As I’ve watched the industry evolve, particularly over the last 3 years as editor of PFP, I see the industry continue to move in two paradoxical directions. In one direction, the number of seemingly simple-to-acquire certifications for virtually any interested individual seems to continue to increase. In the opposite direction, many newcomers to the industry with bona fide credentials are still finding it a challenge to “break-in” and establish themselves in a way that will build a lifestyle-sustaining business or career. 

While we could discuss at great lengths the repercussions on the fitness industry, or any industry for that matter, of these two opposing directions, I’d like to focus on three points any budding fitness professional should keep front-of-mind when looking at the path to a successful career in fitness. 

Decide if this is a serious career for you or just a “side job” and expect to be compensated accordingly 
I’m presuming if you’re reading this that you are currently a fitness professional or possibly just getting in to the industry. In my opinion, there really is no halfway. You either are or you are not a fitness professional. I can’t be an effective part-time lawyer or part-time accountant. And by part-time I am not simply referring to the number of hours worked, but rather the education, training, experience and skill level required to accurately fulfill the expectations of the job. 

Do your time and pay your dues.
This can be a tough pill to swallow for many, especially if you’ve invested a significant amount of time, money and energy. As in any industry, pay generally is commensurate with experience, skill and knowledge; but in fitness there seems to be an expectation that once “certified” one should be able to demand the top going-rate. Pay your dues in time spent in the field. Don’t write-off the value of interning, shadowing or doing what may feel like menial jobs in order to gain experience. It takes 10,000 hours to master a craft, and our craft is no exception (and even at 10,000 hours, there is infinite knowledge and experience to be gained). This translates to approximately 5 years of working 8 hours a day/5 days a week. Do your time and you will be rewarded! 

It’s your job to earn your success.
The possibilities in this industry are virtually endless and while some may wish for it, there is no defined path. As you seek new opportunities to gain experience, knowledge and skill, chip away at your 10,000 hours and surround yourself with those who will enable you to nurture and grow your career and you will have full control of that path that will lead you to success.