How to Change Careers and Become a Fitness Professional

People everywhere live for the weekend. Many dread Monday mornings when they have to go back to work. Wouldn't it be nice to wake up during the week and look forward to getting to work? Now might be your chance!

It is an excellent time to consider a new profession in the health and fitness industry. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau publication Occupational Outlook Handbook, overall employment for personal trainers is expected to increase 44% from 2002 to 2012. In addition, Baby Boomers will be starting to turn 65 by 2011 and retiring. They are expected to look for more holistic ways to stay healthy outside of medication and doctor visits. But where to start? In the past anyone that looked to be in shape could call themselves a personal trainer. Today, health and fitness businesses are requiring their trainers to have education and hold a nationally recognized certifications.

This article will be focusing more on steps to take to gain education in fitness training and less on which certifications someone should receive. As with most professions, you need to be trained and knowledgeable to be taken seriously. However, it is unwise to just jump into an educational program without first making sure you know what it is you want to do. First you need to decide if your personality and current skills match that of a successful personal trainer. Next establish career goals and objectives. Lastly you will want to create an educational time line. All of this will help in deciding the type of education to obtain.

What does it take to be a great trainer? Good personal trainers have a certain set of skills and abilities that set them apart from other trainers. The biggest question to ask yourself first is "why do you want to become a personal trainer". Reasons do vary. While some trainers have had to lose weight to control their diabetes. Others utilized exercise to avoid surgery. Whatever your reason is, be sure you are passionate about fitness and use this passion to motivate others.

Other questions you should ask yourself include:

*Do I enjoy helping others achieve goals to better their own lives?

*Do I have good time management skills-Am I able to structure-schedule my day without someone managing me?

*Can I stay organized-would I be able to keep details such as client history, exercise plans and goals without mixing them up?

*Am I detailed oriented-do I possess good note taking skills, the ability to notice and correct minor exercise technique flaws?

*Am I passionate about helping people change-is this something that I could do day in and day out?

*Do I possess the compassion required for training-am I prepared to be not only a trainer, but a friend, a mentor, and a therapist to my clients?

These are all area's that a personal trainer needs to possess to not only be well-rounded, but also successful.

Once you have figured out why and if training is the career for you, the next thing you will want to discover is what specific area of personal training you want to focus on. Personal training is an umbrella term. Trainers can specialize in; age, individuals with disabilities, gender, location (in home or in office training) and occupation.

After getting an idea of what area of training you want to pursue, the next step to becoming a trainer should be informational interviews with professionals in the area of your interest. Setting up a meeting with a current professional in the field is a great way to network for future intern or employment opportunities. These professionals include: club managers, fitness directors, personal trainers, medical-fitness professionals, and corporate wellness directors. After all, changing careers, even though possible, is still not a matter to take lightly.

Once you have met with several professionals in the field, the next thing to do is set up a educational and career time line. Setting up a time line will prevent us from getting distracted from our goals. We all can get distracted. Distractions can come from family, friends, television, video games, etc. The whole idea of creating a time line is to have something that you can visually see to help keep you on track. It can also help you decide what form of education you should complete. If you really dislike your job, and want to become a trainer in the next six months, going back to school to earn a four year degree in Exercise Science would not be realistic. If time is not an issue and you the idea of a bachelor's degree, going back to school full-time may be the best decision for you.

Education in personal training is no laughing matter. Business's and people no longer want a trainer who simply is an exercise enthusiast. You now have to have a solid understanding of:



*Exercise physiology

*Exercise program design

*Health risk assessments

*And probably the most looked over component of being a solid trainer, business administration and management skills.

There are various educational programs in the market today that can ultimately help you become a personal trainer. Each individual will have to do research to decide what form of education best fits their lifestyle. The two options that exist in the market are on-site and online programs. If you are already working full time, online programs can be an excellent choice. Online programs cut down on travel time and time away from home, which can be very important if you have a family or your current job requires a lot of your time.

The bottom line when it comes to changing your career is to be as prepared as possible. Don't be afraid of changing careers or think that it is too late. If you never try you honestly will never know.

Dimitri Onyskow is Director of Academic Relations for Educational Fitness Solutions, Inc (EFS). EFS, in partnership with the College-University Partners Network™, industry experts, internship affiliates, our board of advisors, and national organizations, has created innovative, Web-based certificate programs in Nutrition, Fitness, and Health. To learn more, visit our website:

This article was published on 18 Dec 2009 and has been viewed 2332 times
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