/ Podcast / Building a Thriving Health Coaching Business, with Hally Brooke

Building a Thriving Health Coaching Business, with Hally Brooke

This week, Dr Sandi speaks with health coaching superstar Hally Brooke about how she went from FMCA student to thriving business owner. After graduating from FMCA, Hally started discussing health coaching with her personal training clients. Thanks to the power of word-of-mouth marketing, before she knew it, her calendar was full and her new business was growing exponentially. Today, Live Nourished Coaching is a premier health coaching agency connecting clients and physicians with health coaches. Learn how to start building a business that helps you achieve your coaching mission.

Episode Highlights

  • Learn how Hally started building a business through word-of-mouth.
  • Tips and tricks to starting your own thriving health coaching business.
  • Understand how coaches and coaching businesses can work with functional medicine physicians.
  • The importance of being a board-certified health coach.
Hally Brooke

Meet the Guest

Hally Brooke

Founder of Live Nourished Coaching


Hally Brooke is the Founder & CEO of Live Nourished Coaching–a nationwide health coaching company & agency. She is a Certified Functional Medicine Nutrition Counselor, Nationally Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Fox 21 Fitness & Nutrition Expert, and fierce industry advocate.

Live Nourished has grown into a thriving, nationwide, Functional Medicine Health Coaching practice that works with clients in ALL the key areas of wellness including movement, nutrition, mindset, resilience, relationships, and self-care.

Her mission at Live Nourished Coaching is to make the life-changing power of health coaching accessible to every single person in the US (to start). Live Nourished moves this mission forward through direct-to-client coaching and innovative strategic partnerships with medical practitioners.

Holly is an international speaker, top-level medical practice consultant and has built a world-class health coaching agency. But what inspires her to do this work every day is getting to see her clients move from illness to health and then from health to wellness, thriving in their lives, and finding their own internal motivation to Live Nourished.

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Episode Transcript

Dr. Sandi: Welcome to “Health Coach Talk,” and I am excited to be talking today with an FMCA graduate. Her name is Hally Brooke, and she is a rockstar when it comes to starting a business as a health coach. She is the founder and CEO of the Live Nourished Coaching. And so she’s going to tell us all about it, how she built this business, what her future plans are. So, welcome, Hally.

Hally: Sandra, it’s wonderful to be on. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Sandi: So, thank you. So, first of all, how did you get into this field of health coaching? What were you doing before? What attracted you to health coaching?

Hally: Yeah, hard left turn. So, I came out of undergrad thinking I wanted to go to med school. Decided to do two years and teach for America, so, kind of, teaching inner-city schools before I went to medical school. I ended up teaching math for nine years.

So, nine years later, my stress was so high, I got super sick and so I ended up with IBS and a whole bunch of super weird symptoms and, kind of, stumbled into functional medicine by myself just looking for solutions, because my practitioners haven’t given me any. Fell in love with functional medicine, fell in love with nutrition, and then really understood that, you know, there’s a big gap between having the perfect nutrition plan and being able to implement it. So, decided in the beginning of the pandemic that I was going to go back to school.

So, went through FMCA and, kind of, created this health coaching practice out of that. And then the pandemic was for us a blessing because so many people were looking for, kind of, alternative routes for wellness, and so my business exploded. And here we are.

Dr. Sandi: Wow, what a story.

Hally: Yeah.

Dr. Sandi: Yeah, and we have a lot of people who pivot from a teaching career or thinking they wanted to be a doctor and pivot to health coaching, which is just growing so quickly. So, how did you get started growing your business? Because a lot of people come out of our program, other health coaching certification programs, and they get stuck and don’t know where to turn, how to start a business. So, can you outline some of the steps that you took?

Hally: Yeah, absolutely. So, I feel like I have a little bit of a leg up. One, I’m just entrepreneurially minded. That’s how I have always been, and my family know what is an entrepreneur, so I’ve also thought I was weird. Everyone in my family has, you know, 30-year careers. My mom’s been a teacher for, I think, 52 years before she retired, which is awesome. Like, I’m such a fan of that, and I’m just not built that way.

So, when I left teaching, before I went to FMCA, I’d gone back to school and gotten a personal training certificate because I just needed to do something else other than teach math. And so I’d started, kind of, a personal training business, and I’d hired a couple business coaches. So, I’d learned some things about how to run a business, and I was fortunate enough to be able to be an independent contractor in a gym. So, I had, kind of, you know, a client flow, but I was running my own business. So, that was really helpful to have, you know, some other training under my belt.

