The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that growth in fitness jobs is huge. The BLS category of fitness trainers and instructors is showing 39 percent growth between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average job growth across all industries (1).
This means that personal training is a great career to get into right now and probably for years to come. But if you aren’t sure you want to be a trainer; if you have been a trainer for a while and want to try something else; or if you want to diversify your career and do more than one job, there are so many options.
Your skills as a personal trainer are valuable in many other industries: healthcare, communications, media, sales and business, and others. Some of these alternative careers may require a little extra training or additional certifications, but for many, the highest level of education you need is your personal trainer certification.
Some of these jobs can be done part-time, in addition to your job as a trainer, but there is also the potential to make a full, new career out of any of these. You may get some ideas here for starting a new business, as many are conducive to freelancing and entrepreneurship.
Gyms always need qualified, motivated, and enthusiastic fitness professionals to lead groups and classes. Classes of all sizes are popular at gyms. Some people who join gyms don’t want to work individually with a trainer. They may find it too expensive to hire a personal trainer or they just prefer to be part of a group.
Classes are popular and so are small fitness groups. Trainers are needed for leading small groups of clients through semi-personalized sessions. This is like a cross between individual personal training and fitness classes. You get to work with five to ten people at a time for several weeks.
There is a lot of variety in this kind of fitness career. If you love motivating people through tough spinning workouts, you can specialize in spin classes. Try leading circuit training classes, yoga, boot camps, weight training groups, and more. And, as a group fitness instructor, you still have the flexibility to work for a health club or to lead your own small business.
Careers for nutritionists are growing at a rate of eleven percent, nearly as fast as careers for personal trainers (2). Clients are increasingly interested in working with coaches or nutritionists to work on their diet, weight, and overall health and wellness goals.
This kind of coaching can be just as rewarding as helping people work out, if not more so. As a nutrition coach, you’ll assess new clients, help them outline their goals, plan meals for them, help them learn how to make healthier food choices, and evaluate their progress as they take steps to achieve their wellness goals. Gyms may hire wellness and nutrition coaches, but you can also work independently. Certification in nutrition is strongly recommended.
If you’re eager to get off the mat but still love the gym, go for leadership roles. As a certified personal trainer, you have the perfect background for running a gym. Managers are responsible for daily operations, making schedules, hiring and training staff, and making sure the gym is clean and safe and that clients are happy.
To become the manager of a gym without earning a business or management degree, it’s a good idea to start out working as a staff trainer. Ask to take on more responsibilities, such as opening and closing, helping new trainers, or enrolling new clients. This will help you learn how to be a manager and give you the experience necessary to seek a leadership position, either in your current gym or a new one.
With knowledge and experience in fitness and related topics, you’re in a great position to sell gym memberships, subscriptions to classes or group sessions, and even gym and workout equipment. Sales is a career that will allow you to keep working with people but in a different way.
As a salesperson, you may work at a gym or corporate headquarters for a gym. You could be hired by an equipment manufacturer or a retail store that sells different brands of equipment. Many sales positions are based on commissions, so the more you sell, the more you earn. It’s a career that requires self-motivation and a strong work ethic to be successful.
Your expertise is also valued in communications. Writers with experience and knowledge in health, fitness, wellness, diet, and nutrition can write expert website content, magazine articles, blogs, sales and web copy, textbooks, and more.
It’s not necessary to have gone to college or majored in English or journalism to begin a writing career. If you have a knack for writing you can polish your skills with practice. Start writing on topics you enjoy for fun and apply for jobs when you feel you have some worthwhile pieces.
Put all the hard work you’ve done to tone your body and build muscle to real work, earning you money. Fitness models are like other types of models, but they focus on fitness-related products. For instance, a company making athletic clothing hires fitness models for advertisements and catalogs. Fitness video producers also hire these models to demonstrate workouts.
While other types of models have to put effort into maintaining a certain weight or body type, fitness models are expected to look strong and athletic. If you work as a fitness model, you’ll need to keep up with your workouts and healthy eating as part of the job.
To become a fitness model you can go to open casting calls, though you may have better luck if you start with an agent. But take care in selecting an agency to work with, as some are unscrupulous and may charge you a fee to sign up with them.
As a personal trainer, workout development is what you do. You take your clients’ goals, strengths, limitations, and preferences and create individualized workouts for them. Some people only design workouts. They don’t work directly with clients but instead create more general programs.
Workout developers may work for production companies, crafting the workouts you see on a DVD, for instance. They may work for a gym to choreograph workouts for classes offered across several locations. Online services that offer customized or general workouts to download also hire qualified trainers to create their products.
If you still love working as a personal trainer, but you’re interested in trying something new, consider other services you could offer your clients. Specialty certifications will allow you to work as a trainer in a particular fitness niche, either alongside regular training or as a full-time career. There are several areas of specialization in personal training:
Youth fitness and coaching
If you still enjoy working as a trainer but need a change, adding a new specialty isn’t the only way to bring variety to your career. Also look for a new place to do your job. There is much more diversity in trainer workplaces now than there ever has been before; trainers don’t just work in gyms:
Hotels, resorts, and spas
Retirement homes, assisted living communities, and nursing homes
Community recreation centers
Physical therapy practices
Surgical rehabilitation centers
Another great way to get a change of scenery is to begin offering your services online. Online trainers and coaches are in demand because they are typically more affordable and are useful for people who don’t go to the gym or don’t have easy access.
As an online trainer, you’ll coach people virtually: create workouts for them, motivate with messages and texts, evaluate progress, demonstrate good form with videos, and provide information and education. This is a great career for working independently. It’s easy and low-cost to begin an online small coaching business.
Working as a personal trainer is rewarding and rarely boring. It’s a career with good job security and good pay, but there may come a time when your love at fitness remains but your passion for leading personal training sessions is waning. Consider all the other opportunities available for your knowledge and experience and get motivated for a new career.
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U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, May 13). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Fitness Trainers and Instructors. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/fitness-trainers-and-instructors.htm#tab-1
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, May 13). Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dietitians and Nutritionists. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm