2023 Coaching Industry Report: Trends to Watch
The field of life coaching is nestled within the much broader wellness industry. But what is “wellness” in practical terms? How do we measure its social and economic impacts, and what does this information mean to you as a practicing life coach?
In this report, we’ll be taking a look at:
Along the way, we’ll share tips and strategies for integrating this information into your life coaching business. As you dig in, consider where popular coaching niches might fall within the wellness spectrum.
Want to hear Lumia Coaching co-founders discuss this year’s trends in depth? Give a listen to the podcast Life Coaching Trends for 2023: Emerging Opportunities for Coaches.
The Business of Wellness
The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) is where we obtain all of our industry data here at Lumia Coaching. It’s recognized as the leading source for authoritative wellness industry research, and is an excellent resource.
According to the GWI, wellness is the “active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.”
What’s important about this for you as a coach is the idea that wellness is proactive and ongoing. It’s not some destination we arrive at. Rather, wellness is a lifelong process.
Wellness as we understand it here extends far beyond physical health - what we’re talking about is the whole person. This is what really sets the wellness industry apart from the traditional healthcare system.
Wellness is also highly individual and contextual.
What constitutes wellness for each of us is made up of a combination of biological, mental, emotional, socio-economic, and cultural factors.
Wellness requires us to be active and engaged, although our individual choices may in truth only make up part of this overall picture. We recognize and acknowledge disparities in access to, and the ability to realistically implement, a full spectrum of healthy tools and habits. The COVID-19 pandemic provided us with a grim illustration of this reality, with stark consequences.
What this all means is that the wellness “constellation” may look different for each person. It can also change throughout the course of our lives.
This is the space where we operate as life coaches.
Coaching serves those who are moving toward a state of thriving, from wherever they may currently be on the wellness spectrum. As a life coach, you help clients define what optimal well-being looks like for themselves. Coaching provides a container of support and accountability, encouraging clients to take steady action toward achieving their goals.
Life Coaching & The Wellness Economy
The wellness industry is made up of any business that helps consumers incorporate wellness activities into their daily lives. According to GWI's most recent study, the global wellness economy is currently valued at $4.4 trillion and growing. Their current projection is 9.9% average annual growth, with the wellness economy reaching nearly $7.0 trillion by 2025.
Right now there are eleven sectors in the wellness economy, and coaching fits into every single one of them! As you review this list, think about where your own coaching specialization might fall within these sectors.
- Personal Care & Beauty ($955 billion)
- Healthy Eating, Nutrition, & Weight Loss ($946 billion)
- Physical Activity ($738 billion)
- Wellness Tourism ($436 billion)
- Traditional & Complementary Medicine ($413 billion)
- Public Health, Prevention, & Personalized Medicine ($375 billion)
- Wellness Real Estate ($275 billion)
- Mental Wellness ($131 billion)
- Spas ($68 billion)
- Workplace Wellness ($49 billion)
- Thermal/Mineral Springs ($39 billion)
(Wondering how life coaching fits into sectors such as beauty, spas, tourism and real estate? Read all about it in the 2023 Trends section below!)
All eleven wellness sectors are dynamic, interconnected and are linked to the wellness economy as a whole. They are all components of a “wellness ecosystem” that nurtures lifestyles of wellbeing and longevity. According to the GWI:
“In the face of longer lifespans, rising chronic disease, stress, and unhappiness, consumers are re-examining their lives and focusing attention on what makes them well – particularly the places and ways in which they live, work, and travel. The wellness economy reflects those shifting priorities, alongside a growing recognition of the critical impact of physical and social environments on our health and wellbeing.” - Global Wellness Institute
As a life coach, you can specialize. You do not have to be an expert in every single one of these areas, nor must you limit yourself to working within just one sector of the wellness market.
- What are you most drawn to?
- How does your background and experience fit within these sectors?
- Where can you be of greatest service in your community?
How many coaching niches can you think of that might fall within each of these categories? For further ideas, check out: 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches.
