Fitness trainers provide personalized and group exercise activities, such as cardiovascular, stretching, strength training and sports activities. They evaluate their clients, learn their goals and design an appropriate training program. Fitness trainers provide leadership, demonstrate techniques, observe their clients and offer tips for improving their techniques. Often, the program needs to be altered after numerous training sessions.
Fitness instructors are employed in health clubs, resorts, exercise clubs, sports training facilities and fitness centers of large companies. They also work in country clubs, hospitals and yoga and Pilates centers. Many fitness trainers have a specialty, however some provide a wide variety of fitness assistance. Some in the profession, provide fitness training at their client's residence.
- Evaluate the physical condition, the abilities and the needs of participants
- Create variations on the basic fitness plan for some members of the class
- Offer instructions to improve client's abilities
- Make alterations to their client's training plan
- Offer resources regarding nutrition, lifestyle choices and controlling weight
- Design exercise routines
- Offers instructions for maintaining exertion levels
- Provide proper breathing techniques
- Observe the progress of participants
- Maintain exercise equipment
- Select music when applicable
- Make membership sales at health clubs
Fitness trainers work in a variety of settings. Due to many clients participating in exercise programs before or after work, fitness instructors often work in the early morning hours, the evenings and during the weekends. Some work full-time, however there are many part-time positions available in the profession.
Those working in small facilities are often required to work at the front desk, sign new members, provide tours of the facility and supervise the cardiovascular and weight training sections of the facility.
Being astute at assessing the physical condition and the needs of clients is an important part of the job. Fitness trainers need good communication skills and they should enjoy working with others. Listening carefully to clients and understanding the clients' situation from their perspective is important in this profession. They also need to have good motivation and teaching skills and have empathy for the clients. In addition, sometimes frustration is part of the occupation due to clients not having passion for exercise, or having poor skills or not being able to properly follow instructions.
Good stamina, body coordination and strength are important factors for fitness instructors. In addition, fitness trainers are at risk for injury due to frequently participating in physical activities.
The growth in fitness programs in the country has stimulated a strong demand for fitness instructors. Aerobics, weight lifting and body conditioning have gained in popularity. Some experienced fitness trainers with a large clientele open their own fitness club. They also have the opportunity to advance to head trainer and program manager at large fitness facilities.
Self-employed fitness instructors are involved with advertising, marketing, dealing with paperwork and cleaning their facility. Having basic business skills is important.
In 2006, there were approximately 235,000 fitness worker positions. Approximately 8 percent of fitness workers are self-employed and many of them are personal trainers. A lot of the jobs are part-time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for fitness workers is expected to be 27 percent from 2006 through 2016 which is mush faster than the average for all types of employment. Part-time employment is projected to be easier to obtain that full-time positions.
The increase in demand for fitness trainers is primarily due to more people getting involved with fitness programs. Aging baby boomers are concerned about staying in good physical shape and are involved in exercise programs. Childhood obesity concerns has created a strong increase in children's health club memberships and also for personal trainers for children. In addition, the projected increase in demand for Pilates and yoga instructors is partly due to the popularity of the programs with older citizens.
In 2006, the median annual earnings for fitness trainers and aerobic teachers was $25,910. The middle 50 percent earned from $18,010 to $41,040. These numbers do not include the earnings from those that are self-employed in the profession. Successful self-employed fitness trainers often have significantly higher earnings.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Typically, fitness facilities require fitness instructors to have certification in the field. Sometimes group leaders are allowed to begin their employment at a facility without being certified but usually they are asked to acquire certification in the future. Most of the time fitness trainers are expected to be experts when hired. They're not offered on-the-job training, however occasionally they might be given training for a unique exercise or training for working with a particular age group. They also may be provided training regarding the operational aspects of the facility.
The education and training necessary for the occupation depends on the types of fitness work the candidate has selected. Group fitness instructors, personal trainers and those that have selected to teach Yoga or Pilates have different education training requirements. Often, group instructors gain skills by participating in exercise programs until they are prepared to lead their own class. In addition, some take training courses and attend fitness conventions.
Personal trainers typically take training classes in order to become certified in the field. Sometimes they begin their careers by working with an experienced personal trainer.
Pilates trainers often acquire their knowledge and skills by attending workshops and programs which take a year to complete. The Pilates Method Alliance has created training standards and suggest teachers have, at a minimum, 200 hours of training. The organization also has a list of Pilates training schools that meet their requirements. Some Pilates trainers are certified group instructors and have acquired skills by attending short Pilates workshops. The training requirements for yoga instructors are similar to Pilates trainers. The training programs for yoga instructors range from a couple of days to over two years.
More employers are seeking fitness instructors that have acquired a bachelor's degree in a health or fitness related subject and have certification in the profession. There are numerous organizations which provide certification. Receiving certification from a leading organization has become important for obtaining employment.
Certifying organizations that have been accredited by The National Commission for Certifying Agencies are typically considered to be reputable. The majority of certifying organizations require candidates to have a high school diploma, have a certification in CPR and pass an exam. The exams typically include a written section and a practical component. Most certification organizations provide study materials and exam preparation workshops. Certifications typically last for two years.
- American College of Sports Medicine
- American Council on Exercise
- National Academy of Sports Medicine
- NSCA Certification Commission
The majority of fitness trainers work in physical fitness facilities and health clubs.
Schools for Fitness Trainers And Aerobics Instructors are listed in the column to the left.