Kathleen Belonga

By Kathleen Belonga

mbg Contributor

Kathleen Belonga is a health coach, yoga teacher, and certified mindfulness instructor who graduated mindbodygreen’s Health Coach Certification program.

Image by Studio Firma / Stocksy

July 7, 2023

After years of working in corporate America, feeling burned out, I decided to make a career change. I went back to grad school, studied holistic health, and became a yoga teacher and a health coach. I wanted to help others like me manage their stress and lead a healthier lifestyle.

I’d been working as a health coach for years before the NBHWC Certification launched in 2017. Now the gold standard for health coaching, this certification added legitimacy to the field by ensuring that all certified coaches pass a rigorous board exam. I’m a lifelong learner, and I realized that if I wanted to continue to work and grow as a health coach, I’d have to become certified. (When I first became a health coach about 10 years ago, the certification did not exist.)


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Though I’d originally graduated from a top-tier health coaching program, I was looking for a refresher course to prep for the national board exam. I’d been following mindbodygreen as a reader and podcast listener for years, and I’d also completed their Functional Nutrition Training program. So when I saw that they were launching their own Health Coach Certification (HCC) program approved by the NBHWC, I signed up for the first cohort.

I thought this program would just be a review for me, but HCC turned out to be so much more. Since enrolling in the HCC program and graduating last summer, I’ve passed the board exam to become a certified health and wellness coach, built out a strong support network, and settled into a career path that excites me.

Why HCC is better than other programs I’ve tried

Even though I’d taken health coach trainings and worked with clients for years by the time I signed up for HCC, I still learned a lot from mindbodygreen’s program.

For starters, I appreciated the program’s emphasis on holistic coaching practices. I’m also a yoga and mindfulness teacher, so I understand the importance of these mindful tools, and I love how mindbodygreen brought them into the program. It taught us how to integrate these techniques like mind-body dialoguing and mindful check-ins into a coaching session to help clients be fully present. 

The HCC faculty was also top-notch, and being able to ask them questions and workshop ideas in real time was invaluable. In the last coaching program I took, students had very little access to the teachers and the lesson plans were strict and limiting. With mindbodygreen’s program, there were instructor demos and live sessions where we could get feedback on how to work with clients. It was a huge bonus.

The community that formed in mindbodygreen’s program was also unlike anything I’d seen before. Even though mbg’s program is virtual, the enthusiasm and genuine excitement of the other students in my cohort was contagious. We started our own WhatsApp group to support each other during the program, through board preparation, and beyond. I’ve never connected with people on that level in any training program that I’ve done.


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My career as a health coach

Now that I’ve graduated mbg’s program, passed the board exam, and gotten my certification, I feel even more confident in my decision to build a career in health coaching.

From my perspective, we need health coaches now more than ever. There is finally a paradigm shift happening where doctors are recognizing that lifestyle, nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress are all impacting their patients’ health in big ways. People need support in these areas that physicians don’t have the time, and quite often, the training, to give.

That’s because just telling someone what to do isn’t enough. It’s about providing support, motivation, and empowerment to help them stay accountable to their health goals. It’s about being in a client’s corner, rooting for them, and giving them the tools they need to be successful. That’s our unique role as health coaches—and it’s one I’m honored to provide.

Looking ahead

As the health coaching field grows, I’m looking forward to getting more involved as an instructor, as well as continuing to work with clients one on one.

My passion is really in training the next generation of health coaches, and there are lots of opportunities to do so now that I’ve graduated mbg’s program and passed the board exam. I’m seeing a number of colleges come out with health coaching programs and looking for teachers with my requirements, for example. I’m also happy to report that I now work as a teaching assistant in the HCC program. It’s rewarding to help guide the new cohort of students through the curriculum that I got so much out of.

If you’re looking for a program that will help you build a new health coaching practice—or grow an existing one—I’d highly recommend mbg’s Health Coach Certification.


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