Personal Training Careers

A world of fitness and healthy living

If you're always active and enjoy learning about health and fitness and incorporating it into your lifestyle, you may be perfect for a job in the fitness industry. Here you'll be able to take what you learn and use it to teach others how to live healthier and more active lives.

The best thing about being a personal trainer is the satisfaction that comes from helping others reach goals and seeing the positive changes they go through on the way. Not only will their physical appearance change, but they'll feel healthier, alleviate symptoms associated with inactivity and benefit from increased self-esteem.

There is arguably no other job in the health and beauty industry that brings people as much satisfaction as personal training.

How long will it take?

A four-year bachelor's degree in exercise science, physical education or a related area is one of the best ways to go about becoming a personal trainer. The education will generally be well-rounded and comprehensive, giving graduates the best job opportunities and potential for advancement. Graduates of these programs may be qualified to work with a wider range of clients.

Other personal training programs can be taken though career colleges or vocational schools and last as little as one year. Be wary of programs that sound too good to be true, such as programs that say you can complete all the training at home. You'll need to take certification testing before you're allowed to train clients. Enrolling in a school that offers an incomplete program will end up being a waste of time and money.

Skills and requirements

Personal fitness trainers do a number of jobs, from leading group classes to one-on-one instruction or doing administrative work such as planning choreography for classes, making schedules for personal training sessions or in some cases performing business duties.

These workers should be outgoing, empathetic to the needs of others and excellent motivators. Their own fitness level should be exemplary.

Proper technique - Injury risks don't just apply to a personal trainer's clients – trainers can succumb to injury, too, if proper technique isn't followed or if too much strain is put on joints or muscles. A trainer should be able to perform exercises correctly and help their clients do the same to avoid injuries for both. Students in personal training programs may learn planning, safe exercise techniques and take courses in first aid and CPR, exercise physiology, nutrition and more.

Why the interest in fitness?

People are spending more time and money on fitness, and their reasons vary by demographic. Some just want to look good for trips or bathing suit season, while others want to improve their health, build muscle or preserve mobility. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes can be improved through fitness (as long as allowed by a doctor).

Children, youth, adults and seniors are all getting in on the act. Even businesses are becoming involved by offering on-site gyms to employees or fitness consultant services.

Typical fitness jobs:

Many professionals in the fitness industry perform one or both of these functions, particularly at smaller clubs.

  • Personal trainers - Whether in a gym, outdoors or in a client's home, these trainers work one-on-one with a client. They start by assessing a client's fitness level. Then they create and help implement a plan for the client to reach certain goals. They choose exercises and demonstrate how to correctly perform them.
  • Group exercise instructors - Leading group exercise in any number of methods is what these fitness professionals are responsible for. Classes can be taught in Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, fitness dance, or one of many other methods.