This post is for anyone considering studying the 1 year health coaching course at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Full disclosure: If you click one of the links below or mention my name when signing up to IIN, I will get a small commission. However, this is my 100% honest, warts & all review of the IIN health coaching course and nothing has been left out. My reputation matters to me!
Course pre-requisites & entry requirements
I had no prior experience or knowledge in nutrition or biology before starting at IIN. In fact, science, biology and maths were always my weakest subjects and areas of least interest at school!
There are no pre-requisites to start at IIN, not even proof of finishing year 12/high school was required! If you are worried about the science and maths component to studying nutrition like I was; these are not part of IIN. In fact, even though IIN's tagline was 'The worlds biggest Nutrition school,' Nutrition is not actually the primary focus.
Instead, IIN offers entry-level exposure to many different health & wellness professions and many of the graduates do not work as coaches. Some are personal trainers, yoga instructors, massage therapists, naturopaths & nutritionists; even doctors & medical professionals! And some students studied at IIN only to improve their own personal health.
This course is 100% online, primarily using an app but personally I completed all modules on my computer. Each week a new module gets loaded into your account and you have audio and video lectures waiting for you. Additionally, there are group coaching calls once a month to stay connected with other students.
Some of the lectures are absolutely mind-blowing and I can guarantee that you will hear first hand knowledge and experience around food and health and is brand new to you.
IIN offer sample classes so you can get a taste of the classes before registering, which is a really helpful way to decide if it is the right fit. Click here to access a free sample class.
Health coach vs Nutritionist/Dietician
As I have studied some of the Adv. diploma in Nutrition (4 year course mirroring a university degree) I can offer some insight into the differences between the two.
Knowing the difference may be important when deciding what direction your new nutrition career should take!
Nutrition Degree cons:
- A nutrition degree teaches one version of dietary nutrition, without considering the many different versions of 'healthy' as much as IIN does.
- A nutrition degree curriculum is often defined by governing bodies, which may be swayed in certain directions by food councils and money. The textbooks used are also not immune from this, sometimes teaching misleading information (doesn't include the information in chemistry, biology and anatomy/physiology textbooks). Some of the misleading recommendations found in nutrition textbooks including low-fat dairy and margarine - which I found in a textbook that cost me $165. Eek!
- A nutrition degree is more narrow-focused, and does not encourage students to make a scalable impact in the health & wellness industry like IIN does. It also does not account for the emotional and other lifestyle factors that also influence health as much.
- A nutrition degree does not offer students the information and tools to help them setup a business after graduation. It doesn't dedicate as much effort in teaching students how to implement their new knowledge in the real world, with everyday people.
Nutrition degree pros:
- You'll have the piece of paper and a potentially much stronger position as an expert within your field. It may mean better job opportunities and better accreditation for further study should you wish to continue.
- You'll learn the details of nutrition and how to apply that in the human body.
- You will learn anatomy & physiology, the parts of the body & how they all work together in detail. This is something sorely missing within the IIN curriculum.
- Your exams are closely supervised, which means you'll more likely have a solid understanding and become a really good nutritionist.
- You will have the ability to diagnose and prescribe, and also test and analyse information from your clients including blood, urine and stool tests. This means you may be better equipped to find solutions with a holistic view of all the facts.
- With so much time dedicated to study, you will see food, your body and the world around you differently.
IIN health coach course cons:
- Firstly and for me most notably, the anatomy, physiology and chemistry aspects of the nutrition degree are missing from IIN. IIN does not teach students anything about how our body works holistically, let alone at a cellular level. This is the 'scary' stuff of the degree, but is pretty damn important if you want to teach people about nutrition & health.Without these critical subjects, it can sometimes be difficult for coaches to distinguish when to refer clients on to other professionals. As a health coach you have a duty of care to your client, so being unsure about when to refer raises certain ethical concerns.
- The exams were unsupervised and only consisted of multiple-answer questions with only four choices. This means I could have had my entire study books out or even used Google at any point to find the right answer, without accurately testing my own knowledge. With a huge 2 hour window to complete the exams, I could have cheated on every question (and I'm sure some have!)
IIN health coach course pros:
- The course is only 1 year long, which is a relatively short period of time. It is a brilliant spring-board into the wellness industry, touching on many different areas without going too deep.
- Using the app means you could be out walking and listen to a lecture. Personally I kept to my computer with my notebooks nearby, but it is very flexible for you to use whenever.
- I only spent around 5-6 hours per week on the core study material. Plus a little more on the topics I wanted to go deeper on.
- The website is highly effective and very easy to use, even for the most technology-challenged!
- Supplemental to the course is an entire library of additional resources and lectures! These go a little deeper into specific topics, eg pregnancy & children.
- The one and only time I had any issues the support team were effective, well-spoken and knowledgeable. Although IIN is based in New York, the office hours cater perfectly for us on the other side of the world!
- The lectures with nutrition thought leaders offer a unique opportunity to diversify your knowledge.
- The course has only one definitive focus: FOOD = MEDICINE. (Absolutely!)
What I personally loved about IIN
I wasn't 100% certain that I was ready to rack up tens of thousands in university debt. I used IIN as a spring board, so I could see if the wellness industry felt right for me.
IIN teaches coaches how to listen. Most University qualified nutritionists and naturopaths would agree with me that they sometimes play life counsellor with their clients. The counselling/communication module of my Adv. diploma paled in comparison to what I learned at IIN.
I have met some nutritionists and dieticians who do not consult in a holistic manner and simply analyse and prescribe. These are ones I would not refer my clients to.
At the end of the course you will have the tools to hold your clients hand while they transform their eating & lifestyle habits. You will also have a basic working knowledge of nutrition; which will be more than enough to help most clients achieve their goals.
HOT TIP: Signup when there are bonuses on offer!
My number 1 suggestion if you are considering signing up to the course is to wait for bonuses!
In 2014 when I registered and paid in full, I scored a whole bunch of bonuses. This included $400 worth of books from amazon, discounted tuition and an iPad. Since I'm in Australia, the books & iPad couldn't be shipped to me so instead I got additional discounts on the course fees.
And as an alumni & affiliate, I get notified when they become available. If you would like to ask me any questions about IIN or you would like me to refer you to the school so that you may receive any special offers they have available, please contact me here, or click the image below...
Now I have laid out all the pros & cons, of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, you only need to decide where to next.
While you ponder your future career, I'll leave you with the inspiring faces of four of the most well-known wellness gurus in Australia...