Life Coaching Trends for 2023
To produce this annual snapshot of industry trends, Lumia CEO Noelle Cordeaux takes a deep dive each December into a diverse array of wellness sector economic reports, trend analyses and commentary. Primary sources for our 2023 coaching industry trends roundup include:
In reviewing these and other sources of information, what's coming through loud and clear is that many of the fastest growing trends are in effect a boomerang from the pandemic experience. The following trends reflect the various ways in which people are pursuing what’s most meaningful and important to them in life.
Areas of particular note for coaches include:
- A return to in-person fitness experiences
- Growing interest in sexual wellness
- An increasing focus on mental fitness
- The boom in wellness travel and psychic services
- The rise of community based wellness centers
Let’s take a look at each of them in turn below. And if you’d like even more commentary and examples of how these trends might serve your coaching practice, listen in as Lumia co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux discuss it on this podcast episode: Life Coaching Trends for 2023: Emerging Opportunities for Coaches.
2023 Trends to Watch
Trend #1: A return to in-person fitness experiences
Industry statistics point to in-person fitness making a comeback. People aren’t ditching their home set-ups completely, but they’re heading back to join community based fitness for those things they can’t get at home. Experts think 2023 will be a breakthrough year.
“The pandemic impacted most industries, and few were as hard hit as the wellness industry—but the pandemic did not kill in-person fitness. In fact, it highlighted just how much we missed those in-person experiences.” - ” Fritz Lanman, CEO of Mindbody
From the perspective of coaching, we know it’s most impactful when we tackle goals in partnership with others. As people return to in-person fitness experiences, there are many ways that professional coaches can jump into that mix!
Fitness coaching opportunities include:
- Mindset work
- Leveraging the topic of physical fitness as a doorway into other conversations related to health and wellbeing
- Physical trainers adding coaching skills to their toolkit to better support their clients in goal attainment
#2 Trend: The growth of sexual wellness
People of all ages, identities, and walks of life are clamoring for new definitions of sex and intimacy. Taboos are breaking down as people are no longer willing to compromise, hide, or minimize what’s deeply important to them.
We’re seeing a collective rising toward the topic of pleasure, along with the recognition that experiencing pleasure and joy in relationships, sex and love are all important components of wellbeing.
The growing understanding that sexual wellness is a component of our general health isn’t just reflected in year-over-year industry growth. In 2023, expect a normalization of shopping for sexual-wellness products and services. It’s noteworthy that even conservative publications such as The Economist are reporting on this rising trend (The World Ahead 2023 Report)
This is a ripe emerging market for coaches, one that we’re predicting is on the brink of explosive growth.
So many people want to experience something new in their sex lives, but they often don’t know where to begin. Enter sex and intimacy coaches. Professionals in this area help clients feel more comfortable with exploration, confidently name their desires, and express their sexual needs in an empowered way.
In Lumia’s life coach training program, we have seen an upward trend in coaching practitioners focusing on sexuality based wellness from female pleasure, to non-monogamy, to on-set movie scene coaching, to specific orientations like puppy play. Our coaches are out there giving folks the support the market is calling for, helping their clients live their lives in an affirming and fulfilled way.
Examples of Lumia graduates specializing in this growing coaching niche include: Maria Two-Straps, Chris Cherrie, Rena Martine, and Dawn Davis. Check out their websites to get a flavor of the diverse array of voices, perspectives, and services being offered!
Trend #3: Mental fitness
“People often think about mental health as something that you focus on only when you're in crisis, rather than as a crucial part of how you show up in the world. However, taking care of your mental health doesn't have to be expensive, inaccessible, or time-consuming.” - Casey Gueren, head of content for Wondermind
Mental fitness is the understanding that our inner world is just as important as making sure our physical bodies are healthy and sound.
In the wake of the pandemic, more people have come to the awareness that their state of mind is essential to mental health and wellbeing. As a result, we’re seeing an emerging trend toward taking better care of our brains, emotions, hearts and souls.
In recent years, use of the term “mental fitness” has exploded on social media.
- #mentalfitness currently stands at 387,000 posts on Instagram and counting
- On TikTok, #mentalfitness boasts an impressive 58.5 million views—increasing 575 percent from 2021 to 2022.
This tells us that the public is hungry for modalities to support mental wellbeing.
The coaching profession is uniquely situated to offer consumers the support that they are seeking in this area. Research shows that taking action towards goals enhances mental fitness, and an effective coaching relationship facilitates the process of turning goals and intentions into actions and accountability.
