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A fitness trainer is someone who leads, instructs, and motivates individuals or groups in exercise activities, including cardiovascular exercise (exercises for the heart and blood system), strength training, and stretching. They work with people of all ages and skill levels.
Fitness trainers typically do the following:
Both group and specialized fitness instructors often plan or choreograph their own classes. They choose music that is appropriate for their exercise class and create a routine or a set of moves for a class to follow. Some may teach pre-choreographed 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. In larger facilities, personal trainers must often sell their training sessions to members. They start by evaluating their clients' current fitness level, personal goals, and skills. They then develop personalized training programs for their clients to follow, and they monitor the clients’ progress.
Fitness trainers 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 fitness centre, writing newsletter articles, creating posters and flyers, and supervising the weight-training and cardiovascular equipment areas. In some facilities, a single trainer or instructor may provide individual sessions and teach group classes. Gyms and other types of health clubs offer many different activities for clients. However, trainers and instructors often specialize in only a few areas.
Fitness trainers must be polite, friendly, and encouraging to get and keep their clients. They must be able to listen carefully to what clients tell them to determine the client's fitness levels and desired fitness goals. 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 must be able to keep their clients motivated.
The following are some types of fitness trainers:
Personal fitness trainers work with a single client or a small group. They may train in a gym or in the client's home. 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 sessions, which can include aerobic exercise, stretching, muscle conditioning, or meditation. 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 or creating workout incentive programs. They often select and order fitness equipment for their facility.
Fitness trainers work in health clubs, fitness or recreation centers, gyms, country clubs, hospitals, universities, yoga and Pilates studios, resorts, and clients' homes. Some fitness trainers also work in offices, where they organize and direct health and fitness programs for employees.
The education and training required for fitness trainers vary 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 vary by facility.
Almost all trainers and instructors have at least a high school diploma before entering the occupation. An increasing number of employers require fitness workers 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, and group fitness.
Fitness trainers who are interested in management positions should get a bachelor's degree in exercise science, physical education, kinesiology, or a related area. Experience is often required to advance to management positions in a health club or fitness centre. Some organizations require a master's degree. 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.
Some fitness trainers go into business for themselves and open their own fitness centre. Group fitness instructors may be promoted to group exercise director, a position responsible for hiring instructors and coordinating exercise classes. Trainers and instructors may eventually become a fitness director or general manager.