The fitness industry is an incredible, constantly changing and perpetually awesome industry to be a part of. I've been working as a certified personal trainer for over five years now and I absolutely love it. I started without experience, and am now the fitness director at the largest health and racquet club in my community. Am I bragging? Absolutely not. I'm sharing this to prove that you (yes, you) can find a job in the fitness industry if that's what you really want.
1) Research certifications, then study for, take and pass the test.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's a hard step and one that people get hung up on. (If you already have your certification, you can skip this section.) There are a wide variety of certifications out there—and a wide variety of opinions on which fitness certification is best. You'll want one that's accredited by the NCCA, and you'll want one that your potential employer will accept. So when you do your research, call the gyms in your area and ask which certifications they accept and/or recommend. When it comes to personal training, I always recommend the American Council on Exercise, but also accept ACSM and NASM as respectable certifications. (But ultimately, it has everything to do with the candidate.)
(Note: You might also want to research liability insurance. Most gyms will cover you under their policy, but it's always nice to know if a gym you're interested in won't so you can apply with that on your resume.)
2) Get your CPR and AED certification.
You will need this to get hired. New members of the industry often forget about this key requirement! Once you're on staff at a gym, they might pay your fees to stay current, but most will require it upon hire. And even if they don't, you having it shows that you're on top of things...and totally ready to work.!
3) Make a resume.
If you are totally new to the industry and have literally no experience, you can still make an impressive resume. I switched over from advertising, so there wasn't much I could say to exhibit my ability to train, other than the fact that I had passed my test and gotten my CPR/AED certification. So my first resume was really a reiteration of the resume I used to get the job at the last agency I worked for. I listed my certifications at the top, included a few bullets about the half marathons I'd run to show my ability to train myself toward a goal, and then listed my advertising experience as "other applicable work experience." Because even though that experience had nothing to do with fitness, it showed that I was able to hold a job, that I was reliable, and that I could keep myself organized, productive, etc. Plus, the more you can offer a potential employer, the more appealing you are.
4) Research potential employers.
If you want to work at a gym that you've been going to for some time already, this is a moot point. You're already familiar with the culture and policies of the place. But if you're new to the area and have no idea what the gyms are like, purchase a day pass or ask if you can test the place out. This will help you decide which place might be right for you, and if you get an interview, you'll be familiar with it which can further exhibit your interest in working there.
5) Connect with the right person when you turn in your resume.
Gyms structure themselves differently, so a "fitness director" at one place might be the "personal training coordinator" at another place. There might also be a "group fitness manager." Find out who needs to see your resume and get it to that person. Don't just stop in and ask if they're hiring. For example, I'm not necessarily hiring right now, but if the right trainer or group fitness instructor walked through my gym doors, I'd give them the time of day.
(Note: Please do not turn in your resume until you've proofed it. Nothing makes your resume look weaker than spelling/grammar errors. Trust me. #endrant)
6) Be willing to work for free.
Say what? Hear me out: This is especially relevant for those of you that don't have experience. If you want experience, ask for the opportunity to get it. Maybe you can shadow a personal trainer, or assist group fitness instructors that teach the format you're studying. A lot of fitness certifications are done at home with little to no hands-on experience. Seek out that hands-on experience! You might work for free, but as you dive into that work and gain knowledge, you might impress whomever you're working with...get where I'm going with this? Yes, it could turn into a job. Mentorship, man. It's everything. So is showing initiative.
Tweet: This is how you get a job in the fitness industry... via @adailydoseoffit #fitfluential #sweatpink
Here are a few other posts I've written that might prove to be useful as well:
• Want a career in the fitness industry? What you need to know.
• What's it like to be a personal trainer?
• How to Study for a Personal Trainer Exam
• Teaching Group Fitness
• 8 Tips for Group Fitness Instructors
• A Spinning Certification Review
• So you want to teach #PiYoLive...
Question: If you are a fitness professional, what tips can you offer someone who wants a job in the fitness industry? If you want a job in the fitness industry, are there questions you have that I might be able to answer?