There are many coaching niches that fall into the category of mental fitness. Some of the fastest growing among them include:
- Burnout recovery
- Mindfulness & meditation
- Performance enhancement
- Stress reduction
- Neurodiversity and ADHD
- Overcoming relationship breakups
- Single on purpose
- Body acceptance
Trend #4 Wellness travel and psychic services
This is a growing trend that is backed by BIG money. In recent years, wellness travel offerings have begun explicitly addressing the public’s rising interest in psychic services - a market that, in the United States, grew by 2.6 percent in 2021 and is now valued at $2.2 billion.
“As a mindful travel coach, I’m used to working with clients who use travel as a means to seek spiritual grounding and a sense of belonging—to feel a part of something greater than themselves. Recently, it’s been exciting to see that more travelers are intentionally seeking out services that meet these needs, including spiritual offerings that provide a sense of discovery, presence, and connection.” - Camila Castro, ICF certified travel coach
As demand for wellness travel experiences continues to grow, programming is expanding, granting wellness tourism a new aura of spirituality. Many top tier spas now include services such as reiki, astrology, and energy healing.
This is yet another reverberation of the pandemic. People have lost faith in many traditional structures and systems. As a collective, we are seeking out new perspectives, different aspects of spirituality, and a return to nature-based experiences. As a result, psychic and spiritual services are moving out of the margins and into the mainstream.
Wondering what this looks like? Here’s just a few examples:
- Retrograde reset events at L’Auberge de Sedona resort
- Astrology readings at Arizona Biltmore’s Tierra Luna Spa alongside facials that draw inspiration from the moon
- Alila Ventana Big Sur recently launched several experiences, including a celestially inspired yoga class as well as astrology readings and the opportunity to have your “essence” painted.
But you don’t need to visit a high end resort to access these services. More and more coaches are incorporating these and other modalities into their practices. In fact, we have a number of Lumia graduates who are leading the charge in this arena! For a few examples of what that looks like, check out:
- Kathryn Schwarz combines coaching, reiki, and nature walks
- Chris Clark is an ICF credentialed coach who weaves together coaching, tarot, earth-based rituals and shamanic healing
- Millie Murillo offers astrological coaching, putting a birth chart reading together with coaching
Trend #5 Community based wellbeing centers
This is another emerging trend where significant investments are flowing right now. It’s also an area where we see more jobs forming, and new opportunities for coaches in the years ahead.
So what’s driving the trend toward community wellness?
In the wake of the pandemic, we’re facing an epidemic of loneliness. A study at Harvard recently found that:
- 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults—feel "serious loneliness.
- 43% of young adults said that they felt increases in loneliness due to the pandemic.
- About half of young adults who identified as lonely reported that in their recent memory, no one had "taken more than just a few minutes" to ask how they are doing in a way that made them feel like the person "genuinely cared."
As people increasingly find themselves isolated and starved for human connection, community-based well-being centers are starting to emerged in response. What does this look like on the ground? One model we’re starting to see are centers that provide beauty services alongside other high-tech treatments and experiences.
The Well is one example, with locations in New York, Connecticut, and Costa Rica. They offer beauty treatments, classes and access to wellness experts.
New York's Sage + Sound proves massages, facials, acupuncture, a speaker series, and daily classes from poetry to meditation.
Remedy Place is a "self-care social club" that boasts membership perks such as unlimited cryotherapy and four breathwork ice baths a month.
For families, Lifetime is an "athletic country club" that offers fitness classes, spa services, sports leagues, and health and nutrition coaching.
For the spiritually minded, some churches have even shaped themselves into wellness centers offering cafes and sports courts. Entrepreneur John Fio has dubbed this trend "the future of faith in America."
Online, we’re seeing an explosion of micro-communities. Tech companies such as Circle are building platforms for facilitating these experiences.
Coaching skills are paramount in all of these spaces.
Life coach training teaches us how to express genuine care for other people. As coaches, we have cultivated the skills for creating emotional trust and safety, and are adept at asking good questions. Professionals with these core abilities will have a huge competitive advantage as opportunities in the $4.4 trillion wellness economy continue to emerge.
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