Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer

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Fitness Instructor/Personal Trainer


Do you have boundless amounts of energy? Do you just want to go for a hike when your friends feel like staying home and playing scrabble? Do you prefer going out for organic juices when your friends suggest ice cream? Do you have a gym membership? Do you actually use that membership? If you answered yes to these questions, maybe you'd be interested in a career as a fitness instructor!

Fitness instructors are experts in a number of areas of fitness. Some teach aerobics and aqua-aerobics, some teach older people, some specialize in fitness adaptation for people with disabilities. Some are stretch, kickboxing, or yoga instructors, while others supervise weight-rooms and host spinning classes (group stationary bike riding). There are many types of fitness activities, and fitness instructors are involved in at least one of them, if not more than one.

They teach individuals and groups of people at health clubs, community centers, retirement homes, prisons, hospitals, studios, and cultural centers. They monitor breathing, safety, flexibly, and proper handling of equipment. They act as nutrition and weight loss coaches to regular clients. Their involvement with the clients differs, depending on the type of instructing they do.

They often have to perform administrative duties as well, especially if they work at a health club. Because teaching fitness can be tiring, they may only do it part time, and answer phones, meet with clients, and promote their services the rest of the time.

As much as people moan and complain about exercise, the fact is that many people enjoy and actively participate in some form or organized fitness activity at least once a week. Fitness instructors ensure that we are exercising properly, and help us stay fit and healthy, full of energy and life.
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Grand Canyon University
Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!
Programs Offered:
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business



  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
You need to be physically fit, and have the stamina to work out for several hours a week, often at high-impact levels. You need good coordination, a good sense of rhythm, and good communication skills. You need to be interested in weight training, with both free weights and nautilus machines. You should be a good communicator, able to explain fitness ideas clearly. You need to be patient, friendly, and approachable, and able to take and give criticism with a smile.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Meet with clients to evaluate abilities and needs
  • Suggest suitable training programs and classes
  • Demonstrate correct exercise methods and use of equipment
  • Monitor client safety in various environments
  • Plan routines and choose music
  • Lead various classes (spinning, aerobic, yoga, etc.)
  • Advise clients on nutrition, weight control and lifestyle issues
  • Adapt classes, exercises, and programs for people who have special requirements
  • Maintain and clean exercise equipment
  • The typical day for a fitness instructor depends on their work environment. They spend some time meeting one-on-one with clients, coaching them in appropriate fitness practices. They plan and run fitness classes, where they will exert themselves physically. They spend some time performing administrative duties, as well as evaluating their own programs, reworking them for certain participants, and meeting with other fitness professionals in an effort to fine-tune their routines, their instruction techniques, and their exercises. They may give clients individual assessments. This job does not allow for much travel, unless they take their classes or knowledge to people's homes, different group homes and community centers, and to conferences and competitions.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Fitness instructors work in a variety of environments. They work outdoors, in high-class aerobic studios and weight rooms, swimming pools, public recreation centers, resorts, hotels, private health clubs, public gymnasiums, dance studios, retirement centers and homes, and television recording studios. They may also work in offices, planning classes, answering phones, and performing other administrative duties. They work irregular hours, including early mornings, late nights, and weekends, whenever clients are available.
  • They usually work alone during classes or when supervising weight rooms, but will work along side a staff when working as part of a community center, health club, or retirement center.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Tired of being a fitness instructor? You can open your own fitness club, or become a personal fitness trainer. You can become an instructor to fitness and aerobic instructors, you can become an athletic director or recreation leader with community centers, old aged homes, or prisons. You may even want to work in fitness consultation for businesses, government agencies, or individuals. You can also get into other sports, or write books, publish articles, or produce fitness videos.

  Educational Paths  
There are so specific guidelines for anyone who wants to work as a fitness instructor. However, some college or university training is a good idea. Some people choose to get a degree or diploma in physical education or recreation programming. Whatever educational path you choose to follow, take some courses in subjects like dance, biology, anatomy, nutrition, kinesiology, leadership and safety. You can also learn as an apprentice--ask around to see if anyone is willing to train you.

Most states offer certification for fitness instructors. Each set of qualifications is different, so check with the National Fitness Leadership Advisory Council to find out the requirements for your area. NFLAC offers certification in four areas: aerobics, strength and resistance, instruction of older adults, and aquatics.
Some private clubs and organizations (like the YM-YWCA) have their own certification programs. Regardless of who certifies you, you may have to re-certify every two years or so.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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Grand Canyon University
Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!
Programs Offered:
  • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Sports Business

Liberty University
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Platt College
Turn Your Passion Into A Career with Platt!
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