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Become A Fitness Trainer

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Working As A Fitness Trainer

  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Make Decisions

  • $46,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Fitness Trainer Do

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:

  • Demonstrate how to perform various exercises and routines
  • Watch clients do exercises
  • Demonstrate or explain correct exercise techniques to minimize injuries and improve fitness
  • Provide alternative exercises during workouts or classes for different levels of fitness and skill
  • Monitor clients’ progress and adapt programs as needed
  • Explain and enforce safety rules and regulations on sports, recreational activities, and the use of exercise equipment
  • Give clients information or resources about nutrition, weight control, and lifestyle issues
  • Give emergency first aid if needed

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.

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How To Become A Fitness Trainer

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.

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Fitness Trainer Career Paths

Fitness Trainer
Instructor Case Manager Specialist
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Head Coach Specialist Staff Accountant
Audit Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Service Technician Service Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Account Manager Business Development Manager
Business Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Personal Trainer General Manager Account Executive
Business Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Fitness Specialist Fitness Director General Manager
Business Owner
6 Yearsyrs
Instructor Specialist Account Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Sales Consultant Finance Manager Chief Finance Officer
Entrepreneur
5 Yearsyrs
Personal Trainer Security Officer Technician
General Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Head Coach Security Officer Direct Support Professional
Home Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Fitness Specialist Program Manager General Manager
Managing Director
11 Yearsyrs
Fitness Coach Personal Fitness Trainer Fitness Director
Membership Director
5 Yearsyrs
Fitness Coach Instructor Adjunct Professor
Owner And Chief Executive Officer
7 Yearsyrs
Fitness Director Instructor Assistant Director
Owner/Director
7 Yearsyrs
Fitness Manager Sales Manager Owner
Owner/Manager
6 Yearsyrs
General Manager Account Executive
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Fitness Manager Club Manager Account Executive
Sales/Marketing
5 Yearsyrs
General Manager Account Manager Account Executive
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Fitness Director General Manager Account Executive
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Physical Therapy Aide Massage Therapist Health Coach
Wellness Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Fitness Trainer Demographics

Gender

Male

56.6%

Female

41.7%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.2%

Hispanic or Latino

16.6%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

7.2%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.8%

French

9.6%

Thai

7.2%

Arabic

6.0%

Italian

4.8%

Portuguese

2.4%

Chinese

2.4%

Korean

2.4%

Vietnamese

2.4%

Swedish

1.2%

Danish

1.2%

Ukrainian

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Romanian

1.2%

Japanese

1.2%

Carrier

1.2%

Russian

1.2%

Cantonese

1.2%
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Fitness Trainer Education

