The American Council on Exercise (ACE) conducted a survey and discovered that for most fitness professionals, this career was not their first job. Many had pursued other avenues only to find that the fitness industry was where their true passions lied. It assumed that many find their love for fitness later in life. Many in the business will tell you that since they were devoting the hours of a full time job to their own fitness, they decided they might enjoy getting paid along the way.
“I was in banking for 15 years before making the leap to personal training full time,” said Pamela Hernandeez, a personal trainer at ThriveFit.com. “In 2009, when the financial services industry collapsed, I was fortunate not lose my job but a lot of people I worked with did. It made me step back and realize how much I had come to dislike my job.”
She kept both jobs for a while as she she pursued her ACSM CPT fitness certifications and to ensure her passion and the clients would be there to pay the bills. As a banker, she says she hated what she was doing and how it didn’t offer any real value for people’s lives. With a full-time fitness career, she gets to make a huge impact on the lives of others. “I knew I had found my calling. I was able to quit my banking career in June 2011. I have never looked back!”
Sound like you?
Some of the most popular careers in the fitness industry include health coach, personal trainer, dietitian, spin instructor, and Zumba instructor. Before you consider taking one of these paths this year, learn more about what each profession entails.
John LaRosa, who has 20 years of experience tracking and analyzing diet programs at MarketData, shared some helpful tips about these careers. When it comes to getting certified for these positions, some require much more than others. LaRosa noted that dietitians have to be licensed by the American Dietetic Association, or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as they just changed their name in 2012. The Academy states that a registered dietitian must complete a bachelor’s degree or higher and more than 900 hours of training, while a dietetic technician is required to complete an associate level degree and 450 hours of training.
Spin instructors are often certified by the gym in which they teach. This can often require consistent training in order to remain apprised of the new findings and the best ways to safely teach novice athletes. A benefit to becoming a spin instructor is that in most cases, in order to teach, you have to do the same workout with the class. A great case of getting paid to workout.
When it comes to Zumba, things are different. Since Zumba is a franchise, LaRosa pointed out that the Zumba website states, “Anyone interested in becoming a Zumba instructor must attend a Zumba Instructor Training course, and then must keep their instructor license current through a variety of courses offered by the Zumba Academy, or by joining the Zumba® Instructor Network (ZIN™).”
Again, Zumba is a great way to stay fit while you work.
Health coaches are a popular profession, but the level of training isn’t clear cut. Not all organizations require coaches to be certified, according to LaRosa. He referred to Medifast as a company that trains their own coaches, yet he referenced a degree for health educators that may be necessary for many looking to seek this profession.
Personal trainers are required to go through certification. There are a number of certification programs and options. As well, some gyms require more than just the certification and may also require college degrees in the field.
Trainer Kalene Smith, ACE, CPT, owner at GoTimeTraining.com, gave some great insight into her career and those interested in becoming a personal trainer. Outside of the skills, Smith explains that training isn’t for the shy or timid.
“If you are that person who just likes to workout but doesn’t want to interact with others, personal training might not be your first pick.”
She explained that knowing how to take someone through an effective workout is just part of the game, and being able to really connect is very important in her career. “People invest a lot of money in personal training and aside from a good workout, most clients are looking for someone to confide in, share their daily problems/frustrations, and sometimes they are looking for a shoulder to cry on,” Smith explained. The job requires catering to clients around the clock, according to Smith, as they need support with mental struggles, nutrition, motivation, and consistency. “Personal training really is so much more than the one hour in the gym.”
Finally, Smith raised the point that you have to walk the walk in the training industry. “A personal trainer needs to be a role model for their business/product, so make sure you’re in shape and live a healthy lifestyle – nobody wants a trainer who is out of shape and doesn’t practice what they preach.”
All of these professions seem to be booming this year. Not all fitness trends last, and when considering a new career consider longevity, too. LaRosa feels a career as a registered dietitian would have the most job security.
He said, “They don’t just deal with weight loss and can work in private practice, for health clubs, hospitals, diet companies, corporate wellness programs, etc.”
Is this the year you make fitness your business?