Nicole Aucoin, a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, sits down with Mike Giardina at the 2022 NOBULL CrossFit Games to discuss bridging the gap between fitness and healthcare. Aucoin is a clinical dietitian who realized early that she was working more in “sickcare” than healthcare. In order to better help others improve their health, Aucoin opened a CrossFit affiliate and started Healthy Steps Nutrition — a nutrition coaching company that has enabled Aucoin to help her local community as well as hundreds of other gym owners and CrossFit coaches around the world.
Through HSN, Aucoin has created a network of like-minded healthcare professionals (HCPs). This reciprocal relationship allows HSN coaches to refer out to HCPs and for healthcare professionals to refer to HSN coaches when necessary. Aucoin explains how doctors do not have the time to provide nutrition and exercise recommendations, patient support, and accountability. This is where the coach steps in. It is important that coaches start conversations and create relationships with healthcare professionals so they can offer them their services. A good start is to talk to the HCPs in your community and let them know how you can help. From there, visit some of the clinics in your area. Teach them about CrossFit and how you can help with fitness and nutrition. It might help to invite the staff to your affiliate for a workout, knowing that the experience provided will help when they are referring patients to you for exercise and nutrition recommendations.
Coaches can help patients lose weight, get in shape, and become examples of fitness for their children, which, from Aucoin’s experience, is what patients typically come to the gym asking for. In order to provide these results, the coach must first determine the athlete’s “why.” Aucoin has found that nutrition is always part of the conversation. She explains how accountability for nutrition and fitness is the recipe for optimal results. It must be a holistic approach, she says — help clients figure out how to eat more whole, natural foods, eat in better balance, and improve their sleep, in addition to teaching them ways to manage stress. All of these play a role in improving their fitness and overall health.
It is important to start small, Aucoin explains. It can be as easy as having conversations with healthcare professionals in your network and building reciprocal relationships. That is how we start to bridge the gap between fitness and healthcare.