During the last 27 years, we’ve certified over 130,000 health, nutrition, and fitness professionals. Each month, we recognize one of our distinguished graduates who are using what they have learned to inspire others and make a difference.
Meet our featured graduate for the month of August, Stephanie Genco, a AFPA Certified Health and Wellness Coach.
How did you initially become interested in health and fitness?
I was never really athletic growing up, but in college, I became addicted to trying new things and to the idea of self-improvement. I tried food trends and workout programs, had 100 hobbies, and even completed a triathlon sprint. (I almost drowned, but that's a story for a different day.) All I knew was that I wanted to be "healthy" and feel good about myself. There was an extensive history of heart disease and cancer in my family, among other diseases, and I guess I was always looking for a way for me to “beat the odds.” During the summer of 2017, I transitioned to a vegan diet. And by "transitioned," I mean I watched What the Health on Netflix and completely turned my life on its head. From there, I started to really dial in on a whole food, plant-based diet. The impact it made in my life was almost instantaneous! I felt how this way of eating transformed my own well-being and led to other healthy habits, as well as the health of my other family members who jumped on board.
What certification did you choose, and why did you choose AFPA?
I first chose the Holistic Nutritionist certification because I was looking to learn more about whole food nutrition and the way food can protect and heal the body. I didn’t realize how passionate about this I would become! I completed it in 2019 and recently also completed certification as a Health & Wellness Coach in order to expand my coaching skills and serve my clients better.
What was your career like prior to becoming certified?
I spent about a decade in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Most recently, I spent four years as a 5th-grade classroom teacher!
What is your career like now?
I left teaching in June of 2020 to be able to work full time on building my businesses. I say “businesses” because aside from my coaching practice (in which I see clients 1:1 and in small groups), I also own and operate a wellness center and boutique, Wellness in the Village. The center is where I often work out of, as well as coaching online. It is also home to two massage therapists and a mental health therapist; a studio space offering yoga, meditation, and special events; a local boutique; our town’s Chamber of Commerce; and our own boutique storefront, featuring products for living a healthy lifestyle. I also host a podcast, “Be Well with Steph, The Podcast.” There is never a dull moment around here!
What are your favorite parts of your career?
Hands-down, my favorite part of what I do is helping women to create lifestyle habits that make them feel good! So many women (and others) have histories of diet cycling and fitness stress, combined with their busy schedules, misunderstandings about nutrition, family histories of illness… it can be so overwhelming and difficult to know what is “right” for you. I love to coach women by taking control of their health and well-being through education, mindset shifts, and creating new routines.
Occasionally, I have the opportunity to host events and speak to larger groups, and this is something that really lights me up, too! I’m hoping to add more of this as time goes on.
How has becoming certified with AFPA impacted your life?
Becoming certified with AFPA has given me the knowledge and confidence to take my life down a completely new path. It was the catalyst for starting my businesses and beginning a coaching journey. It still amazes me almost every day that my job is to literally help people live a healthier, happier life. In addition, the way my own habits have improved continues to impact my well-being.
Do you have any client success stories you would like to share?
I am so grateful to have worked with SO many inspiring women over the past couple of years! Just the other day, one shared this with me/Instagram:
“It’s entirely possible to not like where your body is at and still be happy. I am proof that you can have goals and still love yourself. I always thought having great teachers was something exclusive to schooling… until I met Steph a few years ago at age 30. She has been the most influential teacher of my adulthood. You don’t have to hate yourself. You can have peace and goals. Thanks for showing me how to shut up my inner mean girl.”
And THAT is why I do what I do. Yes, we improve nutrition through whole plant foods. Yes, we work on balanced eating, regular movement, and tools for managing stress. Most of the magic, though, is in getting women to care for themselves from a place of self-love instead of from fear or restriction. When they start to truly care for themselves, meeting their health goals becomes simpler and more fun!
What advice do you give others thinking about becoming certified?
AFPA has so many programs, courses, and specialties to choose from! They provide a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. Whether you are looking to start a practice, add a specialty to an existing occupation, create content, or improve your own health, AFPA can help. Having flexibility and independence in your studies makes adding courses into your life simple, too.
Article Categories: Grad Spotlight