly interested in nutrition. I was noticing a lot of trainers talking to their clients about nutrition, but they didn't have the credentials to back up their advice. I thought I would go for my master's to become a registered dietitian eventually, but then I decided I would go through the certification process to become a certified nutritionist first. I found that I really enjoyed more of the one-on-one counseling part and not so much being in a clinical environment, which would have been the case if I had gone the dietitian route. So, I found that becoming a certified nutritionist fit exactly what I was looking for.
What was the process like to get your Nutrition and Wellness Consultant Certification?
The course was very well rounded. AFPA gives you the nutrition information, but they also provide training on a lot of counseling methods for how to work with people. I find that there are a lot of health trends and information out there, so it can be really confusing. Learning the actual science behind our bodies and how food works with our bodies was great.
What was your favorite part about the program?
I think with a one-on-one business, it's really important to be taught the counseling methods because that can be something that you are not taught on your own. You learn nutrition, and you might learn a lot about food, but to actually be taught how to deal with someone, because everybody has their own set of issues, and to learn how to work with those people and whatever their personal problems or goals might be—that was my favorite aspect.
What is your career now?
Prior to receiving my nutrition certification, I had been a personal trainer for two years. I was working mostly for other gyms, so I was not independent yet. Now I am a completely independent personal trainer and a nutritionist and wellness consultant. On a day-to-day basis, I work one-on-one with clients in personal training and/or nutrition. After meeting with nutrition clients, I do work in my home office where I create client meal plans, write up notes, and determine what's the best plan of action for them. I've also had the opportunity to do health and wellness seminars and live cooking demos, so it's been really cool to be able to branch out from just doing one-on-one nutrition.
How did your career change after you got your certification?
Once I became certified with AFPA as a nutrition and wellness consultant, I was pretty much immediately hired to be an in-house nutritionist for one of the gyms that I was working for. There weren't a lot of people who were personal trainers and also certified nutritionists, so it gave me a leg up on some of the people that I was working with. Other trainers also started referring their personal training clients to me for nutrition because I was certified. It opened up a lot of doors for me to work with really specific demographics of different people.
How has your income changed since getting certified?
It's a kind of an industry standard to know that you can charge more for nutrition one-on-one than you can for personal training. Working with nutrition clients has definitely increased my income. I've also been brought onto larger projects as an in-house wellness nutrition consultant, so those were great opportunities that I did not have prior to being a nutritionist.
What advice do you have for anyone considering getting into health, nutrition, and fitness?
If you're really interested in what you're doing and you're motivated to follow through with whatever it is that you really love, then you have a launching pad to do anything. For me, that was an opportunity to actually have my own business. Now, I have these tools in my pocket, and I’m using that motivation to create what I really wanted to do with my career. Getting certified through AFPA taught me how to be self-motivated, and that's really important when you start your own business. Nobody's going to tell you to get up in the morning and hustle or to work on getting clients. I think that applies to when you decide to get certified or go for any sort of higher education. You have to really want it, and you have to have that drive. And that's something that is very definitely applicable to having your own business too.
What’s your favorite thing about working in nutrition?
The best thing for me about working in the nutrition and wellness industry is the one-on-one relationships. I love nutrition. I love teaching people. I love cooking. I love all of that. But really, it's about connecting with people. It's an intimate environment. I mean, people are telling you a lot of very personal things about their life, some of their vulnerabilities, and their goals. It's really something that I feel really grateful to be a part of these journeys with people.
You’ve been certified for several years with AFPA. What was the recertification process like?
I recertify my nutrition and wellness consultant certification every two years. It's a good opportunity to not only learn some new things but also get back to the fundamentals. There are a lot of health trends, diets, and fads out there. So, getting the recertification is like re-educating myself on what the actual truth is behind nutrition and what works. It inspires me. Each time I recertify, I'm taking different courses and learning different things. So, it allows me to get more motivated for my clients.
What was your experience like with AFPA?
My experience with the AFPA customer service team and educational advisors has been really phenomenal. I really feel like there are people on the other end of the communication and there are people that really care, in a really personal way, answering my questions specifically, trying to help me out because they really want me to succeed. That's what I really appreciate. This isn't just to a company that you're giving your money to. They want you to succeed, and you can feel that.
I would definitely recommend AFPA to others. It feels like a small company, but it is a nationally accredited organization that holds a lot of clout in any industry and certainly in the health and wellness industry. They update their material frequently, so you're always learning new things. There are a lot of options out there for different certifications for health, wellness, nutrition, and personal training, and it can be very confusing. I believe that if you are looking for a company that really has your back and that really wants you to succeed, AFPA is a great company for that.