While a major in fitness center management is not always available, training for this type of role may be offered as part of a hospitality management program at the bachelor's degree level. Master's programs are available in health fitness management, as are certificate programs. All management and hospitality-related programs provide individuals with key management and customer service skills useful in a variety of settings. In some cases, internships may be required.
Typical prerequisites can include a high school diploma for bachelor's degree and certificate programs. A bachelor's degree in a related field and GMAT or GRE scores are required for master's degree programs.
Fitness Business Management Certificate
Fitness management certificate programs take a year or less to complete and are typically comprised of approximately four to eight courses that provide a basic foundation for managing private and public clubs. Another similar certificate is the club management certificate, though this certificate applies primarily to nightclubs and restaurant settings. Courses in the fitness business management certificate program teach students how to plan, market and implement a fitness club business model. These courses combine math, business, fitness, and sales. Some programs offer an internship as one of the final courses. Some common courses offered in this program include:
- Entrepreneurship and business development in fitness
- Marketing, sales and advertising
- Club management
Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management
The four-year bachelor's program related to the fitness club management field falls in either an arts or science program, depending on the school, with concentrations in club management. A club management concentration typically pertains to nightclubs, restaurants and health clubs. This specialization may not be available within all hospitality degree programs. Hospitality courses give students foundational knowledge in business management, math, finance and club management. Students learn how to operate a business, book events, manage food and beverages and run facilities. Some program coursework includes:
- Intro to accounting
- Business management theories
- Intro to marketing
- Managing finances in hospitality
- Safety and sanitation practices
Master of Science in Health Fitness Management
Master's programs in this specific field are rare, but those available specifically prepare students for management or ownership of fitness clubs. Programs take two years to finish, and courses combine advanced business and fitness classes to teach students the skills and practices they need to manage a successful fitness club. Students also examine human anatomy and common physical conditions, like injury and chronic pain, that occur in fitness training. Additionally, business theory courses are added in with fitness and muscle coursework to give students the necessary background to teach fitness classes, as well as manage the fitness club. Students learn Muscle Activation Techniques, which is an advanced program that teaches students about muscle functions and makeup. Students can also take classes in:
- Upper or lower body muscle function
- Management and fiscal resources
- Case studies in health management
Graduates of bachelor's degree programs are eligible for several management-level jobs in the hospitality industry. These management positions usually require long hours and salaried pay. The responsibilities include managing day-to-day tasks, hiring, firing, training and ensuring safety precautions are being followed. Some positions available to those with this degree include:
- Health club manager
- Nightclub manager
- Hotel manager
- Restaurant manager
- Casino manager
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for health clubs will continue to rise due to the increase in leisure time, an aging baby boomer population and increased health awareness. Therefore, a 8% job growth rate is expected for recreation workers between 2018-2028. The median salary wage for this occupation is $25,060.
Individuals with fitness business management certificates are generally not eligible for larger club management positions. Unless these individuals have extensive work history, a business management or hospitality bachelor's or master's degree would be required for management-level opportunities.
The bachelor's hospitality degree program prepares students for management-level positions. Students interested in owning a health club or running larger facilities may pursue a master's degree in business or management, after obtaining a bachelor's degree. Some programs offer students programs with a major in business and a minor in hospitality.
Those interested in fitness center management studies can choose from a certificate, bachelor's or master's degree program. Popular career options for graduates include health club manager and hotel manager, among others.