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, Stephanie Sands, an AFPA Certified Health & Wellness Coach, who has grown her coaching business with the help of AFPA.How did your interest and passion for health and wellness begin?
Growing up, I had always had an unhealthy relationship with food, moving from one new diet fad to the next and never having a concern for what I was putting into my body, just obsessing over the outcome of the physical appearance. After treating my body pretty poorly in my twenties from binge eating and drinking, it started to take a toll on me mentally and physically. The scale was climbing, I was having extreme anxiety, and I just didn’t feel good in my own skin. I decided I wanted to make a change and focus on getting my body healthy rather than what society deems as “perfect.”
Why did you decide to pursue a certification in the health/nutrition/field?
After having a health coach myself through the allinbyteddi program, I decided I wanted to look more into the field to help others with their health journeys. I also became really interested in how the body works and the nutrition behind the foods we put in our bodies. As I began to feel positive changes through my own journey, I craved learning more.
Was there some kind of life-changing event that directed you to start on the health and wellness path?
I am at the point in my life where I want to start a family. I decided, if I wanted to bring a child into this world, then I wanted to be the best example for him/her.
What made you particularly interested in the Health & Wellness Coach certification?
I felt having an accountability coach myself really helped me through my fitness/health transformation, so I wanted to be able to do the same for others. I feel it’s so easy to put a program out there, but what people really need is that person that is going to be there for them, as a sort of training wheels, and then those wheels can slowly be taken off.
Why did you choose AFPA as your certifying organization?
I loved how AFPA was not pushy in getting you to sign up for the program; they leave it to the individual. (A lot of programs out there feel like a scam when they are always emailing you, trying to sell you on their programs.) I also love how AFPA is accredited and how the programs are all self-paced, which worked well for me with a full-time job.
What was the certification process like for you?
AFPA made it easy by sending out a course schedule of your work. Even though it was a lot of information, the way it was broken down made it digestible and easy to keep up with.
What was your favorite part about the program? Why?
I loved how the program offers great reads along with the textbooks. Textbooks can be dry, so it was nice that they incorporated renowned authors and current bestsellers into their program.
Where were you in your health/fitness career prior to receiving your certification?
Prior to receiving my certification, I was thinking about starting my own health coaching business and felt I needed to be certified in order to put the best program out there to help clients.
What do you do now?
I currently am still working a full-time job as a project manager for a technology company, but I run a wellness program (Stephi Paige Wellness LLC) on the side, where I work with clients daily to achieve their fitness and health goals. I hope to eventually transition to Stephi Paige Wellness full time.
How did receiving your certification change your career?
My certification gave me the confidence and knowledge that I needed to take the next step in starting my LLC.
How are you implementing what you’ve learned in your life/career?
The program gave me great tools to utilize when working with clients, from intake form help to case studies.
Have you found that the specific accreditations have enabled you to be more credible or positively impacted your career?
Having that stamp of accreditation on my website has definitely impacted me in a positive way. Clients want to see that you are a trained professional.
Is there a story or certain moment with a client that has stuck out in your memory as being impactful?
I love when I help clients physically achieve their goals, but even more so when I can give them the courage and confidence to tackle other areas of their life. I think if you feel good about yourself, you tend to be brave in other scenarios of your life, whether it is career moves or personal relationships.
What do you like best about working in this industry?
I love the ability to change other lives in a good way. Making someone feel good is the best gift I can get.
What are your career goals going forward?
I would love to expand my business and take on more clients as well as eventually create workshops to help with health and fitness goals.
How has your experience been with the AFPA customer service team and education advisors?
I love how responsive the team is at AFPA. If I had any questions, someone always got back to me in less than 48 hours.
How did this certification program impact your overall life?
The knowledge I gained from the program has helped me to continue to make healthy choices and also to help inspire others around me to make better choices.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
A typical day is I wake up, have my hot water with some lemon, and write in my gratitude journal (3 things I am grateful for). I will then either have breakfast or head to the gym first, depending on how much energy I need for my workout. (I always work out in the morning so unplanned events in the afternoon don’t deter my goals.) I will then head to work (9-5 p.m. at a technology company). Upon returning home, I will usually be working on my wellness program (website, reading, etc.) and then cooking dinner with my husband and cuddling with our Goldendoodle.
Would you recommend AFPA to others?
I already have recommended AFPA to some who are interested. I think it’s the best program out there!
Do you have any advice for other people considering making the leap into a health, fitness, or nutrition career?
I say go for it! If you can do anything that benefits your mind, body, and soul, in the long run, there is no wrong place to start.
Do you have any advice for other people who are considering a certification and trying to decide which organization to get certified through?
Don't rush it. Do your research and find the right program for you. Programs out there will try to entice you with deals and discounts if you sign up right away. I researched others that graduated from the programs I was looking into and asked them to tell me some things they enjoyed and didn't enjoy about the programs to help guide me to the right choice.
If you're looking for help deciding which certification is right for you, check out our 7-Step Process for Finding the Best Certification for You.