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Fitness trainers and instructors lead, instruct, and motivate individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercises (exercises for the heart and blood circulation), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels.Duties
Fitness trainers and instructors typically do the following:
Both group fitness instructors and specialized fitness instructors plan or choreograph their own classes. Classes may include cardiovascular exercises, such as aerobics or dance; strength training, such as lifting weights; or both. Instructors choose music that is appropriate for their exercise class and create a routine or a set of moves for participants to follow. Some may teach prechoreographed routines that were originally created by fitness companies or other organizations.
Personal fitness trainers design and carry out workout routines specific to the needs of their clients. They may work with individual clients or teach group classes. In larger facilities, personal trainers often sell their training sessions to gym members. They start by evaluating their clients’ current fitness level, personal goals, and skills. Then, they develop personalized training programs for their clients to follow, and they monitor the clients’ progress.
Fitness trainers and instructors in smaller facilities 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 facility, or supervising the weight-training and cardiovascular equipment areas. Fitness trainers and instructors also may promote their facilities and instruction by various means, such as through social media, by writing newsletters or blog articles, or by creating posters and flyers.
Gyms and other types of health clubs offer many different activities for clients. However, trainers and instructors frequently specialize in only a few areas. The following are examples of types of fitness trainers and instructors:
Personal fitness trainers work with an individual client or a small group. They may train in a gym or in the clients’ homes. Personal fitness trainers assess the clients’ level of physical fitness and help them set and reach their fitness goals.
Group fitness instructors organize and lead group exercise classes, which can include aerobic exercises, stretching, or muscle conditioning. Some classes are set to music. In these classes, instructors may select the music and choreograph an exercise sequence.
Specialized fitness instructors teach popular conditioning methods, such as Pilates or yoga. In these classes, instructors show the different moves and positions of the particular method. They also watch students and correct those who are doing the exercises improperly.
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 and creating workout incentive programs. They may select and order fitness equipment for their facility.
The education and training required for fitness trainers and instructors varies by type of specialty, and employers often hire those with certification. Personal fitness trainers, group fitness instructors, and specialized fitness instructors each need different preparation. Requirements also vary by facility.Education
Almost all trainers and instructors have at least a high school diploma before entering the occupation. An increasing number of employers are requiring fitness workers, particularly personal trainers, to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree related to a health or fitness field, such as exercise science, kinesiology, or physical education. Programs often include courses in nutrition, exercise techniques, biology, anatomy, and group fitness. Personal trainers also learn how to develop fitness programs for clients of all ages.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Employers prefer to hire fitness trainers and instructors who are certified. Many personal trainers must be certified before they begin working with clients or with members of a gym or other type of health club. Group fitness instructors can begin work without certification, but employers often encourage or require them to become certified. Most specialized fitness instructors receive certification for their preferred type of training, such as yoga or Pilates.
Many organizations offer certification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), part of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, lists certifying organizations that are accredited.
All certification exams have a written part, and some also have a practical part. The exams measure the candidate’s knowledge of human physiology, understanding of proper exercise techniques, and ability to assess clients’ fitness levels and develop appropriate exercise programs. Many certifying organizations offer study materials to prepare for the exam, including books, webinars, other audio and visual materials, and exam preparation workshops and seminars.
Advanced certification requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in an exercise-related subject that includes more-specialized instruction, such as training athletes, working with people who are injured or ill, or advising clients on general health. For more information, see the profiles on athletic trainers and exercise physiologists.
Most trainers or instructors need certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators before applying for certification in physical fitness.Training
After becoming a certified personal trainer, new trainers typically work alongside an experienced trainer before they are allowed to train clients alone.
Training for specialized fitness instructors can vary greatly. For example, the duration of programs for yoga instructors can range from a few days to more than 2 years. The Yoga Alliance offers several credentials that require a minimum of between 200 and 500 hours, with a specified number of hours in techniques, teaching methods, anatomy, physiology, philosophy, and other areas.Important Qualities
Customer-service skills. Many fitness trainers and instructors must sell their services, motivating clients to hire them as personal trainers or to sign up for the classes they lead. Fitness trainers and instructors must therefore be polite, friendly, and encouraging, to maintain relationships with their clients.
Communication skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must be able to clearly explain or demonstrate exercises to clients.
Listening skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must be able to listen carefully to what clients tell them in order to determine the clients’ fitness levels and desired fitness goals.
Motivational skills. Getting fit and staying fit takes a lot of work for many clients. To keep clients coming back for more classes or to continue personal training, fitness trainers and instructors must keep their clients motivated.
Physical fitness. Fitness trainers and instructors need to be physically fit because their job requires a considerable amount of exercise. Group instructors often participate in classes, and personal trainers often need to demonstrate exercises to their clients.