And then went back to school through FMCA, and then sort of just pivoted slowly my personal training business into a health coaching business. So, the clients that I already had, I started talking to them about nutrition and mindfulness and all of these other things that we were doing in addition to squats. And it was my clients who loved what I was doing, and so my whole business grew entirely word of mouth. I didn’t do paid advertisements. I’m terrible at Instagram. If you look at my Instagram now, it looks amazing because I have someone who does my Instagram for me. So, I just grew it through word of mouth.

And then pretty quickly 2021, I maxed out. I had no more room for clients. And at this point, my entire business was in my head. I had no standard operating procedures, nothing. I ran a business, and it functioned. And so when I maxed out, I was like, “Well, I either need to put people on a waitlist or I need to hire someone.” So, I ended up hiring and administrative assistant, and she came in, and she goes, “Okay, so what are your SOPs?” And I went, “SO whats?” I didn’t even know what that word meant. She goes, “Standard operating procedures.” And I go, “Oh, yeah, I don’t have any of those. Those are all in my head.” She goes, “Okay, well, we need those.”

So, she was able to open up enough time in my calendar because we got the way that the business worked out of my head so that we could get some things onto her plate, and that opened up a little bit of time. So, opened up some more slots in my calendar, maxed out again with clients. Again, just word of mouth, which I’m so blessed to have that be that case, and I think FMCA set me up for that. Just high-quality coaching.

So, maxed out again and then hired another admin assistant, because I maxed out my other admin assistant. So, now I have two admin assistants. That opened up a little bit of time and then I maxed out again. And then I went, “Okay, this is going to keep happening. I clearly cannot run this business by myself, or I’m going to have to scale back.” And so I ended up hiring one of my cohort class members. So, one of the girls who was part of my cohort, I hired her. I knew exactly what her training was. I knew that I wasn’t going to have to train her in health coaching, just in kind of the way that we did things in Live Nourished. And so then we basically just became, sort of, like a two-coach business. And so, you know, I just filled her calendar with all the new clients.

And then pretty quickly realized, okay, there are things that we do at Live Nourished that make us really unique. There’s language that we use, there’s things that we say. And so we need to start to, kind of, cauterize that. And so we created an app, and then we created, kind of, a coach training program so people coming out could come in. And now we have this whole business. And so that’s, sort of, how I did it. I really just sort of stumbled through the process but it worked.

Dr. Sandi: Wow, I am saying I’m just like jumping up and down with excitement because this resonates so much with me. So, when I started FMCA, I was 65 years old. I didn’t know what an SOP. And like you, I was probably a born entrepreneur, and I had been a teacher. And then pretty soon after that, I was a private tutor. So, I was running my own business. And, yes, it grew by word of mouth. I was tutoring kids with learning disabilities and then had a private practice as a psychologist and then founded FMCA.

But always with, like, just… And word of mouth was so strong. You’d start seeing one person. They’d refer a family member, a friend. They would refer somebody. So, it just snowballs from there. And I think what you said was so smart, and we teach this all the time to coaches and people who are practitioners, doctors as well, like stuck with you alone, like your time, you can only go so far. As you kept saying, you max out. You only have so many hours in the day and then you want to have some time for yourself and your family, so it’s impossible without expanding by having other people working with you and keep expanding that way. And perhaps group programs and ways that you could have classes. You could have other things, that you could have passive income coming from your business as well. So, there’s so much out there in terms of an opportunity, so I love that.

Hally: Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Sandi: So, how are you seeing people? Are you seeing them virtually? Is it in person? Are you doing groups? Are you working with doctors for referrals?

Hally: Yes. So, yes. So, at this point, we are an entirely virtual business. I had the benefit of starting my business during the pandemic. So, virtual was, kind of, the only option. And it works really well. People can take a 30-minute health coaching call while they’re waiting for their kids at soccer practice and without having to take, you know, two hours off of work to drive across town and do a 30-minute appointment. So, we are entirely virtual.

We are now both nationwide and international. We got our first client in Australia last week. So, that is just mind boggling to me. That is so far beyond anything I ever thought I would be doing as a business owner, so that’s really exciting. So, I say I have two verticals in my business. One is direct to client. So, we have people who just find us. They find us through word of mouth. We do now have a pretty solid organic Instagram. Thank you to my Instagram girl, who I can take zero credit for what’s on Instagram. She tells me what to film, and I film it. So, we have that.

And then we also have partnerships with doctors. So, we are a huge industry advocate for health coaching. We know that there is such a massive gap between, you know, patients being told something by their nutritionist or their RD or their functional medicine practitioner or their regular practitioner, and then their actual ability to implement it. So, we work, kind of, like an agency, and we plug health coaches in on the backend of practitioners’ practices. So, that vertical… I do three different things. One, I consult with medical practices who want to hire a health coach but don’t know how. So, if they want to hire someone inside internally, I come in as a consultant and I help them build out those systems so that they can plug in a health coach and do it well. And then we also have, kind of, an agency model that sort of looks like a temp agency but it’s not really a temp agency. And that’s really designed for smaller practitioners who maybe aren’t ready to hire an outside health coach yet. They don’t have the funds to do that, but they do want their patients to have that kind of external support. So, we come along and we plug a health coach. And on the backside, they’re still fully employed by Live Nourished. But from the patient side, it looks like they’re part of that doctor’s practice. And then I work on integrating that so that that doctor can have a health coach and keep the costs pretty low. So, I say that that side of my business is we help doctors scale their practices, increase their profitability, keep costs low for patients, and improve patient outcomes. So, I’ve got both sides. And, yeah, that’s how we do it.

Dr. Sandi: I’m curious. Are these doctors primarily functional integrative medicine? Are they more conventional doctors or some combination?

Hally: It’s a combination for sure. It’s definitely primarily functional medicine doctors because, one, that’s what we believe in. Two, our model works way better with cash pay versus insurance. We don’t mess with insurance. We don’t take insurance. I don’t touch that world. It’s just too much. So, most functional medicine doctors are in the cash pay world. We do work with a couple of direct primary care clinics. So, those are kind of traditional family medicine doctors but who decided to step out of the system and create subscription programs around healthcare. So, one of the ones that we work with, it’s $69 a month for a person to be a member, and that person gets all the healthcare they need. So, all their primary care is under that membership, and that’s two different DOs who we work with. And then we have one nurse practitioner who actually works at the hospital locally in town who has, kind of, like her own side practice as well. And so we plug in with her, and that’s what we do. So, all across the board.

Dr. Sandi: Wow. And do you have any areas that you specialize in? So, in terms of health coaching, is it mainly just primary care coaching, chronic illness, GI, or is it, you know, you will accommodate whatever is asked for?

Hally: Yeah, great question. So, with clients who come to us directly, we do gut health and adrenal health. That’s what I’m super nerdy about. That’s what I believe is at the root of all illness. And it’s so easy to fix with diet and lifestyle. So, that’s what we do typically when people come directly to us is gut health and adrenal health. When we partner with a practitioner, we do whoever their patients are. So, we have one functional medicine practitioner who literally does everything. She has a patient who has Parkinson’s. She has patients who just have GI gas and bloating. She has people who have high A1C like all across the board. So, in that mode, we’re fully in coach mode. We have coach hat on, and we are working through the lifestyle modifications to implement the plan that she creates with our, kind of, more traditional practices. So, our DO is in our direct primary care. We get a lot of high cholesterol, we get a lot of high A1C, and we get a lot of kind of metabolic stuff. So, we specialize in that with them because that’s what they need.

And then with our functional medicine practitioners, that for me is really the most fun because that’s where I nerd out. I love functional medicine. So, a lot of those functional medicine practitioners are doing, you know, hormonal health, gut health, adrenal health, etc. And so we specialize in that. And the way that we’re able to do that is I actually pay my coaches… I employ a team of coaches, and they get paid an hour a week for professional development and coaching. So, they need to spend an hour a week not coaching clients but watching YouTube videos or reading articles or developing their coaching skills, and then they get paid another hour a week for what we call, you know, science professional development. So, in NCBI, reading article is about, you know, best treatment for high A1C and kind of all of these things so that we can support our patients across the board.

Dr. Sandi: That’s a beautiful model. And what I like about it is that you’re also accommodating coaches who want the safety, the security. They don’t want the hassle of starting their own business. Do I need an LLC? I don’t have a website. And so this is something that is coaching in a box. It’s ready. You had their opportunities for coaches who don’t want to be entrepreneurs. They like that security or the comfort for whatever reason are… And that’s a good place to be, you know, for a lot of people. And then there are others who like you are entrepreneurial and get really excited by running your own business.

