I have been in the fitness industry for over 12 years and people often reach out to me asking about my personal journey and tips on how they can get into a career in fitness. It is certainly a rapidly expanding industry, and personal trainers and instructors are a dime a dozen, so if you really want to make a name for yourself it takes patience and hard work. However, having a career in something you love is absolutely worth the sacrifices it may take to get there. Below are 6 of my biggest tips on how you can take the leap and make a career for yourself in the world of health and fitness:
1.) Ask yourself what you are passionate about
The first and most important piece of advice that I can give someone that wants to get started in the fitness industry is to ask themselves what they are passionate about. You can be passionate about more that one thing, but in the beginning, it’s best to reign in on your numero uno and go from there. Do you want to work one on one with clients in nutrition, as a personal trainer, as a life coach? OR do you want to work with larger groups of people as a fitness instructor, blogger, etc.?
2.) Pinpoint people who have your ideal career
Now that you have singled out what you are most passionate about, let’s pave the path to getting there. Become a sponge and soak up as much knowledge that you can about the profession you are most interested in. If you are interested in becoming a fitness instructor, I highly suggest taking various teacher’s classes. I learn so much from taking other peoples classes around the city, whether it be a certain cue I like, a song I was into, an exercise I had never done before, etc.
I also suggest that you find 5 (or more) professionals with your dream job and reach out to them. If they are local, ask if you can buy them a coffee and have 30 mins of their time to talk about how they got to where they are now. If they are not local, send them a private message through their social media platform asking if you can ask them a few questions about how they go to where they are now. DO NOT be afraid of them saying no. We are all busy, and sometimes people just can’t commit the time. I have sent many detailed emails to people in the past about my advice on getting into the fitness industry, which is why I decided to write this article so that I can give my best detailed advice in a jiffy now whenever someone asks for it.
Lastly, there are so many great free resources out there- blogs, podcasts, Instagram accounts- that can motivate and help ignite your passion for health and fitness even further, so definitely utilize those as well.
3.) Get educated
When it comes to getting certified, it also really depends on where you want to work. Different gyms and studios have different requirements. Some gyms will let you teach classes with a general group exercise certification, while others will want you to have a specialized certification. Boutique fitness studios sometimes will provide their own training, even if you have no prior experience, whereas higher end gyms will usually be looking for specialized certifications and experience (but still always check because they may have their own certification process, too).
If you want to get certified in a specialized format- cycling, barre, yoga, Pilates, boxing- a quick Google search will help you find locations that will be offering certifications in these formats throughout the year. If you are looking for a more general group exercise certification, check ACE (acefitness.org) or AFAA (afaa.com). As far as personal training, there are several certifications to choose from, but the 5 most well-known ones are NASM (where I got mine), ACSM, ISSA, ACE, and NSCA.
(*Sidenote, but most fitness jobs require a CPR certification, too, so be prepared to get that as well. )
4.) Gain experience and exposure
After you have built the groundwork and got certified, it is time to get out there and lay the foundation- experience! Just remember- experience doesn’t come overnight for anybody, no matter what the situation, so be patient! Start with friends, family members, co-workers- anyone you feel comfortable with, and setup some free classes. If you are going to teach a bootcamp class, there are tons of free outdoor spaces where you can get a group together and teach some classes. If you got hired at a studio, they will most likely set up some community classes for you to get some experience. If you are personal training or doing health coaching, setup some 30 minute complimentary sessions. Whatever it is, do whatever you can to put yourself out there and make sure to invite people who will give you honest feedback. Talking in front of a group can be scary if it is not something you are used to, so it is very important to get used to it. When I first started teaching I would go to the gym during the off peak hours and teach my entire kickboxing class to myself in the mirror before I would teach my actual class the next day to make sure that it all flowed well. I never said this was going to be easy, but I DID say it would be worth it if it truly is your passion, so don’t forget that 🙂
5.) Take the leap and audition
Once you are feeling ready, start to reach out to places you are interested in working at and ask them how you can audition. Experience and auditioning go hand in hand, so not be disappointed if you don’t nail every audition. The first time I ever auditioned at Equinox I didn’t get hired, but many years (and a lot more experience) later, I auditioned again and I did get hired, so “no” is not always definite. The more you audition, the more comfortable you will be in front of a crowd, so put yourself out there and do not be afraid to fail.
6.) Utilize social media
My final piece of advice is to use social media to your advantage from the start, but always be yourself. Social media is free advertising for everyone. Start to build your presence up asap. Even if you are not an experienced “expert” in the beginning, everyone has to start somewhere. Start your own fitness account and share healthy tips, any free classes you are teaching, mini workouts, etc. Anything to get people genuinely interested. You want to build rapport with people and not just buy meaningless followers. Get some professional photos done and use them on your Instagram and to eventually make a website. My friend Suzanna March does amazing fitness photography in the Boston area- check out her website at SuzannaMarchPhotography.com. Think of your social media account as part of your job, an extension of yourself really. Put up good quality killer content because content is king. Stick out from the crowd always. Put up less selfies and more inspiring/informative content. Show everyone how passionate, smart and talented you are and you will build up a community in no time!!