Fitness trainers instruct and guide individuals or groups of all ages and skill levels in exercise activities. This includes stretching, cardiovascular exercises and strength training. Fitness trainers also instruct clients on the correct and safe use of exercise equipment. They provide information on additional aspects of health including nutrition, lifestyle choices and weight control.
Duties and responsibilities
- Instruct and demonstrate how to perform various exercises to improve fitness and minimise pain or injury
- Teach proper breathing techniques and pulse-monitoring during physical exertion
- Assess individual client's condition and tailor programme to suit their fitness level and goals
- Plan routines for group classes, targeting specific sets of muscles and adapting to capabilities of participants
- Observe client or group doing exercises and offer corrections in form as needed
- Monitor clients' progress and change routines as necessary
- Offer instruction on the correct and safe use of exercise equipment
- Explain and enforce rules and safety regulations in sports and recreational activities
- Advise clients on proper shoes and clothing for workouts
- Provide instruction on nutrition and lifestyle changes for improved health, fitness and weight control
- Give emergency first aid if needed
- Complete additional health club or gym duties as assigned, including tours and signing on new members
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Nights, early mornings, weekends
Fitness trainers who work in health clubs, gyms, corporate or civic fitness centres work various shifts according to the establishment's hours of operation. Evening or weekend shifts are possible. Part-time trainers who offer individual instruction or classes may have variable hours depending on enrolment.
Self-employed fitness trainers may travel between gyms or to clients' homes to offer instruction. Many work full-time, but in split shifts and on weekends to accommodate the times most convenient for clients.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Certification in specialty
Requirements vary by specialty and employer, but most fitness trainers have at least a high school diploma. Some facilities now require an associate's or bachelor's degree in fitness-related fields such as exercise science, kinesiology or physical education.
Most employers prefer that fitness specialists, particularly personal trainers, be certified in their specialty. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) offers a list of accredited organisations that offer certification in yoga, Pilates and other types of training. Certification requirements vary from very minimal study to two years of coursework.
Fitness trainers also need certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED).
Once certified in all required areas, you will usually work with an experienced trainer before taking on your own clients.
Fitness trainers with a bachelor's degree in fitness-related subjects can eventually advance to a supervisory position. Head trainers are responsible for hiring and overseeing fitness staff, bringing in new clients and ordering new exercise equipment. This experience is valuable for trainers who want to go on to own and operate their own fitness centres.