Hally: Yep, yep. Exactly.

Dr. Sandi: And you are National Board Certified. And, yeah, so that is the gold standard. And so that’s why we’re an approved school so that our graduates can sit for the exam, and I think it is so, so important. So, what do you see for the future? What do you think the future holds for health coaching and for you and your business personally? Where would you like to be in 5, 10 years?

Hally: Oh, man. So, yeah. So, the industry of health coaching, I think it’s the future of medicine. I think 5, 10 years from now, any doctor that doesn’t have a health coach as part of their practice is going to be 15 years behind the curve. So, doctors get health coaches. You know, you need it for your own health and wellness, but you also need it to grow your practice and to stay ahead of the curve and really more importantly to support your patients. So, I think that’s where the industry is going. We’re already seeing that with health insurance companies hiring health coaches because health insurance companies are going, “Oh, it turns out if we have healthier people, we pay less money.” So, knowing that that’s where insurance is going I think health coaching is the future.

Where I want to be 5, 10 years from now, even 3 years from now, is I want to be working 100% directly with practitioners. I think that’s where the magic is. You know, we as health coaches absolutely can work independently and stay in scope of practice, and I have proven that now in 5 years of practice. But I think that that partnership between a medical provider to create the plan and do all the supplements and, you know, all of those kind of medical things and then the health coach to implement that, I think that’s where the magic is.

And so our goal and our vision at Live Nourished is to have, you know, every person in the U. S. have access to a health coach through their medical practitioner. And so that’s where I want to be. I want to be the person who has helped every doctor on the planet, either hire their own health coaches or use our health coaches as an agency. And I think there’s a lot of education in that too, because I talked to doctors. Sometimes it’s like, “What is a health coach? Like, I don’t even know what that is.” And that’s where that contracting comes in because we have to educate practitioners on how this actually helps your practice. So, 10 years from now, I want to be doing entirely that and less with the direct to client. But right now we love the direct to client as well.

Dr. Sandi: Well, there is a huge need for what you are offering. And so therefore you can’t help be successful. You already are successful in an amazingly short period of time, and you are really the epitome of taking a health coach approach and showing what’s possible. You are an inspiration to those who are health coaches and anyone listening, who’s thinking, “Should I become a health coach?” And I know that you, like me, would say, “Yes, yes, this is amazing.” This is a career…as I wrote in my book, this brings people joy to be a health coach and to see the transformation that people experience when they’re working with a health coach. So, I am writing something new that is about the idea that health coaches are the new primary care. They will be the new primary care. Doctors are the consultants. You can go to your urgent care and get your immediate needs. They’re great at acute care, but for chronic illnesses, acute care medicine is failing. So, that’s where health coaches are playing such a big role, and they’ll only grow.

Hally: Yes, yes. Amen.

Dr. Sandi: Yes. So, as we come to close, any parting words? Anything you would like to say regarding health coaching and the work you’re doing?

Hally: That’s a great question. Any parting words? If you’re a practitioner, please reach out to me. I would love to connect with you. if you are considering going into health coaching, I would be more than happy to talk to you as well. And then I think…gosh, parting words. Okay, I got it. I would say trust your gut.

Dr. Sandi: Yes.

Hally: Yeah. If your gut is leading you in one direction or another, if your gut is leading you towards becoming a health coach or starting a business or not starting a business and working for someone else, follow that. Follow that because you can’t go wrong.

Dr. Sandi: That’s wonderful. Hally, how can people find you? You mentioned your Instagram. So, how can they get in touch with you or connect with you?

Hally: Yeah. So, our website is going to be the best place to get in touch with us. It’s www.livenourishedcoaching.com. That’s the best. There’s a contact form. You can schedule a free consult. If you’re a practitioner, reach out to me via email. We’ll get you scheduled on the calendar. That’s the best. And then our Instagram is also @livenourishedcoaching. So, both of those places are great places to connect.

Dr. Sandi: That’s wonderful. And check out her Instagram, too. Well, this has been just a delight. You are an inspiration. Thank you for finding FMCA and for all of the wonderful things that you are doing. You are literally transforming lives.

Hally: Thank you. Well, and thank you for training me. I wouldn’t be here without you guys.

Dr. Sandi: Thanks. Bye now.

Hally: Bye.