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I was listening to a New York City-area morning talk radio show last week and one of the featured segments was about the fastest growing professions in New York City. Fitness training was ranked the fourth fastest growing profession with an estimated 40% growth over the next 10 years. Looking at projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the country as a whole, professions in fitness fall into the second fastest growing professional sector with a nearly 30% growth rate projected between 2008 and 2018.

I was actually surprised by my initial response to the projections. Rather than seeing this growth as an indicator of expanding opportunities for fitness professionals, I actually found myself cringing at the statistics. In completely transparency, as a fitness professional, I think my response probably was in large part influenced by my ego. My first thoughts were that this rapid growth means our industry will be flooded with new trainers potentially diluting of the standards of the profession in the eyes' of the public.

But I then quickly caught myself thinking these ego-driven thoughts and knew I was looking at the scenario entirely from the wrong perspective. The projected growth should be seen as an affirmation that consumers are seeing the value in having a fitness professional as part of their "team" of professionals; they have an accountant, lawyer, financial planner and now a fitness professional. The perspective of having a "trainer" not as a luxury, but as a necessity is becoming more of a mainstream mindset.

The growth simply illustrates supply and demand; as consumers see greater value in fitness professionals and seek their services, supply will increase. Consumers will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the skill, education and knowledge a qualified fitness professional should possess. It is our responsibility as current professionals in the industry to continue to educate and raise greater awareness among consumers of what separates a mediocre "exercise trainer" from a truly qualified "fitness professional;" and this can only be positive for our profession. The cream of our industry will continue to rise to the top while mediocre trainers will (in theory) be organically pushed-out of the market because the consumer will seek and demand the very best.

It's up to us now to raise the bar and set standards so the expectation of aspiring fitness professionals is to practice at the highest caliber. I challenge each of us to take responsibility for the actions we take in this industry; strive for greater knowledge and education and commit to always be progressing forward. Those who are complacent will be left behind by an industry with limitless opportunities.

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What is your average annual income for your fitness-related work/business?