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Related roles: Personal Trainer, Private Trainer, Fitness Instructor, Group Fitness Instructor, Group Exercise Instructor, Fitness Director,Certified Fitness Nutritionist


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Personal Trainer, Private Trainer, Fitness Instructor, Group Fitness Instructor, Group Exercise Instructor, Fitness Director, Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Job Description

Fitness trainers lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercise (exercises for the heart and blood system), strength training, and stretching.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Relationship building
  • Progression: Seeing your client’s progression and your own
  • Helping people learn about their own bodies
  • Learning from your clients
  • Not an office environment
  • Autonomy and Control: you control how much you want to work or how little you want to.
  • Helping people get healthy: Help clients who are prone to diabetes, obesity, coronary disease overcome their health problems.
  • Making a difference in people’s lives: A trainer is a motivator. Helping somebody become healthy and proud of their body transforms lives.
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities

Fitness Trainers

  • Evaluates their clients' current fitness level, personal goals, and skills. Some want to lose weight, others want get stronger, others want to train for an athletic goal.
  • Designs and carries out workout routines specific to the needs of their clients.
  • Explains and enforces safety rules and regulations on sports, recreational activities, and the use of exercise equipment.
  • Gives clients information or resources about nutrition, weight control, and lifestyle issues.
  • Monitors the clients’ progress and adapts programs as needed.
  • Gives emergency first aid if needed.

Group and Specialized Fitness Instructors

  • Demonstrates how to carry out various exercises and routines.
  • Watches clients do exercises and show or tell them correct techniques to minimize injury and improve fitness.
  • Plan and choreograph their own classes. They choose music appropriate for their class and creates a routine. Some may teach pre-choreographed routines that were originally created by fitness companies or other organizations (i.e. Zumba).
  • Gives alternative exercises during workouts or classes for different levels of fitness and skill.
  • Gives emergency first aid if needed.

• Examples of specialties are Pilates, Yoga, CrossFit, TRX…etc.

Fitness trainers and instructors who work at a facility often do a variety of tasks in addition to their fitness duties, such as tending the front desk, signing up new members, giving tours of the fitness center, writing newsletter articles, creating posters and flyers, and supervising the weight-training and cardiovascular equipment areas.

Fitness directors oversee the fitness-related aspects of a gym or other type of health club. They often handle administrative duties, such as scheduling personal training sessions for clients or creating workout incentive programs. They often select and order fitness equipment for their facility.

Skills Needed on the Job
  • Listening skills
  • Patience
  • Analytical skills
  • Persistence
  • Organizational skills
  • Physical fitness skills
  • Motivational skills
  • Understanding of the body
  • Knowledge of nutrition, biology, physiology
Where do they work?
  • Gyms and health clubs
  • Specialized gyms: CrossFit, Yoga, Pilates, Barre Method…etc
  • Resorts, wellness centers
  • Cruise ships
  • Online: many personal trainers now do training videos and group exercise videos. It’s a way for them to market themselves and create other revenue streams.
  • Private: Individuals at their home.
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • You are essentially a business owner: Besides being very adept at your area of fitness expertise, being successful as a trainer means being successful in business. You can’t rely on gyms to refer you clients. You have to brand yourself and then you have to come up with a good marketing strategy and implement it. You are in charge of how many clients you have, how well you keep in touch with them.
  • You must keep up with the new technology and new trends.
  • You must know about more than just physical training. People want to know about nutrition, therapeutic techniques.
  • Will work irregular hours: nights, weekends, not the same every day.
  • Could be early morning before work, late hours after work.
Current Industry Trends

Growing and in demand. More and more people are getting on the physical fitness train. They know that exercise and nutrition are keys to long-term health. Preventative health care is spreading and exercise is a huge part of preventative health care.

