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So You Want to Be a Fitness Pro: Five Steps to Building Your Best Career

Steering Your Career

The fitness industry can be a fun and exciting place to build a career. After decades of steady growth, new opportunities are constantly arising for qualified professionals to meet the needs of an unwell and unfit public. To secure your future and create the life of your dreams, you need to explore your options and set your sites on specific goals. Once you have concrete goals in mind, you can then devise a strategy to steer your career in the direction you wish to go.

1. Define Your Niche

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One of the outcomes of industry growth has been a more diverse and varied client base. At one time, young to middle-aged working adults were the primary target market for fitness services. Today, the market range is much broader, encompassing children, youth, older adults, special needs, athletes, obese, bodybuilders, figure competitors and a plethora of other distinct populations. Deciding early in your career where to focus your efforts will lay the groundwork for your success.


2. Beef Up Your Credentials

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Once you have identified your niche market, take a closer look at your credentials. Do you have all the certifications and qualifications necessary to have a positive impact on your client base? Expanding your credentials to include specialty certifications, additional training, or even a college degree can boost your credibility and help you establish yourself as an expert in your field.

3. Have a Plan


As the great football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Plan your work, then work your plan.” In order to realize your dreams, you need to develop a step-by-step strategy and create a general timeline. For example, if you are a novice trainer with minimal credentials and your goal is to become an athletic trainer with a professional sports team, you are going to need some academic credentials. Do your homework to find a program that will help you achieve your goals. Figure out how long it will take and how much it will cost, then take the first steps toward pursuing your dream.

4. Strive for Excellence


Whether you are training clients, teaching group exercise or selling exercise equipment, strive to be the best among your peers. Build strong professional relationships with your clients and coworkers. Go the extra mile to set yourself and your clients up for success. Stay informed about new concepts and theories in your field. Refuse to compromise when it comes to healthy lifestyle choices and behaviors. Focus on changing the lives of those who have placed their trust in you to help them reach their goals. Your clients’ success is the best evidence of your expertise.


5. Maintain a Professional Profile

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Professionalism encompasses many character traits and behaviors. Chief among them is your physical appearance. Laziness and sloppiness have no place in the fitness professional’s domain. Good hygiene and grooming, and clean professional attire are fundamental. Evidence that you practice what you preach by maintaining your own fitness and wellness lends credibility to your overall image. The tone, language and substance of your speech identifies who you are as a professional. Embody your values and exemplify professionalism, and you will go far in your professional fitness career.


W.I.T.S. is dedicated to promoting professionalism in the fitness industry. We feel that fitness professionals should be able to build a life-long career, with pay scales equitable to other health care professions. We provide tools to help you build your business and grow your cash flow. To make the most out of your career, stay on the cutting edge with courses from the W.I.T.S. Fitness Business Institute, and visit our booth at the Club Industry Show, October 9-11, 2015 in Chicago.

References and Credits

ACE Fitness: The Dos and Don’ts of Being a Professional in the Fitness Industry

IDEA Health and Fitness Association: Professionalism in a Service Industry
Professionalism in a Service Industry

Register of Exercise Professionals: Code of Conduct

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