Problem-solving skills. Fitness trainers and instructors must evaluate each client’s level of fitness and create an appropriate fitness plan to meet the client’s individual needs.Advancement
Fitness trainers and instructors who are interested in management positions should get a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, physical education, kinesiology, or a related subject. Experience often is required in order for a trainer or instructor to advance to a management position in a health club or fitness center. Many organizations prefer a master’s degree for certain positions.
Personal trainers may eventually advance to a head trainer position and become responsible for hiring and overseeing the personal training staff or for bringing in new personal training clients. Head trainers also are responsible for procuring athletic equipment, such as weights or fitness machines. Some fitness trainers and instructors go into business for themselves and open their own fitness centers.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Fitness Trainer
Top Careers After Fitness Trainer
Hispanic or Latino11.5%
Black or African American0.6%
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California University of Pennsylvania11.7%
West Virginia University6.4%
Grand Valley State University5.3%
San Diego State University4.8%
University of Phoenix4.8%
Southern New Hampshire University4.8%
University of Massachusetts Amherst4.8%
Florida State University4.3%
Florida International University4.3%
Grand Canyon University4.3%
International Sports Science Association3.7%
East Carolina University3.7%
University of North Florida3.7%
Michigan State University3.7%
Southeastern Louisiana University3.7%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Program Director/Fitness Trainer||Master Shims World Class Taekwondo||Fayetteville, GA||Sep 04, 2015||$54,575|
|Fitness Trainer & Lifestyle Coach||Ponzio Fitness Holdings, LLC||Lawrenceville, GA||Aug 16, 2012||$52,175|
|Fitness Trainer||Academy of Elite Martial Arts, Inc.||West Jordan, UT||Nov 12, 2010||$51,278|
|Fitness Trainer||Fitness M, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Mar 24, 2016||$48,755|
|Fitness Trainer & Aeribics Instructor||All City Family Healthcare Center||New York, NY||Sep 01, 2009||$47,486|
|Master Fitness Trainer Instructor||Anautics, Inc.||Castle, OK||Sep 28, 2014||$45,000|
|Golf Fitness Trainer and Performance Therapist||The Junior Golf Academy of Canada Inc.||Winter Garden, FL||Sep 22, 2015||$42,000|
|Fitness Trainer and Educator||Three-Seventeen Inc.||San Diego, CA||Mar 15, 2013||$41,740 -
|Fitness Trainer||Norcross Soccer Assoc Inc.||Norcross, GA||Dec 22, 2009||$35,318|
|Fitness Trainer||Tiger Sports Academy, Inc.||Dumfries, VA||Nov 17, 2009||$34,102|
|Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instuctors||World Champion Taekwondo, LLC.||Dacula, GA||May 25, 2012||$33,509|
|Fitness Trainer||Atlanta Fire United Soccer Association, Inc.||Duluth, GA||Apr 29, 2009||$32,968|
|Program Director/Fitness Trainer||Tiger Kim's Taekwondo Inc.||Winston-Salem, NC||Sep 02, 2015||$31,827|
|Program Director/Fitness Trainer||Tiger Kim's Taekwondo Inc.||Winston-Salem, NC||Sep 03, 2015||$31,827|
|Fitness Trainer||Studio City Yoga College of India, LLC||CA||Feb 16, 2011||$31,305|
|Fitness Trainers and Aeorbics Instructors||Black Belt World, Inc.||Raleigh, NC||Sep 10, 2008||$31,200|
|Fitness Trainer||Get Out Get Healthy Inc.||FL||Nov 15, 2014||$30,303|
|Fitness Trainer||Healthy Living Partnership LLC||FL||Nov 15, 2014||$30,303|
|Fitness Trainer & Instructors||Eagle Taekwondo||Fullerton, CA||Apr 14, 2010||$29,552|
|Fitness Trainer/Instructor||Aroma Spa & Sports, LLC.||Los Angeles, CA||Oct 01, 2011||$26,526|
|Fitness Trainer/Coach||Get Lifted Crossfit Gym||El Paso, TX||Apr 01, 2010||$26,000|
|Fitness Trainer/Coach||Get Lifted Crossfit Gym||El Paso, TX||May 11, 2010||$26,000|
|Fitness Trainer||Traditional Studios||Irvine, CA||Feb 28, 2008||$25,420|
|Fitness Trainer||Bally Total Fitness Holding Corporation||Colorado Springs, CO||Oct 01, 2011||$24,063|
|Fitness Trainer/Instructor||Clinton Physical Therapy Center||Clinton, TN||Jan 26, 2013||$24,042|
|Fitness Trainer/Instructor||Clinton Physical Therapy Center||Clinton, TN||Jan 26, 2012||$24,042|
|Fitness Trainer/Instructor||Clinton Physical Therapy Center||Clinton, TN||Jan 26, 2011||$24,042|
|Fitness Trainer/Coach||Get Lifted Crossfit Gym||El Paso, TX||May 11, 2010||$23,858|
|Program Director/Fitness Trainer||Tiger Kim's Taekwondo, Inc.||Winston-Salem, NC||Sep 15, 2013||$23,520|
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