What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were young...
  • Loved fitness and exercise!
  • Loved being active!
2010 Employment
2020 Projected Employment
Education Needed
  • Fitness Trainers must hold a high school diploma or GED and complete a post-secondary certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s in exercise science, physical education, kinesiology, recreation and fitness, or a related degree
  • 18% of Trainers are self-employed so many students study business, too
  • Popular Personal Trainer certification programs include ISSA-CPT (which notes that 1 hour of study per day allows students to finish in 10 weeks) and ACE Certified Group Fitness Instructor (which offers flexible 3-6 month study plans)
  • Common courses include:
    • Applied Kinesiology
    • Developing Training Programs
    • Exercise Science
    • Human Anatomy
    • Nutrition
    • Physiology
    • Weight Management
  • Specialized topics include training clients with asthma, heart disease, arthritis, or other physical conditions
    • There are dozens of certifications available from multiple organizations (see Resources > Websites for a full listing)
    • The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) accredits the organizations that offer certifications
  • Employers such as gyms and health clubs generally require their Trainers to be certified prior to starting work. They may also need to do some supervised work before training clients one-on-one
  • Trainer certification requirements usually also include completing CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) courses
Top Educational Institutions

Click here for a list of accredited programs.

Things to do in high school
  • Take plenty of fitness and nutrition classes in school or in your free time. Consider participating in sports or athletic programs
  • Talk to Trainers and ask them how they got started
  • Consider what type of fitness you want to specialize in based on your interests and where you want to work after graduation
  • Hone your people skills and develop a knack for customer service
  • Craft your “work persona” and develop your listening and verbal communication skills
  • Watch YouTube tutorials, read blogs, and keep up with what’s new and popular
  • Make friends with other Trainers! Keep engaged with your network and help each other out
  • Learn from your fellow students. Ask questions and be willing to explore new methods
  • For increased opportunities, get certified in more than one area
  • Verywell Fit’s top certification picks include: 
Education Stats
  • 19.6% with HS Diploma
  • 9.6% with Associate’s
  • 33.3% with Bachelor’s
  • 8% with Master’s
  • 1.2% with Professional

*% of employees aged 25 to 44 in the occupation whose highest level of educational attainment is


How to land your 1st job
  • Get certified.
  • Call fitness clubs in your area.
  • Start working at a club: The big ones (like 24 hour fitness) hire more trainers than a smaller club so you might have a better chance getting your first job at one of the bigger clubs.
  • Figure out your specialty and be the go to person for that specialty.
  • Keep in mind that employers view Trainers as representatives of their brand and reputation, so learn about the businesses where you apply for jobs
  • Employers generally seek a strong mixture of talent, professionalism, and personality
  • Being a Personal Trainer requires developing trust with clients. Personal compatibility is a key factor!
  • Post your resume on employment portals like Indeed and Glassdoor. Check out Craigslist and call local gyms to inquire about opportunities, too! 
  • Read job posts thoroughly and make sure you meet all listed qualifications
  • Consider building a website to brand and market your services (especially if you’re thinking of being self-employed)
  • If you teach group lessons before, ask your class if you can record a session to use on your website to demonstrate your knowledge and skills
  • Advertise yourself on social media. Offer free advice and actionable content to grow your following
  • Dig into the details of launching your own business to see if that’s a viable option for you
  • Study Fitness Trainer resume templates 
  • Review sample Fitness Trainer interview questions to get an idea of what to expect
  • Practice mock interviews so you can present yourself as capable and confident
  • Stay up-to-date on scientific research and terminology so you can impress interviewers
How to stay competitive
  • Brand yourself: Need to create your own style of training and communicate that to your potential clients.
  • True understanding of nutrition
  • Market yourself: Yelp, YouTube
  • Be indispensable to your clients: Give each client and service the best and going the extra mile that others often would not.
  • Continuing Education certifications: Stay on top of the most current methods and education, based on scientific research and state of the art training techniques.
  • Talk to other trainers and pick their brains.
  • Utilize social media and e-mail newsletters to connect with your clients.
Recommended Website



Plan B

Alternate careers: Physical therapist, Athletic trainer, Fitness Consulting.

Words of Advice

“Don't do this job for the money. Do it because you're doing something that you love and the money will come over time.”


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