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Personal Fitness Training Job Options, Duties and Requirements

Personal fitness trainers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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Personal fitness trainers help people with a variety of lifestyles meet their health and fitness goals. Most fitness trainers work at fitness centers, health clubs, fitness studios and gyms. In this article, learn about how to become a personal fitness trainer and what to expect on the job.

Essential Information

Using their knowledge of anatomy, physiology and exercise techniques, personal fitness trainers create individual workout regimens for their clients. They educate clients on proper nutrition and exercise to achieve fitness goals. Certification is required to work in personal fitness training. In order to become certified, applicants must pass a written exam and demonstrate their physical aptitude in a practical exam.

Required Education High school diploma; postsecondary degrees are becoming increasingly desirable
Other Requirements Certification is common
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% (for fitness trainers and instructors)*
Median Salary (2015) $36,160 (for fitness trainers and aerobics instructors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Options in Personal Fitness Training

A personal fitness trainer may also be referred to as a fitness trainer or personal trainer. Some trainers work part time, giving them the freedom to work for various companies or organizations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted around 58% of personal fitness trainers worked in health clubs or sports centers in 2014. The rest were self-employed or split their time between health care facilities and other organizations; personal fitness trainers also commonly work at the homes of their clients. The BLS anticipated a 8% increase in job opportunities for trainers between 2014 and 2024 due to expanding fitness chains and aging populations.

Job Duties

The primary job of a personal fitness trainer is to build diet and exercise programs geared toward the health needs of their clients. This means training clients in exercises that are best suited to promote weight loss, cardiovascular fitness or muscle development. Responsibilities involve spotting clients and lifting weights, as well as enduring long periods of walking and standing. Personal trainers also educate individuals on proper eating habits to modify their lifestyle. A portion of the job may include recruiting new business.

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Personal Fitness Training Requirements

In order to promote a healthy lifestyle for their clients, personal fitness trainers must be able to demonstrate one themselves. This means being in good physical shape. They should also be knowledgeable about multiple types of fitness equipment, such as weights and treadmills. This profession often requires working nights and weekends, since trainers need to be available on a client's schedule.

Education Requirements

Becoming a personal fitness trainer requires a high school diploma or GED before getting certified. Some employers prefer previous personal training experience, since on-the-job training isn't typically offered. Prospective personal trainers seeking further education may want to pursue a bachelor's degree in kinesiology or a degree program that prominently features biology, anatomy and physiology. Business classes can benefit self-employed trainers.

Certification Requirements

Upon meeting minimal education requirements, personal fitness trainers have some sort of certification, beginning with CPR. Beyond that, prospective trainers can be certified by the National Federation of Personal Trainers, American Council on Exercise or National Academy of Sports Medicine, among other groups. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies accredits reputable certifying organizations. Certification usually lasts two years, and renewal involves continuing education.

The BLS expects personal fitness trainer jobs to increase at about the same rate as the average of all occupations in the nation. While entering the field may only require a high school diploma and certification, most employers prefer and some even require a related associate's or bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree may also open up opportunities for advancement.

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