Schools

California University of Pennsylvania

11.0%

Liberty University

8.3%

West Virginia University

5.5%

Grand Valley State University

5.5%

Florida State University

5.5%

International Sports Science Association

5.0%

The Academy

5.0%

University of Phoenix

5.0%

Kaplan University

5.0%

Syracuse University

4.4%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.4%

Grand Canyon University

4.4%

East Carolina University

3.9%

University of North Florida

3.9%

Middle Tennessee State University

3.9%

Southeastern Louisiana University

3.9%

University of Northern Iowa

3.9%

San Diego State University

3.9%

University of Louisville

3.9%

Florida International University

3.9%
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Majors

Kinesiology

35.0%

Business

15.8%

Psychology

5.0%

Health Education

4.8%

Criminal Justice

4.3%

Communication

3.6%

Education

3.2%

Exercise Physiology

3.1%

Marketing

2.7%

Physical Therapy

2.6%

Ethnic, Gender And Minority Studies

2.6%

Nursing

2.5%

Management

2.3%

Food And Nutrition

2.2%

Liberal Arts

2.1%

Biology

1.9%

Medical Assisting Services

1.9%

Health Care Administration

1.6%

Health And Wellness

1.5%

General Studies

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

44.1%

Other

23.2%

Masters

14.5%

Associate

10.1%

Certificate

4.5%

Doctorate

2.3%

Diploma

1.0%

License

0.3%
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Real Fitness Trainer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors JNY & JNY, Inc. NY Sep 09, 2014 $83,400
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors 301 E 57Th St. Gym Corp LLC New York, NY Feb 06, 2014 $83,346
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Dragon Yong-In Martial Arts Brambleton Inc. Ashburn, VA May 21, 2014 $57,096
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors United Martial Arts Center Inc. Fort Myers, FL May 22, 2014 $56,971
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Mir TAE Kwon Do Norwood, NJ Apr 03, 2012 $55,994
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Park's Martial Arts Inc. Long Beach, NY Mar 16, 2012 $54,267
Fitness Trainer & Lifestyle Coach Ponzio Fitness Holdings, LLC Lawrenceville, GA Aug 16, 2012 $52,175
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Athletes Performance Carson, CA May 05, 2014 $51,480 -
$65,000
Fitness Trainer Academy of Elite Martial Arts, Inc. West Jordan, UT Nov 12, 2010 $51,278
Fitness Trainer/Tennis Coach Island Tennis LP Syosset, NY Sep 01, 2010 $50,000
Fitness Trainer/Tennis Coach Island Tennis, LP Syosset, NY Sep 01, 2010 $50,000
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Tfwellness, Inc. Indianapolis, IN Oct 21, 2011 $49,462
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructor World Keimyung Taekwondo, Inc. Lawrenceville, NJ Apr 22, 2009 $49,211
Fitness Trainer Fitness M, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Mar 24, 2016 $48,755
Fitness Trainers & Aerobics Instructors Carlos M. Hernandez Greenwich, CT May 09, 2011 $42,178
Golf Fitness Trainer and Performance Therapist The Junior Golf Academy of Canada Inc. Winter Garden, FL Sep 22, 2015 $42,000
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Storm Baseball Academy, Inc. West Hempstead, NY Aug 26, 2011 $41,928
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Dragon Yong-In Martial Arts Ashburn, Inc. Ashburn, VA Aug 21, 2012 $41,746
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Dragon Yong-In Martial Arts Ashburn, Inc. Ashburn, VA Jan 10, 2012 $41,746
Fitness Trainer and Educator Three-Seventeen Inc. San Diego, CA Mar 15, 2013 $41,740 -
$83,480
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Dragon Yong-In Martial Arts, Purcellville, Inc. Purcellville, VA Apr 19, 2011 $41,538
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Mu Han Martial Art, Inc. Attleboro, MA Dec 21, 2010 $34,902
Fitness Trainers & Aerobics Instructors Triangle United Soccer Association Chapel Hill, NC Dec 30, 2009 $34,373
Fitness Trainer Tiger Sports Academy, Inc. Dumfries, VA Nov 17, 2009 $34,102
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Bally Total Fitness Corporation Houston, TX Jun 08, 2011 $34,000
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors Bally Total Fitness Corporation Miami, FL Jun 14, 2011 $33,509
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors World Champion Taekwondo, LLC. Dacula, GA Jan 10, 2013 $33,509
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instructors World Champion Taekwondo, LLC. Dacula, GA Nov 09, 2012 $33,509
Fitness Trainers and Aerobics Instuctors World Champion Taekwondo, LLC. Dacula, GA May 25, 2012 $33,509

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Fitness Trainer

Average Yearly Salary
$46,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$30,000
Min 10%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$69,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Premise Health Holding Corp
Highest Paying City
Anchorage, AK
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.4 years
How much does a Fitness Trainer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Fitness Trainer in the United States is $46,144 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $30,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $69,000.

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Top Skills for A Fitness Trainer

  1. Physical Fitness
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Gym Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Advised and treated athletes to maintain maximum physical fitness for participation in athletic competition.
  • Designed customized nutritional plans, exercise regimens, rehabilitation therapy and weight loss programs.
  • Assist members in effectively utilizing all gym equipment.
  • Developed individualized programs that ensure client enhancement of personal fitness goals to his satisfaction.
  • Create personalized fitness programs including strength training and cardiovascular components to assist clients with achieving their health and fitness goals.

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Top 10 Best States for Fitness Trainers

  1. New Jersey
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New York
  4. Washington
  5. California
  6. Connecticut
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Colorado
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Hawaii
  • (356 jobs)
  • (230 jobs)
  • (354 jobs)
  • (195 jobs)
  • (1,114 jobs)
  • (66 jobs)
  • (49 jobs)
  • (201 jobs)
  • (41 jobs)
  • (34 jobs)

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