Most fitness professionals are passionate about fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.
They believe in exercise, eating right, and learning all about new exercises, nutrition requirements, and gym equipment. They believe in this lifestyle so much they’ve decided to make it a profession.
Unfortunately, there is more to personal training than nutrition and exercise. Personal training also requires skills in sales, marketing, budgeting/financing, and risk analysis. Whether you plan to work independently or at a local health club, successfully running your personal training business is no different than starting any other business. It takes time, determination, preparation, and a well thought-out and detailed plan.
The first step to becoming a fitness professional is education! Earning a certification from a recognized/accredited organization should be an aspiring trainer’s first goal. Education is vital in teaching the health and fitness professional how to properly assess and instruct their clients through safe and effective workouts. The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA.org) recommends earning a certification from an organization that has either earned accreditation or is in the process of receiving accreditation of their programs (i.e., National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA)). In addition to a certification, higher education such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree will help separate you from everyone else, enhancing your marketability, experience, and knowledge regarding health and fitness.
Currently, there are no government regulations requiring fitness professionals to earn a certification or college degree. In South Africa the industry regulator is REPSSA. However, most gyms/health clubs will not hire someone who has not earned a personal trainer certification which is REPSSA accredited. More and more and more gyms are taking IHRSA’s advice and requiring fitness professionals to earn an accredited certification. Unaccredited certifications are becoming a thing of the past and the fitness community is demanding more education from today’s fitness professionals.
WHERE TO WORK?
Finding your dream job takes work and determination. Keep in mind the old cliché, “poor preparation equals poor performance.” Therefore, before hitting the streets, let’s map out all the steps.
Take some time to consider where you would like to work, and the advantages and disadvantages of each place.
10 Things to Consider:
- Do you prefer to be your own boss or work for someone else?
- How many hours in a week are you willing to work?
- How will your new career affect your family and loved ones?
- What are your financial goals?
- Do you need insurance/health benefits?
- What do you want to be doing 5 -10 years from now?
- What type of clients do you like to work with (youth, elderly, athletes, etc.)?
- Are you willing to relocate?
- Is travel or a long commute involved?
- Do you need additional certifications, schooling, or training?
Looking for a Job
Determining the type of job you’re looking for will drastically help your search process and save much needed time and effort. You need to be specific about what you need and want in your fitness career.
There are several resources available to help search for a job including the Internet, newspaper, yellow pages, and referrals.
Internet – The Internet can be a valuable resource and is available for almost anyone. Even if you don’t own a computer, visit your local library to start your job search. Using popular search engines can help you find Web sites and job postings. Some of these Web sites will require membership. But they allow your resume to be seen by countless employers. “According to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (www.SHRM.org), 88 percent of human resource professionals now rely on the internet to fill open positions in their organizations.”
University – If you’re currently in college or an alumni, a great resource is your college’s career center. Generally career counselors will give you tips on job searches, resume writing, and interviewing skills. Who knows, your local college may have an opening in their recreational department as well.
Newspaper – With the advent of the Internet, the newspaper is not as popular as it once was. But the classified section may still offer some job opportunities in your area. Beyond the classifieds, the newspaper provides a great amount of detail regarding new businesses, unemployment rates, and current trends in the industry. Utilizing information you gathered from the newspaper during the interviewing process can help separate you from the competition.
Yellow pages – The yellow pages allow you to look up business in your community. For example, if you’ve decided to work at a local gym, the yellow pages are an excellent resource to find all the gyms in your area.
Referrals – Referrals are a great way to get a job, especially in a saturated market. For example, your local gym may not be advertising for a new trainer, but because you’re friends with one of the trainers, you may get hired anyways. Referrals help give you instant credibility.
HOW TO APPLY?
There are many important factors to consider when applying for a job. Employers want to hire well-educated, enthusiastic, and articulate fitness professionals.
STEP 1: RESUME
It is extremely important to put together a resume. Your resume should be a one page synopsis of your skills, education, and work history. It is important to tailor your resume to the particular job you’re applying for and be as specific as possible. List your best qualities in the beginning of the resume.
STEP 2: RESEARCH
Visit potential gyms in the area. Try to imagine what it would be like working there. Talk to the trainers, front desk staff, and/or managers to learn more about that specific facility.
STEP 3: INTERVIEW
It is a good idea to practice your interviewing skills before your actual interview. Your answers should be concise, articulate, and personable.
An interview is your chance to shine. Remember to shake the interviewer’s hand, smile, and make eye contact when introduced. While conversing, it is important to talk about your good qualities. If you have limited experience working as a trainer, talk about previous jobs and how they relate to personal training, such as your experiences in customer service and sales. Personal training can relate to many fields and most health clubs are willing to hire new trainers as long as they show potential.
Persistence: This is probably the most important aspect to finding a great career. Some of the greatest professionals have been turned down for a job at one time or another. The key is to pick yourself back up and keep looking. Remember, your dream doesn’t fall into your lap; you need to find it yourself.
Brian Sutton, MS, MA, NASM-CPT, CES, PES