Fitness Career Tips for Choosing the Right Path
So you're thinking about a career in the fitness industry. The good news is, you have a wide variety of options to move toward. The bad news is, you have a wide variety of options to ponder on. While you can shift your focus within the fitness industry, over time, figuring out where you want to take your fitness skills can help you build a steady career path from the start.
Why Choose a Career in Fitness?
Getting in shape is a life-altering experience for people. Equipped with the power to help people succeed, you can also succeed in your financial and career goals—without the stifling work clothes. Whether you want to start your own business or train at a fitness club, a fitness career lets you tailor your work around your skillset. As you continue learning and exploring new interests within the fitness sphere, your opportunities will only expand.
6 Fitness Career Paths
There are many options beyond becoming a personal trainer, and even then, there are different areas of specialization. Here are some of the major career opportunities in fitness:
1. Personal Trainer
If you can see yourself helping people achieve their goals by creating a plan and coaching them through it one-on-one, personal training may be for you. Personal trainers work at gyms and fitness clubs but also can do home visitations for clients with home gym spaces. They can generalize in training to optimize fitness or specialize in areas that serve specific groups. For example, personal trainers can specialize in senior fitness, youth fitness, weight loss transformation, or corrective exercises that help with injury recovery. If you're interested in becoming a personal trainer, start with getting a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) certification.
2. Personal Fitness Coach
A personal trainer prescribes workouts, while a personal fitness coach prescribes a holistic regimen—including the work that takes place outside the gym. This typically means assigning a meal plan, talking about lifestyle habits, and monitoring workout recovery. A fitness coach may suggest personal massage tools and teach clients how to use them after workouts. They can also guide clients through calorie counting and weight loss goal setting. Fitness coaches can leverage technology like fitness trackers to set data-based goals and audit clients' workouts from afar.
3. Strength Coach
If training athletes on sports teams sounds appealing, you might consider becoming a strength coach. Unlike personal trainers, strength coaches must have a four-year bachelor's degree. Strength coaches must obtain a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification. This rubber-stamps knowledge in strength, power, speed, anatomy, and physiology. Strength coaches work to enhance sports performance in athletes by targeting weak spots and improving overall fitness in their clients.
4. Athletic Trainer
If you have a knack for biology and like the idea of working with sports teams, you might consider athletic training as a career path. Whereas strength coaches handle most of the strength training and conditioning athletes require for their sport, athletic trainers focus on injury prevention and recovery to keep athletes at peak performance.
While personal trainers can have varying degrees of education, athletic trainers must hold bachelor's degrees to work with sports teams. Many athletic trainers have master's degrees in athletic training, as the field is more healthcare-oriented than personal training. Besides guidance for injury prevention, the job also requires diagnosing injuries after sports events or training and then prescribing treatment plans for injured athletes.
5. Exercise Physiologist
Exercise physiologists develop fitness regimens that help people with injuries or chronic diseases optimize their health, strength, and mobility. Patients with heart disease or diabetes, for example, can benefit from fitness specialists who understand their condition. Exercise physiologists can administer stress tests to evaluate a client's heart function and develop personalized workouts tailored to safety. They also work with patients with lung problems, autoimmune diseases, cancer, or brain injuries who require healthcare during exercise. After pursuing a degree in exercise physiology, you might consider continuing your education in an area like cardiac rehabilitation or physical therapy to expand your options as an exercise physiologist.
6. Workout Class Instructor
Can you see yourself teaching fitness classes at gyms or studios for a group of people? Fitness classes are for students not looking for the one-on-one attention of a personal trainer. The group can be large or small and range from strength or aerobic workouts to specialized workouts like kickboxing or Pilates. Class instructors can motivate people to keep their energy up and push through a workout. By designing and trademarking their own workout series, some class instructors become entrepreneurs and sell their workouts to gyms and to the online public.
Factors to Consider for Deciding What Fitness Career is Best for You
When you're deciding on a career path, the first thing to ask yourself is, what makes you excited about fitness? Are you interested in a particular sport? Do you like learning about nutrition and optimizing your diet? Do you have experience working around your own injury that you want to share with others? By narrowing down who you want to help, the right career path can become clear.
It's also important to ask yourself whether you want to work for yourself or be part of a company. Being an entrepreneur can pay off huge in the long run, but there's more risk and up-front work getting started. The benefit of being an employee in the fitness industry is you get a wide range of work settings and job opportunities.