Experience Matters

Experience Matters: Entering the Fitness Industry

by Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS


A confluence of a global pandemic, proliferation of social media, and the emergence of applications and technological platforms have indelibly shaped the fitness industry. Though these topics have dominated headlines and trended within the fitness community in recent years, the omnipresent need for experienced fitness professionals remains a constant fixture among employers and prospective clients.


Just how important is experience?


Across industries, hiring managers prefer candidates to possess work experience, which implies the candidate has spent some time in the trenches and thus has accumulated some form of hands-on training or exposure which may increase their productivity and employability. Prospective clients will also feel more comfortable entrusting a fitness professional with experience with their health and helping them achieve their fitness goals versus a fitness professional without any experience.


What the research says?


In conjunction with cognitive ability and education, work experience has been established as a predictor of work performance (Kotur & Anbazhagan, 2014). As a standalone, work experience has been shown to be predictive of the quality of the work environment and impact job outcomes (Igbaria, Parasuraman, & Badawy, 1994), which comprise job performance, job satisfaction, and turnover intention. Job satisfaction was strongly correlated with experience and associated with absenteeism and productivity among fitness professionals (Ricardo Ramos, Esteves, Vieira, Franco, & Simões, 2021).


In short, experienced fitness professionals can offer greater levels of service, will likely be happier with their job since they have greater skill competencies, and may be less inclined to leave their job, the latter of which is inherently critical for fitness directors and business owners wanting to uphold personal training client retention.


Gaining experience


Landing a first job or beginning to build a book of clients can be a daunting task for newly certified fitness professionals. Internships, which are commonplace among those entering allied health professions, and sometimes viewed as a portal of entry into those vocations, can benefit nascent fitness professionals, helping them apply the knowledge they have acquired while preparing for their certification exam.


However, those considering a career within the fitness industry, which anticipates 14% job growth through 2032 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023), should seek out certification programs that have an established internship program, helping recently certified professionals transition from learning to applying their newfound knowledge.


Better yet, certification programs that offer hands-on-training in their preparatory coursework will provide eventual job seekers with the advantage of experience and accompanying confidence.


To learn more about certification programs that offer both internship opportunities and hands-on training, go to www.witseducation.com.



Igbaria, M., Parasuraman, S., & Badawy, M.K. (2014). Work experiences, job involvement, and quality of work life among information systems. MIS Quarterly, 18 (2): 175-201.


Kotur, B.R. & Anbazhagan, S. (2014). Education and work experience: Influence on performance. International Organization of Scientific Research Journal of Business and Management, 15 (5): 104-110.


Ricardo Ramos, L., Esteves, D., Vieira, I., Franco, S., & Simões, V. (2021). Job satisfaction of fitness professionals in Portugal: a comparative study of gender, age, professional experience, professional title, and educational qualifications. Frontiers in Psychology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.621526


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2023, September 6). Fitness trainers and instructors: Occupational outlook handbook. Retrieved February 16, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm


Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, Mr. Giandonato presently serves as an Employee Well-being Coordinator at the University of Virginia, where he assists with the design, delivery, and evaluation of their award-winning employee well-being program, Hoos Well. Additionally, Giandonato maintains multiple adjunct faculty appointments at a variety of two- and four-year colleges where he teaches exercise science electives. Giandonato has recently completed doctoral coursework in exercise science and is embarking on dissertation research, which explores the correlation between CSCS.   He is also a faculty member for the World Instructor Training Schools, through whom he has assisted hundreds of fitness enthusiast’s transition into successful careers within the fitness industry.

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